The discussion was originated based on a comment that was said and you liked: Mitt Romney’s wife is ‘classy’ and the President’s wife isn’t. The point I was trying to convey was double: first showing that ‘classy’ is a poor and a superficial way of judging character and it’s based on stereotypes and so that particular comment can be understood in a racial way. Second was the fact that ignoring, or not ‘being aware’ (take into consideration, being sensitive) that such a comment is or can be taken in a discriminating way was wrong.
I would like to clarify for my own peace of mind what I meant during our conversation. I would like to think that you were not following my discourse and that’s why you got offended. I did apologize to you for saying what I said based on the ‘ruthless’ way of putting it out there. You heard: ‘he is a white racist asshole’ and ‘you are not classy’. Of course both sentences sound awful out of context and are ruthless expressions. Both expressions were said within a context in order to make a point. Of course you may still disagree and I respect the fact that you have decided to walk away; it is not my intention to disrespect your decision.
1) The american understanding of classy in the present culture is define between other things by external, accidental and superficial aspects of a person like way of dressing, external appearance, body shape, way of talking, skin color (race), tallness, etc. When the dictionary provides synonyms for classy says: elegant, courtly, fine, graceful, handsome,majestic, refined, stately, tasteful, fashionable. The society in which we both live judge somebody ‘classy’ by certain looks, and there are some social stereotype images connected to the definition of classy and we should be aware of it.
(By the way, you can google images on ‘classy women’ and It will give you a better understanding of what I’m referring to. Most of the images are beautiful skinny women with light skin and most of them blondes)
When talking to you I was trying to make the point describe above. I showed you a picture of Princess Diana (very ‘classy’ woman) and Mother Theresa of Calcuta; and I said that Mother Theresa is not ‘classy’ according to worldly standards (tall, elegant and dress carefully nice, blonde (race has something to do with it) physically attractive, beautiful, etc). But it is undeniable that Mother Theresa was a great woman.
In that context, after giving you that example and based on how the ‘worldly cultural standards’ defines classy I said: ‘you are not classy’. I wasn’t judging you or your character at all. Maybe was not a happy way to put it but I was trying to make a point and it wasn’t my intention to offend you. So that’s why I apologized for the unhappy way of putting it.
I have cared for you because I saw in you a beautiful and caring woman, of a particular ethnicity, with a golden heart, and a very attractive woman. You have been enriched with many qualities: physical, intellectual and spiritual. All those qualities are not recognized or admired or taken into consideration when saying: ‘classy woman’. Because your ethnicity and other total external reasons you are not according to worldly social american standards a classy woman.
2) Being aware that ‘classy’ can be wrongly understood and used was my first point. This took me to the second part of the conversation in which I was saying that purposely ‘ignoring or not being aware’ of the fact that particular remarks around sensitive social issues can make anyone an asshole. It’s wrong purposely ignored or being unaware of the implications of a comment that can be taken racial or discriminating. Some comments are or sound discriminating when they are said about minorities or oppressed people. To be aware, the awareness of social sensitiveness applies universally. Saying “Mitt Romney’s wife is ‘classy’ and the President’s wife isn’t” in the social reality we live in and say it by a white person can be taken as a racial remark. Purposely ignoring this fact or being unaware of it makes anyone an asshole. In that context I said: ‘he is a white racist asshole’. I have not judged the way the person is with me, or with a particular black man or any other person but of saying that the african american woman that happened to be the President’s wife is not classy woman and it can be taken as a careless racial remark. You were wondering when I apologized what I was apologizing for. I did apologize to you for saying it in a ruthless way to you. I could probably said it in another way? Yes, I could and that’s why I apologized. Do I still think that it was a careless and a stupid comment? Yes. Again I do not judge intention but the fact that was an offensive remark from a white person on the First Lady of US that happened to be Black. I said and repeat it: making such a careless statement that can be taken in a discriminating way, especially coming from a white person, made him look like a careless, mean, or contemptible person. I can and I did apologized for saying it that way to you but I can’t apologize for thinking that the comment can be understood in a discriminating racial way.
There is a social sensitiveness to specific issues in every culture that needs to be considered and there is a need of being ‘aware’ of it specially for those that are or have not been on the oppressed side. E.g. Germans should be sensitive to Jewish people because historically they killed 6M Jews in an awful way. It happened 70 years ago. Germans should be aware of that reality and if anyone ignore it will make him/her an asshole. White people need to be sensitive to discrimination of Black people because historically they subjected them for over 150 years in an so many ways. Black people got civil rights recognition signed (it has taken longer to implement it) in this country in 1964, 48 years ago. White people should be aware of that reality and if anyone ignore it will make him/her an asshole. Some things said or done are discriminating or can be taken in a wrong discriminating way that’s why it’s important to be aware of it. There are so many other examples like Italians/Albanese people; documented/undocumented people; Christians/Jewish people; Colonizer/Indian people; etc.
There are so many other examples and things to take into account. If any of the minorities, the oppressed people or people subjected to injustice, or violence, or discrimination because of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. decide to play the ‘victim card’ they are in their right to do so, to get guarded, and to take offense and get defensive. Saying to them ‘Get over it’ it will be also highly offensive.
I have worked with minorities (minorities are formed by people: children, youth and adults) all around the world: Filipinos abused by Chinese employers; Indigenous people discriminated because their physical appearance, traditions or skin color; people discriminated because they don’t speak the language of the majority; poor people discriminated because they can’t afford food or education or medical assistance consider by many as ‘commodities’, ‘if they can’t afford it they shouldn’t have it’ -it’s been wrongly said; undocumented people discriminated because they don’t have citizenship in a particular country when they are only trying to make a living or in some cases just stay alive (running away from worst social environments); women abused by their husbands; children abused by their care givers… If any person who has suffered any kind of discrimination or social or personal violence decides to play the ‘victim card’ or get defensive or take a suspicious or questionable comment in a wrong way, they do have the right to play it, especially when the comment is coming from whom should be aware of the sensitiveness of that particular matter. It is also highly offensive to state ‘oh come on get over it!’.
It’s unfortunate that we ended our friendship because of this 😦