Taipei Discussion Transcript: Racism

Participants: Amy, Anita, Doris, Ramona, Mary, Clark aka Superman, Maggie, Willie, Fanny, Lynn, Angela

I want team d and team f, just like team d said, there may have been problems in the past, but now everyone has the same opportunities. So I want to combine the two.

I choose team b. In my opinion, it’s not just in Taiwan, it’s around the world. And I think the Taiwanese people they all think racism exist in Taiwan, every time we have an election, politicians use the issue to, like, if we are the same race, we need to get together, we need to fight the other politician, because we are the same race. So it does exist in Taiwan.

I am team h, because racism exists in Taiwan, and also other countries. Sometimes I meet person who discriminate towards others, who discriminate against me.

I choose team h. I think racism exists in Taiwan. It also exists all over the world. Just as Mary says, sometimes discriminate towards others, and others discriminate against us.

Sometimes I think that yeah racism does exist in Taiwan, but here we do have equal chances for jobs. Because racism does exist, because people have racist impressions of other people, but people here are generally kind, we think it, but we don’t necessarily act it.

I do believe it exists in Taiwan, and it’s also a phenomena worldwide, especially in the neighbors with similar culture background, but still have racism, like Taiwan and China, Turkey and Greece, Malaysia etc.

So you’re team H?

Yes, team H.

I’m also in team H, I agree with Mary’s opinion, that racism exists not only in Taiwan, but also in other countries. Actually, people in Taiwan are kind to foreigners and all people like Hakka people or aboriginal people, and all Taiwanese people have the same opportunities for works, for jobs, however, sometimes we have different attitude impression on different races. Even for foreigners, we have different treatment for white people and black people.

I’m in team f. I believe that it exists in Taiwan, but I don’t think it’s important anymore. I think that the bigger problem is that people will discriminate by people’s economic difference, instead of their ethnic difference. So that’s my point. I really that racism is a political issue, it will be picked up jut for political purposes.

I like a, b, d, e and f.

So you think all the positions are true.

Yes. I think for my opinion, the racism not exist in Taiwan, compared with south Africa, we are much more better. We don’t have, we don’t have white people against black people, we don’t have much fighting, only for political reasons. But I also agree that the m shaped economy is gradually changing our thought level. You would think people are rich they have higher standards compared with other people, so it’s hard for me to choose one side to stand for that.

I choose team d. I think everyone got a standard chance. So I don’t think racism exists in Taiwan right now.

Can I just mention? I think one reason it seems that everyone has a standard chance in Taiwan is that most people look very similar, it's hard to tell if you're Minnan or Hakka by looking at anyone. So, unless anyone here identifies as Hakka, for example,

I'm Hakka.

Okay, thanks for saying so. My point was that, if most people here are Minnan, and I'm white, well, most of us have the privilege of being the dominant race, and so from this perspective, it's really easy to think that we all have the same opportunities. But I think if you were to ask an Aboriginal person from Pingdong, you would have maybe a different answer to that question. For example, a friend of mine was born in Pingdong, but when she was very young she was adopted out to a British couple because her family had 10 children and couldn't raise them, so she was raised totally British, she can't speak Mandarin or Taiwanese or anything, and she came back here to meet her birth family. When she was there, she asked them which Aboriginal tribe they belonged to, because she had done research, and found pictures of I think the Amis tribe, and found that her own face, especially her nose, looked just like them. Like a really uncanny resemblance. And her family were like, "No, no way, we're Minnan, we're not Aboriginals!!" But everyone knows that there was intermarriage and other things, so the chances are actually really good that they were partly Aboriginal, but they didn't want to think that at all. It affects their social standing too much.

I want to ask a question, for those who think racism really important in Taiwan, I want to ask, who ever had an experience to be treat by racism. Do you have any experience in Taiwan, because you are Hakka, you are Minnan, or you are Waisheng, do you have different treatment?

I have no experience to be discriminated against. However I once discriminated towards others. Once I met a black person on the subway. They talked to me, and then I left my ms address to him, and we talked a lot on line. One day he invited me to have a coffee with me, but I just think why was he not a white guy, and so I think for some people like me, racism exists.

