Yet another reason to love the Girl Scouts.

Girl_Scouts2.png
Check out this New York Times piece from yesterday about how the Girl Scouts have been recruiting Muslim girls in an effort to help them adjust to American culture without sacrificing their Muslim identity. At the same time, the piece itself was bothersome at some parts, for example:

She has discovered that the trademark green sash — with its American flag, troop number (3009) and colorful merit badges — reduces the number of glowering looks she draws from people otherwise bothered by her traditional Muslim dress.

Just slap an American label on her and she’ll be good to go! Sigh.

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66 Comments

  1. Posted December 2, 2007 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Once again, it just seems kind of ridiculous to harp on the united states when there are so many places in the world where you would be discriminated the hell out of if you don’t fit in with the local culture.
    In other words, we should be greatly for what (little) we have.
    Why is it White for a foreign student to dress in a similar way as her classmates?
    SHE’S NOT FOREIGN. She was born and raised in the US. Just because she’s Muslim, does not make her “foreign”, “alien”, “other”, etc.
    A white kid growing up in a 98% black school will be forced to dress and talk a certain way in order to fit in. Same with a white immigrant in a country with a prodominantly black population.
    How many “Black” schools have you attended? Seriously.
    Also, the Dutch and British colonists in Africa didn’t feel the need to assimilate to the Black culture, did they?
    Sometimes it just seems like a lot of people here just haven’t been anywhere outside their communities.
    Oh yeah. That 16 hour flight from the US to Japan and Korea was just a stroll around the block for me. [/sarcasm]
    You shouldn’t talk about what you don’t know.

  2. Mina
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    “Then why bring it up in the first place?”
    Because it’s one of the ways we all fit in with each other here.
    “If she had said that she was White and could trace her heritage back to the Mayflower, would you have asked the same thing?”
    Yeah, why not? I’ve already heard and read similar stuff from people whiter and less immigrant than me.
    “There’s nothing to ‘decode’ because not only is she speaking from the viewpoint of a Muslim woman, she’s also speaking as a human being.”
    OK, so here you’re telling us to assume she meant what she said…
    “‘Fitting in’ means, for People of Color, fitting in with White culture.”
    …and here you were telling us to assume she meant something else.
    I’m reminded of when I was a kid and Mom gave me instructions. When she told me “do the dishes,” sometimes she’d get mad at me for not somehow knowing she meant laundry instead of dishes and say I was oppressing her accent (even though I can’t hear her accent). Other times she did turn out to mean dishes. In both cases, she said “do the dishes” the same way so nobody else could tell the difference at the moment.
    “What the hell?
    “Why is it White for a foreign student to dress in a similar way as her classmates?”
    Um, if B = C then either A = C or A != B.
    So…if “fitting in” = “acting White” then either “dressing like classmates or at least wearing a Girl Scout sash” = “acting White” or “dressing like classmates or at least wearing a Girl Scout sash” != “fitting in.”

  3. Posted December 2, 2007 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    OK, so here you’re telling us to assume she meant what she said……and here you were telling us to assume she meant something else.
    No. I’m telling you that you didn’t read what she wrote in the first place.
    “What the hell?
    “Why is it White for a foreign student to dress in a similar way as her classmates?”

    The poster who wrote this was actually agreeing with you. (Y’know that little reading comprehension thing I mentioned earlier?)
    So…if “fitting in” = “acting White” then either “dressing like classmates or at least wearing a Girl Scout sash” = “acting White” or “dressing like classmates or at least wearing a Girl Scout sash” != “fitting in.”
    being expected by the White majority to act according to their views = fitting in
    Why should they, or any other POC, have to conform to a culture that is, by default, white?

