Expats worldwide should take up the banner of anti-racism

Published:  8 Jun at 6 PM
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It seems the fight to end black xenophobia in the USA is now being mirrored in other countries worldwide.

The massive and much-needed outbreak of anti-racist protests in the USA has been long in coming and there’s, as yet, no way of predicting whether or not it will be successful, at least until a hopefully new president is elected in November. America’s war against what used to be called ‘colour prejudice’ has been going on for several hundred years, ever since the horrors of slavery were acknowledged by the few and finally accepted by the many.

Now that American citizens in as many as 70 cities have woken up and smelt the coffee, appalled by a murder against which there can be no defence, the smaller demonstrations in Western countries have shown that Europe has many of the same issues to resolve. It’s not just traditionally white populations who’re awakening, the now worldwide protests are stretching as far as Asia, where black expats may well be welcome for their money and expertise but are still experiencing prejudice due to the colour of their skins.

One national media outlet in Thailand recently carried an opinion piece which stated many Asians are also prejudiced against the black community, whether African American or African. It seems looking down on black and also brown people is acceptable, as is the use of slurs and a general lack of respect. A number of long-stay expats in Thailand as well as Thai people themselves are now convinced the tough conversations going on in the USA are much needed in the Land of Smiles.

Racism in Thailand is best described as cultural chauvinism rather than out-and-out prejudice, as the chance to make contact with black people is low. Some believe the first contacts were during the Vietnam War, when black US military personnel came for rest and relaxation to Thai beach towns. Due to language and cultural differences, meaningful exchanges were very limited. However, Thai TV has much to answer for, as black people are shown as either uncultured or, worse still, primitive.

More disturbing is the focus in local news reports of black African scammers online, as well as African scams aimed at robbing Thai women, with last week’s violence in the USA reinforcing this stereotype. As with similar issues in many other countries, the long-term solution involves education and self-examination, especially as white expatriates are now being included in Thailand’s perception of the ‘other’. Should integration become the norm, the shameful, bitter racism experiences in the USA could be used as a reason why not only black lives matter, but also all human lives, no matter where in the world they’re located.
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