***originally posted on May 13, 2009
Discrimination, in all its forms, is never a pleasant thing. Having had to endure a dose of it some months back, the sting is still quite fresh.
The recent uproar over some celebrity’s discriminatory joke has brought Igorots (and their supporters) together. They cry foul at the ignorance that prompted such insensitivity, as well as brood over what it would take to stop it.
Vera, a friend on facebook, posted a letter she had written to the celebrity, along with the apology that was issued. I am glad she did this. I find it gratifying, even if I am not totally sure about the sincerity.
But there are bigger questions resulting from the whole mess that bother me, hence this blog.
First, I noticed that many of those who were angered by the joke pointed out the following:
– Many Igorots are educated and successful in their chosen field.
-Many Igorots are physically more attractive than the celebrity.
-Igorots do not have tails (I’ve had the pleasure of shooting down such misconceptions myself).
I totally understand the reasoning behind these statements. One of the best ways to fight acts of discrimination and ignorance is to prove how wrong the perpetrator is.
But here’s why these comments bother me.
What if the people maligned truly are uneducated, backward (as defined by our society), or physically unattractive? Is the abuse justified then? We all make assumptions based on our own world views. If we can prove we are right, do our assumptions then become fact? Do they become right?
Bottom line is, discrimination is wrong in and of itself.
The second thing that bothers me is the unwillingness of some to let the issue go. The joke was hurtful, yes. It was insulting, sure. It was stupid, definitely. What about the apology? Was it sincere? Maybe. Was it enough? Yes.
We need to forgive lest we be branded bitter and unforgiving. In this case, we would be guilty.
It’s hard to understand because it is such a hurtful situation to be in, but I would rather be the one oppressed than the one doing the oppressing.
And it doesn’t stop there. Holding on to the insult is like inviting the pain to stay and run your life. Now why would anyone want that?
Forgiveness is what I preach because I have been forgiven much. I have no idea where the next insult will come from. But I aim to build on this experience and learn grace. So the next time it comes around, I will be better able to deal with it positively. For my sake.
The third thing that got me thinking is the expected reaction from many—they started hurling insults. Some even made general comments about lowlanders (Igorots are highlanders and the rest are considered lowlanders in the culture I grew up in).
My reaction? Grow up. Sinking down to that level is childish and self-defeating.
I’m not going there.