Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Being "Better Than"

I have to say, it sometimes amazes me how people can fail to recognize how offensive and racist they are being.

I occasionally read a blog called Angry Tibetan Girl (warning: NSFW Language), and she reads OT as well (thanks for the blog shout-out, ATG.)  We have the same opinion about each other's blogs. To quote her: "I'm not down with every post, but I like it for the most part." We also express ourselves very differently, specifically since she's angry Tibetan girl, it's a lot of ranting.  But a lot of her stuff is interesting and on point, even if we don't agree all the time.

Now, other than pointing out an interesting blog, why is this here?  A western reader on her blog sent her quite a diatribe (linked here and copied below) in response to another post.  We've seen our fair share of diatribes here, so it's rare that one actually surprises me with it's venom and racism.  This one did.  It seemed to come down to two overwhelming points:  White people are better than Tibetans.  Tibetans are lower than white people.  How is this not racism?  Read it for yourself below:

Response to Hypocritical Tibetan Poster Girl: Don’t see her point. She doesn’t address what I said at all, only hurls insults. She brings up the “ungrateful” bit but doesn’t comment on how it’s not true. To wit: “failed at living in their own community..” — Angry Tibetan Girl clearly fails at living in the West, in fact her blog is a good example of that.
And many Tibetans fail at living in Tibet, India, and the West, in a myriad of ways, I certainly didn’t fail at anything,
I would be great either in the West or here in India. In fact,
I sacrificed a nice life in the West in order to preserve Tibetan culture and religion.
“Feel important and valued” — same idea, the racist and hypocritical Tibetans like ATG want to believe that they are somehow superior and special based on their ethnic background and that they are inherently better than everyone due to their race, and resent the people that help them, how much help they and their community has received from the West and how much they themselves actually know about Tibetan culture and religion
(probably not much, who wants to bet I can read Tibetan better than ATG?).
“Helped individuals perpetuate their ‘entitledness’” — maybe by acting like jerks like her and thus making us realize just how unsophisticated some Tibetans can be.
“Whiteness” — just a clear example of her racism.
This girl is the Tibetan equivalent of an Alabaman KKK member.
Proves my point. Unless, she’s jealous of “whiteness and entitlement/ privilege”… “Enji” —
it’s spelled Inji,
and it’s a totally retarded and inaccurate word anyway. That she doesn’t realize this shows the depth of her lack of deep thinking about the issues.
Of course we can forgive most Tibetans for using the word, but someone who is fluent in English and lives in the West?
“I’m not saying all Injis are crazy” —
I like to joke that to some Tibetans “Injis” seem crazy because they can hold a logical argument together without resorting to superstitions and stereotypes, and are capable of having more than 10 original thoughts in their heads a day.
This girl must have had some pretty redneck backward parents to talk this way, unfortunately not uncommon in the Tibetan community,
as I am saying. Her response proves all my points quite nicely.

According to this writer: Westerners are better at living in the west and east, and we shouldn't forget his brave sacrifice in coming here! He is better at reading Tibetan! He knows more about Tibetan culture! He is more sophisticated! He has better spelling of phonetic interpretations of Tibetan words which are based on individual dialect and accent. He is a deeper thinker! He can hold more thoughts in his head than a Tibetan! He doesn't believe in superstitions or stereotypes!  And here's the clincher: the Tibetan community is full of "redneck, backwards" Tibetans.

And of course there is the whole "they resent me for all the help I give when they should be grateful" mentality.  Regarding that, I want to leave the last word to a Tibetan in Tibet, who may have summarized it best:
"We don't need your 'help', you are not here for 'helping' us. You are here to benefit yourself as well. We don't want you guys to 'save' us.  We are developed in our standard, you are developed in your standard. No one is lagging behind or backwards."


  1. Provoking post in many ways, thank you! There's psychological truth in the idea that people are more likely to engage in "better than" talk when they are (in real life, as distinguished from the subjective-imaginary) feeling insecure. Insecure with good reason, really. We're all trying to do our best, giving things our best shot. Just please no stepping on other people with the excuse that you're made of better stuff than they are.

    Everybody's bound to blunder in this area, and I do mean everybody. So we all need a little understanding, something not necessarily furthered by pulling up the "R" word when we might not be facing the full-blown item. Being overly defensive might also reflect insecurity. In fact I'm sure it does. Crossing cultural lines is fraught with insecurities of many kinds. I admire the brave people who do it, I really do. People like, well, both of the sides you're talking about here! Yours, D

    1. no ones pulling the R word. Racial situations and Racisms exist. Better you except that fact rather than shy away from it. Only then you can face it. Hiding from it also means you're perpetuating the hate racism brings.

    2. I counted the word racism 8 times. Somebody's pulling it here. And is it for rhetoric, or are they talking about the full-blown item? And are they aiming at reducing or exacerbating it? And now I'm a person that's hiding from it? Soon the word will mean next to nothing if it gets pulled out so easily and for so little reason.

    3. Dan, I don't see what you're complaining about. If somebody used the word apple 8 times in an article about apples, would that be "pulling it" (whatever that means)? The idea that calling out racism risks exacerbating it is oppressive in itself; basically it means "you should just look the other way when experiencing racism so that you don't hurt the feelings of somebody in the privileged group from whom you might be able to get some scraps if you don't hurt their feelings".

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