I’m consistently amazed at how deeply engrained our culture is within us. I’m also amazed at how much I have learned about my own culture while I’m in another, or six, really, in this border town.
First, when someone tells you your fat, even if it’s appropriate in their culture, it’s offensive. It’s engrained within me to be offended.
Second, we were in our Karen lesson today and discussing skin: on people, on fruit, etc. I’ll just interrupt here to say that this is how our Karen lessons typically go: we have conversation for hours. We have some of the same conversations over again, and each day something new will come up for us to learn. It’s typically quite random, such as tunnels or eyebrows that we probably won’t use in every day life.
Today, it was skin. Lavender said a sentence to me and then translated it literally to, “You are white meat. I am black meat.”
She was referring to her flesh. The word for flesh is the same word used for meat in cow, chicken, dogs, etc. And humans. And though I know she is an older woman with nothing but kindness in her, that’s an offensive thing to hear.
Later, Stephen and I both said the first thing that came to mind was a derogatory term for women. I was offended; he was offended for me.
And in the moment, I can only laugh. How do you explain that? It’s just the word they use. But it’s meat. And that changes things.