Saturday, October 12, 2013


Some days you could say I deal with accent misinterpretation..
Actually, I have to deal with it EVERY day. Thats the downside of living in North America or anyone living in a country thats not their home country and that includes even countries where you both speak the same language.

 Schaeffers Deck Sealant and Caulk (mind the language haha)

I know that that commercial may come off as incredibly inappropriate and just a tad crass. But you know, as much as New Zealanders hate being called Australian and vice versa one thing we do share in common really well is our ability to not take ourselves so seriously and have a good laugh together.

On the other side of the spectrum is where there no language difficulties but people make a snap judgement about your ethnicity because of your appearance it tends to make the person asking sound like a really big idiot like the blonde guy in the video below. Whats interesting is since Ive lived in Canada for a while now, being an immigrant gives me a bit of a peek at the kind of behavior that non white immigrants have to put up with. 

 What kind of Asian are you?

Yesterday I went to a day course at a hospital downtown and the course was on HIV, Mental Illness, First Nations people and cultural safety. And the last topic they spoke on was cultural safety and the first thing they talked about was "white privilege" - a lot of Caucasian people will disagree that there is such a thing but Ive come to notice there is. When I speak to a native white Canadian a lot of them I notice automatically give me "Honorary White Canadian" status in their minds - until I open my mouth. My accent proves Im different and not from around here, and the surprise on their face as they hear me talk is really blatantly obvious.  And as a result they suddenly switch from treating me as their patriotic equal to dealing with their embarrassment by trying to come off as absolutely knowledgeable on everything to do with New Zealand and who I am as a person usually by using Australian stereotypes (think Steve Irwin and Paul Hogan. 

Only problem, they never ask me if Im a New Zealander first they always say really loudly and confidently - "Are you an Australian?!!"  I say no.. Im a New Zealander - A Kiwi (which Ive discovered its useless to go down that road as most Canadians I meet can't seem to get past that there is a bird as well as a fruit as well as a national colloquialism using that word). If theyre bright'ish, they will know where New Zealand is and speak of their boyfriends mothers cousin who visited ten years ago and give me a speel of their version on my home country as if they know more than me and tell me completely false and exaggerated historical information about New Zealand and then get really upset at me when I tell them theyre just a tad incorrect on the details.

My favorite example happened about a week ago, I was talking to a caucasian chap (who was North American, but I won't specifically say whereabouts as we must'nt stereotype ignorance). I could tell within the first five minutes of our conversation that he thought the sunshine came out of his shoelaces and upon learning that I was a Kiwi gave me a detailed "historical" account on the history of the signing of the treaty between the Dutchman Abel Tasman and the Maori King on top of One Tree Hill in Auckland in 1876. I had to try really really hard not to burst out laughing. On the other hand, I once visited the US on a day trip and in the space of a day met three different Americans who were nothing but respectful and polite and on hearing my accent did the right thing and asked (not tell me) if I was a New Zealander. I was absolutely delighted and had a lovely conversation with them and then realized I had caught myself in my own web of hypocritical mess by assuming Americans would have no idea.

Unfortunately New Zealanders are not that great at being unbiased themselves ESPECIALLY when it comes to America. A lot of people back home view America as the big loud mentally retarded bully in the playground called the world and anything or anyone that came from the US is likewise stupid. However they will most often treat Canada as an intellectual ally (as we support their struggle against the idiocy that is called the US while we struggle with our issues with Australia who we most often view as the lapdog of the US.  Of course this is all media inspired judgmental bollocks.  

What I realise even in my own prejudice I forget that I need to keep applying my biblical worldview on these language and racial issues. I believe that everyone including myself is a sinner (ie they have fallen short of Gods standard) but I also believe that prior to the man made "Fall" God also made us in his image and likeness. That means that while Im prone to saying, thinking and doing stupid things, I am also to be valued and be worthy of judgement based on MY character not the character of my country's government nor based on my race or language. Sure my government and culture may influence my character but it certainly doesn't dictate my character. 

Someone back home in New Zealand recently asked me in a very accusatory tone why I would go to Walmart in Washington State and enjoy myself. As if enjoying American low prices made me a turncoat traitor and officially meant that I joined "Camp Stupid." 

You know what the world has both lovely people and not so nice people. From what Ive seen theres an even mix in all countries including Canada, America and New Zealand.

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