During lunch today I glanced at Twitter and noticed an exchange between @Msloulou77 and @RedRoverSays, which I responded to:
I’ve copied and pasted the above to show the full sequence. At that point I didn’t know what the trigger had been for Lou’s original Tweet, I was thinking of the conversation from a colour perspective, but a little research enlightened me. Our Prime Minister had patted a disabled person on the head and Stella Young wrote about it from the perspective of a disabled person, Misguided gestures of a condescending kindness.
Another branch of the conversation went like this:
As you can see, I was thinking colour. We all think of what is most likely to impact us or our loved ones, I suppose.
I’m really not focusing here on the actual act of Kevin being a patter. We can all rest assured, I am sure, he wasn’t in any way being malicious: he was being kind in his own way. Would he pat me on the head? I doubt it. Why not? Because I am neither 4 years old NOR am I different.
Misplaced “kindness” explains much of the stolen generation. How much misplaced “kindness” is behind the Intervention? I wonder every day how much misplaced “kindness” is applied to our kids at school – not just our kids, many migrant kids. Teachers perhaps not pushing them as much as Australian kids out of “kindness”. After all, I did have people ask me had my family ever lived in houses before coming to Australia. Now, we have four teenagers (Miss 10 may as well be one) and as ANYONE with teenagers knows, there are times when we all ask ourselves have our kids ever lived in houses. Who has never asked a kid, “Where you born in a tent?” as said kid merrily dashes out leaving the door open yet again? Like a lot of kids, give these ones an inch and they’ll take a mile!
No, they had never done homework before and it has taken some time to develop that routine. I would say we are still developing good study habits. Yes, they asked on arrival did they have to take their own chairs to school and share them. Yes, the boys arrived from a patriarchal society not understanding gender equality. Does any of that mean they are less intelligent? No, it just means they are different. Yet I remember the look of surprise on an older teacher’s face when I said Miss 18 was definitely aiming for university.
It was these thoughts going through my head when I entered into the above conversations and I can see Stella’s perspective so clearly, that “the condescending attitudes we face IS big picture“.
Here were representatives of three different areas of concern all coming together over the question of condescension, of misplaced kindness. Rachael from gender equality, Stella from disability and myself from ethnicity. Lou, I think, was thinking all three!
Just because people have an accent doesn’t mean they need to be spoken down to or, even worse, shouted at. They have an accent, they aren’t intellectually challenged or deaf.
Carly Findlay has a striking skin condition. Carly hasn’t let herself get sun-burnt, nor is she going to damage the taxi. I was reminded of Carly’s recent experience when I was involved in the above conversations. Carly is now going to be involved in diversity training for the taxi industry.
Given all that Stella, Lou, Rachel and others deal with, we were within our rights to suggest the Prime Minister may not have acted in the most appropriate way. This next conversation snippet indicates we don’t know what we are talking about.
Joe Hildebrand makes a living from satire and usually I quite enjoy his work. Yes, it can be a little extreme at times and I think he is often misunderstood (either that or he is serious and I am the one misunderstanding :razz:). I would like to point out, in more than 140 characters, that to Joe and Sarah we are “do-gooders” being outraged. We are people involved deeply on a daily basis with bigotry, sexism, fear of difference and yes, misplaced “kindness”. Condescension from people who are not malicious, who don’t necessarily believe white is superior to black but do believe there is a difference and the poor little mites need help or lower targets or a pat on the head. We are NOT do-gooders, we are the front line warriors. We are entitled to speak up without being accused of being do-gooders as if we, like you Joe and Sarah, are standing on the sidelines as observers. I am sure both Joe and Sarah really did not mean to be offensive from their perspective, but we don’t want to be patted on the head, figuratively or otherwise. Perhaps we should just “calm down”, do you think?
Which brings me all the way back to the very first tweet I responded to:
Keerist, where do these white,middle class, able bodied minor celebs get off on determining what is racist, discriminatory, patronising?
Forgetting the “minor celebs” bit, because I really don’t know if Joe and Sarah are celebs major or minor, nor do I think it makes any difference. They could be the local greengrocer for all I care. The point is it is not up to them to decide what constitutes inappropriate behaviour towards difference. I agree with Stella it is the attitude that becomes the big picture because it becomes endemic and results in classification of groups as “less” in some way.
Just as Abbott shouldn’t tell a female journalist to “calm down”, neither should Rudd be patting people on the head.
There is a very interesting further discussion around the following Tweet URL if you wish to follow the trail further. https://twitter.com/Msloulou77/status/355151247231303682