Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Whiter Shade of Pale

Need proof that all of us white folk look the same?

I'm posting from the waiting room of the Children's Hospital where Brendan is getting OT.

One of the therapists just walked back into the waiting room. She's Indian, tall and gorgeous with sparkling brown eyes.

She's looking for the mom whose driver's license and insurance card she holds in her hand. She looks down at the license and walks up to me and says, "Holly? Holly Whosit?"

Nope. Not me.

So, she then kind of yells the name out. The mom who responds to the name and comes over to her is no less than three inches shorter than me, has white blond hair and a darker complexion, and looks absolutely nothing like me.

The only explanation I have is that all white people look the same if you're not white. I recently saw an article that said babies can easily tell the difference between lots of different kinds of faces, but it's a skill that is lost over time.

I tried to find it to link to it, but the site was down.

Anyway, it kind of tickled me because I had just read a The Wordy Shipmates and in it Sarah Vowell tells a story about how one of the Algonquin tribes that has a relationship with the English basically tells Roger Williams (I think) that they can't tell one white guy from the next. This is after a Dutch trader has killed an Indian and the Indians kill an Englishman, thinking he's the Dutch guy. It was an amusing anecdote and I was just reminded of it today.

2 comments:

Kel said...

How interesting...I guess the things we don't regularly see (or pay attention to that is) just sort of blend in together until we don't see the subtle differences.

~K

Jeremy said...

That's funny.

Check this out:

http://alllooksame.com/

This can also be of interest:

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

Your pal, Malcolm Gladwell