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Zoethe

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Sensitivity fail [Sep. 21st, 2011|10:11 am]
Zoethe
I'm attending a CLE (continuing legal education, required to maintain my license) on the topic of communication. This morning's talk is about sensitivity. The speaker is merrily suggesting that you should just ask your minority friends what words are acceptable and what might be a problem. And talking about the "cute little Latinos" who used to be so pleased at her efforts to speak pidgin Spanish. She didn't even suggest that you try to educate yourself with the many resources out there, just to use other people as your resource.  Looking around, the populous of the room is all Caucasian. There is no apparent outrage at the staggering entitlement language that she's using.

Meanwhile, I'm just boggled. This is a woman who is paid to travel the country teaching people about sensitivity in communication. She's a white, blonde, Southern woman who appears to think she's got this sensitivity thing down.

I don't even know where to begin with with this. She's pretty much endorsing the expectation that minority persons are not only there to educate others, but also happy to do so.

Just so you know? No. It's not okay to expect your LGBTQ, pagan, differently abled, racially diverse, etc., friends to be available to educate you. Such an expectation is exhausting and irritating. It signifies a"different than" mindset. It presumes a level of access that's intrusive.

Can such conversations happen? Sure. There are times when such communication is welcome and appropriate. But your minority friends are not your own private "cultural sensitivity" Wiki. And it irks me to hear someone advocate that kind of use to a group.

(Written on my iPhone. Please bear with errors.)
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: anivair
2011-09-21 02:27 pm (UTC)
I don't really mind educating people about what I am, but at the same time, it does get tiring to answer the same questions over and over. And generally the person asking isn't really that sincere to begin with.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 02:41 pm (UTC)
It's the presumption that kills me.
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[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2011-09-21 02:32 pm (UTC)
Sounds really irksome. Are you planning to say something to her?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 02:42 pm (UTC)
I'm debating.
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[User Picture]From: sageautumn
2011-09-21 02:41 pm (UTC)
.. Hrm.
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[User Picture]From: cinema_babe
2011-09-21 02:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this.

But please tell me she didn't use the term, "cute little Latinos" in her teaching. If she did another little piece of my wizened soul just died.

And as for the "white, blonde, Southern woman" thing, that just reminds me how much The Help irked me.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 02:53 pm (UTC)
Not only used it, repeated it at least three times. Using the "adorable puppy" voice.

Also, there are no adults with ADD.

I'm trapped with this woman until 4.
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-09-21 03:27 pm (UTC)
i would have gotten up and left. but that's me.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 03:28 pm (UTC)
Alas, I paid $300 for this pleasure. And I need the CLE hours by the end of the month.
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[User Picture]From: harold3
2011-09-21 03:34 pm (UTC)
I dunno, the label du jour or term du jour for group x changes so often it's hard to keep up. You'd have to dedicate a large portion of your time to keep up with all the PC terms.

Maybe it's that I'm an entitled ogre or reactionary whatever... but my solution to the problem is to just treat everyone the same. 'Course I'm an asshole but at least I'm an equal opportunity asshole. I assume no one is better than, or less than, or worth anything different than myself to society as a whole. Specific instances of worth might be different but not as a class thing but a functional one (i.e. I would pay a person with a doctorate and experience more than one that is a high school dropout but that's not a reflection of their value as a human being but a reflection of their value for the skill-set they possess in a biz situation)

You're right about the "Cute Little Latino" comment though, anything that is a diminutive or places the subject in (by it's very language) a child like or inferior relationship is pretty insensitive.
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From: simulated_knave
2011-09-21 04:04 pm (UTC)
Not...really.

The notional preferred terms may change more often than they should - but even then, it's not that often. And actual usage changes even more slowly - 'homosexual' is supposedly an inappropriate term now (according to some sources), but I've never seen an actual gay person objecting to it in any context.
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From: simulated_knave
2011-09-21 03:36 pm (UTC)
Cute little Latinos? Really?

I mean, unless they were twelve-and-under, since when has it been appropriate to call anyone a cute little anything?

Though, ironically, this women is herself an excellent argument for asking your friends what's appropriate over consulting resources. :P Of course, the real flaw with "ask your friends" is that the need to ask may well be correlated with the lack of same.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 04:09 pm (UTC)
I misquoted. "Cute little Latino workers" was the whole statement. So yeah, position of relative power plus diminutive.

