Saturday, April 18, 2009

Oriental is a Rug...not a person!

I came across a really great blog this week that really struck a cord with me. The blog is called Metrodad (poppycock from a cocky pop) and features the musings of a dad in NYC who refers to his daughter as Peanut and his wife, Boss Lady (which by itself is enough for me to really like him).

Here is an excerpt from his post on April 5th entitled, Oriental is a Rug: Five Quick Thoughts on Race. You can (please do) read the entire post by clicking the link.

Recently, the Peanut and I were at Whole Foods when an elderly woman approached her and said, "Oh my, aren't you an adorable little Oriental girl?"

Because the lady was so damn old and probably doesn't think she's offending anyone when she calls African-Americans "colored people," I shrugged her off and walked away.

Naturally, the Peanut turned to me and said, "Daddy, what's Oriental?"

I have to admit that I kind of stutter-stepped. One thing I love about little kids is that they don't think in terms of race or the color of their skin. They pretty much judge them solely on their ability to relate to poop jokes, Dora the Explorer, and farts.

As Dennis Leary once said, "Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list."

Now, for better or worse, I tend to answer the Peanut's endless questions openly and honesty. So I sat her down and gently explained to her, "Oriental is a word used to describe objects from eastern Asia. Like rugs or teapots. Some people of earlier generations mistakenly use the term to describe all Asian people. However, that's generally considered politically incorrect. Does that answer your question, kiddo?"

"Yes, daddy. Can I have a cupcake?"

Proving once again that, in a perfect world, the only color that should ever matter is the icing on your cake.


Perhaps in the big scope of offensive terms, "oriental" may not seem that bad. However, after years of dodging comments, questions, assumptions and general ignorance it pleases me to know that I am not alone in my quest to teach my children ultimate tolerance.

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