the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

PeterCai
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby PeterCai » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:08 pm UTC

yesterday at the CUAUT(chinese undergraduate assosication of u of t) orientation, the speaker and performers used racist, classists, sexists jokes in multiple occasions, each time inducing a roaring applause. this, in the university of toronto, at the orientation of the biggest chinese student association in canada. it's probably the most ashamed i felt in my entire life, and it makes me wonder, why oh why are these otherisms so prevailing in my culture?

User avatar
poxic
Eloquently Prismatic
Posts: 4687
Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:28 am UTC
Location: Left coast of Canada

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby poxic » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:16 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:it makes me wonder, why oh why are these otherisms so prevailing in my any culture?

Fixed. :|

Social cohesion is important. Making fun of people perceived to be not-one-of-us is an easy, lazy way to form a bond among those-who-are-us. There are better ways, but they take more energy and time. Most people can't be arsed, unfortunately.
TEAM SHIVAHN
Pretty much the best team ever

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
- Anais Nin, writer (21 Feb 1903-1977)

Paranoid__Android
Posts: 508
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:54 pm UTC
Location: UK

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Paranoid__Android » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:03 pm UTC

poxic wrote:
PeterCai wrote:it makes me wonder, why oh why are these otherisms so prevailing in my any culture?

Fixed. :|

Social cohesion is important. Making fun of people perceived to be not-one-of-us is an easy, lazy way to form a bond among those-who-are-us. There are better ways, but they take more energy and time. Most people can't be arsed, unfortunately.

Well I live in England and I've never seen a speaker in my university (or any other person from my university) say things like that.
In the British culture there may be racist elements but I've never seen anything "so prevailing" that a speaker would feel comfortable to stand on a stage and make racist/sexist/classist comments. Especially to such an educated audience.

Please don't make blanket statements.
The Great Hippo wrote:My dearest, most cherished friend, Paranoid__Android:
... truly, you are a champion among champions. ...
Sincerely and with great fondness,
~The Great Hippo

willzzz88
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:28 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby willzzz88 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:18 pm UTC

Meh.I guess it is part of our culture somewhat. :cry: But remember we're in the West with freedom of speech but it takes understanding and mindfulness with respect. But to a large audience and especially at a formal audience? WTF!? How racist was it? Was it like general naiveties or just really in your face type? That's really rude. =( It was probably in Mandarin too so there's the language barrier (restricting it the speakers). hmm... Never heard of anything here in the states but I've never really joined those types of associations.

Tomo
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Tomo » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:20 pm UTC

poxic wrote:
PeterCai wrote:it makes me wonder, why oh why are these otherisms so prevailing in my any culture?

Fixed. :|

Social cohesion is important. Making fun of people perceived to be not-one-of-us is an easy, lazy way to form a bond among those-who-are-us. There are better ways, but they take more energy and time. Most people can't be arsed, unfortunately.


No. Just no.

That's completely untrue, there is no mass-accepted racism prevelant in english speaking culture, and it's impossible for a speaker to stand up in front of a huge crowd and spout racism without facing a massive backlash from multiple communities - the possible exception to this is a stand up comedian, and even those are oft-reviled, and hardly comparable as they're generally not taken seriously. Racism is hugely accepted in Chinese culture compared to the west. Maybe not more widespread - you could argue that they're simply more capale of voicing racist thoughts given a language largely understood by only a minority, but definitely more widely accepted by society.
"Pick a number between 1 and 10."
"0.9999...?"

PeterCai
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby PeterCai » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:33 pm UTC

it's the usual korean is stupid, indian is smelly type of blatant racism.

User avatar
thc
Posts: 643
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:01 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby thc » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:47 pm UTC

Maybe your point would be better served if you cited specific examples? Stand up comedians deal with stereotypes and race issues all the time. The very fine distinction whether you should be offended or not, is what the intention of the joke is, and I don't think anyone can accurately make that distinction all the time.

"Otherisms" are prevalent in Asian culture, because in western culture, Asians are other. To tell you a bit about myself, the first time I stepped on mainland soil, the first person I really sat down and talked with (who happened to be my very hot and coincidentally gay roommate) assumed I was a foreigner and couldn't speak English well (I can), despite me being 4th generation American.

/facepalm

Yeah, I was pretty upset and started sending bad thoughts and vibes towards him. "Oh gosh, he got a B on that math test, what a bimbo!" But I think this is really just a microcosm of the larger issues. These sort of feelings build up and start shaping worldviews, and I guess you could call it a backlash against the western world's rejection to properly integrate Asian foreigners compared to pretty much anyone else. Hence, the identity of being "azn" gets undue importance and eventually supersedes the actual issues, and then of course, the racism and sexism follows.

