Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What am I supposed to say to that?

I was teaching my eikaiwa last night and the following two statements were made.

"I don't want Obama to become president, because I am afraid the Ku Klux Klan will murder him." (On that note, am I the only one who has noticed the striking resemblance between Obama and Malcolm X?)

I blame FOX News.


"The Chinese do not rinse their dishes, they wash them with dish soap and leave the bubbles on."

Ok. So, a few things can be assumed from these statements. First, a lot of Japanese folks believe nearly ALL of what is written in their papers, or put on the evening news. Second, unless they have traveled, or happen to be particularly awesome, quite a few people don't have any concept of what life is like outside of their own country. This holds true for Americans as well, and probably just about any other ethnocentric person chilling in their homeland with blinders on and a dislike for BBC news. I mean absolutely no offense, I just call them like I see them.

Let's dissect the first statement, shall we? We were discussing politics, which is always an interesting, as well as a volatile topic. I stated my approval of Obama, and my distaste for Hilary's methods. In swoops the aforementioned comment, followed quickly with "justification". This is not directly quoted, but the best translation I could muster. "In America, there was a school where some white students killed a black student for sitting under a tree that only white students were allowed to sit under."

I have seen stories of the Jena 6 in the news, but purposely stuck my head in a hole and tried to hide from the story, which CNN seemed to be hyping far too much. This is my excuse for not knowing the details enough to say her whole condensed explanation was assbackwards. Seems, my student had somehow concocted a very different story, making the white students into murders as well as racists. I am not in any way denying the fact that racism still exists in America, but it's not like I am gonna get threatened for marrying a black man these days.

I tried to explain how the KKK and other groups are looked down upon severely, and only exist in small pockets of the US still. Also, that the US is not really as simple and stark as it is portrayed in film and television. They went on to compare the KKK to the Yakuza. The Yakuza has over 84,000 estimated members, however, while the KKK has more like 8,000. I tried to explain that a national crime syndicate isn't really comparable to a racist hate group. Who knows if I made a dent in that mentality, though?

Now, about the bubbles. My initial reaction was to laugh. Many of my friends and co-workers are anti-China in subtle ways. Slagging on them now and again. Here are a few choice quotes:

"Chinese food is dangerous! Did you hear about the 500 Japanese getting sick from gyoza?"
(more like 10, but whatever)
"The Chinese are too proud."
"The Chinese government kicked people out of their homes to build new stadiums for the Olympics, and those displaced were given no money."
Do you want to go to China?
"I want to see all the famous sites..." (but not dealing with the native population was heavily implied)

I can't seem to find anything online about the soap speculation. If anyone knows where that particular gem came from, please help me shed some light on it!


The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Yeah, small pockets like from Virginia to Alabama. Small. Just a few million square miles.

Dalenna said...

hey you! i've been reading your blog since the whale post. hope you don't mind. hope you don't mind me commenting either. just that i find your posts very interesting, that's all :D

about the bubbles, i don't know anything about it, but i've been told by a lady at work, that when you wash your hands, you're not supposed to rinse off all the soap. you're supposed to leave some on so that they "kill" the germs. i really had to bite my tongue to avoid what i wanted to say to her then. so i guess weirdness is not isolated to certain japanese folks :D

now, about the chinese folks being too proud, i wouldn't necessary disagree. not all are proud, but a lot are, and i would say it's more nationalism than anything else. i ran into a lot of that crap studying chinese as an undergrad. eno's dealing with it still as a grad student. it's very frustrating. with that said though, i can't help but add that, again, nationalism isn't isolated to many chinese folks, as many japanese folks (or hell, americans!) are nationalistic as well.

cheers, girl friend!

Catalin said...

Funny thing about the soap... When I lived in Australia, I noticed a lot of people didn't seem to worry about rinsing the soap off of dishes. I first noticed it at my friends' house when I was trying to do dishes in their tiny sink. I asked, "How do you rinse them?" and got the answer, "Oh, we don't usually."

It wasn't just my hippy friends, but proper bourgy folks at my university job as well. Maybe they also had the idea that soap was somehow protective; as an American, I found it strange. I never quite had the nerve to ask.