As an emerging minority (white, middle-aged American), I’m often envious of the deep cultural bond of minorities (hence my confessed, sincere desire to be African American).
But I’m also quick to poke fun at Racial stereotypes because they’re so wonderfully taboo and controversial. Here’s me with SMPFilms’ “Mr. Safety” in NYC quoting the “five dollar f’y sucky love you long time” line (that guy I was harassing was actually a co-worker).
Can you both satire and admire a group’s identity formed from shared culture, religion, sexual preference or other factors? I think you can. But you’ve got to be willing to take what you’re dishing out, hence my thrill at watching Dave Chapelle make fun of white people dancin (his parody on white people and guitar music is comedic gold).
Part of my motive is a reflexive desire to call out the “elephant in the living room” (things that can’t be spoken are, in my view, begging to be acknowledged). In business school we were assembled into random project teams who worked extensively together over the course of our first year. We had an Indonesian classmate who was funny and attractive, and I used to barrage her with questions about what American’s do that’s inadvertently culturally insensitive (usually while I’d fart audibly to further spoof my Country’s indifference to global sensitivities).
When she told me that it was an insult to point one’s feet/heels toward another, I’d sit regularly with my feet on the table pointed directly at her. Sometimes if she didn’t notice, I’d let out a nice juicy fart. Naturally she was in on the joke, but would pretend to be offended by my characterization of The Insensitive American.
Small group norms and traditions are sacred and wonderful. However they can become dangerous when the group isolates itself, begs the world around them to change, and resists adapting to other norms. For instance, the woman who inspired my “I want to be African American” told me that she had two different dialects. She spoke “hood” when she was with her friends and family, but she could also speak “corporate” when necessary. By the same token, I often hear “you don’t sound like you’re from the South.” You wouldn’t say that if you heard me after a few drinks hanging out with the deep-Southern-drawl folks in Alabama. I adapt.
Group identity is as fabulous as it is dangerous (as I reference briefly in my “Hacking Happiness” video about how the human is like a computer, and happiness is available to those willing to partition part of their soul/brain to connecting back to “source”).
We can develop a strong identity as a member of a group or family, but we also can’t forget that we’re all from the same place… and our destination is the same. Namaste. Heard it? I am often ridiculed because I mix up Japanese and Chinese, and I even thought Katinatreesee was African American until my wife clarified that for me. I’m fairly sure I screwed something up in my post about the Japanese or Chinese avatar woman created by a candy company. Is that insensitive and racist? Or is it a subconscious stubborn refusal to care where someone is from, what religion they are, what gender, what sexual preference?
Friends, I don’t care what group you’re in. Humans come in two types… those whose identity is limited to a few and isolated from the whole, and those who are as pure as newly born children… the latter identifies with fellow Earth dwellers indifferent of their color, shape, number of legs, or even status as animal, vegetable and mineral.
If that sounds too “high and mighty,” you should also know I’m perfectly cool with eating animals. If God didn’t want us eating animals he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.