Racist Sentiments abound in Taiwan
The advent of globalization and the proliferation of the internet is now enabling citizens of the world to travel freely and unhibited to many countries once deemed too far away for the average working class citizen. One of the countries in Asia that welcomes citizens from the rest of the world is Taiwan, in its bid to become one of the competitors in Asias fast growing economy.
Taiwan, which many consider as part of the People’s Republic of China spends millions of dollars annually on human resource development, enhancing its IT infrastructure and on education. While it has made significant progress in these areas, its democracy continues to be challenged by a plethora of corruption scandals involving high-level Government Beuraeucrats and legislators.
Part of Taiwan’s national vision is to ensure that its young population is equipped with all of the necessary tools to communicate effectively with the rest of the world, by placing a high reliance on education, and in particular english learning. Citizens are encouraged at great lengths to have a high proficency in english in order that a major barrier is removed when interacting with the rest of the world.
Every year, hundreds of ESL teachers are recruited from North America, South Africa, England and other English speaking nations of the world by private schools in Taiwan to work under very favorable conditions in order to improve the english language ability of students of english. The renumeration packages are very generous and teachers have anything but praise for their ability to save money and have a fair amount of disposable income which in many cases would have been challenging in their own countries to do because of the high threshold of taxation and cost of living.
The average salary of an english teacher in Taiwan can run anywhere from US$2,000-3,000 per month and because of the high demand by Taiwanese citizens, many teachers are able to make much more by doing private tutoring on weekends and public holidays.
Taiwan boasts of having one of the friendliest, warmest, most hospitable populations in all of Asia and most of their marketing campaigns focus on projecting taiwan as having everything beautiful, including some of the most beautiful girls in this part of the world.
One can only imagine the suprise then, of two black american teachers who came to Taiwan in search of english teaching jobs only to be told that despite the fact that they are holders of American passports, their color would prevent them from being gainfully employed at that school, one of many schools that politely rejected their application on the basis of their color.
The experience of these two American teachers who prefer to remain anonymous is the collective reality that people of color have in Taiwan; a simple word called racial discrimination. When asked why they were not given the job, they were told that by virtue of the color of their skin, they mare probably not qualified to teach english, since people with dark skin should be relegated to doing menial, blue-collar jobs in fields and factories, which has been a relaity for the minority aborigonal population in Taiwan sincethe Chinese Nationalist Party(KMT) established its political headquarters on Taiwan in 1949.
Racist sentiments extend from the English teaching job market to other facets of the Taiwanese society where blacks are considered more inferior than their white counterparts. It is the general view even today that someone with dark skin should be avoided at all costs and in many social circles, black professionals are generally isolated by Taiwanese people.
Millions of dollars are spent by skin care companies to develop new face whitening products to satisfy the demand of the population to be white at all costs. The concept of the tan is a nightmare to both male and female in the Taiwanese society and it is seen as very filthy and and dirty to have tanned skin.
The taboo of black is ugly and uneducated in Taiwan is reminiscent of the United States of America in the era of the 1960’s where that minority were classified as second class citizens. Other more subtle acts of racism manifests itself against African people who are in Taiwan as students, Entrepeneurs and cultural ambassadors. They are seen generally as uncivilized beings and people in Taiwan tend to make a mockery of their skin color and culturakl heritage.
According to one student, if her life was dependent on survival in Taiwan, she would not object to having a Michael Jackson plastic surgery in order to be accepted by the general populace. The Philippino population in Taiwan have also esxpressed dismay at the disrecpect meted out to them by the Taiwanese population because of the general taboo.
It seems Asia has joined the band of countries where racism is generally accepted.