User avatar
thc
Posts: 643
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:01 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby thc » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:49 pm UTC

...mass-accepted racism prevelant in english speaking culture...

I think the irony is lost on you there.

PeterCai wrote:it's the usual korean is stupid, indian is smelly type of blatant racism.

Then I think you're overreacting. Stand-up comedians make these kind of jokes all the time.

PeterCai
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby PeterCai » Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:20 pm UTC

thc wrote:
PeterCai wrote:it's the usual korean is stupid, indian is smelly type of blatant racism.

Then I think you're overreacting. Stand-up comedians make these kind of jokes all the time.


....saying another race is stupid without irony is not racist now? is it ok for me to tell a joke about how "niggers be stupid"?

though, the joke itself is not what angered me, it's the reaction of the audience: the applause, the shouting, and the ear-piercing laughter is nothing short of malicious. the organizer clearly know of the type of reactions the jokes will invoke, and still ok it.

User avatar
thc
Posts: 643
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:01 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby thc » Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:32 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
thc wrote:
PeterCai wrote:it's the usual korean is stupid, indian is smelly type of blatant racism.

Then I think you're overreacting. Stand-up comedians make these kind of jokes all the time.


....saying another race is stupid without irony is not racist now? is it ok for me to tell a joke about how "niggers be stupid"?

though, the joke itself is not what angered me, it's the reaction of the audience: the applause, the shouting, and the ear-piercing laughter is nothing short of malicious. the organizer clearly know of the type of reactions the jokes will invoke, and still ok it.


As I said before, it's hard to make the distinction. I've never been to one of these things, so I don't know what it's like, but maybe there was irony and you missed it. I doubt he just flat out said "koreans are stupid" followed by LOLLOLOLOLOLOLOL. There must be something more to it than that - like a joke: "a jew, a black guy and a Korean went to a sushi bar...." okay, then you already know which Korean stereotype it's going to play into, and then it IS funny.

PeterCai
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby PeterCai » Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:35 pm UTC

thc wrote: I doubt he just flat out said "koreans are stupid" followed by LOLLOLOLOLOLOLOL.


that's exactly what it was

Paranoid__Android
Posts: 508
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:54 pm UTC
Location: UK

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Paranoid__Android » Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:36 pm UTC

Actually come to think of it the English love to poke fun at the French (eg. garlic smelling frogs)- in the past we were at war with them for a very long time. So maybe just a bit of loving neighbourly rivalry going on.
I don't really see too much issue with that.


I do NOT think that the french are garlic smelling frogs

Edit: Ninja'd, not 100% sure if this still applies now...
The Great Hippo wrote:My dearest, most cherished friend, Paranoid__Android:
... truly, you are a champion among champions. ...
Sincerely and with great fondness,
~The Great Hippo

User avatar
Charlie!
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Charlie! » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:37 am UTC

Be careful not to say "oh, I haven't seen what you're talking about, therefore it must be the same as American culture." I haven't seen anything from east asia that's worse than what we were claiming 100 years ago, but this isn't 100 years ago. We don't think "he's strong but stupid because he's black" is a simple fact anymore.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

User avatar
CorruptUser
Posts: 9791
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:33 am UTC

Tomo wrote:it's impossible for a speaker to stand up in front of a huge crowd and spout racism without facing a massive backlash from multiple communities - the possible exception to this is a stand up comedian, and even those are oft-reviled, and hardly comparable as they're generally not taken seriously.


There is always (perceived) truth in humor; otherwise it isn't funny. The more true, absurd, and unexpected something is, the funnier it is.

For example, "What can pizza do that a(n) _____ can't? Feed a family of four!" isn't funny with Farmer, Doctor, Lawyer, or anyone perceived as hardworking or wealthy. Use a group perceived as lazy and/or poor, such as Liberal-Arts majors, and the joke is mildly amusing.

Comedians that tell racist jokes reveal a lot about themselves, or at least about those who laugh at them.

Before you think I'm holier-than-thou, yeah, I'm a little bit racist.

PeterCai
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby PeterCai » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:43 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Before you think I'm holier-than-thou, yeah, I'm a little bit racist.


doesn't make it right

elasto
Posts: 3420
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby elasto » Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:42 am UTC

China was a third world country only a couple of decades ago. Most of it still is a third world country. Third world countries have a lot of racism in them.

News at 11: Water is wet?

On the plus side (sort of), they have a sort of reverse racism towards the West in general and America in particular, admiring us far beyond what we deserve.

