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  #161  
Old 27.05.2011, 17:42
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Re: Kids in blackface

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No, HIS name is Hank, and I feed him peanuts.
Same semantic field: pee nuts
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Old 28.05.2011, 05:25
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Re: Kids in blackface

To the people who have sent me negative rep accompanied by vicious personal attacks:

I am not American, but don't find it offensive to be called so. I do find it interesting that you express your disapproval of my censure of people mocking another race by using insults based on my national origin.

Caricaturing other races is wrong and offensive no matter what country it's in. The human right of self dignity is applicable here, and as far as I know, Switzerland has ratified UN conventions on human rights and against racism. So my offense is not misplaced.

Halloween is my favourite holiday, so I am not against the wearing of costumes. It's not appropriate, however, to represent the origin of my neighbours, colleagues and friends in an ugly, clownish way. Did the girls mean to do so? No one knows, but someone surely should have pointed out the negative message they were sending. I'm wondering how the African women who wear their traditional clothes on a regular basis here felt when they saw those girls with what appeared to be excrement smeared on their faces.

Whether anyone likes it or not, Switzerland is a plural society. It permeates the constitution, with the power-sharing between the different linguistic groups clearly laid out. It has also become a multi-racial society, and not always such a harmonious one. Racial caricatures have nothing positive to add to this scenario. At the very worst, they promote discord, at the least they hurt people where no one deserves to be hurt. And it has nothing to do with having a sense of humour. It's enough to have to rely on your sense of humour people stare because you look different, or when it's twice as difficult to get an apartment or job because of your race.

I come from a multi-racial, multi-religious family, many of whose members escaped this continent once upon a time because 'harmless' caricatures morphed into something rather more murderous. My views are based on coming from a place where people have had to consciously shed stereotypes and prejudices in order to create a society safe and nurturing for everyone. It's not perfect and has been a work in progress for some time. But it's the way of the future, if we want to not only survive, but evolve.That's also true here. I mean, what's the point of European unity?

Finally, I participate in this society, aside from paying taxes, am soon to be the wife and mother of Swiss people. I have the right to my opinion about how things are done here, and the right to be taken seriously, regardless of where I come from. To those who somewhat cryptically told me to 'get a life': I have one, and it is being played out in a world that is much bigger and richer than you seem to be capable of imagining.
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  #163  
Old 28.05.2011, 08:09
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Re: Kids in blackface

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I'm wondering how the African women who wear their traditional clothes on a regular basis here felt when they saw those girls with what appeared to be excrement smeared on their faces.

OK, so you made a reasonable post with your reasons for feeling offended but you would have drummed up more sympathy with me until you compared the face make up with excrement. Sorry, but for someone who is so acutely aware of "offensive" things and other peoples sensibilities, you aren't shy of dealing it out yourself.

My other point is; did you actually do anything to "educate" the girls you saw - either speak to them directly or go to the school to complain or was your first reaction to launch an attack on EF?

Bleating about school kids dressing up in traditional dress on a forum with people who are already anti-racist sadly will not rid the world of racism.
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Old 28.05.2011, 08:58
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Re: Kids in blackface

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OK, so you made a reasonable post with your reasons for feeling offended but you would have drummed up more sympathy with me until you compared the face make up with excrement. Sorry, but for someone who is so acutely aware of "offensive" things and other peoples sensibilities, you aren't shy of dealing it out yourself.

My other point is; did you actually do anything to "educate" the girls you saw - either speak to them directly or go to the school to complain or was your first reaction to launch an attack on EF?

Bleating about school kids dressing up in traditional dress on a forum with people who are already anti-racist sadly will not rid the world of racism.
The way she described the makeup made me think that it was actually poorly applied on their face in patches and not smoothly and equally all over the face. (The comparaison to the excrement could be what it actually look like... )

Now, I agree with you that people need to be educated. But honestly, do you go to someone you don't know in the street to educate them? I would be scared to get my back side kicked with good reason.

Can you imagine if we all went to everybody in the street to tell them what we were thinking about their behavior...

She turned to this forum to express her opinion. Isn't it what we all do?
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Old 28.05.2011, 09:10
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Can you imagine if we all went to everybody in the street to tell them what we were thinking about their behavior...
We'd be handed a little red passport, wouldn't we...




(just joking - before someone takes offence!)
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  #166  
Old 28.05.2011, 09:48
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Re: Kids in blackface

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OK, so you made a reasonable post with your reasons for feeling offended but you would have drummed up more sympathy with me until you compared the face make up with excrement. Sorry, but for someone who is so acutely aware of "offensive" things and other peoples sensibilities, you aren't shy of dealing it out yourself.

My other point is; did you actually do anything to "educate" the girls you saw - either speak to them directly or go to the school to complain or was your first reaction to launch an attack on EF?

Bleating about school kids dressing up in traditional dress on a forum with people who are already anti-racist sadly will not rid the world of racism.
Thanks for the reply.

