Saturday, May 20, 2017

Brave, Stereotypes, White Trash, and Yale Professors

Yesterday was an interesting day for me.  I even cleaned my house--I even cleaned baseboards--which ends up with a  wonderful feeling.  I am trying to hire a new faculty member, and that is working out.  After I brought the dog back from our walk, my husband was watching a Disney movie, Brave, so I got sucked into it because I am proud of my Scottish heritage (which also involves 3/8 of my genetics being Scandinavian, oddly).

The animated movie starts out charmingly enough, with a wild child princess enjoying a horseback ride and archery excursion with flowing red locks. Her mother is traditional and wants her to help keep the clans together by marrying one of her suitors.  The princess rebels at this, and one day in the forest meets a witch who agrees to cast a spell on her mother that doesn't turn out so well.  I'll leave it at that, not because I am afraid of spoilers but because I got tired of it and don't care to go on.

As the commenters on imdb state, the movie has nothing to do with bravery and there really is no clear moral lesson in this film, but the visuals are great.

But beyond this, I mentioned to my husband how foolish it made the Scots look.  They were ugly, fat, vulgar, brawling, drunken, stupid men.  They mooned each other by pulling up the kilt (getting that wrong, since kilts didn't come around til rather late in Scottish history).

The U.S. and dare I say the world would not be what it is without the Scots; the contribution of that tiny country has been remarkable in terms of science, government, arts, settling this country, and the furtherance of Christianity.  So why make the white people look so incredibly ridiculous?  Does Disney do that to other ethnic groups?

Don't worry, I'm not going on some reverse racism tyrant.  White people do have it better in this country, overall (but of course not always) by virtue of being white.  No argument there from me, although the term "white privilege" can be problematic, like "black lives matter."  I just don't see Disney making the Asians, Latinos, Africans, Middle Easterners, or others look the same stupid way.  Scots are safe targets.

I am reminded that in the Northeast in the 1800s, Irish immigrants were not considered white.  Southerners at the time had no trouble with Irish as white.  Southerners have had enough trouble with race relations of their own accord.   

Now, let's turn to another story--the dean at Yale who was writing Yelp reviews of local restaurants saying things like "only white trash people would want to eat there."  This dean is an Asian woman.  Fortunately, she has been disciplined, at least for a while.

I had a conversation a few years back with an Asian colleague who expressed his/her opinion on the people of a neighboring Asian country.  "They smell and are dirty," this colleague insisted.  Imagine me saying that! I wouldn't.

My point is that racism is not the province of white people. There is plenty of racism to go around, and the argument that only non-oppressed people can be racist is ridiculous.

I am safely white, though.  My genetic test (and my brother's, done by a different company) came back 95+% European, although some of that was Southern Europe and we had a little bit of genetic material from Northern Africa and the Middle East.  But no native American, despite what my family has told me and has proof of.  The 3/8ths Scandinavian is probably from the Vikings being in Scotland for centuries. 

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