Monday, June 1, 2009

cultural sensitivity and all that

it's interesting the things that strike you. i'm working these days for a company that does email support and i just took an email from a person with a very Chinese name. i was not aware that two first names was a common naming convention, and apparently neither was the company i work for. but this person was not able to put their two first names into the first name box. and it occurs to me, this is something i would have never thought of. i will never have to deal with. and how much does this have to hurt, to not be able to write your name the right way on a fucking Internet form? to have some stupid company deny your name. and yeah, i'm sure there's people who would say, "so?" who would see this as a tiny deal that this person should just get over. but names hold power, and being able to own your name is to own yourself. maybe it's because our culture has come away from the idea that your name should stand for something, should be who you are in terms of honor and dignity, that you shouldn't do things that would dirty your name. maybe it's just the privilege of our culture running roughshod over others.

and maybe the reaction is what separates people who "get" it from those who don't. does this mean i "get" it now? on the one hand, i hope so. and on the other hand, i hope not. i don't want to be the smug asshole who thinks they get it and stops listening.

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