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We hate it when our friends date racists

We hate it when our friends date racists

So I head home to mid-Wales for the weekend, and bump into an old friend and his new girlfriend. (Admittedly relations between said girlfriend and me have been slightly strained ever since our first drunken conversation when I apparently asked her jokingly what their sex life was like, and she took from that the inference that I was the kind of pervert who’d slap her bottom, like most of the people she worked with. Which I am so not – I’m a much upper-class sophisticated kind of pervert.)

Anyway, we go to the pub for a couple of pints, where I make great pains to be the respectable gentleman kind of person, talking to her friends and her cousins etc. And it seems to work so we go for a final pint back at her caravan.

Somehow the topic goes onto snobbish people (I think at this point she’s forgiven me for a comment I don’t remember making), and before I know it, this huge torrent of racist attitudes spews forth from her mouth, with the following points or class comments:

(These are not my comments or thoughts, but hers!)
– The Welsh are ridiculously snobbish and should be far nicer to the incoming English. After all, what have the Welsh got to be proud about?
– Good old-fashioned people like her (from the West Midlands) are only coming to Wales because they’re being turfed out by all the incoming Muslims and Pakistanis, refugees and asylum seekers
– “They” (the powers that be) should stop turfing out grandmothers and council tenants to house all these flipping foreigners, and throw said foreigners into
“gas chambers”. (and yes, she actually used the phrase gas chambers)
– But the Indians and Chinese are OK, because we do great food. The irony that she’s saying all this while eating an Indian meal and talking to a British-Chinese person is presumably lost on her.

Now, what does one do in a situation like this? I could have:
– Grabbed some statistics from the top of my head and proved her wrong on all these points. Except no-one has a handy factsheet like that.
– Told her she was a racist bigot, and walked out. (which I should have probably done in hindsight)
– Frowned, and said nothing. Which probably gave her the impression I agreed with her and allowed her to carry on with the torrent of stupidity she was coming out with.

I did end up mocking her notion about gas chambers (do we have any gas left on the planet?) and banana boats (how do you make boats out of bananas?) with my own brand of surrealism just to mask my growing shock

Still, it’s nice to know where you stand.

It also reminds me how invisible the Chinese are (aside from the sheer mass of numbers in China!) I very much doubt she would have dared to say those things if I was black or Asian. But we’re Chinese, we’re harmless. I was with my fiancee’s family once, sitting in the back seat of the car, when my fiancee’s Dad launched into a rather inappropriate Chinese slitty-eyed sing-song-accent impersonation just as we pulled into a Chinese restaurant. We all laughed it off as her Dad’s goofiness. But if I was black, I very much doubt he would have done the Black-and-White-Minstrel-Show version of it all.

And of course, in a world where it’s perceived that the English and the Welsh hate each other … hrm… not much hope for those of us who do stick out by virtue of skin colour, is there?

16 Comments

  • I AGREE WITH HER TOTALLY

  • I'm 1/4 (or 1/2 depending on how you work it) Welsh, so I can't really have a go. I wonder if the "harmless Chinese" thing comes from the fact that we've (the Brits) never really fought the Chinese, or because they don't have a particularly fearsome reputation.

    I mean, we've bombed (or helped the bloody Yanks to bomb) Muslims, Arabs and the like. We fought the Japanese and most of the rest of Europe at one point or another. We had battles against major parts of the African continent. But, my weak historical knowledge aside, we've never actually fought the Chinese. Except in a boardroom over the future of Hong Kong.

    Likewise, from a reputation point of view. Blacks and Asians carry guns and kick off riots of they get fed up. No, I'm not stereotyping – this is just from the news. Living in Bradford I know how close I am to the last racially-motivated (apparently) riot and to be honest the Asians intimidate me by the way they walk around in packs.

    Likewise, a lot of black guys are bloody huge, and the "gangsta" stereotype (though mainly American) is a sterotype that's stuck whether for right or wrong – in Birmingham in particular, where several shootings have taken place over recent months.