PeterCai
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby PeterCai » Sun Sep 19, 2010 7:23 pm UTC

So I posted on CUAUT's official forum, and this is the response I get from one of the admin:

http://www.glowfoto.com/static_image/19 ... 6/glowfoto

translation:

I saw XX(a prominent member)'s post so I came back for another look.
OP should secede as fast as possible.
Go back to you retarded place you came from.
I'll not charge you.
I think the other post(refering to 2.jpg) had it right.
Our jokes are about facts.
That's not racist.
Koreans are retarded for claiming everything to be theirs.
Indians are disgusting if they smell.
We didn't say they are pigs or dogs.
So that's not racist.

The great Chinese race is the best!!!
CUA will not apologize to other races on behalf of the great Chinese race!!!

I've reported this to the student paper, but they advised me to sent in a letter to the comment section. I want to take this issue to public, so that such ill can be exposed and discussed. I don't want to stir up unnecessary flame wars.What should I do?

User avatar
thc
Posts: 643
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:01 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby thc » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:08 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:
thc wrote: I doubt he just flat out said "koreans are stupid" followed by LOLLOLOLOLOLOLOL.


that's exactly what it was

No it wasn't.

Saying "Koreans are stupid" completely out of the blue is not a joke nor is it funny. Even if everyone else in the room had major animosity towards Koreans for whatever reason, it still isn't funny. Context is everything, and you're failing to provide it. In other words, you're not giving us the whole story.

As far as what you should do, honestly, I think you should just drop it. I mean, what do you hope to accomplish? At best, you embarrass a few individuals and ruin their academic career. At worst, you create another situation where Chinese bashing, once again, becomes socially acceptable, and God knows we don't need more of that. Especially because otherfication of Asians is at least one reason why sexism and racism are so prevalent in Chinese Americans/Canadians.

PeterCai
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby PeterCai » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:21 am UTC

the whole joke goes like: "and those Koreans are so retarded, they think Confucius was one of theirs!" no one actually laughed, the crowd cheered and applaused.

by making this incident public, i only hope to bring the issue into discussion. I can't control what will come, but at least the issue will be out there, and that's better than hidding it.

Роберт
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Роберт » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
I saw XX(a prominent member)'s post so I came back for another look.
OP should secede as fast as possible.
Go back to you retarded place you came from.
I'll not charge you.
I think the other post(refering to 2.jpg) had it right.
Our jokes are about facts.
That's not racist.
Koreans are retarded for claiming everything to be theirs.
Indians are disgusting if they smell.
We didn't say they are pigs or dogs.
So that's not racist.

The great Chinese race is the best!!!
CUA will not apologize to other races on behalf of the great Chinese race!!!

Wow, if that is an accurate translation and I'm not really missing something here, that is an example of some fairly horrible racism.

I do find this thread a little ironic, since it is talking about how <race> is racist. I also think it is funny that the Chinese racism you mention views Koreans as retarded, whereas most racism I see around here views Asians (oriental people, particularly South Koreans and Japanese) as more intelligent.

I wouldn't just ignore the issue. Make reasonable steps to help change things for the better if you feel you can.
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.

User avatar
savanik
Posts: 345
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:10 am UTC
Contact:

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby savanik » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:22 pm UTC

Just as a thought, I was under the impression that Canada didn't allow hate speech.

PeterCai wrote:I don't want to stir up unnecessary flame wars.


Some flame wars are necessary to remind people that not everyone agrees with them. Well, more to the point, to remind other people that they're not alone in not agreeing with these people. Jefferson once said, 'The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.' A flame war is fairly small potatoes if you can quell hatred before it leads to violence.

Sav
"If it were up to the copyright lobby, owning a pen would be punishable by fines." ---Arancaytar

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7397
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Zamfir » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:28 pm UTC

PeterCai, I have been around some groups of Chinese people, ethnic Chinese born here, people from China temporary here, and Chinese in China and Hong Kong. I can't understand any form of Chinese, so I can't judge on everything people say.

That said, I have encountered enough references to Chinese superiority that your story doesn't really surprise me. On the other hand, such references can be found in any group, so I wouldn't dare say that Chinese are particularly racist.

Well-educated westerners are under a lot of social pressure to deny any racism from their side. But that doesn't mean they aren't racists. It is just something you do not talk about in public, only in small groups of people you trust to agree with you. And in some circles, racism is a true thought-crime, something you never admit too and feel ashamed of you secretly think racist thoughts anyway.

Without such social pressures, I think you would see a lot more events like the one you describe. An interesting thing about ethnic jokes is that everyone gets them. Everyone knows other people who think in such stereotypes, even if they would never say that they themselves think that way. But those other people are around too.