So

Much

Fail.
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[User Picture]From: kyburg
2011-09-21 04:05 pm (UTC)
Who the bleep is paying her? That's what I want to know.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 04:15 pm (UTC)
Me. And all the other poor suckers in the room.
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[User Picture]From: smartlikeatruck
2011-09-21 04:09 pm (UTC)
Take the class, get your CLE hours. Say something, because it is *everyone's* job to correct that kind of crap.
Then write to whatever board of something or another and complain. Because that kind of shit isn't helping anyone to become more sensitive, dammit.
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[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2011-09-21 04:12 pm (UTC)
+1
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[User Picture]From: particle_man6
2011-09-21 04:24 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, most racist/sexist/etc. people would see this as an excuse to stop trying to improve altogether and just continue to be racist/sexist/etc.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 04:48 pm (UTC)
She certainly can make people feel smug and enlightened in comparison...
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2011-09-21 04:29 pm (UTC)
Please bear with errors.

Drat! I was hoping to error with bears.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 04:49 pm (UTC)
If the bears can give consent, I will not judge your lifestyle choices.
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From: anonymousalex
2011-09-21 05:01 pm (UTC)
Don't they have comment/evaluation forms for your CLE? While arguably it would be more powerful for you to correct this dingbat in front of the audience, correcting her on paper, in front of her employer, might have more long-term effect.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 05:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, I will be filling out the form.
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[User Picture]From: sestree
2011-09-21 05:16 pm (UTC)

Wow ... just WOW

I'm a questioner. Nobody ever has to answer. I like people.

However, I'm locked up on the "cute little Latinos" who used to be so pleased at her efforts to speak pidgin Spanish.

Where to start? mind blowing. And no, my Hispanic, Latino, and other limited English speaking employees do not have issues with my less than acceptable Spanish. They tease me then tell me the right way. However, it is NEVER expected that they should correct me. I go out of my way to cross the barrier. We've bonded to the point that I get to hear lovely stories of places lived prior, people gone, memories made. It has nothing to do with the language or race or even sex - we're just people sharing things.

geesh. Presume much does she? gads
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[User Picture]From: phillipalden
2011-09-21 05:46 pm (UTC)
I didn't know you are a lawyer. My partner specilizes in high-tech patent law, (he's also an engineer.)

It sounds like that CLE program should have been lead by a person of color.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 06:19 pm (UTC)
Yes; I practice debtor side bankruptcy.

I wouldn't say that a white woman can't speak on the topic. It was only a portion of the whole Communications program.
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[User Picture]From: mamculuna
2011-09-21 05:51 pm (UTC)
Um, ok, but why do you mention that she's Southern? I get that she's clueless, but...
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[User Picture]From: bigherman
2011-09-21 06:09 pm (UTC)
I second, and see my comment below. Being Southern does not enhance or take away from her racism--contextualizes it, a little, perhaps, but there are just a whole mire of assumptions tied in with that statement.

The South having its history, it's tempting to enhance someone Southern's racism by mentioning that origin in conjunction with them, but that's making an assumption that all people from X have the same views. On the flip side, it would be incredibly insulting to Southerners as a group to describe someone as "Southern, but not racist!" They are not some kind of monolith.
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[User Picture]From: bigherman
2011-09-21 06:00 pm (UTC)
As a former platinum blonde and always blue-eyed person, I'm going to note that using a phenotype to first add to someone's racist points (blonde hair, +2 racism) and second reinforce a negative stereotype (that it's not surprising that this blonde woman, emphasis on the blonde, got cultural sensitivity so wrong) is not okay. You might as well use her size, physical ability, or accent to influence your perception of her views.

I can't tell you how many times people have straight up told me that they thought I was a racist bitch because of how I looked, and were surprised to find it not so. I can't tell you how differently POC approach me now that my hair is dark brown again (and I live in a pretty diverse area, so this is based not just on one or two encounters but several every day).
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 06:48 pm (UTC)
The description was not meant to be, "of course she's prejudice," it was a brief description to indicate that she is a person of privilege.
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[User Picture]From: callie_chan
2011-09-21 08:18 pm (UTC)
On the one hand, I do agree that no one is obligated to tell you what is and what isn't politically correct for their race/gender/orientation/what have you. It's not their responsibility to help you do things properly, and they've got their own business to attend to.

On the other hand, I do think it's a good practice to find out what people are comfortable with individually, which is different than asking something like "what are you people comfortable with?" What one person finds politically correct, another person might find insulting or uncomfortable. I don't think it's out of line to ask someone to tell you what they personally are comfortable with, and I wonder if maybe that's what the speaker was getting at...? Not that she communicated it well, clearly, and judging by her tone it may not have been anything near as sensible.

