This morning while watching Zoe pivot off her playmat and onto the hardwood floors I had the once and for all feeling to Google iRobots. You know the robots I’m talking about; they shuffle about your house cleaning up dust and debris, and the hope is that you’ll never have to manually vacuum or sweep again.
Now this isn’t the type of purchase that you make lightly, or at least I wouldn’t. The iRobots run as much as $300+ dollars and I needed to know exactly what I was purchasing. So I decided to go to my most trusted retail source to read customer reviews…Amazon.com.
While the iRobot I was considering had some pretty good reviews, one reviewer said they loved their iRobot so much they decided to name it. They named him Paco. Another reviewer said that they named their robot Beula. Of course my radars went up and I suppose I wasn’t the only one because their was a comment posted further down the page that said “don’t you think naming your vacuum a Mexican name is a bit racist?” Another reviewer called the previous guy petty for even thinking it was racist and so on and so on. No one commented on the name “Beula.”
I suppose one could argue that a name doesn’t determine a race or religion, after all my name is Amina and I’m not Arabic…but it is certainly understood that a name carries a ton of weight (pun intended).
So off to the races I went (no pun intended) and my brain was moving a mile a minute. I mean, the last few days I’ve been seeing/ hearing about racial and gender stereotyping, and it’s been making me squirmy. An episode of “Dance Moms,” (a show I clearly shouldn’t be watching) had the only black girl in the troupe dressed in a leopard print costume (complete with afro wig), shaking her booty to a song entitled “My name is Laquisha.” A very close friend mentioned that his company might have challenges raising money because their leadership team is “ethnic” while another friend says she’s still fighting to have a voice in business amongst the roar of her male counterparts. And if that weren’t enough..Dear God,Oh Heavenly Father, Have Mercy On My Bleeding Heart…everyone wants to touch Zoe’s hair! (Sigh)
Now I consider myself an empathetic person. I understand that some actions come from a place of curiosity and some come from a place of ignorance. I don’t get the impression that there are people who are spending their waking hours trying to be blatantly racist or sexist, but there is certainly a lack of sensitivity. But can you really be sensitive about an issue that you have never experienced yourself? To be a “successful” empathizer, would you need to have experienced something even remotely close to what that person or group is going through?
My gut says yes, but what do YOU think?
But alas, while I can’t cure ignorance, insensitivity and curiosity today, one thing I have decided to do is sweep and mop my floors instead of make that big purchase today. I just don’t think I’m ready to read anymore product reviews.