The naughty and the nice list (but way more serious than Santa)

There are certain topics that I just don’t blog about.  I avoid politics… not that I don’t have lots of thoughts, because I do, but I find it’s one of the “conversations” that is just too difficult to have over the internet.  Too many misunderstandings, judgments and frustrations.

For those of you who know what I do, you’ll notice I don’t share pictures of the girls’ faces or details of their lives… that’s for their protection.

I try not to generalize my experiences… that is, I don’t want to assume that just because I had a certain interaction or experience that it defines Lebanon or the Lebanese.  Just like I was so dumbfounded and annoyed when a psychologist I had a meeting with yesterday didn’t believe that I was actually American because “Americans aren’t that white” (talking about Ruby… she hadn’t even seen Isla… that would have apparently totally rocked her world, ha!), I don’t want my Lebanese friends reading my blog and being frustrated at my generalizations of their society and culture.

Sometimes I’ll type out a whole post and realize it sounds too negative or too judgmental to actually post, so it sits in my draft folder until I finally just delete it.

One topic I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while now is racism.  I actually wrote one post a few years ago, but every other post that broached the subject since then has ended up in my draft folder. Some of those posts shared personal stories – like the time I was in a Burger King play area with Isla while one of the girls was at a birthday party.  A Filipina maid and I started chatting and she just opened up to me, sharing story after story about her life.  I typed up one story that she told me about how when her Madame poops, she doesn’t flush the toilet herself, but actually calls for this girl to come flush it for her.  But then there was no way I could comment on that story without being incredibly negative, so I just left it in my draft folder.

My blogging friend Ginger Beirut has a couple of really good posts about racism in Lebanon – she has great tact and yet doesn’t shy away from the subject.  I’m still figuring out how to blog with tact, I guess.

Right now, the news is full of stories about racism at beaches in Lebanon.  Many, many beaches in Lebanon do not allow maids to swim in the pool – whether or not they pay full price to enter.  There is actually a recent circular that has been passed out to all that states it is against the law to discriminate based on race, but most beach clubs are just ignoring the law.  Lots of excuses are given, many along the lines of “our customers wouldn’t want to swim in the same water {as an African/Filipina maid].”  (ugh)

The Anti-Racism Movement has posted a few videos showing the blatant disregard for the law (you can watch them here and here).  They are also working on compiling a list of all beaches that either practice discrimination or that do not discriminate.  Which brings me to the point of the post… if you are in Lebanon, consider checking out the list here before choosing the beach you want to spend the day at.  Maybe if enough of us boycott the beaches with racist policies, we could see some real change!  Although the pessimist in me wonders if publishing the list will send more people to the racist beaches, knowing that they will be “safe” from having to mix with people they’d rather not.  (There I go again… but you know what, I’m just gonna leave that sentence in.)

On a side note, I’m happy to report that our favorite beach, Lazy b, is on the good list!  Two summers ago, when I first started realizing that many beaches didn’t allow domestic workers to use the facilities, I actually asked the girl at reception if they let anyone swim. She looked at me like I was crazy.  So I clarified, “would you let my friend from Ethiopia swim?”  She laughed like it was a ridiculous question and said “of course.”  I skipped to the car and promptly reported to Caleb that we could continue spending insane amounts of money at Lazy b!  :)

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2 thoughts on “The naughty and the nice list (but way more serious than Santa)

  1. I wonder if they would let your “friend” from Ethiopia swim, but not your maid from Kenya? Sometimes racism can be interesting with wealthy dark people being acceptable while people of the same race, but who are servants, are not acceptable.

    • There is a story going around that the Sri Lankin ambassador’s wife was refused entry to the pool. I suspect it’s true, but can’t verify. Unfortunately, I have friends who are wealthy Americans, but happen to be black or Asian, and they are treated terribly, so I do think it’s more of a race thing than a money or class thing.

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