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I absolutely wasn't, was I?

(66 Posts)
hazleweatherfieldgirldetective Tue 11-Dec-12 16:52:47

I recently volunteered to help out with my local girl guide group and last night was my first meeting with them. At the start they all played a game where one leader would call out a statement followed by an instruction such as 'if you have brown hair, move four chairs to the left'.

This went on for a while and in the end, the other leader was running out of suggestions, so the girls got a bit silly and started shouting out their own. One girl shouted 'Move one chair right if you're American!' to which the leader laughed and said 'No one here is American X!'. Another little girl, with a strong north-easter accent piped up 'I'm American!'.

'Yeah right! And I'm Japanese!' Responded the leader, placing her fingers at the corners of her eyes and pulling them tight cue much raucous laughing from the girls and the leader.

At this point I interjected, and told the girls it wasn't very nice to laugh at an entire ethnic group because of a physical feature. The girls went quiet, the other leader glared at me viciously, there was a short pause and the game continued.

I doubt very much I will be allowed back. But I wasn't being unreasonable, was I?

phantomnamechanger Thu 13-Dec-12 16:50:42

not all guiders are gossipy/bitchy no, whiteandyellow - but the possibility is there that the "word"/opinion of a newbie would not be taken against the word of an established, experienced & well known leader. They might just be seen as a trouble maker rather than having the best interest of the girls and the organisation at heart, IYSWIM. I can see senior guiders letting this go as they dont want to rock the boat and lose a valuable trained, experienced guider. Wrong, but true in some places I am certain.

Lifeissweet Wed 12-Dec-12 18:40:56

I know about non-pc BSL signs. I have a deaf DS, but this is entirely different.

I would suggest that if a Japanese child had been part of the group that she wouldn't have made that joke. That is because it is offensive.

I work in a school with quite a few Vietnamese and Chinese children. If I did something like that I would be facing a disciplinary, I can guarantee it - and quite right too.

hazleweatherfieldgirldetective Wed 12-Dec-12 07:13:18

But she wasn't doing BSL, Pumpkin. She was poking fun at a physical trait to a group of white girls in a very non ethnically diverse area.

The girls should be educated, not encouraged to laugh at someone they perceive to be "different".

I am a bit that do many on here seem to think that making 'Japanese eyes' is acceptable. I also can't believe that people are trying to claim that it isn't racist!

Depends. I use BSL at work, and one of the regional signs for Chinese still in common parlance is predicated on this - you don't stretch your eyes as such, but the sign clearly indicates this (not explaining well!). It could be perceived as iffy to non signers.

NishiNoUsagi Tue 11-Dec-12 23:42:36

As a mum to 2 half-Japanese dcs, thank you for standing up and saying something! can't believe people think it's acceptable to say that kind of thing - and if front of kids too confused

Lifeissweet Tue 11-Dec-12 23:36:50

I am a bit shock that do many on here seem to think that making 'Japanese eyes' is acceptable. I also can't believe that people are trying to claim that it isn't racist!

Saying that people of certain ethnic origins have certain physical characteristics is fine. No one is saying that pointing out differences in people is racist - but actually pulling a face to represent a physical characteristic in an attempt to be funny is an entirely different matter, surely. You can see that, can't you?!

Redorwhitejusthaveboth Tue 11-Dec-12 23:23:52

Yanbu - I also imagine you might be considering making a formal complaint to the girl guides association?

maddening Tue 11-Dec-12 23:18:32

Oh sorry with the pledge and ours was very church orientated I found so that's why i was under the impression but maybe that was just our pack. I only stayed a year after brownies smile

greenandcabbagelooking Tue 11-Dec-12 22:22:15

Maddening - no! See my post up-thread.

Sorry, I get very worked up about this. People see Girlguiding as a white, middle class, Christian organisation and it just isn't. We are for all girls and women.

maddening Tue 11-Dec-12 22:17:06

I thought girl guides and brownies were Christian - is that not why they "pledge my allegiance to god"?

I don't see your point though cumfy. Had she responded in a Japanese accent, I wouldn't have found it offensive.

Why would that be any more acceptable?

hazleweatherfieldgirldetective Tue 11-Dec-12 20:54:03

I'm sorry cumfy, its just I expect jokes to actually be, well, funny I suppose.

Also, no, an accent isn't a defining trait. Were my DS to move to Nigeria, he would grow up with a Nigerian accent. However, that would not lead anyone to refer to him as black African.

whiteandyelloworchid Tue 11-Dec-12 20:53:42

phantomnamechanger, is it really bitchy amoung the volunteers then?
are they into gossping about people?

cumfy Tue 11-Dec-12 20:50:37

Hazel now you're really confusing me.
Surely accents are just as obvious traits as physical characteristics.

And I maintain you're still avoiding the central issue of the dynamic of the joke versus the racial stereotype.

kirstytate Tue 11-Dec-12 20:46:23

Well done for saying something - although I also wonder about the girl that spoke up. I have two dual-national DDS who might have been put in a similar position just because their accents don't match other people's expectations.

JamieandtheMagiTorch Tue 11-Dec-12 20:41:54

considers self told

ChaChaDigregorio Tue 11-Dec-12 20:38:17

Thinks the original poster is being unreasonable. Sorry.

ChaChaDigregorio Tue 11-Dec-12 20:37:30

Is anyone who thinks the original poster of a different ethnic origin? Ever been on the hard end of the horrendous insidious racism that often rears its ugly head? No? Then shut up.

hazleweatherfieldgirldetective Tue 11-Dec-12 20:34:55

I don't see your point though cumfy. Had she responded in a Japanese accent, I wouldn't have found it offensive. But she didn't, she chose to poke fun at a physical trait.

cumfy Tue 11-Dec-12 20:32:55

Hey, see what you did there; neatly side-stepping the point.

See, you do have a sense of humour.

And I guess we'll never know whether the girl who asked Americans to take a step forward, was referring to native Americans.

slambang Tue 11-Dec-12 20:29:14

I'm surprising myself by actually finding you a bit U.

I massively commend your sentiment and wish there were more people around in the world like you with the guts to speak out against casual racism.

But actually I think you publically humiliated the leader in front of her charges. A private word afterwards would have been probably just as effective but not undermined her in front of a room full of probably difficult to manage and over-excited pre-teens.

hazleweatherfieldgirldetective Tue 11-Dec-12 20:22:18

Actually cumfy, that wouldn't be racist, as Americans are not, in fact, a race. Unless you're talking about native Americans....

GlaikitFizzogTheChristmasElf Tue 11-Dec-12 20:20:28

Sorry that's sounded PA, I didn't mean it that way. You are right. I just alway associate guide, brownies rainbows etc with the church as my pack were linked to the local Catholic Church, used their hall, fundraiser with them etc.

GlaikitFizzogTheChristmasElf Tue 11-Dec-12 20:18:35

Ok, any god, hand up you win.

greenandcabbagelooking Tue 11-Dec-12 20:10:41

Glaikit -you promise to "love my God" so not necessarily a Christian god. My brownie pack currently comprises two Hindu girls, a few Catholics, a few C of E, and lots who are undecided/undeclared.

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