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What does it feel like to be a minority?
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Alyallen



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Location: The 4th Greatest Place on Earth = Jeonju!!!

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:03 am    Post subject: What does it feel like to be a minority? Reply with quote

I have been thinking of a polite way to say this but I figured that being blunt in this case is best. I would imagine that for many of you, being a minority is a new thing. So what is it like for you? I realize that this question may seem strange or even unanswerable but your honesty would be appreciated.

I'm almost always a minority, so my brief time in Korea wasn't that big a shock. I'm used to being outnumbered and visually different. So I wonder what it is like to have the shoe on the other foot, so to speak?

Has it made you think differently about race relations within your own countries? For example, do you feel any (more or less) empathy for minorities within your own countries? I guess there are a ton of more questions but it is 5 am here, so that is all for now.

I hope I haven't offended anyone with my question but if so, sorry in advance.

AlyAllen

To the mods: I figured it is a question about living in Korea to some degree, so I put this question in the general discussion forum.

AlyAllen: I think this is exactly where it belongs...kangnamdragon
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peppermint



Joined: 13 May 2003
Location: traversing the minefields of caddishness.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting question. ..

I think it's made everybody here more conscious of racism- (wonder if there's a way to find out how many times somebody cries racism here in a week)

I grew up in a place in Canada that's possibly more homogenous than Korea. That may have been a good thing, cause there was less exposure to stereotypes- either positive or negative. I didn't see every black guy as a potential anything

Most of what I've experienced here is not so much racial prejudice as just naivete and the mixture of curiosity and fear that comes with that. The staring, the hello chorus, it's all a part of that. There are moments when racism does rear it's ugly head, but they've been rare thankfully.

There is a shocking amount of racist/ horribly ignorant ideas about black people here though and they pop up in the oddest places. The " little sambo" esque charicatures of black kids in elementary school texts, the Bubble Sisters blackface fiasco. . ( somebody remind me to scan and post some things from my textbooks soon)

I've had to explain to what seemed like a worldly guy in his twenties that N*gger was inappropriate and why yelling "hey black person!" wasn't so great either.
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kiwiboy_nz_99



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Location: ...Enlightenment...

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't changed, I was already very pro Maori and against racism in my own country. The only thing that's changed is that now I know racism in practice as well as theory. It's pretty much what I expected, highly unpleasant.
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shortskirt_longjacket



Joined: 06 Jun 2004
Location: fitz and ernie are my raison d'etre

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 2:04 am    Post subject: Re: What does it feel like to be a minority? Reply with quote

to tell you the truth, it's not that off-putting to be a minority in south korea, but that's mostly because i expect to be treated differently. i'm not a korean (by ethnicity or nationality) and i stick out like a sore thumb with my blonde hair and blue eyes. most of the time, people just stare and are fascinated, but not out of repulsion or fear. sure, taxi cabs pass me up for natives all the time, and i've been completely ignored in restaurants before. i can understand this to some extent; the korean staff is assuming (correctly) that i don't speak a whole lot of korean, and if they don't speak a whole lot of english (which they correctly assume is my language), they're probably at a loss as to how to deal with me. so they don't approach me because maybe they are thinking they can't be of help to me? i don't think they always treat me that way out of fear or anything negative; it might be more a function of how-would-i-deal-with-this-situation kind of thinking. i don't know what's going on in their heads, but i suppose i like to give people the benefit of the doubt. i'm sure there are koreans out there who hate westerners just because they're westerners, but there are wankers like that everywhere in the world.

i think being a (racial) minority in your own country with people that you share a culture and a language with is a totally different experience than being a foreigner here or anywhere else. it's not that infuriating when some ajumma gives me a fork at a kalbi restaurant instead of chopsticks--i laugh at it, really. but i would imagine if i were back in my country and speaking my own language and was still getting the same stares and poor service and condescending behavior that i'd go a little apeshirt over the whole thing.

