Yesterday I saw a video made by a young black American girl, in which she called faked martyr George Floyd what he actually was, a criminal and repeat offender. Once he even threatened a pregnant (black) woman with a gun and on the day of his death he was high on drugs. On the other hand, she made it repeatedly clear that there was no excuse for the police officer’s ruthless behavior. I totally agree with her on both points.
In the afternoon of June 13th, 2020 a rally was held by the Taiwan-based Black Lives Solidarity Global Initiative at 228 Peace Memorial Park in central Taipei. According to one of its American initiators, the initiative had garnered interest from more than 1,500 Facebook users. The expected turnout was at least 600 participants, though at the end it attracted only about 300 people, including African-Americans. This now widely used term, created in 1988 by notorious demagogue Jessie Jackson is actually considered offensive by conservative Blacks for being exclusive.
While in Taiwan, some of the rally’s black speakers had experienced racism and discrimination to some degree, including prejudicial slights and insults, without giving any examples. They used the truly Orwellian term “microaggression” to describe that locals are curious about a quite different hairstyle that’s very rarely seen on the island, and use greetings such as “Yo” when they encounter blacks. Taiwanese probably got such slang expressions from television series or music videos and naturally associate them with Blacks.
Speaking of the NBA, which was mentioned during the event, now more than 70% of all players there are either black or colored. Quite a few of them have a considerable income. So how about institutionalized racism in US sports?
The demonstration’s special guests, members of Taiwan’s Indigenous Youth Front, made clear that they weren’t supporting Blacks out of mere sympathy, but because they also had been discriminated against, for example by being refused as tenants. Still, these two groups would make an odd couple. The only thing they share is a perceived sense of constant mistreatment by the majority of the population.
If I would have been as oversensitive as these new crusaders for total equality during my almost 20 years in Taipei, I might have become very embittered. I forgot how many times I was called a “big nose” straight into my face, or friendly pedestrians told me up to five times how to get to a certain street as if I was retarded. Regularly, the seat next to me while I was on a bus or in the metro remained empty, or was emptied as soon as possible because other passengers seemed afraid of me.
Once, a really annoying little boy entered the wagon where I was sitting, and wouldn’t listen to his mother’s advice to shut up. When after five minutes I got fed up with his whining, I told him: “If you don’t behave, the foreign devil will take you away”! He stared at me in horror, clinched to his mom’s leg and didn’t say a word anymore. Mission accomplished!
In summer of 2017, another European and I wanted to rent out a property for commercial purposes. We were rejected by the landlord, who didn’t even bother to talk to us in person, asking a real estate agent to transmit the clear message that he wasn’t interested in foreign tenants at all. In any case, that was definitely not one of the reasons why I left temporarily in spring of 2018!
Looking back, and although I went through rough times after I lost a good job due to baseless accusations made by a crazy colleague, I have mostly sweet memories of my stay in Taiwan. Maybe that is also because I tried to fit in, speak the language, and didn’t demand any privileges? I think it’s less a question of your skin color and more of your social status. That’s why guest workers are treated worse than other aliens, and this is a topic that needs to be discussed without false altruism.
Every racial or cultural stereotype reflects some truth, but this experience can never justify violence. Cultural ignorance simply doesn’t just affect the usual self-proclaimed victims, anywhere in the world. To promote mutual understanding, more than empty phrases and selective compassion are necessary.
Who talks about all those that were killed or seriously injured during the recent riots? How about the looted businesses of Asian immigrants in various American cities? Taiwanese should focus more on them and less on those who try to legitimate that senseless destruction.