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Pet Sins January 2007

Experiencing 'diversity' 'my' way - support for 'cultural differences' ends when white man doesn't get his way

I had a white American former co-worker (fired for irresponsibility and stalling on deadlines) whose tagline is "I love international people". He makes it a point to date only immigrant women (not necessarily of color), saying "white Americans are too boring for me". He seems to think that he is more open-minded, more cosmopolitan, more 'cultural', and way cooler than other white folks around, which is certainly not the case.

He dated a woman from China, claiming to be interested in 'experiencing another culture', but whenever they had a conflict due to cultural differences, he would insist that she capitulate to the 'American way' of doing things. Experiencing another culture was like a 'shopping trip' for him - instead of understanding the whole, he picked only the parts he liked - such as the cuisine and the women, and enjoyed them outside the context of the larger picture.

I'm not suggesting we all have to accept everything about another culture wholesale, good and bad - sure we can learn the positives and avoid the negatives, but this wasn't what he was doing - he had a buffet table attitude - consumeristic and exploitative. He pays lip service to "learning about cultural differences" but on various occasions of cultural conflict, not just with his girlfriend, but also with other people, he would insist in a disrespectful, childish and petulant way that other people do things his way because they are in his country.