Racism in Thailand
Is it all their fault?
Let me just start by saying that when I tell some Thai people I’m from America I get a dumbfounded look. It’s as if I just challenged everything this person has been taught in their life up until now. From early adolescence to adulthood many have had little to no experience with someone of African descent.
I think if racism is your number one fear keeping you from coming to Thailand then that’s very sad. One of the biggest mistakes I made was coming over here stuck in my politically correct mentality on race and ethnicity. Political correctness doesn’t really exist in Thailand.
In Asian Culture they strive for white skin. It’s the alpha and omega of beauty here. If you have white skin it means you are of higher status. This is backed up by the notion that people with dark skin are poor because they have to work outside for low paying jobs. If your skin is white it means you have an white-collar job. This means you get paid more money and stay out of the sun. Basically, Thai’s can assume one’s status by merely looking at that persons skin(I know its wrong!). I think the skin whitening craze is more of a issue for females than it is for males though. Most guys prefer fare skinned girls so the girls try to lighten their skin to get attention. (Jamaica has the same problem!)
Hold up! That’s RACIST!!!
I’ve personally experienced racism. It’s actually pretty interesting, maybe it’s just me, but what I’ve noticed is that the people in poorer areas seem to hate me more. These are Thai’s, who prominently, seem to lack a well-rounded education of the world. As is the case with most racist people. Who knows for sure as I’m a man of vibes.
One time I was a night club outside of Bangkok where a security guard called me over to give me a thumbs down gesture. I guess he was implying that I was “no good” because my skin was black. Good for me that he was no body important and wasn’t any real threat to me. I wasn’t sweating it, even though my buddies were prepared to fight him. I was the only black guy in the club. Hey, Maybe it was because my he didn’t like the way I tied my shoes? Go figure…
The thing is in Thailand there are no real laws that prohibit racism. Thai people are programmed to love and achieve whiteness. I knew this and wasn’t bothered by it because one of my good homies is Thai. Besides the club we were hanging out at that night was kind of a working-class Thai club full of pretentious people. You know, the “My mom is a manager at Mcdonalds, respect me!” type.
Now Racism isn’t just limited to black people
Don’t think that only black people experience racism. White people get it too in other ways. They are always expected to have money. I have friends who complain of being over charged where ever they go. Being targeted because they have white skin(or maybe it’s because they’re pockets are so damn fat! Not!). As it’s assumed that they have money. Also they can simply be hated as well just because they aren’t Thai. There are the nationalistic Thais who want an all Thai Thailand to preserve the culture.
As you find yourself in more developed areas you will find more developed Thai people. Thai’s who’ve traveled outside their home country are much more tolerant to foreigners in their country. I personally like hanging out with Thai’s who come from middle to upper-class families. They are usually well traveled, can speak a decent amount of English and love American culture. It also gives the notion that they’ve lived as a foreigner and know what it’s like to be an outsider.
At first a lot of the teachers in my school didn’t really acknowledge me. I remember one day in the cafeteria a lady who I had seen around for the past 2 years approached me in line and started speaking to me. We basically gave each other short greetings and she asked me where I was from. When I told her I was from America she was surprised. She had thought this whole time I was from Africa…(Not a country…). Let’s just say I got a lot more smiles and friendly gestures after that. If you’re ever planning on teaching in Thailand safe yourself the headache and get a TEFL.
Africans in Thailand
(How some Thai people may think)
Most of the Africans in Thailand are either football(soccer) players or drug dealers. It’s sad for me to say this but I’m just going by what I’ve seen during my time here. Occasionally, you will see a teacher or businessmen but for the most part a majority of Africans coming into Thailand are here for these two professions(yea…drug-dealing isn’t really a profession). Heck I wouldn’t doubt if some come here with the hope of being a pro-athlete only to succumb to being a drug dealer to make ends meet.
A lot of the Africans in Thailand have a pretty bad stigma for poor actions of a few. It reflects badly on the majority of black and African travelers in Thailand who are good people.
Future of Thailand
Thailand has an ever growing hip-hop seen and is modernizing every day to western music. As time goes on and Thailand becomes more westernized more Thai people will become accustomed to living in prosperity with other foreigners. At first, it was a bit shaky for me but now everything has fallen into place. I think it has a bit to with familiarity as well. I think the best way to destroy the black stigma in Thailand is for more well intentioned black professionals to come here. Whether for work or travel.
I can’t say that racism is a big problem for me(anymore). Maybe I’ve grown numb to it or I find it insignificant to my enjoyment. If your coming to Thailand and your worried about racism then I can tell you right now you’re going to have a tough time. You need to break out that mentality that is alive and well in America. It won’t do you any good here. I use to walk down the streets waiting to challenge anyone who said something racist to me(never really happened…). It made defensive, up tight and I really wasn’t enjoying myself. I quickly decided to let that shit go and just started focusing on other things like my website.
I can’t control the way people think but I can control how I act…
No matter what your skin color is, what matters most is who you are and what you represent. If you can allow the Thai people to see the good inside of you then they will take you in and treat you good.