When I was in primary school in Dublin back in the 1950s there was only one Chinese restaurant in the city that I was aware of. The bus I took to school passed near it and often enough we would make disparaging comments about the kind of food we imagined was being served there. We were used to traditional Irish food, nothing else. Now there are Chinese restaurants and ‘take-aways’ all over Ireland and I thank God for the great variety of dishes that we can enjoy from every part of the world.
I remember too on at least one occasion in the schoolyard, when I was 10 or 11, calling a classmate a ‘dirty Englishman’ or something to that effect. His family had migrated for a short while to England but had returned. However, we were, and whenever we meet, still are good friends.
This morning I discovered that as a kid I was a ‘racist’, without being aware of it, at least if the National Children’s Bureau, a government-sponsored group – to the tune of £12 million per year - in the UK, is to be believed. According to a report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph (London), it ‘has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care. This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.’
The headline reads Toddlers who dislike spicy food racist. Maybe the headline writer was being racist in not writing Toddlers who dislike Yorkshire pudding racist.
Here in the Philippines I’ve more than once felt like strangling youngsters in Catholic schools who shout ‘Hi, Joe!’ at me. It rarely happens now. The term goes back to World War II and the American soldiers here who were known as ‘GI Joes’, a friendly term like that of ‘Tommy’ for British soldiers. But it’s not always used in a friendly manner here and would never be said by anyone to a person they knew. Only white people and black people are ever addressed in such a way. It's a putting aside of the normal courtesy towards anyone older in Philippine culture. In other words, it’s an expression of racism, though not very pernicious and, in the case of young children, totally unthinking.
I have a feeling that the members of the National Children’s Bureau in the UK are among the many who think that racism is a sin of white people only.
And as for saying ‘yuk’ to any kind of food, my mother simply wouldn’t tolerate it.
If toddlers in the UK who say 'yuk' to spicy food are 'racists', what term do we use for the legislators in Westminster who want to lift all legal restraints on abortion? Maybe their real purpose is to reduce the number of dangerous 'racists' under the age of 4.
If you have read my previous two posts you may be asking, as I am, 'Where are Canada, Spain and the UK headed?'