As a preface, if this is the wrong place to make this post, please remove it an let me know if there is a better place.
Recently, something has happened to me on gitter.im that has greatly surprised and somewhat befuddled me; I have been called a racist by the founder of a major community framework. This came in response my posting a video about the Scala Slick system in which I briefly spoke in a Russian accent parodying a Yakov Smirnov “Russian Reversal” joke. What is so surprising about the accusation is that I myself am Russian! My family emigrated from the former USSR in 1990 in order to enjoy the freedoms of religion and self expression. Upon explaining this very fact to this founder, he proceeded to state that “even faking an accent is inappropriate” which further confuses me.
Firstly, how is my accent fake? In order to generate a Russian accent in English, I merely use the same intonations and inflections that I use when speaking Russian. Since I moved to this country at a young age, I can speak English without an accent -i.e. in more typical English intonations and inflections- but how is that ‘accent’ any more real then the other one?
Secondly, not only are Russians not offended by the type of comment that I made, but in fact the reverse is true. In the aforementioned video, I said “In Soviet Russia, database queries you!” which is a variation of “In Soviet Russia, television watches you!” This kind of joke hints at the fact that the Soviet regime regularly spied on it’s own citizens and privacy rights were completely unheard of. It has been instrumental to spreading awareness in the free world, of the many Soviet trespasses against the human rights of their citizens.
Finally, in our great quest to become racially tolerant, does it not seem that we have lost a piece of our own humanity? What has happened to our ability to make fun of ourselves? Are we so embarrassed or afraid to express cultural context that we need to whitewash every statement we make? Have we completely lost the ability understand that phrases and statements exist within a certain frame of reference?
In response to this major founder’s remarks and accusation, I am neither upset nor offended, I know that he meant well. I am merely sad and confused about the strange, knee-jerk-reactive nature of what our social dialog has become.
For reference, my video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJqnh2jLt8c