so, to answer your question, i don't think that living in south korea gives me 100% insight into the experience of minorities in western countries. i've ran into a few esl teachers here who wear their new 'minority' status on their sleeve and it's sickening. like, 'oh, now i know what it's like to be black in america' or 'i'm a much stronger person because i've overcome so much adversity because of my race.' come on, now. i can't pretend that i have it anywhere as 'bad' as a member of a racial minority would back home. maybe i've just been lucky here, i don't know. or maybe my focus isn't attuned to how koreans might be treating me differently than their own countrymen. i'm sure koreans get cruddy service and get passed up by cabs as well. i'm not looking for someone to be a jerk to me and then blame it on him or her being racist. if i did, i'm sure i could find some instance of discrimination based on my race everywhere and that would just make my time here miserable. i'm not interested in having that chip on my shoulder.
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Swiss James



Joined: 26 Nov 2003
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

shortskirt_longjacket wrote:
...


yep- what (s)he said.

I think the only time I've had even a taste of being an oppressed minority, is when I found out about senior people at work using racial slurs when talking about me.
That was weird- very weird, but easy to shake off because I never notice that kind of attitude being backed up by actions.
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ryleeys



Joined: 22 Dec 2003
Location: Columbia, MD

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up for 17 years in a 98% white community. Then I moved to college and lived in an international dorm for 2 years that was 80% foreigners. Then I moved off campus and into a 70% Latino community. So I'm used to being the minority. Actually, I can't think of any of my friends that are 'just whities' like me. I've got (of course) many Korean friends, several Chinese friends, an Indian, a Guatamalan, a Serbian... I like it that way.
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Gwangjuboy



Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Location: England

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sometimes think that there are white people who seek to deny that white people could possibly face racism. Yes the hypothetical restaurant manager is so friendly. But if you were shafting his daughter would he continue to be? Yes the taxi driver likes a nice chit chat. Would he like it if you were bedding his daughter? The ajumma who sells mandu is great, even remarks on your handsomeness, and gives you bigger servings. But would she let you get it on with her daughter? The strong dislike of inter racial marriages is the strongest manifestation of racism. That's a prevalent attitude here. Indeed, I have lost count of the times my girlfriend has been called a "chang nyah" because she happens to be with me. It really hurt me when I heard a group of Korean men say it only the other day. They happened to be my neighbours and didn't know me and my girlfriend were home. Foreigners who don't recognise the widespread hatred of white people in Korea are dumb.
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Ody



Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: over here

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 3:28 am    Post subject: Re: What does it feel like to be a minority? Reply with quote

shortskirt_longjacket wrote:
to tell you the truth, ...........so, to answer your question, i don't think that living in south korea gives me 100% insight into the experience of minorities in western countries. ........

Outstanding post, I concur 100%.
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Homer
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being a minority here differs a great deal from being a minority in many other countries.

Why?

As a white minority here we experience some racism but also get benefits. Its not like a black person in Mississipi in the 1950-60's.
Its not like Philipinos here or Turks in Germany.

There is no comparison in fact.

A black person in Mississipi 30 years ago did not get "service" in restaurants or any other side benefits.

A white person in Korea gets many benefits as well as some occasional racism.

I share peppermints view here when it comes to what most of us experience here.

What being a minority has done is show me what it is like to stand out in a crowd because I am different.
It has also put me face to face with the occasional racist attitude.

Has it meant that I can understand the plight of the minorities across the world?
To some degree it has given me a better insight but it has not meant that I have "walked in their shoes" to claim such a thing is to be truly blind.
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rapier



Joined: 16 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kiwiboy_nz_99 wrote:
I haven't changed, I was already very pro Maori and against racism in my own country. The only thing that's changed is that now I know racism in practice as well as theory. It's pretty much what I expected, highly unpleasant.


Why be "pro-maori"?, thats an equally harmful opposite extreme. Why not just be neutral and treat everyone equally regardless of skin color?

