Racial Qualifiers

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Racial Qualifiers

I was listening to NPR the other day in the car with Dh and they had a story about smartphones and whther or not it is rude to use them in public. So the man they were interviewing (who obvioulsy was not a fan of the smartphone) was complaining about people using the phone in lines at stores and such. He then went on to tell a story about a time when he was in line at a store waiting topay for gas and there was "this Hispanic lady in front of me just talking away on her phone. I could hear the whole conversation".

My Dh and I though the same thing at the same moment....why did he have to say it was a Hispanic lady? why not just a lady? or a person?

Now I'm not saying everytime (or even this time) when people use racial qualifiers they are being racist or even meaning it (consciously anyway) in a negative way. And maybe sometimes it is important when describing someone. But what about in instances where it really doesn't serve any real positive purpose? Do you think they are necessary? Why do people do it?

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I'm going to work on the assumption that this guy is not Hispanic, since we don't technically know for sure, but I will assume he is because i think its a safe bet.

I think people subconsciously do this a lot of time and I do agree that it is a negative thing. What I think, in this example, that the individual does, probably without realizing it, is use the qualifier because he is describing what he sees as a negative action....and by also stating that she is Hispanic, it disassociates this person and her negative actions that much more from him. As in, that she is that much different and its something he would never do himself.

Thats my own highly unprofessional and uneducated stab at it.

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I'm pretty sure from his surname, accent, and his admission to not speaking Spanish, that he was not Hispanic.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

I'm pretty sure from his surname, accent, and his admission to not speaking Spanish, that he was not Hispanic.

Yeah, i figured as much. Out of curiosity, what made him bring up the fact that he doesn't speak spanish?

Because with that piece of information.....depending on the context, i'm more inclined to believe its more basic and simplistic than my first suggestion. Perhaps he is one of those people who is angry and believes the "spanish speakers are taking over the country" thing...and the qualifier is simply more of the basic straightforward racist variety.

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If I remember correctly it was something about her speaking in Spanish adn not understanding or something like that. Made me think he didn't speak Spanish.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

If I remember correctly it was something about her speaking in Spanish adn not understanding or something like that. Made me think he didn't speak Spanish.

In that case, it sounds like his problem was not understanding what she was saying (couldn't eavesdrop?) and would have the same opinion if she was carrying on the conversation in person.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

In that case, it sounds like his problem was not understanding what she was saying (couldn't eavesdrop?) and would have the same opinion if she was carrying on the conversation in person.

Hmm, maybe. But the story was about smartphones and cell phone ettiquette.

I just think it interesting because you don;t hear "the white guy/girl" as a qualifier in conversation. Like if it was some White lady yapping loud on the phone I would doubt that he would say "the White lady in front of me was talking on the phone". She would just be "a lady".

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You probably do hear it more in places where a white dude is a minority. I mean, they are about to be (or already are?) a minority in the US, but in certain areas or neighborhoods or towns (or in other countries) I'm sure that they use "this white guy" or "some white lady" ......My area is not like that though so I don't hear people doing that. I think that a lot of people say it without bad intent, like they might say "some short guy" or "some old lady". That said, I think that it is generally poor form to use them.

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From personal experience...

My g-pa used them because he was a racist and thought it was important :rolleyes:

When I use a racial qualifier I do it because I love using adjectives. I like to tell stories that are very colorful and vivid.

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I think sometimes they are innocently used, but often they are expressions of racism.

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"Potter75" wrote:

You probably do hear it more in places where a white dude is a minority. I mean, they are about to be (or already are?) a minority in the US, but in certain areas or neighborhoods or towns (or in other countries) I'm sure that they use "this white guy" or "some white lady" ......My area is not like that though so I don't hear people doing that. I think that a lot of people say it without bad intent, like they might say "some short guy" or "some old lady". That said, I think that it is generally poor form to use them.

I agree. I actually don't even think that the white person has to be the minority. I think the person saying it just needs to be something other than white. I"m not saying every person of another race/culture would do this, i'm just saying i think it happens under this scenario....and is more or less common depending on who they are talking to....same when a white person says it about someone who is not white.

