No One Wants Your Pity

We were all sitting around the table, enjoying our drinks and appetizers, waiting for our food to arrive; a group of Europeans and North Americans, and one Ecuadorian.

“These are delicious! What are they?”

“Patacones. They’re green plantain bananas, sliced, fried twice, and salted.”

“Do you think I can find plantains back in Switzerland?”

“Not sure how common they are in Europe, but I know you can find them in the States if you know where to look.”

This is when the patronizing began. A nice girl decides to put in her 2 cents.

“Well you should really think twice about that. You know Ecuador produces the most banana exports in the world, and the poor farmers are out there working all day and maybe only earn a couple dollars. I mean, think about it! So you can eat this plantain, there is a poor man working so hard out in the fields and earning a few dollars. A few dollars! That’s, like, nothing! Imagine working all day for nothing! Think about his kids! So you really should feel sorry for these people and when you’re eating those bananas. I mean, just think about those poor poor people…”

The Ecuadorian at the dinner table sat there silently with a brittle looking smile on her mouth, and fire in her eyes.

If you don’t understand why this is so offensive, let me try and put it in perspective for you. The cast of Real Housewives of New York have invited themselves to your neighborhood for vacation, and you decide to take them out to dinner since they’re new in town. Ramona turns to LuAnn and says:

“Wow, I don’t know if you know this, but these people here are like, sooooooo poor. Did you know that they make so little that sometimes they have to like, only buy one car! And I heard that some of these poor poor people are only getting their kids, like, a few gifts for Christmas this year. Can you imagine! Ugh, that is so so sad. This Christmas you all should be thinking about the poor poor people in this town and their pathetic little kids, some of whom might actually be wearing their older siblings’ hand-me-downs to school this year.”

Luckily for you the Housewives aren’t going to come visit your house too often. But now imagine now that they did. Imagine if Continue reading

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A Bit of Patriotism

I realize recently that I may have given the impression from some of my past posts that I have a critical eye when viewing my homeland, namely, my criticism of the American isolationist culture, and my personal illumination concerning the upper middle class suburban New Yorker in the context of rural South America. Yes, we may fall behind pretty much every other western developed country in terms of health, schools, environmentalism, and basic human rights, but I would like to remind all my non-estandounidense friends, who like poke fun at me and my country, of all the ways that we totally rock. Being that it is the fourth of July, I’m feeling patriotic, and I’d like to assuage any fears, and reassure all my readers that I truly am proud to be an American, as cheesy as that phrase may sound due to its overuse by country singers and politicians.

Point of Pride #1: Our music kicks ass. Continue reading