I was talking to a former student of mine who has taken to traveling through South Asia. This time around, she was heading to Nepal, and she met a man there who was formerly working in Iraq. She asked why he had to return, and he replied that after the U.S. invasion, much of the slave labor work force got caught up in the line of fire, and the Nepalese government put a ban on foreign labor there. This was related matter-of-fact and without offense; my friend said she felt obliged to apologize.
She then paused and said, “Do you know what some Lebanese people said before I left? ‘Can you bring a Nepalese home for me? I need a new girl to work in the house.'”
Foreign workers in Lebanon are discussed like so many different breeds of dog, and categorized according to similar “traits” such as personality, docility, obedience, etc.
What do we then make of adoptive parents who categorize themselves according to our country of origin? How does this even make any sense, except along absolutely racist/classist lines?