Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brief Rant

Not a real update because I haven't done much of note.  Teaching, grading, lesson planning, eating, sleeping, and pokering have kept me plenty busy.  I really need to get out and experience Taiwan because I am nearly 1/6 of the way through my contract.

Two things.  I finally got my hair cut.  Get this: I spent 1,000 NT (about 30 USD) but ended up going to a fancy-shmancy Aveda salon (on advice of a co-worker) and received a pretty freaking nice experience. Neck/shoulder massage, hand massage, nice ambiance, a fine haircut, I will definitely be going back.  I still can't believe it was only 30 USD.  What a bargain.

The other thing, my mini rant.  Before getting my haircut, I went to the local electronics emporium.  I am shopping around for a cell phone (any advice?) and wanted to see what was available.  I was at the HTC vendor and a few black people were also there.  While I was fiddling around with some phones, the black folk concluded their business and left.  Soon afterwards, I heard one of the salespeople refer to the black customers as "n*****s."  In the moment, I was shocked because, in the US, you just don't hear that word bandied about. I was even a little angry.  Was there any malicious intent?  I dunno.  If not, I don't think I can hold it against the Taiwanese person:
  1. Taiwan is (understandably) ignorant as to what the word means because black slavery isn't a part of its cultural history/identity.  They lack historical knowledge.  I highly doubt many of them know about cotton plantations, the Civil War, segregation, MLK etc.
  2. Second, Western (read: American) culture influences Taiwanese culture to a large degree and hip-hop music's use of the "N" word has probably played a role.  Taiwanese people hear hip-hop's incessant use of the word and probably assume that it is a part of American everyday vernacular but don't understand that it is actually incredibly rare to hear the word.  Furthermore, Taiwanese people wrongly assume that hip-hop culture represents ALL of black, American culture.  They might be shocked to learn that many Black Americans want the "N" word banned from any sort of use.  In other words, they see the slice of American culture which habitually (over?)uses the word but lack the understanding that black people (and black people alone) possess the cultural currency to use the word and, even then, it is contentiously used.  

I feel sorta weird about this because the "N" word is so loaded back home in America.  People die over the word.  Is it okay for Taiwanese people to use the word given their ignorance and lack of black history?  If so, how should I feel about it?  Should I try to exercise some degree of understanding and flexibility or should I remain rigidly indignant about its use?  Given how hateful the word is, I am sorta coming down on the side that I don't think it is appropriate.

End rant.

I will post some pics and vids when I have something of interest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no they knew what it ment.. why would just refer to black people a N's without knowing what it ment?