Are You Sure You'Re Not Prejudiced? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   Today, in American Government class the subject of stereotyping other cultures was raised. We started talking about prejudice jokes, and a lot of offensive cracks were thrown back and forth. When I lived in Canada, the unlucky Newfies were usually the brunt of our jokes. I had nothing against Newfies, but I don't think a day went by without hearing something about one unfortunate Newfoundlander or another. The only difference between Newfoundland and the rest of Canada is the unmistakable Newfy accent. Although their odd pronunciations and lisp-like speech are pretty funny, it doesn't mean they are less intelligent than we are.

When I was younger I didn't even know what a Newfy was, yet I cracked a joke now and then nevertheless. It's hard to say if the Newfies are offended or not since their province is the number one spot to buy a great Newfy joke book.

When I moved to Qu"bec from Toronto, Newfy jokes were in competition with French jokes. It's hard to spot when you're visiting, but after living in Montr"al for five years, I can confirm that there is a lot of hatred between the French and the English. After having lived in Qu"bec for a couple of months, there were no more "French people," there were "French Peppers." I didn't know then, and I still don't know today, where, how or why they picked that name. Nevertheless, "Pepper" became part of my vocabulary. The stupid thing about it is that I myself am half French-Canadian, so I was indirectly insulting myself each time I shared a French joke or insult.

I'm ashamed to admit that Newfy jokes and French jokes have become second nature to me and I usually can't help laughing at pretty much any funny joke regardless of who's being hurt. After class today, I really started thinking about it. Jokes about women's incompetence never really bothered me, but I began to get a little upset when I realized that America's Newfy is a Polack. When other nationality jokes were introduced to me, I was too young to take offense, but now I'm starting to see the other side of these jokes. I am half Polish on my dad's side and it hurts me to think of how hard my Grandpa worked to get to America only to have his nationality and mine insulted.

I am starting to feel that way about "Newfy" jokes, "Pepper" jokes and "women belong in the kitchen" jokes. I used to think that people who got offended were too uptight and needed to loosen up a bit. After all, if we can't laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at? In a way, I still feel this way, but it seems that as I get older, the jokes get more and more insulting and degrading. They are no longer harmless kindergarten giggle festivals, but real put-downs and clear prejudice. What's worse is that little kids are picking up our bad habits and telling jokes that even shock me.

I don't think of myself as prejudiced, but I guess that won't be true until the day comes when I can hear a "Pepper" joke without laughing. Lately, I have been more careful about what I say and do. Unfortunately a lot of people are still ignorant of other people's feelings. If everybody were just a little more careful about who they were insulting, I think America would be a much better place to live. If this keeps up, people will realize, as I have, that what goes around comes around. n

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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SilverSnowflakes said...
Sept. 9, 2010 at 8:40 am
wow, good point, though I've never actually heard any of those.... the dumb blonde jokes used to annoy me, so I started telling people my hair was brown. (it's medium blonde, but it used to be light blonde and will eventually be light brown) The only really awkward situation related to that was when a kid told a joke making fun of Obama in my choir a year or two ago. My mom told him not to tell the joke, and I don't even think he understood it, but parents should be careful about what they regar... (more »)
MangoMadness replied...
Apr. 7, 2011 at 12:57 am
Studies show there is no evidence that blondes have any less I.Q.s than non-blondes. I know it. Don't worry. I love Taylor Swift. But I am as guilty as the next when it comes to blonde jokes. No offence intended, it's just funny.
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