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That guy who called in was just ticked that he couldn't eavesdrop on her conversation, if you are going to have a conversation in public, you should do it in his language. ROFL

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I think they *can* be racist and are often not relevant to the story....but at times make sense to use.

My kids seem to use them once in a while and dh and I do not, but I think they are honestly using them as descriptors and do not have ill intent....

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"boilermaker" wrote:

I think they *can* be racist and are often not relevant to the story....but at times make sense to use.

I agree. Sometimes it's relevant, and I have experienced irritation with people who try SO hard not to mention race when it would actually help describe somebody. "Oh yeah, Bill, he's tall...dark hair....wore a suit....was standing on the other side of the room...." etc. when he was the only Asian around for miles. That kind of thing.

But the guy in the post was obviously irritated by the cell phone talking and chose to be additionally irritated by the fact that he couldn't understand the language and add some sort of unnecessary description. Believe me, it's worse when the loud cell people are speaking English and you can understand everything they're saying!

Anyway...useful for description, often used when completely irrelevant, and definitely racist sometimes.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

I just think it interesting because you don;t hear "the white guy/girl" as a qualifier in conversation.

I'm always the white woman. Everything I do elicits comments, from grocery shopping to walking down the street.

It's all about intent, and you can hear that. Yes, there are bad days that I cannot stand even little kids saying "look at the white woman!!!" and it pisses me off, but that's more about me. To them it's just like saying "look, a butterfly", just something they are surprised to see.

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I will hold my hands up and say that I do it and almost everyone I know does it too. I have no idea WHY I do it though.... I can only think it is because we do not have that many races living here, so 'a black man' is a rare sight unless obviously we're abroad.

xx

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I think most times they are used as descriptors. Same as I would paint a picture in another's head by describing what someone is wearing.

I wouldn't pass off all other incidences as 'racist', but they could be to portrary a stereotype, that preppy white guy over there (that's a stereotype also painting a picture).

I think the racist part can only be indicated by the tone in which the story is retold not by the words only.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I agree. Sometimes it's relevant, and I have experienced irritation with people who try SO hard not to mention race when it would actually help describe somebody. "Oh yeah, Bill, he's tall...dark hair....wore a suit....was standing on the other side of the room...." etc. when he was the only Asian around for miles. That kind of thing.

But the guy in the post was obviously irritated by the cell phone talking and chose to be additionally irritated by the fact that he couldn't understand the language and add some sort of unnecessary description. Believe me, it's worse when the loud cell people are speaking English and you can understand everything they're saying!

Anyway...useful for description, often used when completely irrelevant, and definitely racist sometimes.

Laurie, I totally get what you are saying about people trying hard to be PC. However, I will say for me, I do try to make it a point to not use race as a qualifier soemties, even when it is in a situation like you mentioned. I do it because I feel like in this country race has been and is used as a tool for differentiating human beings. It's been used so much as a way to seperate. And even though I am a Hispanic woman, I do not use White as a qualifier nearly as much. Why? Because I realize that I have been conditioned to see that as the norm. So I make it a point to not use it.

Sometimes it maybe annoying and even I feel weird. But it's kind of like conditioning myself to say Partner instead of asking someone abotu their husband or wife. It felt nirmal for me to say husband or wife but I realized that my comfort was not very tolerant or accepting. So even though for a while it felt weird to say partner, I knew it was right for me to do so. And now it's natural for me. I hope not using race as the main qualifier will become natural for me, too.

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"blather" wrote:

I'm always the white woman. Everything I do elicits comments, from grocery shopping to walking down the street.

It's all about intent, and you can hear that. Yes, there are bad days that I cannot stand even little kids saying "look at the white woman!!!" and it pisses me off, but that's more about me. To them it's just like saying "look, a butterfly", just something they are surprised to see.

Sure it's all about intet. But I also think the country you live in has a very different history with race then the US. To me that makes a big difference and it blurs the lines of intentto a point where I think it is best to just try nto to do it.

