catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Is *cino racist?


Jun 02 2003
10:06 am

I think Kirstin asks some good questions. Questions that we’ve all probably grappled with at least subconsciously at one time or another (I know I have, and still do to some extent).

It’s a complicated issue, and raises so many other questions. Asking the questions in the wrong way can easily lead a person to say ’I’ve got a couple of mexican friends, so I’ve done my duty’ (or in my case "my wife is korean, so …’).

And I think this kind of attitude can be pretty harmful, and can lead to the kind of attitudes I’ve seen in some suburban churches that I’ve attended where members try to do good things like helping renovate inner-city low-income homes, and then make statements about how “it’s good to see how ‘they’ live every now and then”.

Framing the question in terms of whether or not a person has ‘adequate diversity’ in his/her life often tends to put people into two groups: ‘us’ and ‘them’, at least subconsciously. How to get beyond that mindset is the really hard part, and I don’t really have any good answers. (And obviously, this is not just a white or a dutch issue, it affects people everywhere. In fact, if you really want to experience an extreme example of the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mindset, go visit Korea sometime :).

Visiting foreign countries (including korea) has taught me a lot about culture and race. It has let me to simultaneous appreciate and be disgusted by cultural homogeneity (the same can be said for cultural diversity, of course). Korea would not be nearly as fascinating as it is if they hadn’t fought tooth and nail for hundreds of years to retain their distinct culture. But the price of retaining their cultural history has been some pretty nasty and racist attitudes toward ‘outsiders’.

And to Laryn’s point, if every place strived to achieve the perfect cultural diversity quotas, this world would be quite boring, frankly. One of the most beautiful things about this world is the incredible variety of cultures and ways of life. To lose that would be tragic.

And yet, I despise the ‘rich white suburbs’. I don’t want to live with people that all look like me. I want to live in the city, in as culturally diverse an area as possible. So there’s obviously a tension there, I just don’t quite know what to do about it.