If he is Obama or Tiger Woods? Or handsome?

But if Obama and another black person I would choose Obama, but if Obama and a white person, I would choose the white person.

Okay, let me choose the handsome guy to compare…

I think people Taiwan look down on people come from India or Indonesia. So we call them Thailau [=Thai laborer]. Why don’t we call white people Bailau [=White laborer]? And I think the white people aren’t that useful! But Chinese people think white people are better.

But they’re laborers, so we’re just calling them what they are.

But the white guys, what they do is like labor work [=teaching kindergarten, it's basically child care], but we don’t call them that.
The point is, if you saw someone who is darker, from south Asia, you’ll call them a Wailau [=outside/foreign laborer], but maybe they’re not doing that work. Some Indians come to Taiwan, they’re managers of IT company, but we don’t treat them well, because they’re darker than us.

So we treat them different because of the color of their skin?

Yes, we are racist.

Yes, but in Taiwan, it’s just that we call the dark people whatever-lau, if it is a racism, it’s just a small one, we didn’t treat them very bad.

No, we treat them very bad! For example my brother’s daughter has a Filipina maid, but she treats her like animal, she says, "Come, come!"

It’s an education problem. [=they’re ignorant/poor/unsophisticated people]

No! They’re not!

That’s an isolated case.

But I have a lot of anecdotal evidence to the contrary. It’s not isolated. I’ve personally known four people with maids, all of them treat them with serious disrespect. Also, my god, all you have to do is read the Sunday section of the English newspaper Taiwan News, on the page for the Filipinas, and you’ll hear stories that’ll make your hair stand on end. Even the less shocking stories, they’re just so common! Especially the CLA [=Council of Labor Affairs], they way they treat Filipinas is a national disgrace. In the 11 years I’ve lived in Taiwan, I would say I only know of one case where they treated the maid who worked for them with the dignity one accords to an equal.

I’m going to move to Team H!

But it’s a hierarchy problem. It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is. It’s a question, that people think, we are the employer, we are the employee, so this kind of abuse happens frequently. It doesn’t matter the color of the skin.

But how about the foreign wives? Some type of people, they buy a wife from the Philippines or Vietnam, and their family treat them badly.

Well, that’s not a marriage, it’s more like a contract.

Yeah, you get a maid and you can have sex with them and legally it's not rape. Ugh.


So it’s more an economic difference than a racial difference. You know, lots of people from India, they are getting richer and richer. So they can buy Land Rover, the British company. Once they are the boss, we are not say they are ugly or they are whatever.

I think we won’t say they are ugly in front of them.

But we will say they don’t smell good when they can’t hear.

This is still kind of discrimination. So it’s not just only economic situation.

Well, my ex-boss is Indian, he doesn’t smell, and he’s handsome, so I don’t think I would say that we discriminated. Also I worked for a French person, he said he was discriminated against by British, so it’s not just race.

And race is not the only factor. If I richer than you I can make a lot of money, but you have to use your body to make money, so I can say my level is higher than you.

So Angela, the news you saw in the newspaper, the husband they say they have the money, then they can abuse them. But if they met each other and fell in love, then it’s fine.

Sure, but if you pick up someone from a lineup in a dirty bar in Vietnam, that’s hardly meeting and falling in love, is it?

No, I’m talking about two people from different cultures who met and fell in love.

Then you’re not talking about buying a wife, are you?

What I’m saying is, it’s an economic issue.

But will people who come from Iraq or Iran have higher status than US people? Not really. So that’s still a racial issue, I think.

Middle east people…

But how much do you know them, are there middle east people in Taiwan? And we only know they are rich because we read in an article or whatever, hey go invest there, so we don’t know that much about them. And India, too. But they have a huge racism problem. If you are a laborer, after 12, you can’t get much of an education. But here in Taiwan… if I was educated in US, probably I want to choose someone white from America to teach my kids, not a black person. So you don’t see a lot of black people, it’s hard for them to get a job. So I’m saying that there’s a lot of racism here.

So I’m arguing against that--it’s not just an economic issue.

