Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Politically Correct: Which feet are better?

"Politically Correct"...it's an odd animal of it's own kind. It changes and twists and turns as it pleases. It can be your friend but also your enemy all at the same time.

In South Africa I remember trying to be very polite and 'Politically Correct', so I wrote my first university sociology assignment with the word 'African' instead of 'Black'. Every single 'African' word was returned to me vigorously crossed out in dark repeated scribbles of emphatic red, with the comment... "I am Black and proud of it! Aren't you African too?"

Every since then I love to use the word 'Black' when I refer to my lovely fellow Africans. For me it symbolises the finally jubilant struggle my fellow South African had to be recognised as equals. To not use it takes away some of the pride and dignity these people have in who they are, it takes away part of their culture, history etc. I get so thrilled when I see a Black Mother with a baby on her back here in the middle of Brisbane carrying her child as as only a Southern African can skillfully carry a baby. I cannot resist going to a fellow sister and discovering and sharing where we come from , why we left, what we miss etc, etc. If I occasionally hear a clicking language my head whips around and I have to ask if they are speaking Xhosa, for although I have forgotten most of the little I knew, it is is the music of 'home' to my Capetonian ears. These days I have good number of relatives who are 'Black'. Yet I see no difference between us, as most people would see. They are my cousins children or my sister's spouse with names and personalities, people I wish distance had not kept us apart, as with all my family back in Africa.

Of course I am African, I was born in Africa, brought up in South Africa, of African parents. Africa is part of my heritage and I love Africa. Culturally I am still African. I can still imagine the smell of it's sea, its veld; the feel of it's wind and rain; the sound of it's thunderstorms and weaver birds... I am Africa, even though I am so far away from Africa.

Yet, here in Australia and New Zealand I am not considered 'African', South African, maybe, but not 'African' .... I have not got the black skin to match the word. And if I use the word, 'Black' to describe anyone else, I am considered rude. 'People of Colour' would be better/polite/politically correct. Although it covers a multitude of people whom I would not ever consider Black, so there is not a direct correlation between my, 'Black' and their 'People of Colour'.

African is is used here, to describe Black people from Africa. Aboriginal or Maori, Torres Strait, Fijian etc is also used....my problem being that I cannot always tell the difference, having not grown up here, so 'Islander' is used too, but that excludes Maoris and Aboriginals. In the end I often give up confused and just make sure I am warm and kind to all.

Another area of political correctness that interests me....are the liberties allowed to those who are not comfortable with my choice of an 'alternative' lifestyle. It would not be considered polite/politically correct for me, as a home educator, to suggest to anyone else to think of homeschooling as a favourable alternative unless my opinion was invited. But others who chose to educate their children other ways think that they can tell me not to home school. Or they can use homeschooling as an example of legalism (which it can be) but not balance it with encouragement and love.

Another one...it is not considered polite for me to encourage others to have more children as blessings, again, unless my opinion is invited but people see it as their right to tell me not to have any more children, and to discuss in depth my stupidity and it's consequences and how I can prevent more children in embarrassing and rude detail...

And yet another one...it is seen as simply stupid or mad or plain well oppressed to be 'barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.' Hay, I love being that person....I love to kick off my shoes and have the freedom to bake cookies with my kids and the joy of feeling a new darling kick against me as I work. Political correctness has stolen a basic pleasure of feeling good and free and blessed to have the privilege to stay at home and not earn any money. One feels semi guilty about choosing such a wonderful, freeing lifestyle. I see it as a tremendous privilege, an honour to be with my children all day! I appreciate my hubby hugely for going to work everyday, to enable me to nurture and teach our children at home. I think I have the better deal. I would hate to go off to work and leave someone else the pleasure of my own children!

Political correctness covers a multitude of issues too vast to even mention them all here...gay no longer means happy, a newly conceived baby is called a fetus, just in case you should not want it and should feel guilty about it, and so it goes on. Political Correctness has of course protected and educated many people over it's lifetime and we can appreciate it for that. Yet, I think political correctness is simply a replacement of good Christan morals/standards, respect for others and good old fashioned kindness. Morals, ethics, and etiquette have been replaced by this thing, 'political correctness'. The problem with political correctness is that it is simply based on current 'standards' that vary with time and culture.

Be politically correct all you like but do remember to be respectful and understanding and kind in the process. Not everyone has to think as you do, not everyone wants to hear how you think they should be like 'you' and not everyone has to feel guilty for not being 'you'. Hay, I still love and respect you for being 'you'! LOL

Which feet are better?

Same feet, just a different perspective!
(Photographs by Jessica Murray)

1 comment:

  1. Good post ~ I agree completely....sometimes I get confused about why something I do is considered "politically INcorrect" - yet when someone does the same to me (school, babies, SAHM, you name it), they see no problem with it. Hard to understand and difficult to navigate.

    Just stopped by - got your site thru the QF list. I think I'll go check out some more of your posts ~ God bless!
    ~Lori in MI