  4. mostuniquename
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    “SHE’S NOT FOREIGN. She was born and raised in the US. Just because she’s Muslim, does not make her “foreign”, “alien”, “other”, etc.”
    I was actually talking about the original nyt article. In any case when you are in a muslim country, not being muslim automatically makes you ‘foreign’, ‘alien’ and ‘other’ with far more dire consequences
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071130/ap_on_re_af/sudan_british_teacher
    For every instance of muslims being discriminated against in the united states I can give you an instance of a westerner being discriminated against in the muslim culture. We can play this game for a long time.
    “How many “Black” schools have you attended? Seriously.”
    I have been around enough to notice that when the black people are the dominant presence in any particular environment they are just as ugly about discriminating against anybody who is not like them. That’s really all I am saying, black people, white people, western culture, muslim culture, everybody can discriminate, it all depends on a particular situation and which group is dominant in that particular environment.

  5. Posted December 2, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I have been around enough to notice that when the black people are the dominant presence in any particular environment they are just as ugly about discriminating against anybody who is not like them. That’s really all I am saying, black people, white people, western culture, muslim culture, everybody can discriminate, it all depends on a particular situation and which group is dominant in that particular environment.
    So, what’s your point? That one form of discrimination negates the other?
    Another thing: Just because a group is in the majority, doesn’t mean that they are the dominant group. South Africa is a prime example. Blacks make up the majority population, but Whites hold the majority in wealth and political power.
    Also, if a White person in the US is in the minority in a specific setting, that doesn’t mean that White people overall do not hold the majority of privilege.

  6. Mina
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    “The poster who wrote this was actually agreeing with you. (Y’know that little reading comprehension thing I mentioned earlier?)”
    Hey, I didn’t say she wasn’t. :)
    “I was actually talking about the original nyt article. In any case when you are in a muslim country, not being muslim automatically makes you ‘foreign’, ‘alien’ and ‘other’ with far more dire consequences”
    What does that have to do with the Girl Scouts in the article?
    Unfair oppression is still unfair no matter how much worse some other oppression somewhere else is.
    “I have been around enough to notice that when the black people are the dominant presence in any particular environment they are just as ugly about discriminating against anybody who is not like them. That’s really all I am saying, black people, white people, western culture, muslim culture,”
    BTW, there are a bunch of different Western cultures and a bunch of different Muslim cultures.
    “everybody can discriminate, it all depends on a particular situation and which group is dominant in that particular environment.”
    Indeed. Now this reminds me of a recent thread on an urban planning forum:
    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=32047
    “MrTresmo worked on a project with community members like this and it was a big concern, in a community with similar demographics, the 0.7% minority being new Mexican immigrants. It was depressing to look through long detailed surveys and have them blame everything, even old problems that had been festering for decades, on the new hispanic population.”
    “interestingly I was at a neighborhood meeting in Miami once that was mostly Hispanics and they did not want an apt. building built because the one that was already there was full of ‘them’ (..Black folks).”
    “There’s quite a few places in Alaska where they don’t want ‘them’ (White people) in town.”
    [I guess a mostly-black neighborhood wanting to keep Inuit people out would have completed this dismal circle but even if that's ever happened nobody mentioned it in the thread]

  7. johanna
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Once again, it just seems kind of ridiculous to harp on the united states when there are so many places in the world where you would be discriminated the hell out of if you don’t fit in with the local culture. And you know what, it’s ok, every culture wants to remain somewhat homogeneous to retain a sense of cultural identity, united states is no different, and I personally think we are way more open minded about it than other cultures (and yes, I am a foreigner, with an accent, living in the us)
    I’ll try to be brief in my response, but no guarantees. In my first post, I was speaking out the experience of a (white) woman who lived in inner-city Minneapolis in a very diverse neighborhood and worked 40 hrs a week with African immigrant women.
    From my experience, the MSP metro (I’m not “harping” on the US, I am speaking about a specific area that I lived in) area is continuing to grow more and more diverse, with immigrants from many countries in Africa and Latin America, as well as a large Hmong population. While things continue to get better, it’s still a tough place to exist if you are not part of the dominant white/European/Christian culture.
    So while there may be places where people are discriminated against more than here in the US, there is still room for us to improve our understanding of cultures and religions that are different than the dominant culture, and room for some damn manners (including not staring at children who look different than you). There’s no reason for me to be fearful because someone else’s style of dress, language, or religion is different than mine.