    Even the Japanese have the martial arts/triad history and their films are more violent than anything to come out of China, so they get a reputation.

    Hence, I think the Chinese have a fairly mild reputation. Given that the strict Communist government doesn't let jack shit in or out of their country, a lot of it could be down to the repression of the billion or so who live there and perhaps that's the mindset. Excuse me if I'm making a sweeping generalisation as it's purely a thought and not a "theory".

    What you need, Andy, if to round up a load of other Chinese people and kick off somewhere public. String a few whites up, behead a black gangster or two. Walk around with a fucking big knife and get a cool scar down one side of your face. Maybe then people will look at the Chinese differently.

    In the meantime – wouldn't you rather just be some harmless guy who people will just talk to rather than someone they have pretty shitty preconceptions about?

    As for the Welsh – money-grabbing, speed-camera-worshipping sheep-shaggers, the lot of them 🙂

    • Most of those chavvy Asians are actually Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh. If you don't believe me do a Google for Pakistanis/Bangladeshis and then Indians/Sri Lankans. Muslims are the poorest race in UK (East London is their ethnic hometown) and are responsible for most riots and jail time after blacks, they also have below average educational performance.

      How do you think the term 'Paki' got invented? British racism against South Asians is usually aimed at them and Hindus use the term 'Paki' against Muslims too.

  • That's two of you now quietly making a distinction between Chinese and Asian. Can you explain that to me? Is China not a part of the Asian continent anymore?

    Seriously, am I missing something?

    I always chuckle at that Asian label… I'm sure it was/is the same there as it was here, when a big stink broke out about the term oriental vs. asian. To which I would say, that's all fine and good, let me know what you want to be called and I'll call you that, but my girlfriend is "asian," and she's white as the driven snow. Yeah, she's Russian, born and raised on the big continent, and she doesn't look much like my other "asian" friends. So maybe a more specific identifier is in order? But "asian," as a label, bothers me in much the same way "african," "european," and "latin" bothers me. It's bad enough we all have to be grouped into stupid subcategories, totally stripping us of our own individuality, but do we really need to demand that the groups we are separated into be _bigger_? Hey, bad enough there are some 2 billion other Chinese people that the world wants to lump you in with, why expand that to Asian and add another bil. or so to the group? Especially when the cultural and religious differences between, say, Japan and Vietnam are staggering, how can you go along with a convention that seeks to lump the two into one category?

    Or did I just answer my first question?

  • Rick, I'd tend to agree with you. One of the things that bothers me is that the American use of the term "Asian" is more correct than ours. Mind you, the country was "discovered" by a guy who thought that people with tomahawks and tee-pees were Indian, so fair play 🙂

    It's a culture thing over here. We have a larger "Asian" (as in Indian, Pakistani, etc etc) population per head than the US, I would guess. I dunno. Maybe it's because if you use "Indian" to mean "from the continent of India", people from the surrounding countries would get rather offended as they'd assume you meant "from India, the country". Then you get the whole "I'm brown and have an accent you find funny, therefore you're going to lump me in with the Indians" and everything kicks off.

    What gets me, though, is that the "Asians" over here call *themselves* Asian. Again, though, that's maybe because that's what the term seems to be over here.

    India and Asia are separate continents, and perhaps we should be more exact. Or maybe we should just be more vague. I think "Oriental" is a much better umbrella term for those of a Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, etc etc background. After all, nine times out of ten when we're using such terms to describe someone, it is to get across their appearance or cultural background.

    • Aren't Indians usually lumped in with Arabs?
      The term Asia was invented by Greeks (Europeans) for 'everything east of the Bosporus Straits in Turkey', so the correct group to call 'Asian' would be Middle Easterners, eventhough Arabia sits on a seperate plate.

      Going by western stereotypes, I would say Middle Easterners and South Asians constitute an 'Asian' race, while everything east of Burma is 'Oriental'.