Tomo
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Tomo » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:33 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:I do find this thread a little ironic, since it is talking about how <race> is racist. I also think it is funny that the Chinese racism you mention views Koreans as retarded, whereas most racism I see around here views Asians (oriental people, particularly South Koreans and Japanese) as more intelligent.

I wouldn't just ignore the issue. Make reasonable steps to help change things for the better if you feel you can.


I doubt the chinese are particularly more or less racist than other races, but there is a problem that racism is much more acceptable in chinese culture amongst those in power. Westerners in general are under tremendous pressure to deny any outburst of racism. So I wouldn't say it was particularly ironic. Other than that I agree with you.

Edit- Ninja'd, and what he said.
"Pick a number between 1 and 10."
"0.9999...?"

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7397
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Zamfir » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:14 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:I do find this thread a little ironic, since it is talking about how <race> is racist. I also think it is funny that the Chinese racism you mention views Koreans as retarded, whereas most racism I see around here views Asians (oriental people, particularly South Koreans and Japanese) as more intelligent.

The irony isn't really there. PeterCai isn't suggesting that Chinese people are born as racists because of their race, he is referring to a Chinese culture. There is nothing racist about the idea that a culture can allow and encourage racism in the people who self-identify with that culture. It can still become a dangerous generalization, but we can safely assume that PeterCai does not think that all Chinese are automatically racists.

On the second issue: being Chinese in a society that sees Koreans and Japanese as particularly smart might be a stimulant to make denigrating jokes about Koreans and Japanese.

Роберт
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Роберт » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:31 pm UTC

Good point. It's about culture, not race.

While I've seen that as a cover for racism other places, it is a legitimate argument. I stand corrected.
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.

User avatar
athelas
A Sophisticated Plagiarism Engine
Posts: 584
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:37 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby athelas » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:10 pm UTC

Bigotry based on culture is prevalent in Western culture as well. Just ask a college professor about tea partiers, or vice versa. I think that most people are blind to bigotry in their own culture, as it's considered "natural." Thus it's unsurprising that many people in this thread think that their own culture is without bigotry relative to Those Other Bigoted Cultures.

(And no, if you're an American tea partier, it doesn't count as self-aware humility if you're pointing out bigotry in American college professors. That's still bashing another tribe.)

User avatar
Charlie!
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Charlie! » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:44 pm UTC

It's not acceptable logic to say "all cultures are racist to some extent, therefore it's silly to care about racism in China."

Of course we should care about racism, and I think it's reasonable that we should care about it in some kind of proportion to the harm it does. The fact that racism exists in U.S. culture does not mean that we're not allowed to say other cultures have a problem with racism.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

User avatar
athelas
A Sophisticated Plagiarism Engine
Posts: 584
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:37 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby athelas » Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:00 pm UTC

Quite true, we can and should criticize others. But we should also be self-aware and criticize ourselves, and thus become a bit more humble about the whole business*. This is not only moral but also helps our persuasiveness too: someone unaware of his own cultural bigotry can't understand the dynamics of such bigotry, and this lack of empathy makes it harder for him to make persuasive appeals.

*Also, in this thread, I see an adequate amount of criticizing bigoted others, but very little criticism of your own cultures - some posters even claim that Western/British/English-speaking culture is without serious bigotry! My post attempts to nudge the thread towards a more balanced view, encouraging introspection.

Tomo
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Tomo » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:36 pm UTC

athelas wrote:Quite true, we can and should criticize others. But we should also be self-aware and criticize ourselves, and thus become a bit more humble about the whole business*. This is not only moral but also helps our persuasiveness too: someone unaware of his own cultural bigotry can't understand the dynamics of such bigotry, and this lack of empathy makes it harder for him to make persuasive appeals.

*Also, in this thread, I see an adequate amount of criticizing bigoted others, but very little criticism of your own cultures - some posters even claim that Western/British/English-speaking culture is without serious bigotry! My post attempts to nudge the thread towards a more balanced view, encouraging introspection.


bigotry =/= racism.
"Pick a number between 1 and 10."
"0.9999...?"

User avatar
Lazar
Landed Gentry
Posts: 2151
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm UTC
Location: Massachusetts

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Lazar » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:42 pm UTC

At least in prescriptive terms, bigotry only comprises prejudice against mutable characteristics. For example, dictionary.com defines it as "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own" - thus it would not include racism, sexism or homophobia. However, a lot of people have come to just use it as a synonym for any prejudice against groups of people.
Exit the vampires' castle.

User avatar
thc
Posts: 643
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:01 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby thc » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:45 am UTC

Guys, the term you are looking for is "cultural racism". Basically, instead of appealing to traits based on biological heredity, you appeal to traits based on cultural heredity.

