Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Dealing with aberrant behaviour
Hi, I'm Scott. This is my first blog post for Socializing Engineers; my posts will be labeled with "SSB" for your searching convenience.
I currently work as a internet nerd building websites for deezine.ca as well as occasionally maintain my hitchhiking-focused blog, I Smell Good. I'm living in Saskatoon for the summer, but I think I'm more migrational than most and I'm not sure where I will find myself in the coming months. Without more talkins, here we go!
I have very positive associations with rural Saskatchewan, Canada, and other English-speaking countries. Growing up, my family was scattered throughout the prairies and as such our holidays were always filled with excitement as we moved throughout the countryside. As an adult, these positive associations continue: I always feel extremely welcomed in whatever community I find myself in.
I'm always taken aback when my non-white friends relate their experiences in rural SK or elsewhere in which they experienced rudeness or racism. The cold reception seems completely uncharacteristic to me based on my rosy views of the countryside. Lately, I've found myself in rural settings while hitchhiking. Prior to using my now-de facto "I Smell Good" sign, I would often be picked up by grumpy dudes who perceive that they're doing me a favour by picking me up. They would often say that they were picking me up because I was white and that they wouldn't have picked up someone of [insert local minority here]. Unbeknownst to them, no favour to me includes hate speech.
Whenever I could tell the other person respected me to some degree, I would always call them out on their racism. "Actually, my best friend who I live with is Chinese and he's one of the most hard-working people I know -- far more so than myself!" I feel like this was well generally well received -- their own car/truck is often a safe space and they're receptive to my polite, respectful disagreement.
In recounting one such encounter like this to a friend, she brought up the point that perhaps this might not be the most effective way to effect a change in behaviour. By reacting in the moment, I might not be as rational as I could be, and my words might invoke feelings of shame. We agreed that we didn't t believe that using shame is an acceptable pedagogical tool, so I've really had to think about how I approach aberrant behaviour. While I may not be as quick to denounce aberrance when I see it, I feel like the times that I do are more effective.