Sunday, January 21, 2007

Racist Insensitivity

Sad update: March 23, 2009

I learned about Jade Goody from the incident below when she said something amazingly stupid on TV. However, since then she's done a lot of good and has been a figure in British pop culture. Unfortunately, during that time she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and she died yesterday, March 22.

Here is a piece from The Guardian in the UK going over her short life: Jade Goody: At peace - and finally out of the limelight.

In this piece the author talks about the incident I wrote about below. She's right that it has been revised over time. For me, it was racist and insensitive. Time can't and won't change that. However, the important issue is Goody apologized and time proved her apology to be sincere.

For what it's worth, it's sad to hear she's gone. She was a fighter and that always endears public figures to the public, even me.

A clash of cultures? Photo and caption from the BBC News website.

Two interesting stories have come up dealing with racism.

One deals with the British TV show, Celebrity Big Brother.

The other deals with this year's annual joke issue of Princeton University's Daily Princetonian newspaper.

When the story about Jade Goody's treatment of Shilpa Shetty got out (Goody on the right and Shetty on the left), I had no idea who either one of them were. The only thing I knew about this edition of the show was that somehow Jermaine Jackson, Michael Jackson's older brother, ended up in the cast.

Um, okay...yawn.

However, this ended up as one of the top stories for the BBC, so I got to see it develop last week from watching the daily newscast in my hotel room.

For those not familiar with the incident(s) Celebrity Big Brother essentially puts famous people to live with each other in a house and everything is taped. Shipa Shetty is a famous Bollywood performer and she was subjected to racial bullying from the white members in the house.

The BBC has summarized what went on: Big Brother controversy in quotes

What do I think? Well, I didn't see the show. I've only seen selected clips, but I agree with the outrage.

I was particularly shocked to hear that someone was critical of Indian cooking and said that Indians were thin because they didn't cook their food properly. Considering the high amount of fat on British asses and the general distaste for British cusine, you'd think the person who said that might have thought twice before making that comment. I have never heard anyone say "hey, let's go to that British restaurant down the block!" I'll take Indian food over British food any day.

I'm glad that Goody got evicted and has apologized for her horrible behavior. There is something to be candid and having a reputation for speaking your mind, but it is something totally different when you shoot off your mouth without thinking about the consequences.

More links:
The Times of India: Shilpa fracas: Beauty and the Beasts?
The Celebrity bigot brother
The Independent: Look back in Ongar: Anger in her home town forces Jade Goody into hiding
BBC News: Schools 'must act on Brother row'

The second incident happened in this year's spoof edition of the Daily Princetonian.

In it there was a piece that made fun of Jian Li who sued Princeton after being denied admission.
"Hi Princeton! Remember me? I so good at math and science. Perfect 2400 SAT score. Ring Bells?" the article begins. "Just in case, let me refresh your memories. I the super smart Asian. Princeton the super dumb college, not accept me."
Come on.

It would be just as bad to make fun of an African-American student by using broken English or a native American student by using invoking images of Tonto from the Lone Ranger series.

"I think the article was extremely distasteful," Li said. "Whoever decided to publish it showed an extreme lapse of judgment."

Li now attends Yale and, I'm sure, he's probably happy that Princeton didn't admit him considering the insensitive madness published by Princeton's students.

More links:
Princeton Newspaper Stirs Controversy

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