Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's a Good Thing Taiwanese Aren't Racist

If you are in Taiwan long enough, you are certain to hear some local explain to you that Taiwanese aren't racist.

Here's a sign that warns on avian flu, distributed by our university and placed all over campus. Note how the bottom right-hand warning, against eating uncooked bird meat, is depicted. A pair of hands, three pictures of an attractive young woman, a bird, and.....

But don't worry. The Taiwanese aren't racist at all.

UPDATE: My wife reminded me of a similar incident involving African ambassadors that occurred a while back:

Taipei - Taiwan has instructed its ambassadors in seven African nations to apologise for a racist design on cups that offended African diplomats, a Taiwan newspaper said on Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry instructed Taiwan ambassadors in the seven African nations to explain the incident to prevent it from snowballing into a major incident, the Liberty Times reported.

The incident occurred on April 7 when the Foreign Ministry took foreign diplomats on a tour of southern Taiwan. When the diplomats sat down for a meal, they saw that their cups were printed with animals and a man in loin-cloth identified in English as an "African native".



Mickey said...


Freedom Slopes said...

very very very funny. I am laughing and laughing

Jonathan Benda said...

Isn't at least an overgeneralization to imply that "Taiwanese" are racist?

Michael Turton said...

Maybe. But stuff like this happens so often.....

Jonathan Benda said...

Yeah... We were talking about foreign domestics in class once and a student said quite seriously that African servants are the best because they're simple and well-behaved...

Anonymous said...

They are open about it, as well.

2 of my female students complained that the Filipinas are "dirty."

They really don't like the Flilipinas, do they - or the Thais for that matter.

But I've talked to a couple of Blacks from Africa who say they haven't been treated badly.

It's bizarre.

Anonymous said...

In Japan, in the 1990's, I remember seeing posters outside train stations warning people in the neighborhood to be careful of thieves.

The posters always portrayed a white, western face breaking into a car or house.

Dude always look white an non-Asain LOL!!

Mark said...

Of course there's no racism here. Don't you know that's a "western problem"?

Sure white students at Shida have to pay double the health insurance fees as "overseas Chinese", including those of mainland decent. But that's just because in their "blood", they aren't really "foreigners". The only place Taiwanese people will see any racism is in LA.

Jo said...

That is hilarious and also really rather sad. Here in Beijing I've seen groups of African students standing by the roadside trying to flag down a taxi. The driver would slow down to pick them up, realise that they're black, and then speed off.

Tequila said...

jo bananas - you sure that wasn't Manhattan?

Mad Minerva said...

I do think it's an overgeneralization to say that the "Taiwanese" in general are/aren't racist. Individual Taiwanese, sure...Perhaps part of the problem, like in Japan, is the amount of exposure to other types of people. Most of my experience is with the Taiwanese-American (since I am one), and the impression is that things aren't so "racist" after being acculturated in the States.

Anyway...Do you remember the toothpaste incident some years back? There was a kind of toothpaste with the name brand "Darkie." The logo was of a cartoony black face with a big smile full of gleaming white teeth.

After complaints the toothpaste name was changed to "Darlie." I still see this sometimes in Asian shops and groceries.

There's an image of it here (scroll down):

Jason said...

I remember a story that I read in the Liberty Times a few years back about a Taiwanese girl who was born with Costello Syndrome (or "小黑人症" in Chinese), a rare condition in which babies are born with dark skin, thick lips and wiry hair. The paper lamented how unfortunate the parents were to have a "black" baby.

But that must have been before Taiwan became an "internationalized" country.
I found a story about the case in ugly simplified characters: "

Definition of Costello Syndrome:

STOP_George said...



There's also a brand (that's still available) called:

White Men Toothpaste

(this is not the actual product that they sell here -- but the box is similar with "White Men" printed in bold letters).

I think this is simply a problem of isolation. The Taiwanese society, although making great strides, is not really that cosmopolitan. If you compare Taipei to Hong Kong, for example, you will realize that there simply aren't a lot of foreigners here.

Personally, I like this fact. However, it does come with it's down-side -- like people staring at you all of the time. I learn to ignore it.

Anonymous said...

I was watching Carlos Mencia's stand up comedy on TV yesterday and laughed my ass out when he said that Fillipinos are the beaner of Asian. He is absolutely right and I'm so admired of his observation.

Racism is a serious problem in Taiwan. I have a friend who is half aboriginal and had a MingNan girlfriend whose family are discriminated against aboriginals. I don't speak Taiwanese although my father is MingNan, and I have experienced some unpleasant encounters due to that every year. I have heard people openly talking bad things about Hakka. If you look like an Asian, you can avoid all these by learning speaking many languages. But if you aren't, then sooner or later discrimination will come to you. Caucasians are not immuine, too.