In response to the O.P., Korea is the longest i've lived anywhere as a person of racial/ethnic minority, who doesn't speak the language, although I have lived simply as a foreigner or minority in other countries. The language barrier is the difference.
Its been a worthwhile experience to suffer a bit of racism and cultural exclusion, I recommend it to anyone. And I certainly do now think a bit differently of racial minorities in , say, Britain for example.
However, we eslers here are not knife carrying , crime commiting immigrants with our own ghetto and gangs that seek to take revenge on, steal from or harm our local hosts, as is the case with some ethnic minorities in Europe perhaps.
In some cases I would argue that immigrants in certain countries have gone too far in creating a siege mentality, and aggressively seeking not equality, but a kind of savage dominance in areas of their adopted countries.
EQUALITY is the key word here.
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kiwiboy_nz_99



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Location: ...Enlightenment...

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I sometimes think that there are white people who seek to deny that white people could possibly face racism. Yes the hypothetical restaurant manager is so friendly. But if you were shafting his daughter would he continue to be? Yes the taxi driver likes a nice chit chat. Would he like it if you were bedding his daughter? The ajumma who sells mandu is great, even remarks on your handsomeness, and gives you bigger servings. But would she let you get it on with her daughter? The strong dislike of inter racial marriages is the strongest manifestation of racism. That's a prevalent attitude here. Indeed, I have lost count of the times my girlfriend has been called a "chang nyah" because she happens to be with me. It really hurt me when I heard a group of Korean men say it only the other day. They happened to be my neighbours and didn't know me and my girlfriend were home. Foreigners who don't recognise the widespread hatred of white people in Korea are dumb.

Outstanding post, I concur 100% ...
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Ody



Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: over here

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ody wrote:
Outstanding post, I concur 100%

kiwiboy_nz_99 wrote:
Outstanding post, I concur 100% ...

it's said that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Cool


Last edited by Ody on Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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rapier



Joined: 16 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gwangjuboy wrote:
I sometimes think that there are white people who seek to deny that white people could possibly face racism. Yes the hypothetical restaurant manager is so friendly. But if you were shafting his daughter would he continue to be? Yes the taxi driver likes a nice chit chat. Would he like it if you were bedding his daughter? The ajumma who sells mandu is great, even remarks on your handsomeness, and gives you bigger servings. But would she let you get it on with her daughter? The strong dislike of inter racial marriages is the strongest manifestation of racism. That's a prevalent attitude here. Indeed, I have lost count of the times my girlfriend has been called a "chang nyah" because she happens to be with me. It really hurt me when I heard a group of Korean men say it only the other day. They happened to be my neighbours and didn't know me and my girlfriend were home. Foreigners who don't recognise the widespread hatred of white people in Korea are dumb.


Racism is a HIGHLY potent factor out here. But I truly believe that there are plenty of korean girls willing to date foreigners and undergo a lifetime of subtle racism in the name of love. The thing is, as a man you have to be worthy of this to her. You have to be more worthy, and stronger, than if you were simply in your own country. I think a lot of guys don't realise this.
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kiwiboy_nz_99



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Location: ...Enlightenment...

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
it's said that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Yes, and I dissagree 100% with anything you have to say, on principle.
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Gwangjuboy



Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Location: England

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rapier wrote:


Racism is a HIGHLY potent factor out here. But I truly believe that there are plenty of korean girls willing to date foreigners and undergo a lifetime of subtle racism in the name of love. The thing is, as a man you have to be worthy of this to her. You have to be more worthy, and stronger, than if you were simply in your own country. I think a lot of guys don't realise this.


Often it's not about "worthiness". How can one achive worthiness with people who hate inter racial dating? One might become worthy in the eyes of the woman herself, but will not achieve worthiness in the eyes of the citizens of this land. Whether we like it or not, Korean girls who date foreigners are considered slags or outcasts by the vast majority of this nation's people. It's Nazi esque, and it's an extremely common view amoungst this land's people.


Last edited by Gwangjuboy on Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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