My Black father and my son with a yalmuka was a rare sight I am sure walking through the Walmart in Missouri, but I doubt the stares were because they were "rare butterflies", lol.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

Laurie, I totally get what you are saying about people trying hard to be PC. However, I will say for me, I do try to make it a point to not use race as a qualifier soemties, even when it is in a situation like you mentioned. I do it because I feel like in this country race has been and is used as a tool for differentiating human beings. It's been used so much as a way to seperate. And even though I am a Hispanic woman, I do not use White as a qualifier nearly as much. Why? Because I realize that I have been conditioned to see that as the norm. So I make it a point to not use it.

Sometimes it maybe annoying and even I feel weird. But it's kind of like conditioning myself to say Partner instead of asking someone abotu their husband or wife. It felt nirmal for me to say husband or wife but I realized that my comfort was not very tolerant or accepting. So even though for a while it felt weird to say partner, I knew it was right for me to do so. And now it's natural for me. I hope not using race as the main qualifier will become natural for me, too.

Hey Lana, I think that ignoring race and pretending it isn't there is really weird and doesn't help the greater cause. It's like pretending we don't have differences instead of embracing them. It doesn't have to be the main descriptor but if you're bending over backwards to avoid it when it's an obvious part of what the person looks like, it gets silly. I think part of getting past racism is to stop being afraid of mentioning it. It's real, it exists, and it's fascinating. It's like ignoring the elephant in the room. . .I would rather just acknowledge it and be open.

As for partner. . .well I wouldn't just ask someone about a husband or wife if I didn't know if they were married anyway, but I will ask "are you married" or ask if someone has a boy/girlfriend. I find the word "partner" not that helpful anyway because, for example, I have a business partner. My dad has a husband. Before that he had a boyfriend.

It all reminds me of that hilarious Christmas episode of 30 Rock when Alan Alda, playing Alec Baldwin's father, refused to say Christmas on Christmas. It was hilarious. And silly. If it's Christmas, and you're at someone's house for Christmas dinner, say Merry Christmas!

So I feel the same way about race. The discomfort with mentioning it casually, to me, is just as "racist" as relying on it so much that that's all you have to say. There is a ton of safe middle ground. (Maybe growing up in Toronto helped....it is an incredibly diverse city.)

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Hey Lana, I think that ignoring race and pretending it isn't there is really weird and doesn't help the greater cause. It's like pretending we don't have differences instead of embracing them. It doesn't have to be the main descriptor but if you're bending over backwards to avoid it when it's an obvious part of what the person looks like, it gets silly. I think part of getting past racism is to stop being afraid of mentioning it. It's real, it exists, and it's fascinating. It's like ignoring the elephant in the room. . .I would rather just acknowledge it and be open.

completely agree with you. Placing undue emphasis on not saying something is just as bad and giving the word undue, negative emphasis. Why can't a word be a word? I'm not defined by white, but that's the color of my skin (and I am really PALE Wink ) Is this a few steps away from identifying someone as a male or female?

has anyone read S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action? Once I read that book in college I have never felt the need to perpetuate PC notions. Language is language it is not inherently mean, hurtful, nice, etc. It is the meaning we choose to put into it that makes it that way. YOu can not remove the meaning by removing the word, you must remove the meaning from the word.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Hey Lana, I think that ignoring race and pretending it isn't there is really weird and doesn't help the greater cause. It's like pretending we don't have differences instead of embracing them. It doesn't have to be the main descriptor but if you're bending over backwards to avoid it when it's an obvious part of what the person looks like, it gets silly. I think part of getting past racism is to stop being afraid of mentioning it. It's real, it exists, and it's fascinating. It's like ignoring the elephant in the room. . .I would rather just acknowledge it and be open.

I don't know what to say Laurie. We have been on this board for a heck of a long time. Do you really believe that I, of all people, would even advocate in any way ignoring race and pretending it isn't there? If that was what you got from my post then you misunderstood me completely. Really though, me? Like I need a lesson on acknowledging race and being open to talk about it? Goodness.