It's not acceptable logic to say "all cultures are racist to some extent, therefore it's silly to care about racism in China."

Of course we should care about racism, and I think it's reasonable that we should care about it in some kind of proportion to the harm it does. The fact that racism exists in U.S. culture does not mean that we're not allowed to say other cultures have a problem with racism.


You're right of course, but the problem in this case is that, when China is criticized in the West for its very real issues, like racism, like Tibet, it's done so with zero balance. Very often anti-China demonstrations are racist/sexist/bigoted in the extreme, without the demonstrators being remotely aware of the irony. That doesn't serve to correct the problem, all it does is segregate and polarize, which is why it would be useless to try to bring the issue to the larger university community. You could of course try to address the problem in-house, but from the looks of it, that doesn't seem like it's going to work.

In my humble opinion, as far as these particular issues go, any major change in American Chinese culture needs to come from American culture as a whole, by being more welcoming and making it easier for Asians to integrate. As it is, there is zero reason for Chinese Americans to become less racist and less sexist because the most important impetus, the ability to integrate into a more enlightened society, is not available anyway.

Levelheaded
Posts: 185
Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Levelheaded » Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:23 pm UTC

athelas wrote:Bigotry based on culture is prevalent in Western culture as well. Just ask a college professor about tea partiers, or vice versa. I think that most people are blind to bigotry in their own culture, as it's considered "natural." Thus it's unsurprising that many people in this thread think that their own culture is without bigotry relative to Those Other Bigoted Cultures.


Well, I'm not an expert on China, but I'm pretty positive that impling that Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Indians are all part of one culture is considered incredibly insulting to most Chinese. On the other hand, I've got both college professors and tea partiers in my own family, and I know of one or two people that fall into both groups at once.

The difference between these Chinese insults and me criticizing creationists or tea-partiers is the difference between me saying 'Bob is a smelly Mexican' and 'Bob stinks and needs a shower'.

If I were the OP, I would file a complaint with my University that this school sponsored organization, at a formal school sponsored function, is telling offensive racist jokes. This isn't a comedy function where some questionable material could possibly be expected, and these comments were clearly said with malice, not in (misguided) good humor.

All I ask is how the OP and this Chinese group would respond if a white student make a joke about watching out for Chinese drivers because they can't see well out of their slanty eyes. That is the appropriate response. The fact that it was said in Chinese and in front of a closed room doesn't change anything.

Iudex
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:22 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Iudex » Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:37 pm UTC

I lived in south-western China for 6 months starting in march 2008. While I was there I worked in the city of Kunming. This city is known for it's racial tolerance and it's acceptance of other cultures. I spoke with some ex-patriots about their children's schooling and they informed me that their children HAD to be either home-schooled or go to the international school. The reason was that teachers in China are encouraged to create group cohesion by finding a person with something easily identifiable as "different" then to focus the class into abuse of the individual.
One individual I knew who had been there for a while tried to send his daughter to public schools, she came home with a broken arm. It was broken by the teacher. Another had their child come home with black eyes from a student punching them. The student who hit him was not disciplined. These children were in 2nd grade.
If children are taught this from so young an age is it possible for them not to have a pre-disposition to racism as an adult?
This does not mean the situation is hopeless, more that there are barriers present in the culture because of the valuing of homogeneous groups more than creativity and valuing of individuals. At least on the surface it creates a much more efficient and more selfless culture. But at the price of adaptability.
Now in the US (where I went to college) I had a dean stand up at my college graduation (2007) and declare that all white people are racist but black people and asians never are. She had her PhD in anthropology specializing in racism. This shows how prevalent the perception of racism is skewed even by those who study it as anthropologists. She was still ignorant of the simple truth that even making statements like that are racist in themselves. So while we may want to critique the chinese establishing of racist cultural ideals and valuing of them we must maintain credibility and regularly look back on our actions and statements to verify that they are based on facts and not on racist ideals.

elasto
Posts: 3420
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby elasto » Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:46 am UTC

Well, if we are going by anecdotes, my kid has been to kindergarten in China and she is the darling of the class. All the parents and teachers adore her. Not only that, but at only 2 years old they are already giving the children foreign language lessons (ie English). That's more outward looking than any Western school I know. Do our kids get taught French or Spanish at school at 2?

In my experience, Chinese people tend to rank the races as follows: English/American > Chinese > Korea > Japan > India > Africa, with the Philippines/Malaysia in there around about Korea. So racism is quite prevalent - but not towards White Westerners. Quite the opposite in fact, in my experience.

