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canbelto
12-15-2010, 02:33 AM
I'm writing this because there's a guy at work who's Jewish, in his 50s, and all the science teachers work in one crowded room. He happens to talk a lot. Most of the time I tune him out, but the thing is, he's married to a Chinese woman. He got her to convert to Judaism ... fine, great, I'm happy for him. But he's really fond of making comments about how he "improved" his wife's culture by converting her. Things like "Chinese have great work ethic but no sense of humor, and by marrying a Jewish guy she's now as salty as the rest of us!" Or, "By marrying a Jew I gave her a history she can be proud of!"

He once implied that I should join a group that sets up Chinese women with Jewish men, with the idea that the Chinese women would convert to Judaism. I told him politely that I wasn't interested in any such thing, and he's given up on that, but the subtly racist comments are really bothering me. Things like "My doctor's office doesn't know what it's doing -- he hired some Russians, that's why."

I'm not really asking for advice, I deal with him my own way, but I was wondering, do you know of people who are just sort of subtly racist? Meaning they don't use any slurs and are all for civil rights, but then make little comments here and there that drive you up the wall?

BigB08822
12-15-2010, 02:38 AM
I live in Louisiana, I see 100 a day!

carrot
12-15-2010, 05:03 AM
My professor does the to me; since I'm not "American" therefore I cannot write, never mind the fact that I attained an A grade in O level English.

Auntie
12-15-2010, 11:34 AM
This is a really good question and one that I used to struggle with often. I lived in small town in SC and would hear subtle (and not so subtle) racist comments every day. I just gave people a blank stare and abruptly stopped my end of the conversation. Sometimes I felt like a coward but also didn't want to go through life fighting with every stupid gas station clerk.

Your situation is more complex as you see the person all the time. I'm interested in reading other people's responses.

Wyliefan
12-15-2010, 01:39 PM
He once implied that I should join a group that sets up Chinese women with Jewish men, with the idea that the Chinese women would convert to Judaism.

There's a whole group?? Good Lord.

I'd be straightforward with him about it. I haven't had to deal with this in the office, but I did have to deal with a boss who was a terrible gossip and was always coming into my office to dish dirt that I didn't want to hear. I don't mind hearing all about what figure skaters are up to, but I don't care about the private lives of my co-workers! I told him straight out, "I don't like listening to gossip." He was taken aback and sort of stammered, "Well, I don't either. . . ." :D He still tried it another time or two and I kept shutting him down until he quit.

If it were a case of racism, I think I'd just say something like "I don't think that's fair to [Chinese, Russians, whoever]." Period. You've made your statement, it's clear and unmistakable, and if he has even the most rudimentary conscience, he knows it's his fault.

danceronice
12-15-2010, 02:29 PM
Well, regarding Russians, was his family/him from Russia? Russian Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, any other ethnic minority old enough to remember Soviet times often have a very valid reason for disliking Russians, much the same way many groups (funnily enough with much overlap) have a strong reason to dislike Germans. Not fair to THESE Russians, perhaps, but not without basis. My Ukrainian grandmother and great-grandmother hated Russians all their lives. My doctor back in MA was Russian and being a Latin dancer, I know plenty and they're all perfectly nice, but I recognize 'nice Russian' is not an experience my grandmothers had.

And...hooking up Chinese women with Jewish men? That sounds like those weird groups where American guys go trolling for Russian mail-order brides. Very odd. Actually, exceptionally odd, Judasim if anything...well, they don't violently oppose converts but it's not an evangelical religion. More traditional rabbis will start with a convert by discouraging them and making them come back and ask several times. The whole scenario sounds a little kinky to me. I'd just tell him I'm not interested in discussing my dating/religious/personal life and work and say "It makes me uncomfortable when you try to get me to join dating groups." (Are you on the Jewish or Chinese/male or female side of that? Because especially if you're the 'target' group that is really inappropriate for work.) Either way it's harassment, if he's trying not-so-subtlely to insult your ethnic group/pressure you about religion, it could even be actionable.

Bev Johnston
12-15-2010, 02:56 PM
I worked with a Jewish woman who criticized my non-confrontational style of conflict management by saying, "You Christians. You're so meek and mild. Us Jews would never deal with this problem like this." I was so shocked that I actually said nothing. I couldn't come up with any reply. In retrospect I wish I would have told her that her comment was offensive and she was really hypocritcal, because she had no issues running to HR when she felt offended. She needed to hear it. The way I dealt with it was to not discuss any of my work conflicts and limit conversations with her. Probably not the best plan.

Satellitegirl
12-15-2010, 02:58 PM
I'm a smartass, so I'd probably start responding with something like "It's nice that she's taken you in. Does your wife work in other charities as well?"