If anything I acknowledge race more when I make a conscious decision to not use it as an immediate qualifier. I'm not saying that I refuse to say Black or Hispanic or Latino or Asian or even White. I'm saying that I recognize that in our history White was the norm and everyone else was not. So I do it with purpose. Not to be PC (because I detest that term and that concept) but as my own little individual advocacy movement, I guess.

I'm not saying everyone needs to do it or that I am against people who don't. Maybe the guy you were talking about was doing it just to be PC and then that is stupid and just as idiotic as using racial qualifiers in a negative way.

As for partner. . .well I wouldn't just ask someone about a husband or wife if I didn't know if they were married anyway, but I will ask "are you married" or ask if someone has a boy/girlfriend. I find the word "partner" not that helpful anyway because, for example, I have a business partner. My dad has a husband. Before that he had a boyfriend.

It all reminds me of that hilarious Christmas episode of 30 Rock when Alan Alda, playing Alec Baldwin's father, refused to say Christmas on Christmas. It was hilarious. And silly. If it's Christmas, and you're at someone's house for Christmas dinner, say Merry Christmas!

So I feel the same way about race. The discomfort with mentioning it casually, to me, is just as "racist" as relying on it so much that that's all you have to say. There is a ton of safe middle ground. (Maybe growing up in Toronto helped....it is an incredibly diverse city.)

My aunts and most of the people I worked with used the term partner, gay and straight. But whatever word one uses my point I felt was not about the choice of word but fighting against the idea that people would have an opposite sex partner/lover/significant other. Fighting against the assumption that what society says is normal, is normal.

Once I was talking to mom I just met at my kids school. She had a wedding ring on and I said something about SO (or partner, I can't remember) rather then husband. She thanked me and said I was the first person in all these years to not assume she was straight and married to a man. If just changing my choice of words can have that affect on someone, then that is enough for me to do it. KWIM?

That's my point.

And not going to race as the obvious qualifier every time I think is the same thing. Especially when talking to my kids. Maybe it make a difference. Maybe it doesn't. But to me, in a society where race is still use to put people on unequal ground, it is like my own protest I guess. I don't know. Again, no one has to agree or do it the same or even understand what I am saying. But to say it's because I am trying to not see and acknowledge race....oy vay.

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Hey Lana -- I know where you are coming from of course! But you and I do have very different ideas about race. I think there's a difference between not running to it as the default qualifier and doing everything you can to avoid it when it makes the most sense. Like I said, there can be a balance. Like you, I have a mixed-race family, so I don't see different races as "other".

I love your story about the woman with the wedding band. I guess I just don't usually bring up people's partners/spouses/whatever if I haven't met them, so it doesn't come up, but it's great that you made that woman feel so good. Because that isn't a regular situation for me, I do try to pay attention and not, for example, write copy for our website that will say, "Hey ladies, isn't ___ cute?" and make the assumption that only women think men are cute. Everyone has their own personal advocacy plan. Smile

But I still will disagree with you on avoiding mentioning someone's race if it is a helpful descriptor. We can't take the stigma away by dancing around these things and avoiding discussing them. (I know you do like to discuss them.) I want to be more relaxed about these things, not more vigilant. That is the ideal I am striving for, being able to freely mention these things if they come up and not feel like I can't talk about being black to a black person, etc.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

My Black father and my son with a yalmuka was a rare sight I am sure walking through the Walmart in Missouri, but I doubt the stares were because they were "rare butterflies", lol.

Why wouldn't you think that? I've never seen a black man with a yalmuka. If I saw one, and especially here, of course I would look. And probably smile. Which is worse, looking or pretending not to look?

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"blather" wrote:

Why wouldn't you think that? I've never seen a black man with a yalmuka. If I saw one, and especially here, of course I would look. And probably smile. Which is worse, looking or pretending not to look?

I agree with this. My kids have never seen a yarmulke and I'm pretty sure they would look. And I don't think that is bad. It simply something they don't see.

