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Chinese Britons have put up with racism for too longMany   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2012-2-2 10:20:00 |Display all floors
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By Elizabeth Chan

Chinese Britons are often referred to as a "silent" or "hidden" minority. For although we are the fourth-largest minority ethnic group in the UK, we are virtually invisible in public life, principally the arts, media and politics.

On the surface, the Chinese seem relatively content and well-to-do, with British Chinese pupils regularly outperforming their classmates and Chinese men more likely than any other ethnic group to be in a professional job. Consequently, we are often overlooked in talks on racism and social exclusion.

But academic and economic successes do not negate feelings of marginalisation. A 2009 study by The Monitoring Group and Hull University suggested that British Chinese are particularly prone to racial violence and harassment, but that the true extent to their victimisation was often overlooked because victims were unwilling to report it.

Growing up in the north of England in the 80s, I had few role models. Popular culture was dominated by white faces and occasionally black and south Asian, but never east Asian. I'm not sure that much has changed since.

Shouts of "Jackie Chan!" and kung-fu noises from random strangers continue to greet me in the street, perhaps followed by a "konichiwa!" Just a few days ago, a friend was having a post-hangover drink in a trendy east London pub, only to be accused by the manager of being a DVD pedlar hassling his clients.

Going to drama school in London was a revelation; I was told I couldn't perform in a scene from a play because it had been written for white people. The scene was two girls sitting on a park bench talking about boys, and the year was 2006. Worse was when it came from my contemporaries; one (white, liberal, highly educated) helpfully suggested I did a monologue from The Good Soul of Szechuan instead, and another rushed up after one performance to tell me how delighted her parents had been that I'd spoken perfect English (I'm from Bradford).

In hindsight it was good preparation for a profession where, on my first job, the Bafta-winning director chuckled to everyone on set that I'd trained in kung fu, and where any character who speaks in some kind of dodgy east Asian accent is considered hilarious.

I have friends who are shocked that such things actually happen. They are usually most surprised at the fact that it's happened to me. Why? I suspect mainly because, like them, I am part of the educated middle class, and things like that don't happen to people like us.

Well, they do, and quite often. And frankly, it isn't surprising that prejudices are rife in a country whose media perpetuates the very images that evoke stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings: Chinese characters rarely appear on our television screens, but when they do, you can bet they'll be DVD sellers, illegal immigrants, spies or, in the case of last year's Sherlock, weird acrobatic ninja types. Many Chinese viewers were outraged at the portrayal of east Asians in this show, but typically, few complained.

Sadly, the British Chinese are reticent about speaking up for themselves, and simply do not have the numbers to make the same noise the black and south Asian communities do, whose vociferous and galvanising voices have been making waves against racism for decades. Racism is one of those horrendous, soul- and confidence-crushing things that, when faced with, you'd much rather forget or pretend didn't exist. So we tend to brush it off, pretend it never happened, or laugh along with the rest rather than come across as bad sports. We Chinese have become dab hands at this, living up to the stereotype of the smiling but silent Chinaman.

If we are to make progress in understanding the true extent of racism in this country, we all need to be a lot braver in confronting truths about how we live. It's about swallowing our pride and being less afraid of telling the world how racism affects us and really thinking about the people across Britain who have come to accept racism as a part of life. It's about standing up in classrooms, television studios, offices, pubs and public transport, not just for ourselves, but for friends and strangers, too.
Denial gets us nowhere. But awareness, thoughtfulness and courage could make millions of lives so much better.

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Post time 2012-2-2 13:17:40 |Display all floors
it just takes a few generations in my view

once you have the accent and are acculturated, you are indistinguishable

at least, that is my experience in Oz

(beast ex machina)

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Post time 2012-2-2 20:46:28 |Display all floors
Just look at "Wilbur wants to kill himself"

a funny scene there.

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Post time 2012-2-2 22:16:46 |Display all floors
Just come back to China and found some English men in China to mess with.

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Post time 2012-2-5 08:19:45 |Display all floors
This post was edited by starfruit12 at 2012-2-5 08:21

When I came to the UK as a student many years ago, racism was bad.  Even 6 or 7 years ago, Chinese usually would find problem to get a mainstream job in British companies in the UK.  They are the top of the list to be made redundant not because of their work ability or performance, but it is because they are not English, they are silent, and they are hardworking.  Only recent years, you can see the attitude has changed a bit or they hide it because they want trade with China.  That is all.

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Post time 2012-2-5 21:52:52 |Display all floors
Waiboshu, this is a very insightful and real talk from you! As a Brit, my view of some folks in the Chinese community is that of rampant racists! Exhibit A, my friend, a girl, told me she is under pressure from her parent to not date a black or white man. Ok, if all else fails, they might just about stomach a white man they said! Now, I choked on my tea whilst this conversation was going on as I didn't want to insult her parents but I seethed with rage and wanted to say I'd get them a flight ticket outta here. Long story short, they cannot even speak English Her parents not her, naturally. And they view their fellow brit with contempt?

Exhibit B, this is even funny. A friend dating a fellow brit but a Chinese lass told me of his humiliation at the hands of her mother! As with above, they hid the fact that they are dating as her parents would have been against it. Long story short, her mother duly arrived to find him moving her (gf) stuff into a van and she, mother, shouted to daughter, oh the cab driver is already here! ha ha

At the root of the silence and willingness to accept this racism directed at Chinese/Japanese/Koreans is the fact that most are timid within that community and want to play the good ethnic and not rock boat! Afterall how many times do you see Chinese people on the march when folks are shouting down racists? But they'd benefit from the end result!

I often get irritated and point out to folks within the asian community that racism would probably be worse but the efforts of post windrush folks so perhaps to stop the racist comment about, for example, black folks in my presence! And these people that fought for some of the freedom people in the asian communities enjoy are excluded form dating their daughters due to no other reason than racism.

@lebeats yeah dream on! Once you have accent? Accent isn't anything as anyone can acquire one via elocution! I bet you have had people tell you, wow, your speak good English! Every asian brit I know has and with australians the worst racists that ever walked the earth....sorry I have a pathological aversion to Australians
No, I live above Sunset Plaza, it's a little house I rent and it's a little rundown but has a beautiful view, what about you?

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Post time 2012-2-6 04:12:58 |Display all floors
Bandito Post time: 2012-2-5 23:52
Waiboshu, this is a very insightful and real talk from you! As a Brit, my view of some folks in the  ...
Every asian brit I know has and with australians the worst racists that ever walked the earth....sorry I have a pathological aversion to Australians

let's put 10% Australians in China and see who is the worst racist LOL
(beast ex machina)

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