Today, for our Q & A Series, we will look at the comments of a person who left their initials as F D. Viewing from their e-mail, I can see that their name may be Femi. Femi left some feedback and I felt it be nice to respond to her as well as give everyone an opportunity to view and chime in. So here is FD’s Post below:
“I read the piece about racism against dark skinned people in Thailand. I feel like your piece does not show adequate empathy or support to people of direct African background who may find themselves victimized/mistreated in Thailand because of their skin colour. You seem to say, “hey if you are american, the racism goes away but too bad if you are african, no one can help you”. This is exactly the divide and rule tactics that white people use when they paint the chinese or the nigerian immigrant as better people because they are not african american. I think it is wrong. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity. end of story.” – FD (Femi)
First, I want to just say thanks for leaving a comment. It reminds me that the content I create does have an impact on readers.
The post FD is talking about is here for your viewing. I wrote this post about 4 years ago, when I had been living in Thailand for about 2 years. What I wrote about in that post was based off my opinions and interactions with Thais and other foreigners. The city I first touched down in was Rangsit, in the province of Pathumthani.
Having lived in Bangkok for the last 2-3 years now, I can say that the experience is quite different. When I lived in Rangsit, there were very few foreigners living there. If there were any foreigners, they were most likely teachers. It was much more “Thai” than your Bangkok, Pattaya of Phuket (which I will get into later).
“I feel like your piece does not show adequate empathy or support to people of direct African background who may find themselves victimized/mistreated in Thailand because of their skin colour.”
And you’re right. It doesn’t. This post wasn’t created with the intention of throwing a sympathetic “Hang in there guys, we’ll make it” tone. Although this world has its biases that have been created over a long history of events, both purposeful and accidental, assuring others with the “we are still victims” mantra doesn’t help us any. First and foremost, I identify as a Jamaican-American. I am writing this piece from the perspective of an American who is qualified as a native English speaker (by standard of the country) to teach in Thailand. With that being said, you point out some interesting aspects that I have realized my content, although written in the past, neglects to touch upon.
To all my brothers and sisters of African descent. It’s going to happen. You’re may have terrible assumptions associated with you if you’re African. If you look African, people are going to assume you’re from African and act as such. If you’re white, people are going to be confused. Do I really need to explain why? Unfortunately, this is just the way it is and I highly recommend you read the book “Blink” by Malcom Gladwell, it explores the theory behind why assumptions exist and how making split-second decisions has been a human-trait for thousands of years.
This post begons the quote, “Believe half of what you see and nothing that you hear”.
At the time, I was annoyed at how people were treating me (not just Asians either) once they knew I was from the USA. This plays into a sort of social value points I received for being American. It made me feel terrible. These little things that shouldn’t matter seemed to have an impact on how I am viewed.
I had to share this with others and felt it should be noted that other black American, British and Canadian people may likely experience this.
Now for those who are from Africa, it is different. Over the years I can see that I may have jumped the gun. I still stand by my opinion that Africans coming from Africa have a bad reputation. I am sorry if this offends anyone, but I am just calling it what it is. We know that dark skin, in general, can be considered undesirable by Thai popular opinion, but this is something that I would like to further explain. There is a strong sense of hierarchy in Thailand and those who are in higher positions are the ones shaping the mindset of the next generation. Unfortunately, from my experiences, a lot of Africans are discriminated against, in teacher and everyday social interaction. This includes me. I am noticing these days the influx of black travelers in Thailand. This is good for a plethora of reasons, but most importantly it diversifies the overall opinion. In 2012, I had met only a few black Americans in the 1-2 years I was living here. Now I seem to run into a few every weekend.
“You seem to say, “hey if you are american, the racism goes away but too bad if you are african, no one can help you”.”
If that’s what you’re getting from post then I think you are missing the point. The point of this post was to share my perspective and opinion on living in Thailand. My culture, my values, and norms play a role in how this post was created. It plays a role in how I interact with and treat others. It plays a role in how I make sense of my environment/situation. From this point I view, I can best express my opinion and share others. Now, I always encourage others to come here. Don’t let my experience be the standard. I have seen a lot more dark-skinned people living here and thriving within the country. Also, the urbanization of black culture is slowly seeping and fertilizing the minds of other Thais living here. In cities like Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket (still reading? Told you I’d touch upon this later) there seems to be much less emphasis on these aspects. In regards to finding work, I have seen plenty of black and/or African teachers. I’ve seen black guys and women with significant Thai others. The world is getting smaller and it is not uncommon to see these things. My point is, if you are not from a native English speaking country it will first, be hard to find a job. Immigration asked for 2 things from me during my Non-Immigrant B Visa appointment. This was for my university degree and my passport. This, of course, does not include your schools bring a copy of contracts and other paperwork. Many language schools and government schools don’t want to take this risk. It is easily avoidable by only aiming to employ native English speakers from said countries. Yes, I have seen African teachers, but in all honesty, not many.
“This is exactly the divide and rule tactics that white people use when they paint the chinese or the nigerian immigrant as better people because they are not african american. I think it is wrong. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity.”
To each is their own dude. I can’t say that Chinese or Nigerians immigrants are portrayed as better people than African Americans. I honestly don’t know. If I am being honest, I would say I have no clue what you’re talking about here. Are you talking about white people in America? If so, I would say, Chinese people, have a ton of negative stereotypes against them in the USA. Especially if you live in the city and your block is scattered with Chinese owned restaurants and beer & liquor stores. In Philadelphia, they were often criticized for their lack of English and overall friendliness towards locals. With that being said, they look out for each other. They support each other and maintain those values where the family is at the center. If it’s not family at the center, then it’s their own people. The same can’t be said about African Americans as a whole.
Go on Worldstarthiphop.com right now and see the dysfunctional shit African Americans display to the world every day. This is our representation in social media, self-uploaded, all for some hope of attention.
I hope this helps others understand that I do not write as an activist. I am not trying to raise social awareness or fight popular opinion. My goal is to help those interested in coming to Thailand get a better idea of what it may be like based on my experiences. That’s where I base my content and that’s how I have been doing it for the past few years now. Once again, thanks to Femi for the comment and look forward to your thoughts in the comments.