Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.
Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and "unusual" social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.
Whites are Jerky
I am a White girl, 22 and see friends who are also White on social media all the time, posting or sharing white people jokes. Should that be offensive to me? I don’t joke about other races and cultures. I can understand why other ethnicities would tell these jokes. But how is it hip and cool for Whites to make fun of themselves? I ignored the first 100 or so jokes, memes and even anti-White slurs, but this creeps me out now and I am not completely sure why. Any ideas?
—Whites are Jerky
Dear Whites are Jerky,
I see your point. If ethnocentric majority members usurp humor from minority groups, how is that not misappropriating culture? It stands to reason that would be exactly the sort of behavior an entitled and oppressive group would demonstrate!
It is creepy when any group makes insulting jokes about other groups, sports fans respectfully excluded. Jokes and slurs keep us apart, when we need to come together. They are based on outdated and inaccurate stereotypes, so they do not offer much clever humor either. If you do not want to hear ugly words and stereotypes about your own group, then grow up and stop spreading the same kind of nonsense about other groups.
I come from a family of multiple colors and growing up I was very touchy about race and any kind of slight that I found offensive to my family. The persons of color in my family always told me to lighten up and rise above it. They were so right but sometimes people need to be called out. If you want to avoid hearing this boorish twaddle, ignore posts and politely interject and alert the speaker to “Stop right there if this joke is aimed at any race or culture, I do not partake because I only want to put peace and love out into the world.” This may give them a new target for ridicule, but may also eventually help them understand the weight of their words.
My 17 year old daughter recently came out as asexual. She’d already come out and gone from questioning to bisexual, but now she’s saying that the confusion came from wanting to choose something to be normal, when she knew all along that gender was not important because she has absolutely no interest in sex. She’s always been on the honor roll, very talented, never been in trouble, never drank or did drugs, has good friends and seems to enjoy life, but I can’t help feeling confused myself. How do you support no choice? What about dating, and not that I want to think about my daughter’s sex life but it is sad she will not know the joy of sharing love with someone. And what about my grandchildren?
Your teenage whiz kid and happy, substance-free social butterfly has no interest in sex? Most parents, including myself, would congratulate you on hitting the jackpot! However, I understand how you may be confused about the label “asexual” and how hormone-addled kids could possibly identify that way.
Asexuality is a bona fide thing that you may learn more about from the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. Sexuality, like gender, is not as easy to categorize and sort, as we believed in the past. Concepts like these are better represented on a continuum, where anything can and does happen quite naturally. Asexuality is not celibacy, which is chosen. Rather, asexual persons identify this way because they do not experience sexual attraction. Asexual folks can be attracted to the same or other sex; in fact this may be a temporary stop on the way to their destination. They even have long-term romantic relationships. Most importantly, this lack of sexual attraction is not considered a problem to be corrected; they simply get pleasure from other things in life.
So, it is really not difficult to root for a teenager who identifies as asexual. Whatever road they are on, it is much less bumpy when you have families who accept you as you are and do not fret over their sexual health or reproductive capacity. Worry less and enjoy your daughter, just as she is, more.
Shock & Ugh
A new coworker and I occasionally make a couple of work-related trips during the day. He seemed like a really nice, clean-cut guy, with a pleasant enough personality. One day we pulled up to a building, my coworker was driving and waiting on a parking spot, and someone zipped in and took the spot from us. He got so upset he was swearing and zipping across the parking lot, looking for a space that he found pretty far away. He said nothing, but walked past the car that stole the spot, keys in hand and put a scrape all the way up the side of the car! I was so shocked, I did not know what to say and I noticed there were security cameras on the building.
Later, he laughed about it and assured me that anyone who messes with him is going to pay. He also indicated that he had done this and worse things to others who “messed with” him and I think this may have been a threat to me. Should I report this to someone? I know I should have when it happened, but I was kind of in shock.
—Shock & Ugh
Hi Shock & Ugh,
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but do not ever make another trip with your sociopathic coworker. If losing a parking spot provokes vandalism, I would not want to find out what happens when someone cuts in his line or short-changes him.
You, along with the event, are apparently already on tape and so a record is out there. It could be unproductive to backtrack to the store and suggest looking at security tapes, when they will do this anyway for the car owner. You cannot control another human being, and fearing retaliation may not be a perfect excuse but it definitely justifies not saying anything at the time.
The real key here is that you were engaged in some kind of work activity when it happened and will likely expected to return to the field with this charmer in the future. This is why you must alert your human resources department to what happened. If there is an investigation they may find out anyway. I would proceed by making your HR office the first stop, and let them advise you on how to proceed. You may ask for some measure of anonymity to avoid retaliation, and make certain they understand the indirect threats made. This may not be an ideal solution, but it sounds safer than another antisocial adventure with this miscreant.
Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author's alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions, and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.
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