      Continents were named before plates were discovered, and it means 'continuous lands'. So the best definition of 'Asian' would be any ethnicity native to Asia, including West Asians, South Asians, and East Asians, excluding Europeans and Blacks.

      Technically Europe is the problem continent since there is nothing stopping it being a continent with Asia, but European education states that South America is a different continent too so I guess people end up thinking Asia should be split.

  • This post is far too intellectual for me… the goddess of typos

  • I think the English fought the Chineese in the opium wars, but after years of Empire indoctrination some welsh folk can be as racist as the english

  • Iain: It's the Chinese with the martial arts/triad tradition. The Japanese have the samurai/yakuza tradition 🙂 And as for scary Chinese men, ever been confronted with a Triad gangster?

    And Britain got Hong Kong as a result of the First Opium War (aka First Anglo-Chinese War of 1839) – a proper war with guns and naval battles. It's covered in the A-Level History syllabus.

    As for the violence in Japanese films, I think Chinese/Taiwanese/Hong Kong movies can be equally violent, but more real.

    Harmless gets you nowhere. Nobody fears you, respects you or even notices that you're there!

    Rick: As Iain has alluded – over here, the Indian sub-continent is far more dominant in terms of the UK's ethnic make-up than the Chinese. So for whatever reason, when people refer to Asians over here, they mean Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi people. The Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese etc. are just called Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese. Odd, that.

    Iain: Call a Chinese-American person an oriental, and they'll retort "We're a race, not a carpet." Then again, the Japanese-Americans called Banzai a racist show.

  • faithslayer

    Perhaps, point out that you thought what she was saying was not nice… That you found it offensive. If all else fails, slap her. We hope she's so drunk when she says these things, that she won't remember any of it… Or, you could find yourself some nicer people to hang out with. I know that's hard in Wales, i managed to escape the place when i was still relatively young. Either way, i feel for you.

    -me-

  • Andy, I didn't do A-level history. GCSE "politics" in place of genuine history put me off the subject for life.

    And what's wrong with "Oriental"? I'd not be offended at being called "Occidental" which I believe if the opposite. But, I'm not Asian, Chinese, Vietnamese, yellow, whatever so I guess I'd not understand.

    I'm just some white honky pale-skin Western racist 🙂

  • Sheff

    She's a brummie. She has a caravan. Did you expect better?

    Tough situation though because you wouldn't want to lose a friend just because of what his girlfriend is like…

  • >you wouldn't want to lose a
    >friend just because of what
    >his girlfriend is like

    Or maybe you would.

    Consider that this friend has to go home and have many more and far deeper conversations with his girl that you do having a beer at the pub for an hour. If he can sit and converse with this person at the level most couples do, he must have something in common with her, causing you to then question your friend's true beliefs. Its kind of like having a friend who hangs with neo-nazis and then tells you "but I'm not…" Yeah, right.

    Unless he's just in it for the sex.

  • To be blunt, a watered-down version of that attitude (outsiders coming in, ruining communities etc.) is *very* prevalent in Wales, and probably amongst most of my Welsh friends. Whether the outsiders are white English Brummies, London yuppies, Indians or Pakistanis, I imagine most of my friends would at least nod to a certain extent. They'd probably depart on the gas chambers front.

    And said friend, although I've known him for nigh on 20 years and he's a good mate, he and his family didn't welcome us with open arms when my family first arrived. But then he was 10 and his parents aren't exactly liberals.

  • I AGREE WITH HER TOTALLY

  • I actually think this is a positive about living in Britain. British people aren't colourist and hate muslims, while they adore Japanese and love Buddhism.

    I agree with her too. I swear London would be Singapore if we rid ourselves of riot-central a.k.a East London. That one department contains London's biggest population of chavs, Asian Muslims, and blacks; they are mostly living in poverty, full of criminals, and have the worst education levels in UK – we could get rid of our deficit by flattening East London!

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