Jan 24, 2008
Egalitarianism and the Eagle
I may have mentioned elsewhere that despite our many faults, Americans should be praised for at least attempting to be a non-racist society. "Educated" society (and government officials) in many other supposedly civilized countries are perfectly happy to express a blanket hatred of whole populations, whether they be Kurds, Turks, Kenyans, or Belizians.
My Mérida pal David has spent many years in the US, and he told me tonight, "One thing that place taught me is that everybody deserves respect. No one's better than anyone else just because of the color of their skin."
Race portrayals in Mérida aren't politically correct, by 2008 US standards. Arabs and Dark-skinned Africans are portrayed in caricatures like we might have seen in the US some 40 or 60 years ago. Mind you, the US doesn't treat all groups equally. I haven't seen the South of the Border billboards in a while, but I know it wasn't long ago that they were still riffing on the "Pedro says" grinning Mexican. (Anybody remember the Frito Bandito?). Today I saw a billboard that reminded me of Pedro. The ad was for a Chinese market and had a big painting of a grinning Chinaman (slits for eyes, of course). In quotations at the bottom,
"PLODUCTOS CHINOS. PLECIOS BALATOS."
The joke, for those who don't speak Spanish, is that the words are supposed to be "Productos Chinos. Precios Bajos" [Chinese products. Low prices.]. In any case, I'm proud that my Spanish is good enough that I got the joke. Which reminds me, seeing how this is basketball season: my friend Amandeep SWEARS TO GOD that when he was at the Duke-UNLV game in some early 90s NCAA tournament, an Asian UNLV fan was chanting, "LE-bers! LE-bers". He swears. To God.
Photo yoinked from Bathwater Productions, San Francisco. Remind me to tell you sometime about the book Marya.
I am pea green with envy that your friend got to go to the Duke-UNLV game. That was the 1991 National Championship that Duke won. Gah.
Posted by: Celeste | Jan 24, 2008 9:33:56 AM
Um, "precios baratos", I think. I'm sure that "mas barato?" is on my index-card-sized list of phrases that I carry to every new country.
On a related note, it's funny how quickly you learn when visiting the US or Germany that "cheap" and "inexpensive" have distinct meanings. Are you made aware of the distinction in Mexico?
Posted by: Dave | Jan 25, 2008 2:10:37 PM
I suppose it is futile to point out that it is Japaneses not Chinese, that doesn't differentiate between "R" and "L". Chinese doesn't have a "V" sound - it took me a while to figure out what my instructor was saying when he was talking about "werbs", but then, I'm sure he finds my attempts to produce a convincing 3rd tone pretty comical.
Posted by: Tim | Feb 3, 2008 3:51:22 PM