This article told my personal viewpoint of how we should respond to racial discrimination.
| Racial Discrimination Against Foreign Laborers|
As long as differences exist among people, there is distinction. We will compare ourselves with others, overlook our defects and overstate our merits. Human is gregarious that we often gather as an ethnic group first, and then that we enact laws to protect the majority. The majority thinks itself become superior to minority. Thus, prejudice and bias gradually forms.
Racial discrimination stood out notoriously in the history. It was highly responsible for many dispersion laws, wars and even genocide, such as White Australia Policy, Hitler’s racial subjugation in WWⅡ and massacre in the Bosnian War. Even until today, the bias and prejudice in such an advanced society have not been resolved among different ethnic groups. Think of ourselves. Do we laugh at any joke involved with racism among “our” group? Do we feel superior or disgust when standing beside a foreigner in public when we are part of the majority? Or even when we are part of the minority? If we observed further on people’s behavior and thoughts toward racial issues, perhaps we might struggle out a solution. Yet, the most interesting part of the issue is how discrimination is brought out, and that why can bias still remain until this day.
I do not think that racial discrimination can ever be eliminated. It is an evolution of human society. Resentment to different races led to malicious insults or violence; meanwhile, people did not admit themselves being racist when they criticized hard. It is the force of morality and social regulations that deter us from showing our real thoughts. It is us that built up the frame of society. It is also us that we allowed “our kind” to enjoy the privilege of being the majority.
To get a better view of racial discrimination, we narrow down the topic to a special group of people, laborers who are imported from mostly South East Asia, in Taiwan. These people come from countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia. Manufacturers hire these foreign workers at a low wage, relative to that of local workers, to minimize their cost of production. It seems to benefit our economy in manufacturing industry; nonetheless, what do local people and local workers think about the circumstances? The following example seems not a typical racial discrimination but repel of foreign labor that is thought to deprive local people of economic benefit. However, it actually roots in biases against race.
For countless times, I encountered the same scene when I walked through the square in front of the Tao-Yuan train station. I saw a group of middle-aged men, some with their wives, sitting around on stone chairs in the shade of trees. They talked so loud I could not help but to listen to what they were saying. They were issuing on foreign labor, and they criticized it hard. They claimed that foreign workers took up all the working opportunities that were once for local labor; they condemned those manufacturers for their deeds. Furthermore, the group of men became agitated and repugnant to foreign workers. I felt ashamed when I walked by. However, did they focus on the wrong issue? Why did the middle-aged men become so angry about this issue?
I felt ashamed when I left because I can’t imagine there are still people against other races in Taiwan, such a civilized country; I felt so because I consider myself more rational and receptive than those men. Yet, do I really do what I think I believe? To clear out doubts, we should understand why economic issues are related to racial discrimination. The reason why those men criticized foreign labor is that their families might actually be substituted by foreign workers at work, or that they knew someone was victimized. Although the men did not talk about race, because of different races, they grew more negative feelings against foreign labor. Therefore, they criticized harshly on how worse have those foreigners done to our economics and society. Let me give another example.
My friend, Matt(an alias), was on a train to Taipei from Tao-Yuan. It was crowded on the train, and he was squeezed to a corner away from the door. There were three foreigners around my friend, and he could tell they were from South East Asia by their faces. At the moment Matt saw them, he was astounded by their trendy clothes and advanced cell phones. He did not show his despite, although Matt felt embarrassed with his inelegant clothes and one-dollar mobile.
Why did Matt think himself a wealthier and more graceful person than those foreigners as it should be? I think this is a sort of discrimination that everyone conceives but rarely admits. When we come across foreigners from South East Asia, we assume they come from a less-developed country and poor families. We expect to see them wearing cheap clothes and looking wretched due to heavy work in the factory. We seldom confess ourselves to have such prejudice; meanwhile, we often declare ourselves to deplore racism. Unless we can totally be neutral people, otherwise, we are just being tolerant.
Today, we can experience less effect of discrimination in our daily lives; nonetheless, in some non-mainstream and subculture society, such as that in a prison, prejudice against race still stands a main role. The reason is that when we try to fit in our group we either propose of racism to make ourselves loyal or put aside our discretion to follow others blindly. Oftentimes, bigotry leads us to the path of least resistance to be identified in our group. Such are that to laugh anytime when there is a joke against aliens and to consent to acts against foreigners. On the one hand, we dangle around those who own power and privilege so as to take advantage from the society. On the other hand, the social system itself is built to cater for the benefits of the majority. The system determines how people merge into this society and how people should perform to survive in it. This is an irresistible force that somehow sustains all kinds of discrimination, including racism.
From the experiences and observations, there comes another question: Is it not enough just to be tolerant to foreign people? I once wanted to release myself off the bind of prejudice, but I seldom succeeded. I somehow came to a thought that maybe biases and estrangement exist because people feel more comfortable to get along with their kind, the similar appearance and culture. It happens not necessarily in deliberate, but it is a natural outcome of human society. Discrimination does not have to be constrained by laws or any acts. What people can do is lay aside personal prejudices and show respect to other races and groups of people. Therefore, tolerance is the least request a person has to bear.