Honestly, the face paint had the application and aspect of a certain indelicate bodily waste product. How else should I put it? That's precisely what made the whole get-up offensive!

As for the second part of your comment, I'm not in the habit of stalking children and moreover, it's their parents I'd like to speak to. But as an educator, part of my calling is to act against discrimination and injustice. So while I did not berate these girls (which would have been difficult since I was rendered totally speechless by something I had never actually seen outside of movies) I'm confident that my karma bank has a healthy balance with regard to effecting change.

And please don't twist my words: I was NOT 'bleating' about children dressed in traditional dress. I had an issue with the fact that they took something beautiful, and made it ugly and offensive with their face paint. What I would have loved to have seen was these two girls showing off their natural beauty and poise, which is the essence of a national costume regardless of skin tone. Were they to insist on changing the colour of their skin out of some idea of authenticity, well there are more attractive ways of doing so. As I said before, in a climate where immigrants are encountering increasingly hostile treatment, a person wanting to show respect would make the effort. I teach 14- to 16-year-olds (in Geneva, not Lausanne, maybe it makes a difference) and they are not clueless about these things.

The complaints corner is all about preaching to the converted, is it not? It's an outlet for people who get stressed out by things they reasonably find incomprehensible for whatever reason. Anyway, I never imagined having to justify why racial parody is just plain wrong.
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  #167  
Old 28.05.2011, 09:57
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Thanks for the reply.

Honestly, the face paint had the application and aspect of a certain indelicate bodily waste product. How else should I put it? That's precisely what made the whole get-up offensive!



I had an issue with the fact that they took something beautiful, and made it ugly and offensive with their face paint.

I teach 14- to 16-year-olds (in Geneva, not Lausanne...

Anyway, I never imagined having to justify why racial parody is just plain wrong.

I think your inner fairy has lost to your inner racist... Your disgust at these children is just a failed projection of racial intolerance and your rant cum secret call to the EF "whites only" has failed miserably.

Last edited by Longbyt; 28.05.2011 at 11:21. Reason: Removed sentence in the quote which I cannot find in the original.
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  #168  
Old 28.05.2011, 09:59
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Re: Kids in blackface

After reading this thread, all I can say is - you think the SWISS have no sense of humour? Seriously, the venom flying around about something silly like this is quite shocking. I bet if you had asked those girls what they think about 'Africans', they would have said positive things. And racist is as racist does, some people make un-PC jokes but act very differently in 'real' situations, whereas a lot of people are the other way round.
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  #169  
Old 28.05.2011, 10:35
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Thanks for the reply.

Honestly, the face paint had the application and aspect of a certain indelicate bodily waste product. How else should I put it? That's precisely what made the whole get-up offensive!
It had to be described as poo? Not chocolate? Treacle? Shoe polish? There's nothing else brown and smeary that's not so inflammatory as poo?

OK, so I wasn't there to witness it but if it were me trying to get people to see it from my point of view I would use a more delicate way of describing it rather than putting a picture in our minds that 16 year old girls in Lausanne go around smearing themselves in poo, which is obviously not true.

A foundation of diplomacy will help to stabilise your moral high-ground.

Last edited by Sandgrounder; 28.05.2011 at 10:46.
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  #170  
Old 28.05.2011, 10:53
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Re: Kids in blackface

There is a difference between "blackface" and makeup (whether every-day or theatrical) used to darken (or lighten) one's skin...

Particularly with the usage of the word "caricature" in today's post, it seems pretty obvious that the appearance of the girls and the makeup used was more poking fun than inspired by beauty and appreciation.

So, it was done for some sort of school event and we should all accept that this makes it okay (), I'm of the mind that just because it may have been okay for the school event, does not make it okay to roam around town dressed as a racial caricature. If it were a town-wide event (like Fasnacht) it may have been a different story.



On the other hand, as the culture here IS different, I do happen to think the best thing to do is step back and try to see it from a local point of view. The connotations and intent behind it almost "cannot" be the same as "blackface" in North America.

The Swiss folks I've met have no problem with poking fun at anyone and anything, including each other and themselves. There simply is not the sense of rampant (and near "rabid") political correctness here that had become necessary "across the pond". It is possible to go above and beyond to the point of the pc'ness being as (if not more) insulting than the racial comment / attitude itself.



For me, after having heard the types of racial / nationalist issues that there actually are in Basel, I'd be more shocked and offended if someone was obviously "aping" folks from Eastern Europe than black Africans. The reason for that is that I have heard many more deriding remarks and seen more problems between them than I have seen any "black and white" problems here. Perhaps I simply haven't seen it and it's there anyhow but it makes more sense to me, from a social history standpoint, for the "racial" problems here to be more of an East vs West issue and / or a religious issue, rather than skin color.
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  #171  
Old 28.05.2011, 11:07
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Re: Kids in blackface

Thanks, Peg, for showing that it's possible to make intelligent comments without resorting to personal attacks.
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Old 28.05.2011, 11:24
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Thanks, Peg, for showing that it's possible to make intelligent comments without resorting to personal attacks.
What brought the heat on was the absolute nature of your first post. You condemned the act, the school, the girls, and their parents.

