Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Stereotypes

Look at the picture of me on my bio -- and you'll see a white girl from Denver Colorado.

In reality, I'm not just the Swedish/Norwegian/Danish/French/Scot/English girl that I appear (can you say "Heinz 57 American?), In fact there's one more detail that doesn't show up on my face: I'm Brazilian as well.

A guy on a travel board I belong to was saying how he doesn't like it that people stereotype -- make sweeping generalizations about certain ethnic groups.

While initially I don't have a problem with that statement, I also realize that stereotypes are, while sometimes terrible, a fact of life.

People look at me and see an Apple Pie American, wholesome looking and all that. While this is a great benefit to me when I have any police interaction (like getting pulled over for speeding, something that has NEVER resulted in an actual ticket), it has also worked against me.

I don't complain about being a wholesome-looking white girl, because most people don't equate my appearance with crime, organized or otherwise, they don't equate my appearance with subversive political activity, or with anything else that would cause anything close to chaos.

What bothers me is that political correctness has reached a level where we can't make fun of even ourselves, that someone can cock off about "not making sweeping statements about other cultures" without even being met with a joke.

Aw, c'mon.

I don't think making NEGATIVE comments about someone based on race or ethnicity is cool, right, or necessary. However, I do think that jokes like Garrison Keillor's observations & jokes about people like me who are Midwest-based Lutherans is just plain funny.

I don't think me making jokes about Blacks, Jews, Asians, or Muslims is funny, just because I'm not one.

But then I read a joke by Jay Leno or David Letterman in the next morning's paper, and they can make jokes about Dubai and their "managing" our ports -- and for some reason it's quite funny.

It's hard to know where to draw the line sometimes. One wants to remain diligent not to foster new problems between races, religions and other ethnic groups -- but at the same time, when does becoming PC get to the point that you've lost the ability to laugh about our differences?

When my Danish Mom was younger, she used to be so slow to get jokes that she'd be laughing in the kitchen the next morning after a joke had been told to her the night before. She'd even acknowledge the fact that it took her so long to get the joke.

So, my brother Jeff came up with a new joke to reflect this.

"How do you keep Danish people happy when they're old?" he would ask.

The punchline:

"Tell them jokes when they're young."

I hope the Danish cartoonists that are in so much trouble over the Muhammed cartoons don't read this blog.

It might take them a week to get it.

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