But I think that the different part is that the maids are discriminated because of the economic issues, but lots of Taiwanese have an impression like people with black skins are dirty or dumb. Or those who are south Asian look dirty or dumb, or they have tendency to sexual harass other people. But it’s just kind of impression, because it really didn’t prevent them from treating us equally. We treat them like that, because we don’t want to get close to them. So we don’t treat them that badly in public. But in private, it’s hard to say, especially that a lot of maids or foreign wives are not treated well. So it’s our impression of them that matters. So it’s racism plus economic issues. For maids, maybe economic issues become more important a factor.

Do you think that mainland Chinese wives are treated better than Vietnamese wives?

Are you asking us to make a scale of racism?

I don’t think a scale is a good idea…

Yes, but I want to ask this.

I think so, because wives from china cost more than Vietnamese wives. I think there really is a scale.

So you pay more to get the same language.

It’s like a kind of merchandising. Cut rate wife.

Still produces babies but doesn’t speak the language so well.

Because I think wives from china get better treatment than Taiwanese wives.

Why do you say so?

Because I hear them talking at California Fitness.

But if they’re there, then they’re definitely on the higher end of the economic scale. So they could be treated better because they’re upper class.

I just think of a situation.

In the city, we can meet a lot of foreigner, they come from other country. And maybe we can change the situation of race discrimination. Like in HK, you can meet a lot of people, and so maybe they are less discriminatory because they meet people. Then you won’t think people smell different.

Actually we smell different because we eat different things. It affects our body odor. When I first got to Taiwan I realized this, because I started to smell different, eating the food here.

Yes, like a friend of mine, she won’t rent her house to Koreans, because they have kimchi, and she doesn’t like this smell.

So if Taiwan becomes an international city, then this will help the problem.

But HK has Filipina maids, and they still treat them like shit.

But when I travel in Philippines, they think I’m Filipina, and in Thailand they think I’m Thai, and at first this was a problem, but now I accept that. And now I have a Filipina friend, I think he’s so nice, he’s so smart, it really changed my mind. I think the more you travel, you get less and less racist.

So if we accept Clark’s suggestion to have the gvt make the city more international, it’ll help racism?

I think maybe, but I think we have to do it from our education, since the kids. We have to tell them that everyone is equal.

When I was a child, my parents always scare me, they say, if you don’t study hard, maybe you will have to go to the Philippines and clean houses, and become Taiwanese-lau.

Fanny just raise a—you mention about middle east people. I just think about another issue, maybe not the racism, I think it’s interesting, I want to share, I think that most people think that middle easterners are terrorists. We were affected by American movies, or American culture a lot, so we will be biased.

We have to blame our own news reporters, too.

In movies, the Russian men, or the middle easterner are always the bad guys, so they are the terrorists. You are right, we should be educated better, and more global-minded, instead of just taking images from the media. Because the media is from America, from CNN, whatever. We should think more about what is shown to us.

I agree with you, I think because our media is, it influence a lot of our thought, especially for kids, and our medias only translate news from CNN most of the time. We don’t have much news from France, not much from middle east, probably because we cannot translate.

Because we are America’s friend.

Are we?

Well our government wants to be. And the middle east is the enemies of the US, so it’s impossible to hear news from middle east in Taiwan, except for economy issues.

There’s one thing I want to share. A friend of mine from the US, he said Americans hate so-called terrorists, but he said that Bush has a strong relationship with the Saudis, in the middle east.

I have a question: I’ll go to Paris in December. Does France discriminate against Asian people? Because I’m going to travel alone. Does anyone have any experience?

How long are you going for?

Two weeks.

If you are in a big city, its probably fine, but if you are going to the country side, be patient, and be careful.

Be careful?

You know as a woman traveling alone, you have to be careful?

I have a personal question, you mentioned south Africa, are you from there?

No, I have friends from there, and they’re white, and they really hate black people. They say that the problems in the city are caused by black people. They have five layers of doors.

Well, women have trouble there, rape in your own bed is very common there, it’s why I’m never going.

Also men have problems.

So when I’m in Taiwan, and we’re out dancing, if a black guy wants to hang out with me, they’ll line up and force them to back off.

So these friends of yours are men?

Why do you ask?

Because that seems a very male thing to do, you know, males are trained to power, that was a power-assuming kind of move.



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