Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An insight into racism

All the hullabaloo these days about Obama has made me speculate if it's racist. One doesn't want to jump to conclusions, but I've been wondering. However, the recent joewilsoning during Obama's speech clinched it for me. Today, Clarence Page wrote about racism with Obama. This struck a chord with me:

"For example, my column-writing colleague Maureen Dowd of The New York Times arched many eyebrows with this bit of mind-reading after Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, rudely blurted out "You lie!" during Obama's health-care address to Congress: "Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber. ... Wilson's shocking disrespect for the office of the president -- no Democrat ever shouted "liar" at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq -- convinced me: Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it."

My response: Welcome to my world. Judging by the polls, about 15 percent or so of the country was in shock and even ran to gun shops to stock up, according to news reports, when they heard Obama won the presidential race. Some of them naturally show up at protests like the 9/12 march and buy "I'm with Joe Wilson" T-shirts. I just hope Wilson's new fans are still happy when they have to go dig up their birth certificates and prove their citizenship just to get some health care."

"Welcome to my world," he says. White people are shocked, but Black people get it. I know what he means. I was Christian before I married my husband when I converted to Judaism. Before that, I never much thought about anti-Semitism, and when people complained of it, I thought they were being paranoid. But...welcome to my world now. I see it all the time. Our highest holidays are coming up, Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, particularly, is like Christmas to the Christians. Now, I get it that you might have to take a precious "vacation day" for the holiday because otherwise you are opening up all religious holidays to everyone. But I do sometimes wonder why people don't need "vacation days" at Christmas time. Many workplaces give both Christmas and Christmas eve off. However, what really aggravates me is that often major meetings or other workplace events are planned for Yom Kippur. I remember once a major conference starting on Passover. Can you imagine it starting on Easter? I suspect the Christians just don't get it. But is that an excuse? Similarly, it's no excuse for what's happening now to our presidency.


Bob Hale said...

A good post. As a country we also give all the Christian holidays and none of the others, though some organisations (our college for one) also allow Islamic students to take Eid. I don't know what the answer is. As you say you can't give all the possible holidays to everyone because of the time it would lose. If you give individual groups just their holidays, different groups will get different numbers (as an atheist I wouldn't get any!). It might be best to get rid of this type of holiday altogether for everyone and incorporate a few extra days into leave entitlement to be taken by the individual as and when they want them though there would be uproar from some people who manage it badly and then have to work over Christmas.

As for why the situation has arisen. It's probably just an accident of history in nations that were once predominantly Christian.

Kalleh said...

I think you are right. The best way is to have floating holidays. At our institution we have one floating holiday that I'd love to use for Yom Kippur. However, the organization votes on when to use it and of course it's always Christmas eve. So I don't even know why they call it a floating holiday. Once in awhile, if Christmas is on Saturday, for example, we'll get the 24th off for Christmas, and then the group will vote in another day for that floating holiday. However, Yom Kippur isn't even on the list, which is reasonable since there are not many Jews at our place.

Cat said...

In my line of work, it would be inefficient to be open on Christmas. I doubt that there would be enough traffic through my location to warrant all the staff we need to operate. Also, if we grant people paid holidays for their own religion and no others, that would mean that my own branch library would have no one to work on Christmas, while other locations might have 1 or 3 or whatever. It just isn't practical, from a business perspective, to give everyone their own holidays off. Would it be fair to close the Library on all of the Christian holidays and then also give Jewish and Muslim staff other paid holidays? It's a sticky problem!

Kalleh said...

Actually, the schools in the area where we live, as well as many businesses, do have the Jewish holidays (Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur) off, though we live in an area with a many Jewish families.

Yes, Cat, I don't think it is realistic. But I also think it's important to respect all religions and to figure out how to give the major holidays off to others, just as Christians have theirs off. As I said in my post, until people are in the situation, they don't really understand it. I know that I feel very irritated that while I will spend the whole weekend here in Philadelphia for my job, on Monday I will need to take a vacation day to take the holiest Jewish holiday off.

I suppose I am lucky to have a job and should look at it that way.