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2.09.2007

Of Santo Ninos, Nazarenos and Ceramic Hair Straighteners


I know she hates me.
And I don't blame her either because I was being stupid.
Unintentionally stupid, but stupid nevertheless.
I was engaged in coiffure drivel with a friend-in-law
(you know, a friend of a friend).
I carelessly stated that I straightened my hair so I would not look like a "hispanic saint"

The friend-in-law was from Puerto Rico.
She became noticeably less enthused with me.
I explained that statues of the Black Nazarene in the Philippines had curly hair. (a gift from Spanish colonization)
--all she heard was my negative use of the word "hispanic."
I had used an ethnonym to describe something I did not care for.
It was very insensitive.
And stupid.

I know that I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth.
On the one hand I think we should stop being hyper-sensitive with the exaggeratedly careful attempts at being politically correct--
On the other hand, would it hurt to shut our mouth every time we are about to use an ethnic label negatively?

And I hate to say this but some Filipinos are the worst offenders
(there I go again).
When I first moved here, Steve almost had a heart attack when I nonchalantly
described my high school crush as being "chinky eyed."
This is an acceptable adjective in the Philippines.
Imagine all the debriefing that a filipino immigrant has to go through,
when there are some that think that the proper english translation of 'pass gas' is fart. Or that the english word for gay is fa*.
Or that the N-word is the American-English term for the word negro.

A filipino friend of mine, lets call her 'K', was making small talk with her bald electrician. She called him a 'skinhead' (she meant bald). K's husband hastily explained that she was referring to the hairstyle and was not assuming that the electrician was a nazi sympathizer--

The word puti means white.
Filipinos will casually ask the question, "Puti ba?" (was the person white?)
At a shindig in New York, an elderly filipino woman was holding court on the evils of being married to a puti.
I cleared my throat and informed her that I was married to a puti.
She recovered with a smooth:
"Op kors der ees da excepsyon to da roll"
(Of course there is the exception to the rule.)

Often times it is ignorance (well also stupidity) that causes such small minded thoughts.
I believe that if we call people on it, it is a habit that can be broken.
I lost a friendship opportunity--talking about my hair,
but I did gain wisdom in the process.

"Qui tacet consentire videtur."
(He who keeps silent is understood to consent.)

3 comments:

  1. You are NOT swimming alone.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous5:14 PM

    hi chess! I love U! GUESS WHO I AM!

    ReplyDelete
  3. UPCAT Examinee 19849:19 AM

    the beauty of using the other/anonymous option to comment is that any mispells, typos and the like can not be credited (or shall i say discredited) to the writer.
    family shame is spared in doing so.
    thanks for outing me-btw
    and glad you liked this post.

    ReplyDelete

thanks for commenting!