Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Skating on Thin Ice

Is it racist if I think twice before buying a pair of ice-skates that were recommended to me by a black man?

If the guy was a French Canadian white guy or some Eastern European I would totally trust his opinion on skates. Also, come to think of it, if it was a French Canadian black guy I would also believe whatever he told me about ice skates. French Canadian trumps any racial make-up when it comes to hockey and ice skating. Honestly, I assume that all Canadian men and most of the women are bad-ass skaters and have probably played on a hockey team.

This didn't come up because I was shopping for ice skates or anything. It arose because I had dry cleaning done, and I realized I would be wary of entrusting my dry cleaning to most races. I just assume when I go into a dry cleaner's that the person behind the counter is going to be white or Asian. Furthermore, I assume all the Asians in dry cleaners' are Chinese. I think we all do. I also assume that even if there's a pretty big language barrier, my laundry will be spotlessly clean and well pressed, because, y'know, Chinese know shit about laundry. It's in their silk robes or something.

Even this clip art I found is racist

But give me a black dude or a Latina behind the counter, and I might hesitate to hand over my linen to them. And that's odd, because it's more because of my positive stereotyping of the Chinese and their laundry skills than it is that I don't trust other minorities. I would much rather hand over my silk dressing gown to a normal looking Spaniard than some skeezy white dude. Being OK with giving my dry cleaning to a white person at all probably stems from having only lived in Sacramento and Denver. If I had grown up in Los Angeles or Washington D.C. I would probably only trust my laundry to the Chinese. But, damn man, white people have always been coming out of the woodwork wherever I've lived, so you kind of just have to assume that if they look fairly clean they can probably do their job.

She puts stains in clothes.
However, she doesn't work at a cleaner's.

I wonder what would happen if a Chinese person took in their dry cleaning and a Laotian or Thai was at the counter. I think it would blow his mind. Then he'd just leave and wash his own clothes, figuring he has to able to do a better job. And if they came out wrinkled or still stained he'd utter some Cantonese racial epithet for Thais that doesn't really translate into English. It'd roughly translate to "An unskilled yak that has stolen from my forefathers and longs to poison my land" or "The bedfellow of ghosts and demons that sprang from its own mother's behind" And it would only apply to that very specific ethnic group. Like people from southwest of Phnom Penh. Because, man, foreigners are raaaciiiiist! Seriously. I've worked with enough Mexicans to have heard some slang. They have all sorts of specific terms for people from other places. It's like "Oh, yeah we call guys from Chihuahua that because they're all thieves." or "That's what you call somebody from Sonora since they're all dirty." Man, foreigners are as bad as those inbred racists from Alabama.

So, should I buy the skates?

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