What is the role of personal responsibility in the perpetuation of racist images?
Sounds like an essay question, eh? It was a thought that occurred to me recently in an online forum frequented by a majority of translators (oh, oh, I’m going to be rumbled for sure…). The discussion revolved around the best way to translate “sitting indian-style”, an expression I only recently came across when my daughter came out with it, much to my horror.
It was suggested that the phrase was a “glaring stereotype” and should not be used, whereupon several comments replied that it was “just a description”, that the alternative (“tailor-fashion”) was “just as offensive to tailors”, and that the role of a translator was to translate and not judge the offensiveness of the phrase in question.
So I ask you, should everyone take responsibility or should we just say it’s not our problem?