June 29, 2013

Paula Deen

I'm sure she thought her language was quaint and Southern and part of her brand, but she's got a lot to learn. We all do, all the time.

That's why I'm surprised by the opinionated and overt discussions of nationality within the local Hawaiian community. I just don't know what to make of it when I'm around it, since I'm an outsider. For example, I was hanging out in the kitchen recently with a bunch of people and someone said "There aren't any Micronesians in here, are there?" before he launched into a silly Micronesian joke. There was a Micronesian in the room, but she wanted to hear the joke anyway. I kinda thought those jokes went out of fashion in the 1980s, when people started picking up on the fact that they could be hurtful.

Not everywhere, apparently. Last year's Aloha Festival was a two-stage affair, and one stage contained the MC, while the other stage was setting up. We were backing the halau, and were ready to go on one stage, as the MC warmed up the crowd with about ten minutes of "Portagee" and Chinese jokes on the other stage. You know the ones -- the one where there are three guys, each of different ancestry, in some situation that reveals the stereotypes of each ethnicity. I'm sure that Alan Dundes had a name for that specific kind of joke format.

Anyway, to me it was mortifying, as it was at a different event when a woman approached my bandmate when we were in the audience watching a show. The woman looked at his little daughter and said "What is she?" He answered, and she said "I knew it!!" Gee. I didn't think it was cool, but my friend didn't seem to be too bothered.

Does this happen everywhere? If people aren't bothered by it is it somehow o.k.? I don't think so, and I certainly wouldn't try it out myself ;)

It's on my mind, and I don't even know how to tag it.

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