My kids don't bat an eye at the traditional East Indian boys who keep their hair and wear a patka or a man with a turban or a woman in a sari.

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"blather" wrote:

Why wouldn't you think that? I've never seen a black man with a yalmuka. If I saw one, and especially here, of course I would look. And probably smile. Which is worse, looking or pretending not to look?

Ha. No my father is Black and my son was wearing the yamulka.

Which is worse? Hmmm, I think not staring at a little boy like he has 2 breasts growing out of the top of his head. Looking out of curiosity and glaring at someone to me are two very different things. But this is the lovely part of covert prejudice and racism. I feel it and I know what it is, but someone else can just think it's me being too sensitive.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Hey Lana -- I know where you are coming from of course! But you and I do have very different ideas about race. I think there's a difference between not running to it as the default qualifier and doing everything you can to avoid it when it makes the most sense. Like I said, there can be a balance. Like you, I have a mixed-race family, so I don't see different races as "other".

I love your story about the woman with the wedding band. I guess I just don't usually bring up people's partners/spouses/whatever if I haven't met them, so it doesn't come up, but it's great that you made that woman feel so good. Because that isn't a regular situation for me, I do try to pay attention and not, for example, write copy for our website that will say, "Hey ladies, isn't ___ cute?" and make the assumption that only women think men are cute. Everyone has their own personal advocacy plan. Smile

But I still will disagree with you on avoiding mentioning someone's race if it is a helpful descriptor. We can't take the stigma away by dancing around these things and avoiding discussing them. (I know you do like to discuss them.) I want to be more relaxed about these things, not more vigilant. That is the ideal I am striving for, being able to freely mention these things if they come up and not feel like I can't talk about being black to a black person, etc.

Now when have you ever known me to be more relaxed about the topic of race, lol. No worries though. You are still my PO amiga, or as Data would say, "My neural pathways have become accustomed to your sensory input patterns." Smile Hehe you and Steph are the only one's I could use that on.

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I am going to be very open and show my ignorance. What is a yarmulke?

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I am going to be very open and show my ignorance. What is a yarmulke?

I believe it is the small, round hat worn be some Jewish men... I think... Not common in my neck of the woods.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

"My neural pathways have become accustomed to your sensory input patterns." Smile Hehe you and Steph are the only one's I could use that on.

Ahem

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"culturedmom" wrote:

Now when have you ever known me to be more relaxed about the topic of race, lol. No worries though. You are still my PO amiga, or as Data would say, "My neural pathways have become accustomed to your sensory input patterns." Smile Hehe you and Steph are the only one's I could use that on.

My neural pathways feel the same way. Smile

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"KimPossible" wrote:

Ahem

Ooops. And Kim Smile

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I am going to be very open and show my ignorance. What is a yarmulke?

You probably know what it is but the way it is spelled looks different from hwo it is pronounced. It is pronounced yah-muh-kah. Also known as a kippah. And yes, it is the little head covering worn by Jewish men and boys. The rule is to have one's head covered in the presence of G-d. Some Jews believe that only means in Synagogue but many, including Orthodox, take it to mean anytime and everywhere. whenmy son was going to Hebrew school in Arkansas, he loved wearing his Miami Dolphin's yamulke even after class. We generally only wear it during services and Hebrew school though.

And actually, you can cover your head with anything. A cap a top hat, whatever. Most Jews pick a yamulke because they are small, inexpensive, adn they come in any style and color and size.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

Ooops. And Kim Smile

LoL thanks. BTW, Netflix has all 7 seasons of TNG on instant play right now.

I know Netflix is on a lot of people's SL's at the moment, but i was still pretty tickled to see the above.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

LoL thanks. BTW, Netflix has all 7 seasons of TNG on instant play right now.

People keep telling me this and I just smile and point to my head and say, "They're all in here already, too..."

