Racism in Taiwan?

Hi everone,

My question to you regarding racism in Taiwan might be a bit of a dead horse, but I hope you’ll bear with me and share your opinions on the atmosphere there. It seems a lot of the posts I read on the topic are geared more towards venting about specific racist encounters rather than the general attitude in the country. Is it really as bad as it sounds??

I have to admit, I never thought about racism before I started researching teaching jobs in Taiwan and was incredibly surprised to find so many threads being posted about it. After reading so many negative experiences (and so few positive ones), I’m starting to wonder if teaching in Taiwan may be the right choice for me.

You see, I’m half-Taiwanese and half German, but raised in the US as a US citizen. My mother was from Tainan and I supposedly have a large family there whom I’ve never met, since my mother passed away when I was 3. This is the main reason I’ve considered living and working in Taiwan – to learn Chinese and ultimately locate my missing family, so I do have my heart set on Taiwan. However, the issue that concerns me is the treatment I hear non-whites receive in Taiwan. I do not look white, but I do not look Chinese either. Is this common? What kind of outlooks and attitudes can I expect to encounter with my background?

I understand that it all depends on the individual people one works with, but I’d really like to clear my mind about this issue in a general sense before making any further decisions. I will pursue another avenue of learning Chinese and visiting Taiwan if this is as predominant as it sounds.

I apologize for such a nebulous post on a topic that has probably been beaten into the ground, but thank you for your input in advance. Your opinions are greatly appreciated!

[quote=“cmpaul”]racism in Taiwan might be a bit of a dead horse…a topic that has probably been beaten into the ground
[/quote]

Hi cmpaul, and welcome to Forumosa!

You’re right. Dead horse, beaten into ground. Welcome, but pls do a search to find the posts on racism here in general which may already answer your question. I ran “racism + Taiwan” and got 62 pages. Enjoy your reading. 'Nuf said. Have a nice weekend!

Thanks for the quick reply.

I actually did that exact search (among others) before posting and skimmed over every single one of those posts, which I’m a little embarassed to say since I’ve spent a good day wallowing in all of these sad encounters. But they all seem to be individual, isolated encounters. Is this a problem in the cities? Is it country-wide?

What I’ve garnered from these posts is the following:

  • White teachers tend to be offered jobs more readily,
  • Black teachers have had difficulty finding jobs at many schools,
  • South-east Asian and other Chinese teachers have trouble finding jobs teaching English, as well, since they are assumed not to have the English skills of white-skinned folk,
  • Some Taiwanese citizens will say rude things in public about foreigners

The list goes on.

Granted, doing this search is only going to turn up such negative posts. Is this a case of the doctor seeing an epidemic because everyone he treats is sick? Or is there perhaps a more balanced perspective on the issue?

I should have been more specific with my questions, and for that I apologize. Is this a problem all over Taiwan? Is the situation improving at all with the passage of time?

Again thanks for your input!

cmpaul wrote [quote]You see, I’m half-Taiwanese and half German, but raised in the US as a US citizen.[/quote]

Welcome aboard. You’ll do fine. Your “racial profile” is not on the “black list.” In fact, the majority of Taiwanese find mixed-blood guys and gals attractive.
Don’t take everything you read on Forumosa too seriously; folks use this place to let off steam.

I’ve only visited Taiwan once. I am white and my gf is Taiwanese. From what I experienced racism isn’t a huge deal as a visitor (I was in the south, Ping Tung.) The locals will either ignore you or try to practice their english on you by asking random questions.

The gangster types and old folks seem to be more racist from what I’ve heard but its unlikely you will deal with them often. The fact that you are half Taiwanese will most likely let you avoid a good number of problems.

I’m from a black neighborhood in Maryland where I was the minority and I really doubt that I’d ever get harrassed any worse than I was there. The funny thing is that all my Friends and Enemys were black, so I got to see both sides of the culture. I’m assuming it would be the same in Taiwan, maybe less obvious though.

I’m also under the impression that plenty of people in Taiwan will make rude comments about you even if you are Taiwanese, they can sometimes be much more blunt than americans, we’re more sneaky with out insults.

Hope all that is useful in some way.

I think the disturbing thing to Americans is how casually deep-seated the racist thinking is among many Taiwanese, but then again that is what culture is: the belief that whatever you think or do is “normal”, and for them I guess that’s “normal”.

I don’t think you would personally have any problems. Now, just how your lost family might feel about the long-lost child of the girl who married the foreigner – don’t know. Depends on the family. Was your mom in contact with her family prior to her death? That might be a contributing factor, or at least suggest to you whether there were bad feelings about her marriage.

Welcome aboard. You’ll do fine. Your “racial profile” is not on the “black list.” In fact, the majority of Taiwanese find mixed-blood guys and gals attractive.
Don’t take everything you read on Forumosa too seriously; folks use this place to let off steam.[/quote]

Do you look Asian it might be hard to believe but I find the average Taiwanese do not like or care for american born Chinese. If you look noticibly white you will be ok but if you look Asian it might be hard for you.

cmpaul -
Welcome to Tainan (if & when you get here).
If you’ve got family here you more than likely will be in like Flint (obscure American movie reference meaning you’ll probably be welcomed).
Racism is real and as mentioned almost an uncounscious reaction here. But it is not always negative or aggressive. It usually manifest by uncontrollable staring. I mean its weird…they don’t even realize they are doing it.
But I have to say, Tainan is, IMO, a very good & friendly city.
Good luck and don’t let it bother you.
I hope you will have a very good and warm reception from your family.

welcome to the land of atheists. Suit yourself. :laughing:

[quote=“TainanCowboy”]cmpaul -
Welcome to Tainan (if & when you get here).
If you’ve got family here you more than likely will be in like Flint (obscure American movie reference meaning you’ll probably be welcomed).
Racism is real and as mentioned almost an uncounscious reaction here. But it is not always negative or aggressive. It usually manifest by uncontrollable staring. I mean its weird…they don’t even realize they are doing it.
But I have to say, Tainan is, IMO, a very good & friendly city.
Good luck and don’t let it bother you.
I hope you will have a very good and warm reception from your family.[/quote]

agreed I lived in Tainan for a year and I love it there

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Your responses are immensely appreciated. I never thought this would be an issue I’d face, but I’m glad to know the social climate is not nearly as bad as I first feared after digging through the site. I’m actually excited about heading over there again!

To be honest, I don’t know what my mom’s relationship with her family was when she died. She wrote regular letters to her sisters, and both she and my dad visited her parents at least once. So, I’m assuming they were on good terms and would be happy to see me, but I suppose I can’t rule anything out. :wink:

(Also, thank you for the big welcome. This is obviously a very friendly and active community. Looking forward to chatting with you more!)