Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cultural Awareness for Kids

Recently, Wife decided it was time to start exposing the kids to cultural things. Unbeknownst to me, it was time to start expanding their horizons farther than the pool during the summer. Whheeee cultural things! Now, I’m all for exposure to historical sights but it’s such a pain in the a--.

I know this isn’t the best attitude but the kids are marginally at the age when they can enjoy museums. So, this past weekend we went to Washington D.C and the Natural History Museum in order to introduce more culture into the kids lives.

Much to my surprise, the Natural History museum was a lot of fun. While there certainly were displays the kids were too young to enjoy, there were more than enough which were perfect for them. We saw skeletons, bugs, stuffed animals, and dinosaurs to entertain them for hours. But, all the walking around exhausted Tiny. Since Boy and Girl wanted to see more, I ‘volunteered’ to hold her while everyone else continued on.

Let me describe the sight for you. There’s a bench off to the corner. At one end of the bench is Grandma #1, quietly sitting, watching the world go buy. Next to her is Grandma #2, who is watching the world go by and rubbing an obvious ache in her knee. Then there is Tiny, curled up on my chest, passed out, and creating a small puddle of drool on my chest. Finally, there I am, sound asleep while holding Tiny. Yep, Tiny and I took a nap in the middle of the Natural History Museum.

Besides Museum culture, we experienced the local culture on the Metro! That's right, we were lucky enough to encounter some of the indigenous population of D.C. For those of you unfamiliar with Washington DC, it has your typical big city metro system. There are lots of people crowded into little, itty bitty trains. When we all piled onto the train and there was only one open seat. Tiny, being the smallest got the seat. What makes the seat interesting is Tiny, whose feet can’t touch the floor, in pigtails, and the cutest little pink dress you've ever seen, is sitting next to a very large, female native of DC.

In contrast to tiny, She is wearing short shorts and a tube top that is at least one size too small. Her nails extend at least an inch or two beyond the end of her fingers are colored one of the brighter shades of neon pink. She is also one of the biggest girls I have ever seen. To use a famous phrase, she has massive tracts of land! I think the only thing bigger than the massive tracts of land was her a--! I nicknamed her "Biggie."

Biggie was on the train with several of her friends. As the entire train soon learned, one of the girls was not happy. When Biggie asked what was wrong, her friend explained in no uncertain terms that she wasn't happy. I'll try to quote her as best I can, "Course I'm not happy, b***h! We was supposed to meet 2 Firetrucking hours ago but you was too Firectrucked up to meet me! COURSE I'M MAD FIRETRUCKING B***H!" Needless to say this response only upset Biggie, who responded with her own rant of Firetrucks, b***h, s**t, and many more colorful words. I think the only word the pack of girls didn't use was the N- word. But, it degenerated into a headbobbing, swearing, finger wagging, I can talk LOUDER than you discussion.

Inbetween the discussion, Biggie, noticed that Girl was staring at her. Biggie turned, and in a happy sing song voice said, “Aren't you just the prettiest little white girl!”

All I could thing to myself was “Little girl, please use your good manners! Now is your chance, please use your good manners! Because Biggie can beat your daddy’s a—“

Girl said in her nicest voice, “Thank you”

And Biggie turned back to screeching obscenities to her friends.


  1. What a terribly racist story. I feel sorry for "Tiny" and "Girl". It's a shame that your racist and bigoted post came up after a very innocent Google search for "cultural awareness for kids". How sad and very narrow of you to post such a commentary. You live in a vibrant and historic town and you choose to post this. Again, my sympathies to your children.

  2. Kelli-

    I gotta say, your comment has caused quite the little uproar behind the scenes here at Comics And...

    I read your comment. And then I reread the post, and I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Then I asked all the team members to reread the post. I asked them to agree/disagree with your comment.

    Not a one of us agrees with you. In fact, I had to talk people out of leaving really disparaging comments back.

    But, in response. A description of a person’s appearance and actions, without any value judgment put on it, is a far cry from racism.