Kids will always bully those they perceive as different to themselves, though - whether it's cos the kid's fat or shy or wears glasses or whatever. I don't imagine a French kid going to a public school in the States would have had a very easy time of it either - especially during the period of 'French Fries' -> 'Freedom Fries' nonsense.

If things change for my kid if and when she goes to Primary school here then we'll have to think again. At the moment she loves going to kindergarten, though, from the moment the school dances and sings together in the morning to when she's out running and playing on the climbing frame with her classmates when I come to collect her.

RabbitWho
Posts: 284
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 10:16 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby RabbitWho » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:33 am UTC

All I ask is how the OP and this Chinese group would respond if a white student make a joke about watching out for Chinese drivers because they can't see well out of their slanty eyes.


JESUS! Did you have to give an example? You couldn't have said "if a white student made a racist joke."

The reason was that teachers in China are encouraged to create group cohesion by finding a person with something easily identifiable as "different" then to focus the class into abuse of the individual.


Ha ha ha! They learned that one from the Christian Brothers! (Irish organization famed for institutional abuse)

Tomo wrote:
poxic wrote:
PeterCai wrote:it makes me wonder, why oh why are these otherisms so prevailing in my any culture?

Fixed. :|

Social cohesion is important. Making fun of people perceived to be not-one-of-us is an easy, lazy way to form a bond among those-who-are-us. There are better ways, but they take more energy and time. Most people can't be arsed, unfortunately.


No. Just no.

That's completely untrue, there is no mass-accepted racism prevelant in english speaking culture


I've seen a couple of comedy shows on youtube where a comedian will stand up on stage and make a horrific comment about homosexuals to hoots and raucous laughter.

I don't know, i think it depends on your audience. I think in 72% of situations in Ireland I could get away with saying horrible things about the Polish, English, Romanians, Travellers, and possibly Africans (From Africa, not African Americans). And of course anyone Muslim!
Every time I go somewhere new I think "Oh my god! People here are so racist! It's disgusting!" And then I return home and am confronted with our own awful reality. These things aren't said on television or in radio (though they are suggested and it's always there). They're said on busses, on streets, in homes, in classrooms, in kitchens etc. My sixth class teacher told us travellers were dirty etc. etc. I got so angry I thought I would faint, I argued with her, can't remember what I said. The last 2 years of primary school were very difficult because I had surpassed my teachers in intellect, as had my Labrador and the chalk they used to write on the blackboard.

I think racism is the same everywhere but when you get it in a new and unfamiliar package suddenly you're forced to take notice.

I don't know about China, I think there seems to be more of an idea that you are in someway responsible for where you are born or what sort of a situation you are born into. That's just how it seems to me, I have no idea, I've only met 2 Chinese people. That's a really small fraction. Where as in our culture the idea is that you were born in Sweeden, that's why you are an asshole. There the idea is: you are an asshole, that's why you were born in Sweeden.

(I chose Sweeden because I like them and tried to choose the least hate-able nation on the face of the Earth, no one has a serious problem with Sweeden, right?)


I think there is culture shock, and there is also reverse culture shock. And we need to be really careful when we condemn a whole culture as having some human flaw. But "Why do people act like this?" is a fair question.

Levelheaded
Posts: 185
Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Levelheaded » Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:15 am UTC

RabbitWho wrote:
All I ask is how the OP and this Chinese group would respond if a white student make a joke about watching out for Chinese drivers because they can't see well out of their slanty eyes.


JESUS! Did you have to give an example? You couldn't have said "if a white student made a racist joke."


Yes, I think I did. Saying 'a white student made a racist joke' is abstract and subjective.

Someone justifying the students the OP saw may say 'well, I've heard a joke about asians being good at maths without being offended, and this is no different'. I gave a specific example that I considered comparable to 'Koreans are dumb' or 'Indians are smelly' but targeted at Chinese stereotypes. Maybe it wasn't helpful, but I see it as putting everything on a level playing field and precisely defining my comments.

RabbitWho wrote:
The reason was that teachers in China are encouraged to create group cohesion by finding a person with something easily identifiable as "different" then to focus the class into abuse of the individual.


Ha ha ha! They learned that one from the Christian Brothers! (Irish organization famed for institutional abuse)


That type of behavior is as old as time.

We've got anecdotes of examples of great behavior and horrible behavior. I would guess that - people being people - there is a whole spectrum of behaviors. I don't think a Chinese kid going to a school in rural Mississippi is going to have an experience comparable to a Chinese kid in NYC or Seattle.

