Inflatable Sumo suits are racist? Have they nothing to do at University?

Inflatable Sumo suits used as party props are racist according to Queens University, in Kingston Ontario. Read this article from the National Post. While you’re at it check out the other article about a study that found that racism is widespread at our universities.

From the Sumo article

“Sumo suits, the plastic novelties that can transform a skinny sports fan into a comically unstable sphere for the delight of a stadium audience, are racist and dehumanizing instruments of oppression, according to the student government of Queen’s University.

They “appropriate an aspect of Japanese culture,” turn a racial identity into a “costume,” and “devalue an ancient and respected Japanese sport, which is rich in history and cultural tradition.” They also “fail to capture the deeply embedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced.”

From the study about racism.

“A first-year student at Lakehead University, who happens to be a visible minority, shows up at an orientation session, only to find that she is the only one from her culture. She complains that the orientation activities do not reflect “who I am as a person.”

A Laurentian University student, also a visible minority, says events featuring pizza and beer are exclusionary. “You have the large group of students from Kapuskasing, Timmins or whatever else, they’re all white, they’re all from northern Ontario, and they’re all ???Canadienne de souche.’ “

These are just two accounts included in a scathing study released this week by the Canadian Federation of Students that says individual and systemic racism permeates almost every facet of Ontario’s universities, from residence life and curriculum to hiring policies and governance.”

Sumo suits and beer and pizza parties are racist. What are universities teaching our kids. I would not recommend that my child or grand child attend a Canadian university.

Steve Kaufmann

Brazilian Portuguese usage, from the University of Texas at Austin

Ta Falado is a great source of learning material for Portuguese learners from the University of Texas at Austin. These resources are available free of charge on the internet. This particular series is a pleasant review of Portuguese usage in Brazil, contrasted with the corresponding patterns in Spanish.

I have always felt that grammar is something you need to review many times, at different stages of your learning, never with the intention of remembering anything. The more exposure you already have to the language, the more the grammar explanations stick. This Ta Falado grammar series is pleasant to listen to, and a great way to touch on some elements of usage that might have escaped our notice.

It would be interesting to see similar series for other languages.

Any comments?

Steve Kaufmann

Anxiety in language learning.

All learners experience some degree of anxiety when speaking a foreign language, at least until they are very comfortable in the language. Here is an article that reports on some research on the subject and tries to draw some conclusions. The writer’s conclusion is that the role of the teacher is key. I have a different conclusion. I experience anxiety in a language class. That is why I learn on my own, building up my confidence, word power and familiarity with the language. That way I avoid having to display my inadequate language skills in front of others, or listen to the inadequate performance of others. When I am ready I try my language out on people of my choosing, mostly native speakers.