Perhaps I was in a bad mood last night.
I don’t think I was conscious of it, if so. #1 son cleaned the kitchen yesterday morning, and when my husband came home I was in the kitchen cooking, which is where he likes me to be, so he was happy. It’s true that yesterday was a long and action-packed day centering on biohazardous waste and how tormented Einsten was (just words, no real waste or torment), and that I was tired, but still…
Anway, I threw a little fit in bells. We’re getting ready for the handbell clinic this weekend, and Bigsax said something about our bell choir. His remarks ended with “We can do well on all the level 2 stuff.”
“That’s the trouble,” I burst out. “We do well on level 2 stuff, but we always play level 5 stuff. Couldn’t we play some level 2 stuff sometimes?”
I suggested that we could lure new people in that way, announcing that we were going to do an easy piece.
“Then they’d just leave when we got back to our regular stuff,” objected one of the Suwandas.
“Oh no,” said I. “Once they’re here, they can’t escape. I’ve been trying to get out for years.”
I tried to make up for that by being unusually cheerful and cooperative through the rest of bells, and made a donation to the choir robe fund, and got through much of choir practice without joining in the usual bickering and whining and carrying on, but then we got to the anthem for this week.
“Soon I Will Be Done” is the piece. Here are the lyrics as printed in our music:
A-wid de troubles ob de worl’,
Troubles ob de worl’,
De troubles ob de worl’.
Soon ah will be don’
A-wid de troubles ob de worl’,
Goin’ home t’live wid God.
I like this song. I enjoy singing songs from the African-American musical heritage which are so popular in our churches.
I’m white. I’m not going to put on a stereotypical “dialect” when I sing this excellent music.
This has never been an issue before, but last night Bigsax got onto me for it. “It’s not ‘with.’ It’s ‘wid.'” He stopped the rehearsal to tell me this.
“That’s offensive, Bigsax,” I said.
There was a shocked silence. Many of the people in the choir are of a generation that was brought up to be very casual about racism, and they really don’t see what’s wrong with it.
My students are of a generation that was brought up to be very casual about public obscenities. I don’t correct them or get shocked at their speech, but I also don’t join in.
Well, there it is.
#2 daughter has called me on the phone, so I might as well give up on this entry…
3 thoughts on “Thursday April 23, 2009”
Something like that happened in my choir once. I am of course the leader and when we stopped to correct some consonants, I was told “We can’t do that! Black people wouldn’t do that.”
And I threw a fit, too.
As for the bell situation… I’ve been on the receiving end of that, too. I don’t take it personally. It’s par for the course.
Your description of your behaviour is not my definition of a ‘little fit’, not even ‘bad temper’, more like ‘a soft touch of crossness’. Such occasional touches of crossness are good for the blood pressure and they stop people taking a person’s normally cheerful manner for granted.
And a question, do any of the choir members identify themselves as African-American? And if they do, any idea how they feel about singing the song in dialect?
Just curious because something a little similar came up at work today. I supervise the teaching of 10 post grad tutors and this coming week our classes are constructing questionnaires to present to others in their classes. We have to check the questions to make sure that the questions are not overly personal, and are not offensive to sub groups of our student population, The main subgroups in the population (with some overlap of course) are islamic students (a mixture of arabic, and malaysian/indian I would guess) malaysian/indian students, malaysian/chinese students, and mainland chinese students. One of my tutors is malaysian/chinese and a group in his class had constructed a questionnaire that, had I been the sole judge of the ethics, might not have got approval because there was a possibility that some of our Asian students might have taken exception. The tutor however told me that he approved the questions (the tutors get to give their approval and I double check it) and we agreed that in this case, he was probably a better judge of the effect of the questions on other Asian students than I was. I guess the point I am trying to make is that if we are not a member of the ethnic group targeted by a racist stereotype, we can’t be absolutely sure that it is as offensive as we, outside observers, might think it is.
That’s an excellent point. Our choir doesn’t include any African-American members, though our congregation does.
Comments are closed.