People forget that China is a big place and made up of different groups of people. I've heard that the experience of Americans (at least white ones & Will Smith's family) is pretty good. There are some cultural / social 'sore spots' - Tibet, human rights, Taiwan...but every culture has those. Be a foreigner talking to Americans about war for oil, Civil Rights / slavery, etc. Americans get defensive too.

RabbitWho wrote:
Tomo wrote:No. Just no.

That's completely untrue, there is no mass-accepted racism prevelant in english speaking culture


I've seen a couple of comedy shows on youtube where a comedian will stand up on stage and make a horrific comment about homosexuals to hoots and raucous laughter.


I fully support gay rights, and as much as it pains me to say this, gay isn't a race.

Comedians say all kinds of things and make fun of all kinds of stereotypes. In general, comedians get a free pass. Ask Michael Richards what happens when a comedian breaks from the act and shows a racist outburst. That's NOT tolerated, even if he may have been giving a pass if it were part of the act.

RabbitWho wrote:I don't know, i think it depends on your audience. I think in 72% of situations in Ireland I could get away with saying horrible things about the Polish, English, Romanians, Travellers, and possibly Africans (From Africa, not African Americans). And of course anyone Muslim!
Every time I go somewhere new I think "Oh my god! People here are so racist! It's disgusting!" And then I return home and am confronted with our own awful reality. These things aren't said on television or in radio (though they are suggested and it's always there). They're said on busses, on streets, in homes, in classrooms, in kitchens etc. My sixth class teacher told us travellers were dirty etc. etc. I got so angry I thought I would faint, I argued with her, can't remember what I said. The last 2 years of primary school were very difficult because I had surpassed my teachers in intellect, as had my Labrador and the chalk they used to write on the blackboard.


One thing people of above-average intelligence often do is look down on others for being dumb. And racist.

People are racist because it helps them find a sense of superiority over others. The prototypical 'i may be poor, but at least I'm not black' sharecropper comes to mind.

People who are above average in intelligence don't really need racism - they have elitism. When you talk to your friends about how dumb everyone is or the stupid thing you saw some idiot do today, it's the exact same mindset as someone talking about how dumb 'blacks / mexicans / asian / women / gays' are.

RabbitWho wrote:I think racism is the same everywhere but when you get it in a new and unfamiliar package suddenly you're forced to take notice.

I don't know about China, I think there seems to be more of an idea that you are in someway responsible for where you are born or what sort of a situation you are born into. That's just how it seems to me, I have no idea, I've only met 2 Chinese people. That's a really small fraction. Where as in our culture the idea is that you were born in Sweeden, that's why you are an asshole. There the idea is: you are an asshole, that's why you were born in Sweeden.

(I chose Sweeden because I like them and tried to choose the least hate-able nation on the face of the Earth, no one has a serious problem with Sweeden, right?)

I think there is culture shock, and there is also reverse culture shock. And we need to be really careful when we condemn a whole culture as having some human flaw. But "Why do people act like this?" is a fair question.


When it comes to China, my experience has been that their culture is relatively racist. Same thing with Japan. However, I do want to note that a big part of that comes from a strong desire to be treated as a powerful nation and culture. They got a bit of a short stick in history and were treated like just another culture to oppress and exploit by Europeans during the colonial era. They are proud of who they are but have been treated as inferior for a long time, and are relatively defensive about it.

That doesn't justify racist behavior, but it does help to understand why they act that way.

Iudex
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:22 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Iudex » Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:10 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Well, if we are going by anecdotes, my kid has been to kindergarten in China and she is the darling of the class. All the parents and teachers adore her. Not only that, but at only 2 years old they are already giving the children foreign language lessons (ie English). That's more outward looking than any Western school I know. Do our kids get taught French or Spanish at school at 2?

In my experience, Chinese people tend to rank the races as follows: English/American > Chinese > Korea > Japan > India > Africa, with the Philippines/Malaysia in there around about Korea. So racism is quite prevalent - but not towards White Westerners. Quite the opposite in fact, in my experience.

To respond to this, yes anecdotes are not always reliable. and yes, on the whole chinese do regard western cultures with a certain amount of deference and respect. The point was in the context of school, the practice for middle-elementary through middle school the official curricula support racism. This is also the experience of my sister-in-law durring her school career until she was in 6th grade (at which time she moved to the states). She is Chinese.
One also must remember the difference between pre-elementary schooling and actual schooling. My experience is that yes in pre-schooling white children are treated very well, but that changes some time between 2nd and 3rd grade when actual academic progress begins to be required.
From speaking to some Chinese friends in china, foreign language lessons in english are only encouraged that young in either private schools, in very international facing metropolitan areas (e.g. Shanghai) or in very wealthy schools. On the whole they start english lessons in 3rd-4th grade, or sometimes not until high school (two of my co-workers in china, Flying and Sissy, didn't start until their freshman year of high school). Another thing to remember when thinking about foreign language in other cultures is that english is the language of trade, international politics and has some of the highest rates of translation (even if a journal was published in german it normally doesn't take too long for someone to translate it to english) So if your child is to participate in any of these areas, they must know english. Also, in some parts of the states at least you can if you desire have your kid attend emersion schools, or even in my elementary school foreign language (spanish) was taught at least in a basic sense in 4th or 5th grade.