    I was very careful NOT to judge. These were real people that I encountered. It was what they were wearing and how they were acting. Not a once did you hear me say ANYTHING to my kids about their appearance or conduct on the train.

    In short, when people post, it's amazing how much of their own baggage people cart along in life.

  3. Perhaps I do "cart along baggage in life" and perhaps my response was based, in part, on that "baggage". However, I am no dummie and I can read between a line or two ("a very large, female native of DC")and I have had many many experiences with behind the back racist comments and attitudes, but okay, maybe you aren't a racist. Whatever fantasy world you choose to live in..okay. But that you chose to write a blog about an event on the subway and call it "culture" is then just stupid. So, take your pick..racist or stupid.
    And by the way, I had several of my colleagues and friends read your blog and they agree wholeheartedly with me. So, go figure.

  4. Kelli - Wow you have people who think like you agree with you - what a surprise. Love how open minded you are and willing to see a different viewpoint and not just be a name caller. Sheesh!

  5. Jim
    Never once said I was/am open minded and as for name calling, I call them as I see them as did Lee.. "a very large, female native of DC." At what point did Lee stop to inquire exactly where "Biggie" was born?

  6. Kelli,

    True you did not say you were open minded. Name calling is not calling them as you see them, it is grade school (IMO). If you think someone is wrong, then trying to engage them in a conversation and see if you can see their side is how you maybe able to convince someone they made a mistake. Once you say someone is stupid they may stop listening to you at all. You last point is vaild as I'm sure he did not inquire as to the persons residency status.

  7. You are absolutely correct – resorting to name calling is a bit child like and does limit what is actually heard. The level of ignorance in the post brought out the “high school” in me. However, I don’t imagine that someone with Lee’s thought process “heard” anything I wrote anyway. Ignorance is blind and deaf.

    I was particularly incensed because when conducting my Google search, I truly needed information on cultural awareness in children. That I was presented with such ignorance disturbs me on many levels. That Lee, you and your colleagues do not find the post ignorant or racist disturbs me even more. Racial relations in this country are truly frightening. That the internet has given free reign to bigots, racists, and ignorance is terrifying.

  8. Just going to show that like minded people congregate. Which means either the three of us or her and her friends are somehow deficient. I’m going with the latter.

    Let me see if I get her reasoning. Lee wrote about an amusing incident on the subway that had to do with cultural differences, and just to be clear, not black or white, but low brow and middle brow. After all, Lee could have substituted any ethnic group into Kelli's presumption that the woman was black and had similar results if the person was loud mouthed and more or less ignorant. Lee recognizes this as cultural norm differences, as I’m sure this is normal behavior for our subway rider and her friends. Our objector doesn’t recognize this and castigates Lee for naming the blog post Cultural Awareness for Kids. Seems perfectly accurate to me. Who’s the stupid one here (not to mention racist in presumptions, as Lee never assumed there was something negative about the woman’s behavior, just that it was different from his and his kids’ norm)?

    And I'm not giving any benefit of the doubt on the attack on Lee for the statement that the woman was a native of DC. It's a fair presumption by Lee if 1) she got on at a local DC stop and got off at another, 2) she has a local accent, and 3) doesn't appear to be a tourist. Really, that's irrelevant in any case.

    The point was that the woman exhibited different cultural behavior than is present at Lee's house, neighborhood, whatever. It was harmless and funny. It's a litle something called humor, which often involves juxtapositions.

  9. Pardon the egregious English in the first paragraph. Should have been "she and her friends".

  10. Again, that you find Lee's post "amusing" or anything other than racist and ignorant is simply scary. Attempting to change the mind of a racist or anyone with such ignorant views and friends is futile. I'm out.

  11. Kelli - It is all down to how you define your terms and yes the internet has given a bigger audience to different views, but that is not always a bad thing. Free speech does have limits also, but we have to be careful with how we define the limits.

    Also I have never actually expressed my own view of the post, but I saw it as humor, but I don't have your viewpoint.