You didn't open a discussion, you pronounced something as very wrong.

And it's simply not that black and white.

And so the reaction came, and unfortunately some of the replies were just as absolute and judgmental toward you as you had been toward your proposed guilty parties in the original post.

You dig? 'Course you don't have to agree with this. But a discussion can occur if you say "I don't agree", something else will happen if you say "Wrong! Condemn!".
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  #173  
Old 28.05.2011, 11:28
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Re: Kids in blackface

I have taken this sentence quoted by UpTheHatters2008 in post 168 out. It was supposedly written by kslaussane but I cannot see it in the original.

"You are clearly struggling internally with the issue of colour and race. What you have projected onto these kids is unjustifiable and your discrete white's only call to EF members has backfired..."

If it is indeed a quote, please let me know and I'll replace it.
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Old 28.05.2011, 12:08
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Re: Kids in blackface

I think this thread screams for an EF event. Everyone white has to dress up as African, everyone black as stereotypical European.

Options for white people:
- Moorish dress with turban
- colorful tribal dress
- "Robert Mugabe" - crazy dictator uniform

Options for black people:
- Swiss farmer (they sell those light blue shirts in the tourist shops)
- Bavarian Lederhosen/Dirndl for the girls
- French style with stripy shirt, baguette and berret hat
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Old 28.05.2011, 12:12
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Re: Kids in blackface

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I think this thread screams for an EF event. Everyone white has to dress up as African, everyone black as stereotypical European.

Options for white people:
- Moorish dress with turban
- colorful tribal dress
- "Robert Mugabe" - crazy dictator uniform

Options for black people:
- Swiss farmer (they sell those light blue shirts in the tourist shops)
- Bavarian Lederhosen/Dirndl for the girls
- French style with stripy shirt, baguette and berret hat
What about us off-whites?
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Old 28.05.2011, 12:21
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Re: Kids in blackface

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What about us off-whites?
We will use the von Luschan Skin color chart:



1-18: You go as a African

19-36: You go as European
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Old 28.05.2011, 12:45
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Re: Kids in blackface

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I have taken this sentence quoted by UpTheHatters2008 in post 168 out. It was supposedly written by kslaussane but I cannot see it in the original.

"You are clearly struggling internally with the issue of colour and race. What you have projected onto these kids is unjustifiable and your discrete white's only call to EF members has backfired..."

If it is indeed a quote, please let me know and I'll replace it.
It was my original reply, I did not see it come up after I hit submit, so re-worded another one. I must have screwed up the quote tags on my iPad whilst replying.
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Old 28.05.2011, 12:59
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Re: Kids in blackface

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It was my original reply, I did not see it come up after I hit submit, so re-worded another one. I must have screwed up the quote tags on my iPad whilst replying.
Thought it might be. Glad we could clear it up.
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Old 28.05.2011, 13:51
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Re: Kids in blackface

Wow, so passionate. So we flamed somebody insensitively for that person flaming somebody insensensitively who apparently may have been mocking black people...

The whole drama seems rather over the top. I totally get OP, since she if I am not mistaken has been hired to teach in an international school, and not only install good language knowledge, but, as a foreigner, who was hired as a foreigner, is expected to instill sensitivity to certain issues. Normal, if you ask me. The fact she was disgusted, don't we all get disgusted here in the complaint corner, for one thing or another. Why make it all political, flame her big style, and in privacy, just seems like a cheap way to score here.

If I had teens giggling and making jokes while painting their face black, I think I would cringe. And explain. And ask for dignity. I have heard enough very offensive stuff, which seemed to be blurted out without a single second thought or a gist of remorse. Accepted mode of behavior. I think I would also grow a tad sensitive to that, if I didn't know from my experience how to deal with such pedagogical situations. And, I have always tried my best to share with teens what other cultures consider offensive, since they might happen to be in that culture one day. Just to say kids are innocent and didn't mean it poorly could be as valid as saying they did. What do we know....Why criticize OP for her opinion, that is coming from the roots of her culture? Why penalize her for what western culture took to the extreme? Why not take the time and explain? I do think that letting people live in their redneck bubble might be cute and all, but not necesarrily helpful for them should they decide to leave CH.

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So, you may as well groan yourselves for not taking her culture into account.
I agree.
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  #180  
Old 28.05.2011, 14:22
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Re: Kids in blackface

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If I had teens giggling and making jokes while painting their face black, I think I would cringe.
Then it would be a different situation. The OP said nothing about the girls she saw "giggling" and "making jokes" in their costumes.

Adding new and irrelevant details is not really going to calm things down, nor help the OP, is it?
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