The first time I encountered a direct racist comment was in England (that I can remember). A student kept pestering me and asking me “if I wanted fried rice”. He also made all these sounds that were supposed to resemble the Chinese language. I found out who he was and reported to the head of the year. I also offered to hold a racism workshop (no response about that; the only punishment that was given was a suspension – where the kid got to spend a couple of days at home). However, a colleague and I did (in conjunction with the Language Department) start a Chinese Club – educated younger students at the school about the Chinese culture.
It was one of the worse experiences in a school that I’d ever had. It was one of the most difficult part of that job – trying to open up the students minds (especially in such a “enclosed” community).
Today was the first time that I experienced a direct racist comment since England. I was walking on King (in downtown Kitchener) and in passing, some guy and his friend told me “hey, rice is over there”. I was shocked and speechless. I shot him a quick, angry look before catching my bus. Afterwards, I’d wished that I went back to them and said something. On my bus ride to volunteering + work, I’ve been thinking about what I would say if it ever happens again. Maybe question the person, or just plainly say that it’s rude and inappropriate? Or maybe nothing I say will make him and his friend think differently?
I am not perfect, sometimes during a conversation with friends some comments that are discriminatory come up and we laugh it off as jokes. Maybe we need to be more careful of what we joke about?
I wrote this on Friday. After reading a friend’s e-mail: maybe we also have to be aware that everyone is a little racist? (Not that this makes it ok to say racist comments.)