Or maybe you could just say "dude, knock off the racial remarks, I don't care for that." Sometimes blunt is the best option and gets the point across. If they get huffy, they're just embarrassed. They'll get over it.

paskatefan
12-15-2010, 03:09 PM
As a Jew, I hope no one else starts to stereotype all Jews in this way. My goodness, we've have enough of that throughout our history. I'm embarrassed for Jewish people who harbor prejudice like that for other ethnic/religious groups.

Bev Johnston
12-15-2010, 03:14 PM
As a Jew, I hope no one else starts to stereotype all Jews in this way. My goodness, we've have enough of that throughout our history. I'm embarrassed for Jewish people who harbor prejudice like that for other ethnic/religious groups.

I absolutely do not think that all Jewish people behave this way or harbor these feelings. I have several Jewish friends and they do nothing of this sort. I think the woman that I worked with was a socially inept buffoon and not representative of an entire religion/culture.

Badams
12-15-2010, 03:20 PM
I'm sort of a sarcastic prick, so when I encounter racism...subtle or not, I usually display my disgust in the least subtle way possible. I like to draw attention to the person and hopefully watch them squirm with embarrassment. Probably not the best way to handle things, but I haven't been punched yet.:lol:

Rock2
12-15-2010, 04:23 PM
But he's really fond of making comments about how he "improved" his wife's culture by converting her. Things like "Chinese have great work ethic but no sense of humor, and by marrying a Jewish guy she's now as salty as the rest of us!" Or, "By marrying a Jew I gave her a history she can be proud of!"

I find that most comments deemed racist are not in fact racists at all. Sometimes when people point out an aspect of a culture or religion that might even be a stereotype with some truth, to me it's not racist. We should celebrate the differences in our culture and at times this means pointing out how each culture is unique. Nowadays we can't do that without being called a racist.

But this comment to me DOES fall into racism. For me, the line is crossed when there is judgement or criticism attached to the cultural discussion. At that point the racism isn't subtle. Saying that he has improved someone's culture is a direct judgement against someone else's culture in favor of your own. That's bad.

My answer to him would address his arrogance and ignorance to assume that his culture's penchant for creating fun at the expense of a situation or maybe even a person is arguably lower culture. The Asian culture of respect may be seen as, sure, less fun, but perhaps much more sophisticated and more likely to breed harmonious relationships. How dare he assume his way is the best. It could be his preferred way of interaction but in no way does he determine what is right/best.

So that's arrogance and ignorance that must be pointed out....and perhaps it's only the jews themselves who would see their culture as superior. I wouldn't necessarily agree.

Ice Queen
12-15-2010, 04:44 PM
I moved to SC from OH 6 yrs ago, and quickly learned how the southern people feel about us northern folk. The majority of southern born people here, hate anyone from the north. They will come right out and insult you, once they hear you don't have an accent. The term "Yankee" is used everywhere, followed by insults/judgements. Oh yes racism is very alive here and they are still living the civil war card.

My own next door neighbor (southern) and I became friends. She's a senior, and I helped her with alot of things over the years. I then began working more and did not have the time to help her. She yelled and cursed and threatened me. Claiming she never wanted to see my "Cleveland ass" again. I then found out from someone, that she never liked the fact that I was from the north. I never yelled back at this woman, but had to simply walk away.

I've had to leave many jobs, due to the hatred these people shell out. But, realize they are the ignorant ones. How can one change the place in which they were born?

My advice to you, would be to try your best to ignore the comments from this jerk. Just walk away when he says something racist. Or do what I did with my neighbor.....I simply stated "I am done with you."

gkelly
12-15-2010, 04:55 PM
I moved to SC from OH 6 yrs ago, and quickly learned how the southern people feel about us northern folk. The majority of southern born people here, hate anyone from the north. They will come right out and insult you, once they hear you don't have an accent.

You mean, once they hear you have a northern/midwestern accent? ;)

Debbie S
12-15-2010, 05:00 PM
So that's arrogance and ignorance that must be pointed out....and perhaps it's only the jews themselves who would see their culture as superior. Talk about ignorance. As paskatefan pointed out, 1 Jew does not equal every Jew. This applies to all religious and ethnic groups.

As for the comments made by canbelto's colleague, I think the one about sense of humor might have been meant as a self-deprecating joke, or maybe not, since I didn't hear the way it was delivered. But I could see how it could be considered offensive, and the other comments I agree were all inappropriate.

I would suggest to canbelto that she simply ignore and walk away from comments like that and refuse to engage the person in conversation. Some people in that situation might get the message, some won't, but the best thing is to just exit from it. For comments made directly to one's face about them, I would advise telling the person that you are offended and don't wish to hear comments like that again. And then walk away.