Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 37 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Oranges, Grapefruit, and Postcolonial Dialogue


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 37 seconds

flickr photo shared by joellaflickr under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license


This was a REAL conversation, in person, a few months ago

Me: that’s a pretty big orange you got there

Friend: it’s a grapefruit

Me: Oh? but it really looks like an orange. I’ve never seen a grapefruit that color before.

Friend: I know, but it was sold to me as a grapefruit and it tastes like a grapefruit

Me: What does it look like inside? (she shows me). Oh, it looks like a blood orange…

Friend: I know. But it tastes like grapefruit

Me: You know better, then. If you’ve tasted it then you know best. Maybe it’s a hybrid of some kind…

Friend: Maybe.

Me: (sniff). They do smell like grapefruit

Friend: Wanna taste?

Me: (laughing) no, sorry, I don’t wanna eat your snack. Enjoy.


Virtual Conversation Analogy

Western person (WP): So… you all had a party with apples and oranges

Me: No, actually, it was a party with apples and grapefruit

WP: It looks completely like apples and oranges from here. Explain to me how those are not oranges but they are grapefruit. They look like oranges.

Me: I understand. but you’re not seeing it well. I was there and I’m telling you there were no oranges, there were grapefruit. They look like grapefruit to me and tasted like grapefruit to me but maybe from a distance they seem like oranges to you. This does not make them more oranges.

WP: But you’re not engaging my argument. You have to prove to me that they were grapefruit. How can I know for sure they weren’t oranges?

Me: It’s a little difficult to do that if you weren’t there. Even if I asked all the participants to confirm it, would you believe me, or would you think they were deceived into thinking they were grapefruit when, in fact, you the expert know they were oranges even though you weren’t there at all and didn’t taste or smell or touch them?

Observer: will you let up already, she’s telling you they weren’t oranges

Other observer: WP has the right to make claims about oranges

Me: WP has no idea what WP is talking about. WP was not THERE. I don’t have to defend against an evidence-less argument

Other observer: you are being mean to WP. WP has the right to say whatever WP wants

Yet another Observer: No one has the right to impose their vision of oranges upon another

Other observer: no one has the right to silence WP’s vision of oranges on everyone else

Me: I think I have the right to ignore a vision that does not apply to my context altogether. There’s no way I am winning an argument when my version of reality is not given any value whatsoever, and someone who has no idea is imposing theirs and expecting me to engage.

WP: You are a great example of an anti-intellectual

Me: Dude!

Yet another observer: This was a practical and not an intellectual conversation. There is no reason to get into this…

Another observer: You are all now being mean to WP

Me: Dude!


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