I've just always been in the camp that I will treat each individual person how they would like me to treat them, and that requires asking them what they would like. And I don't think it's entitled or offensive to do so(or at least I hope it isn't; I've been unwittingly ignorant before, god knows), because I'm not asking them to be an authority on anything other than themselves.
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[User Picture]From: jemyl
2011-09-21 09:14 pm (UTC)
Bravo! Many people now consider me a southerner when they meet me. Actually I am what is known here as a "damn Yankee" i.e. one who came here and stayed.

Am I privileged? Yeah, I am, I've been privileged all my life to know a lot of people from all walks of life, sexual, gender and religious persuasions as well as races. I've even been criticized for bringing an asian date to a party thrown by someone I had no idea was anti-japanese! It bothers me not. I attempt to treat each individual as just that, an individual with all their individual views, some of which I will agree with and some of which I can and sometimes do fight about passionately. Yet, in every case I will fight just as passionately for that person's right to hold whatever theri views might me.

Sometimes I'm sesnitive. Sometimes I'm not. What I always work to be and become is caring about who each person is and wants to be. Above all I work to be fair and true to who I am and who I see them to be with me. I hope that when I appear insensitive that they will care enough about me to tell me of my error so tha we can move on closer as people.

I hate much of the pc stuff out there. We are so concerned about being politically correct that we often miss being caring toward one another on a personal level. PC does not replace just plain caring for me. In many cases I see people making pc the important thing when it should be PEOPLE!

But then, I'm just a 70 year old little old lady in purple clogs who is kind of crazy and very opinionated. Peace ----Ellen a.k.a.jemyl
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[User Picture]From: weirman
2011-09-21 10:26 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I had a very similar class for LGBT sensitivity and the transgendered instructor said the same kind of thing about asking for education. (Not to much the cute little etc. etc.) He stressed that it's a lot easier to be asked to instruct about it than to deal with the silence and often incorrect assumptions. Of course, in this case, his viewpoint was also based on his experience.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-21 10:40 pm (UTC)
Some people are very willing to educate.

Assuming that ALL people are is an error.
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[User Picture]From: roaming
2011-09-21 11:55 pm (UTC)
"No. It's not okay to expect your LGBTQ, pagan, differently abled, racially diverse, etc., friends to be available to educate you. Such an expectation is exhausting and irritating. It signifies a"different than" mindset. It presumes a level of access that's intrusive."

But then how will I learn what it's like to 'walk a mile in their moccasins'? I can't make presumptions, and I don't want to be ignorant.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-22 12:10 am (UTC)
There are lots of resources out there for self-education, and there are proper times to discuss such things. But the expectation that it's their responsibility to educate you is not okay.
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2011-09-22 05:09 am (UTC)
As one of the "cute little latinos" I totally see where you are coming from. I guess its a good thing that this woman was surrounded by white faces ...but then again I'm sure that the "cute little latinos" she has dealt with are the ones that mow her lawn.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-22 11:19 am (UTC)
I think they were working on a project outside her office, but pretty much, yeah.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-22 03:26 pm (UTC)
Most of the time I don't ask because there is no reason for me to be addressing the person as anything but themselves. It's okay to discuss in the proper situation, but not the kind of casual expectation that was suggested.
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[User Picture]From: lawchicky
2011-09-22 02:59 pm (UTC)
Unreal! Of course these are the types of courses we're encouraged to take to keep our law license. I HATE CLE. For the last two or three years, I've begun taking my cross-stitch project with me to the sessions and stitching the whole time. If I'm not going to be getting paid for the day, I might as well have some progress with a crafty project.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-22 03:21 pm (UTC)
I've been fortunate to find pertinent and interesting ones in the past, but this was painful.
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[User Picture]From: elfwench
2011-09-22 11:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear... Yes, there are resources. It was her responsibility to provide them, too, in my opinion. I'd love to hear what she was saying on etiquette with those who are mobility impaired. I bet she's one of those who would speak slowly to me, and at a cocktail party she'd end up using my wheelchair as a leaning post while I'm in it. Yes, the latter is a major faux pas too many able bodied people make, forgetting that my chair is an extension of me. And yes, there are resources that will tell you just that. Sorry you had to go through that. {{hugs}}
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-23 03:33 am (UTC)
That's just infuriating. She babbled on for a while about being careful about what term you use, but nothing constructive.
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[User Picture]From: natf
2011-09-24 01:36 am (UTC)
The tutor in question needs a copy of this post to continue her education.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-09-24 02:03 am (UTC)
She didn't understand, but she was open to looking into it.
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