I'm such a nerd.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

You probably know what it is but the way it is spelled looks different from hwo it is pronounced. It is pronounced yah-muh-kah. Also known as a kippah. And yes, it is the little head covering worn by Jewish men and boys. The rule is to have one's head covered in the presence of G-d. Some Jews believe that only means in Synagogue but many, including Orthodox, take it to mean anytime and everywhere. whenmy son was going to Hebrew school in Arkansas, he loved wearing his Miami Dolphin's yamulke even after class. We generally only wear it during services and Hebrew school though.

And actually, you can cover your head with anything. A cap a top hat, whatever. Most Jews pick a yamulke because they are small, inexpensive, adn they come in any style and color and size.

Thank you.

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DH and I just finished re-watching all of Star Trek TNG. We have the whole set on DVD...

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

http://www.aetv.com/the-glades/set-blogs/lauries-blog.jsp

Smile

Keep rubbing it in, Laurie. Wink

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"KimPossible" wrote:

LoL thanks. BTW, Netflix has all 7 seasons of TNG on instant play right now.

I know Netflix is on a lot of people's SL's at the moment, but i was still pretty tickled to see the above.

netflix? why pay when you can see them for free.

http://www.movie2k.to/

Movie2k you can stream just about anything including every episode of TNG. Lst night we watched Times Arrow Pt.2 which ismy fav. episode and whenever they show the first part on BBC they never show the second which pisses me off. Just make sure you only choose stream movies/tv shows and not download.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

netflix? why pay when you can see them for free.

http://www.movie2k.to/

Movie2k you can stream just about anything including every episode of TNG. Lst night we watched Times Arrow Pt.2 which ismy fav. episode and whenever they show the first part on BBC they never show the second which pisses me off. Just make sure you only choose stream movies/tv shows and not download.

I actually don't mind paying for movie/tv service or streaming.

Trust me, i'm not being all morally arrogant, i've done my fair share of watching things that shouldn't be available to me for free....but i do feel better about paying.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

I actually don't mind paying for movie/tv service or streaming.

Trust me, i'm not being all morally arrogant, i've done my fair share of watching things that shouldn't be available to me for free....but i do feel better about paying.

Omg I'm the same way. Watched a lot of stuff without paying but I feel better when I do, and we do have a Netflix subscription.

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I would pay if people would let me. Sad

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"blather" wrote:

I would pay if people would let me. Sad

It's because you are the "white lady" isn't it? Wink

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Yup! Wink

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"Potter75" wrote:

It's because you are the "white lady" isn't it? Wink

"blather" wrote:

Yup! Wink

Ha!

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To get back to the debate (since I can't talk Star Trek with you ladies), I agree with Laurie. I think there has to be a balance. I remember one time I was at a work function and we were talking about the only black guy in our department, and someone said something like "Now which one is Mike?" One person started in on "Oh, he's short and thin and he has black hair..." It just seems so silly when all she had to say was "Black guy" and it would have cleared it right up. And like she simply hadn't noticed that he was a black guy. Come on. We're built to notice things like that - and I think that's okay. When we try to pretend like we don't notice, I think that makes it seem almost worse, like it's so bad to be a black guy that it's unmentionable. I agree with Laurie that I would love us to get to a place where it's totally okay to notice and mention our differences if it is contextual or important to the story, because we embrace our differences instead of making it the big old awkward elephant in the room.

On the other hand, I also agree that I think it's kind of subtle racism to use a racial qualifier when it is not important to the story, like saying that it was a Hispanic woman on the phone.

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I hate Star Trek. And Hispanics.

Buenos tardes, amigas. Mucho missy missy, as mi suegra would say.

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"LiveFreeOrDie" wrote:

I hate Star Trek. And Hispanics.

Buenos tardes, amigas. Mucho missy missy, as mi suegra would say.

What do you get when you cross a UU with a Jehovas Witness? Someone who shows up at your door but doesn't remember why they are there. Smile

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"livefreeordie" wrote:

i hate star trek. And hispanics.

Buenos tardes, amigas. Mucho missy missy, as mi suegra would say.

where have you been?????

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

where have you been?????

Yes, this! You are missed!

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