    I have always had the thought that if I give a presentation to 10 people and they all think I'm a jerk, then I was a jerk and need to change the way I give the presentation regardless of my intentions. I see this maybe the same thing, that their is no intention on Lee's part (IMO) to be racist, but if a reader perceives it as such I can't say they are wrong as this is a matter of opinion. I would just say intent is important.

  12. Kelli, I hope you're checking in at least one more time. You're tempting me to quote Dan Ackroyd on SNL when he'd proclaim "Jane, you ignorant slut!"

    You know not at all of what you speak. As you may have guessed, I'm white. Pale white, at that, unless you count freckles. However, my wife is black. Been married 17 years and have 2 kids, too. In fact, as a couple we've been together 22 years. I've run across racism over the years from people who objected to our being a couple. Somewhat amusingly, it's almost always been from black males, and often drunk ones on the subway, serendiptiously bringing us back to where we started in this less than informed discussion.

    The problem here is not that Lee wrote something racist. He wrote something classist. Which was funny, too. So far, class isn't a protected class, unless you're a Republican decrying Democratic tax policy.

    The problem, as you have admitted at points, is that you're assigning racism to Lee, and now me and Jim, where you have no evidence to support it. Granted, Lee's post was useless for the search you were running, but if that's a criteria for accusing someone of racism, we're all in the shit.

  13. COME BACK KELLI! The discussion was just getting good!

    Anyway, to clarify, no I didn't inquire where "Biggie" lived. She was on the metro when I got there. Talked about spending the entire day on the Mall, and got off in the middle of downtown. Since she wasn't loaded with a backpack and water like most tourists (ie. me) I assumed she was a local girl.

    Finally, I'm not sure where you tried to change our minds. You called me names and accused me of various bad things.

    That's supposed to make me change my ming?

  14. As Kelli appears to have left us, what's a ming?

  15. A terrible thing to waste.

  16. Jim
    you make a good point and I agree that intent is important. This tends to be the problem with the internet and writing in general if it is not made clear. The written word is always up to scrutiny.

    I appreciate your attempt to see the post from my vantage point, but that you saw humor is again, bothersome. Race aside, it was not funny. Don't get me wrong either, I have a finger on the pulse of humor, and NOTHING in that post is funny.

    I am like you in that if more than one person has issue with something I have said or written, I do a double take. But no one I know who has read the post finds it funny. Mostly, they feel the post is ignorant.

    I said earlier that I was/am not open minded, but that is completely untrue. I am. I have no choice. I am of ethnic heritage, a woman, am a professional and live in the United States. My world would be extremely limited if I chose NOT to be open minded. I don't know for certain, but I'm guessing that you, Lee and your friends/colleagues are white males residing in the United States. The world is yours. You can ridicule and make judgments (and Lee made a judgment) on "native" women riding the train, etc. and post it on the internet and then appear offended at being called a racist. In the whole of his day Lee chose to post a blog about a loud woman on the train and call it cultural awareness in children?? and you find no problem with this? Come on take a step outside your bubble.

  17. Red Dog
    I will undoubtedly continue this interesting, at times funny (what is a ming?) but honestly sad diatribe because well that's just who I am. Unfortunately, I cannot really respond to your last post because I am off for a run, but I did want to point out to you that marrying an African American or African or Latina or any other race or ethnicity is not your get out of being a racist card. In fact, that you made it a point to bring your "black" wife into the conversation, makes me question YOU all the more.

    Also and again I need to go, but this is a "class" issue??? Wow! You have some serious issues Red Dog...

  18. Kelli,

    You make some good points and I probably need to step further away from the post because since I know Lee that skews my viewpoint. When I knew the writer I probably add things into what I reading even if they are not there (if that makes any sense).

    One thing I can agree with is that it was an odd thing to find on your search and the title is a misnomer in that sense.

    I have to say that I enjoy listening to your viewpoints on this and find that listening is the only way to see someone else side to something.

  19. are right I did call you names and accuse you of bad things. Obviously, I do not know you. I do not know if you are a racist. So, let me just say that your comments are racist.