Sunday, November 13, 2005

African-American Bread

So, I was at the train station the other day, ok? And I was quite nibbly. So I go up to the sandwitch stand, and I ask the guy if there's anything I can have with *black* bread - I'm on this low-GI diet, you see, mainly for health reasons. When I realised what I'd said, I immediately bit my tongue.

You have white bread. Check. But do you have black bread? Noooooo. You have wholemeal bread, or granary bread, or anything else but black. You may call it "brown" bread, which it is, but never "black" bread. OK, so it's not really black, it's light brown. But white bread isn't white either, really. It's just an even lighter shade of brown. Yet we're allowed to simply call "off-white with dark beige crust" bread "white" bread, and everyone knows what general taxonomy of bread we have in mind. We're just not supposed to simplify the notion of "not-white" bread into "black bread".
Social conventions of expression are so strange...

Yes, I'm just kidding. A slip of the tongue wouldn't get me a lawsuit, in this case at least. It's just the word itself, which has so many political correctness issues tied to it that it makes my tongue feel heavy every time I say it out loud - every single time I talk about bread, or clothes, or, why not, "that guy in Thursday's seminar group".

The whole issue makes no sense. I would like to think that everyone in their right mind realises how and why a person would be described, appearance-wise, as black. They should also realise, with no need for patronising explanatory remarks and sauce, that it's perfectly free of further connotations - racially hierarchical or otherwise. Still, people get offended. Not by the supposed intentions; just by the word itself.

And it's becoming unfair... Gradually, yet steadily, it does get to the point where, if there is an oppressor present in the matter, it's political correctness itself... The state of things where a person must avoid expressing themselves simply and laconically, to avoid being misquoted, or intentionally misunderstood.
I was never a slavetrader, a KKK member, or a racist for that matter - at least in terms of colour I'm not, because people who choose not to use their heads are indeed inferior in my book - so why must I pay for the mistakes of others, in the year 2005?

And racism only gains more power through this. Take the case of a child with really low self-esteem, at school, for example. If he gets special treatment because of it, we're only acknowledging the fact that he may be regarded as inferior, and, on top of that, we don't ever give him the chance to prove himself, in order to ultimately disprove his contenders. He'll be bullying material for the rest of his life. And the same goes with racism.

My gynaecologist is black. He's the one who recommended the low-GI diet, actually. Still, if there weren't racial issues floating around me, I might not have really noticed, or mentioned it to anyone - just like it doesn't affect me that my dentist's hairline is receding and he has an American accent, or that my GP is a 60-year-old lady. They're all good and successful doctors, otherwise I wouldn't trust them with my health. But they're also people, and they each have their own visual characteristics, backgrounds and life stories.

Anyhoo... Just another rant about an issue I can't change. It's out of me now.

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