  8. Posted December 2, 2007 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been hearting the Girl Scouts since 2004, when the hullaboo about their affiliation with Planned Parenthood started.

  9. Mina
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    “So while there may be places where people are discriminated against more than here in the US, there is still room for us to improve our understanding of cultures and religions that are different than the dominant culture, and room for some damn manners (including not staring at children who look different than you). There’s no reason for me to be fearful because someone else’s style of dress, language, or religion is different than mine.”
    Right on! :D

  10. Posted December 2, 2007 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    [I guess a mostly-black neighborhood wanting to keep Inuit people out would have completed this dismal circle but even if that's ever happened nobody mentioned it in the thread]
    What’s the point of this? Yes, people discriminate against people. It sucks. But it’s discrimination from the group that has set policies and practices in order that puts another group at a disadvantage, that causes tangible damage.
    Y’know what? I am really, REALLY sick and tired of having to spoon-feed grown women about the realities of Women of Color.
    For now, I’ll leave you with this:
    “Women of Color Feminism”
    But, I’ll be back ;-)

  11. mostuniquename
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Point well taken, discrimination is an ugly business and should be confronted objectively and not excused based on what somebody else does somewhere in a galaxy far far away
    but still
    “So while there may be places where people are discriminated against more than here in the US”
    So you DO agree that other cultures discriminate more against foreigners than the united states !

  12. mostuniquename
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    “What’s the point of this? Yes, people discriminate against people. It sucks. But it’s discrimination from the group that has set policies and practices in order that puts another group at a disadvantage, that causes tangible damage.”
    That’s the thing though, there are too many ‘groups’, or rather attributes that make you priviledged.
    You are constantly judged on how much money you have, how well can you articulate yourself, how well do you comply with the conventional beauty standard, how much do you fit in with the culture, how much self confidence, energy, and physicality do you have, along with the hundreds of other characteristics, and a lot of time you can be in a traditionally disadvantaged group (black, woman), but you still come out priviledged at the end of the day compared to the most people just because there are so many variables out there.
    It’s not that simple

  13. Mina
    Posted December 3, 2007 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    “That’s the thing though, there are too many ‘groups’, or rather attributes that make you priviledged.”
    …and tons of ways to be privileged and disadvantaged at the same time.
    I vaguely remember some discussion on that from another thread. For two of many examples: a white woman could object to male privilege and take her white privilege for granted, a black man could object to white privilege and take his male privilege for granted, etc.

  14. mostuniquename
    Posted December 4, 2007 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    “…and tons of ways to be privileged and disadvantaged at the same time.
    I vaguely remember some discussion on that from another thread. For two of many examples: a white woman could object to male privilege and take her white privilege for granted, a black man could object to white privilege and take his male privilege for granted, etc.”
    True, it’s always fascinating to see how people are trying to reconcile the prejudice that occurs among the traditionally disadvantaged groups (such as black people being prejudice against gay people or muslims being prejudice against women)
    In my opinion though, those are false criteria to go by, I rather be a black homosexual woman in excellent physical shape and with a lot of money, as opposed to an unhealthy poor white male, I feel that a lot of activists focus so much on certain injustices they loose the sight of the big picture

  15. Mina
    Posted December 4, 2007 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    “True, it’s always fascinating to see how people are trying to reconcile the prejudice that occurs among the traditionally disadvantaged groups (such as black people being prejudice against gay people or muslims being prejudice against women)
    “In my opinion though, those are false criteria to go by, I rather be a black homosexual woman in excellent physical shape and with a lot of money, as opposed to an unhealthy poor white male, I feel that a lot of activists focus so much on certain injustices they loose the sight of the big picture”
    Yeah, good points. Maybe the big picture includes adding up the privileges and disadvantages to figure out who’s got a better chance of survival?

  16. ModernFemme
    Posted December 7, 2007 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m not saying it’s right, but the war on terror has a lot of americans scared shitless about muslims.
    The more authentic muslim clothing and accessories they wear, the more of a threat they are.
    America is a large melting pot and I have a feeling the standard american couldn’t identify a muslim from a korean while in american clothes.

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