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Racial discrimination

Because I grew up in a predominantly Chinese community, I’m “quite” used to racial slurs or racist remarks e.g. “a black chicken” by annoying teenage boys.

After so many years, I’m also quite numb to the fact that many, many women (and men) think that Snow White is the “fairest of them all”.

In fact, I’ve also grown accustomed to people who look at my Jennifer Lopez complexion and then blurt out:

“Your son is SOOOO fair!”

When they look at me, expecting an answer, I’ll reply, “His father is fair.”

Because I can speak Chinese now, people think I’m Tibetan (or Korean, for crying out loud) until they ask me complex questions and realize that I’m a foreigner. Oops!

By then, I’d already paid and made a run for it 🙂


However, I wasn’t prepared for the racial discrimination I got for NOT being a WHITE.

Before we came here, many people said that I’d get a flurry of job offers to teach English.

Ha! Little do they know that the whites and many of the commercially-owned language centers insist on hiring only “native speakers” i.e. Australian, British, American.

  • Does it matter if they have no teaching qualifications? NO
  • Does it matter that these “native speakers” speak with an almost unrecognizable Aussie or Scottish accent? NO
  • Does it matter that the “native speakers” come from Argentina, Ukraine or Sweden? NO
  • Does it matter if they are here for a few months to maximize their China visa to travel China? NO
  • Does it matter if they jump ship to another language school after getting their Z visa from the language school that hired them? NO
  • Does it matter if they are unprofessional i.e. showing up in class 10 minutes late, with unkempt appearances (last night’s smelly old t-shirt and jeans) smelling of booze or smoke or cancelling classes lackadaisically? NO
  • And then return to their home countries to publicize bad things about China and the people? NO
  • Does it matter that these “native speakers” write blogs in English to make fun of their Chinese colleagues or students? NO

Interestingly, South Americans who can’t even speak English are hired to teach English in kindergartens or elementary schools.

Imagine a conversation like this,

“How old are you?” I asked.

“I make 30 years old” says the white ‘English’ teacher.

“Wow, you’re soooo…young.”

If I’m indignant about this, can you imagine how the real British or American English teachers feel about being in the same department as the above? Both are introduced as “English” teachers 🙂

Even the Phillippine community who are extremely fluent in English (but are unpopular due to their Spanish-accented English) have trouble finding jobs as English teachers.

My pity goes to the mainland Chinese graduates in English. They get the worst end of the stick because the students “worship” these “native speakers” despite the hard work and efforts these trained English teachers put into teaching English.

Just because they don’t look like a Caucasian!.

When we discussed “racial discrimination” during an expat gathering one day, the dark-skinned Africans and Indians mention about being stared at or laughed at by kids. Older Chinese look at them as if they were hungry ghosts…

An Italian lady told me that the reason I couldn’t teach English here was because of the fact that I speak with an accent.

Interestingly, two Americans pointed out to the Italian,

“No, she doesn’t. YOU have an accent!”

It was nice of the Americans to speak up for me but did they try to help me get a job teaching English? Nope.

Regardless of the fact that I helped them to communicate with the Chinese shopkeepers or explain some Chinese culture to them…

An *incredibly* helpful Chinese gym instructor tried to connect me with two language school recruiters who haughtily told me,

“Sorry, we hire native speakers only.”

Although the gym instructor has called me again and again to connect me, I politely told him to STOP.

I’m grateful for his help but judging from the high-and-mighty attitudes of the white Rajahs (and the few distrustful, misinformed Chinese) here, I can’t be bothered to find a job teaching English.

Hey, if they are only going to trust the “white, native speaker”, then good luck with trying to improve the level of English proficiency in China!

Me? I’ve found something else more fulfilling and yup, non-discriminating 🙂

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • a-moms-diary March 30, 2009, 7:46 pm

    Unfortunately the ugly face of discrimination is everywhere.

  • dn March 30, 2009, 10:32 pm

    Is it possible that you could have just spoken to them in English over the phone? They wouldn’t know you are white or not. Then, just turn up. They can’t be ALL discriminating..?

    But, guess you’re not bothered already haha.

  • Kit March 31, 2009, 7:37 am

    A Mom’s Diary – Yeah…so sad and ironic. I love teaching English, I believe I have a lot to share, the folks here desperately need help with English but then, they don’t want me. Oh well…

    DN – Thanks for the suggestion. I have called up using my name and outlining my intention and experience. On the phone, they are REALLY enthusiastic. The minute I send in my resume with an attached photograph (mind you, I have a glowing one in terms of qualifications and experience) or show up, then the response changes.

    Often, the local Chinese are receptive but the white guy in charge will give you:
    – a direct “I’m afraid we’re looking for native speakers only.” or
    – that frigging “Thank you for coming by. We’ll put you on our list.”

    I am open to teaching positions IF I know that the hiring person is seriously interested in looking for an English teacher.

  • mumsgather March 31, 2009, 9:25 am

    Thats totally annoying. Yes, discrimination is everywhere.