Once Again, I’m a Jerk and Didn’t Realize It

OK, I’ll tackle it. The race thing.

The reason this comes up as the topic of this week’s blog is that a Seattle Times writer decided to take on the Gilbert & Sullivan musical, Mikado. Go ahead, read the review, I’ll wait. In fact, while I’ve got you distracted, here’s what radio guy Dave Ross–one of the performers in the local production–had to say about it.

Because the actors in the show were white (Anglo-Saxon) and wore makeup traditional to the role, the writer claimed that it was a case of “yellow-face.” Think “black-face.”

Yeah, looking back, the whole Al Jolson thing was a bad idea, I get it. Of course, it was before my time and long gone before I was even a thought. Yet, believe it or not, in the year 2012, someone I know actually thought it would be OK to do a video that included a white person wearing black-face make up. No, seriously.

But, I digress.

The writer in the Seattle Times was Chinese, but she was taking offense at a white person putting on the white makeup and pretending to be a Japanese person. I’m sorry, but that escapes me.

I just find it hard to imagine to plan waking up tomorrow and dedicating my purpose for being as figuring out something that offends me. Oh, look—there’s something over 120 years old! Let’s target that!

Look, I get being sensitive. I don’t think any less of you because you’re (insert your ethnicity here). I also don’t think any more of you. I was pretty color-blind growing up in Torrance, California. I had friends with the last names of Ishibashi and Ikemoto.   I also had pals with the last name of Rico, Duarte and Espinoza. That was just their last names. So what?

We were a bit shy on our African-American count (I’ll bet we had three in the whole high school), but when I eventually had co-workers and friends who happened to be black, I never gave it a second thought.

There are the rules with race. Not overly sure I get all those, either. If you want the n-word to go away, stop using it. But it becomes a territory and you can say it, but I can’t. Never even thought about using it, makes me uncomfortable hearing it or reading it, but whatever.

I understand that people get offended. Tell a Norwegian and Swede joke and depending on how you insert the ethnicities, one will get offended.

OK, this has gone on long enough. Here’s the deal—I don’t hate you. I don’t want to make fun of you any more than I want you to make fun of me. I understand that people of almost every non-white heritage have undergone discrimination (see the Jews).

Yeah, it’s a topic people don’t like to talk about, but I want you to know that there are a lot of us out in the world who don’t mean to offend, who aren’t out to get you, who spend most of our time thinking about our own future and the bills and everything else going on in our own lives that we don’t have time to make being bigots a pastime. Oh, racist a**holes exist, I’m just not one of them.

Seriously, I don’t mean for your life to be difficult. But here’s a suggestion: don’t focus on what’s wrong with the things around you. Zoom in on the good things because, until you do, you’re missing out on a hell of a lot.

Oh, and sorry about what really bothered you when you woke up this morning, but I honestly didn’t mean it.

By the way, I’m not a fan of opera so I won’t be going to Mikado, so I’ll never know what you are talking about or how “unfair” it is. Then again, you wrote your review before you even saw this production, so I guess we’re even.

Which is,  ironically, how I’ve felt about you all along.

 

Tim Hunter

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