Levelheaded wrote:
RabbitWho wrote:
Iudex wrote:The reason was that teachers in China are encouraged to create group cohesion by finding a person with something easily identifiable as "different" then to focus the class into abuse of the individual.


Ha ha ha! They learned that one from the Christian Brothers! (Irish organization famed for institutional abuse)


That type of behavior is as old as time.

We've got anecdotes of examples of great behavior and horrible behavior. I would guess that - people being people - there is a whole spectrum of behaviors. I don't think a Chinese kid going to a school in rural Mississippi is going to have an experience comparable to a Chinese kid in NYC or Seattle.
...
That doesn't justify racist behavior, but it does help to understand why they act that way.


My reason for making the comment I did is to establish what my baseline is for teacher's behavior. This is the behavior as proscribed in the curricula in the area of China I lived in. I won't speak to the entire country, but for Kunming the behavior recommended for teachers is somewhat abhorrent. I will also make a quick mention that Kunming's claim to fame is it's botanical gardens and it's "multi-cultural atmosphere". Claiming 25 ethnic minorities and hosting a "minority village".
I also think it is important to focus not on where a culture develops racist behavior, i.e. what culture they get it from. But instead to focus on what their motive is. I certainly am no expert but from a pragmatic perspective if we are to behave in a way that is respectful of others perhaps we should examine a culture's motives for behaving in a racist fashion instead of just debating wether a culture is racist or not. Most cultures if not all, have some undercurrent of racism it is just easier to see in some.

elasto
Posts: 3420
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:22 am UTC

Iudex wrote:My experience is that yes in pre-schooling white children are treated very well, but that changes some time between 2nd and 3rd grade when actual academic progress begins to be required.

I wonder how much of that is related to how well the kid speaks Chinese. If the kid is fluent, will the racism really be that bad? If the kid can't speak Chinese, then, yeah, I could imagine the racism would be at least as bad as a Mexican kid who can't speak English would suffer in some unenlightened school in the States.

I get that you say it's not just the kids who are cruel, but the teachers too, which is inexcusable if true, but, thankfully, that's not my experience anywhere so far. Shopkeepers, taxi drivers... Just everyone I can think of gives every impression of thinking my kids are lovely.

I think a clue to your anecdotes might be the region of the country you are referring to: The South West is considerably poorer and more insular than a SEZ type city, which we are currently in.

It's worth noting also that the racism doesn't just extend outwards, but inwards too: There is a definite hierarchy to the various native ethnicities inside China - or even more specific than that. For example, my wife looks down on people from Shanghai, believing them to be generally ruthless, cold, selfish money-grabbers - and the women gold-diggers. In general, it seems the richer regions look down on the poorer regions, regarding them as a bit uncouth and unsophisticated - partly explaining the reverence for the rich West and the disdain for the poor Africans.

User avatar
Gelsamel
Lame and emo
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:49 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Wasn't there a thread similar to this one about a singer?
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

Iudex
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:22 pm UTC

Re: the prevalence of racism in chinese culture

Postby Iudex » Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:05 pm UTC

elasto wrote:It's worth noting also that the racism doesn't just extend outwards, but inwards too: There is a definite hierarchy to the various native ethnicities inside China - or even more specific than that. For example, my wife looks down on people from Shanghai, believing them to be generally ruthless, cold, selfish money-grabbers - and the women gold-diggers. In general, it seems the richer regions look down on the poorer regions, regarding them as a bit uncouth and unsophisticated - partly explaining the reverence for the rich West and the disdain for the poor Africans.


A good example of this prevalence of attitudes that has recently made it into the news was all the unrest in Urumqi, Xinjiang between the Han and the Uyghur.
I witnessed some between the Han, Yi, Miao, and Lisu people I knew in Kunming. And I wasn't allowed to talk to Tibetans because all the officials thought they were terrorists, (which was partly true they did blow up a couple of buses near my flat).

Then the question becomes is this true for us, do we consider someone with a southern drawl to be less of a person, a "hick" just because of the group they are from? If we do is it fair? I understand these questions are slightly off topic, but I think pertinent for reflection.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests