punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

"Those dirty [insert ignorance here]..."

I don't often come up against racism. Part of it is because I am white, but part of it is also I hang around pretty tolerant people. So when someone does drop a line about how such-and-such people are dirty or steal or are responsible for the degredation of society, it's usually pretty shocking.

Last week, a coworker said that his religiously home-schooled daughter has head lice. It's unfortunate, but it happens sometimes. I was a bit surprised because usually it happens because the kids come into contact with someone with head lice at school or day care. But his kids are pretty isolated. I asked, "Where did she get them?" His response was shocking to say the least:

"It's because she plays with those dirty Arabs down the street, they never wash their kids."

Okay, maybe if he just had said, "dirty kids," I would have thought, "That sucks," and let him go on. But the fact he said "dirty Arabs," spoke like somehow that had something to do with it. So I wanted clarification. He explained that "You know, those people never wash as much." I told him I had never come across that, and it was an unfair and broad statement. He further defended the statement by pressing into my my sensibilities of, "You know... in those cultures... you have to admit... they don't have water..." and so on. I didn't bend. He became angry and wished my family would have head lice. That would show me.

First of all, I have met Arabic people, and none of them were dirty or smelly. In fact, they always appeared well-groomed and rather high-class, if you ask me. Their kids always seemed normal, and many were very smart and educated people. Now part of that could have been I grew up in a mid-upper class environment. Part of that could also be I have met his Majesty Prince Al-Saud, his wife, and advisor, and his money lender. Prince Al-Saud, at least when buying furniture, seemed a very congenial fellow, round and happy, with a well-groomed appearance and a nice sweater. His wife was a bit forceful, but then again, she was dropping $15,000 on furniture for her children. The moneylender and advisor were apologetic for the wife. It was pretty amusing for all of us. I had never met royalty before that, and currently, they are the only royalty I have ever met. And while it was rather sudden, no one put on airs, and certainly no one was dirty or smelly.

I have met dirty and smelly people. Most of them have been white people. Usually people with bad upbringing or an overfocused hobby of some kind. But I wouldn't say all white people are dirty and smelly. All the people I have ever met had head lice were also white people. One pair of kids I grew up with, their mom decided "the hell with it," shaved their heads, and put wooly hats on them. I kid you not. Most kids who got head lice (and we were checked yearly) got some sort of medicated treatment and it went away. But not those kid's moms. No sir, it was a punishment, they said.

And you know what? They weren't dirty or smelly, either.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000152.html
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