10.12.2013

Yes, I'm American too

My second year in Taiwan began a little over a month ago, and I have had a wealth of wonderful experiences since I know what to expect here and have met many great people through social events, work, and school (and I hope to post about those wonderful experiences soon).  It's nice to enjoy life here without having to struggle through culture shock nearly everyday.

However, while things are going really well, there are still issues that get me thinking, namely the common reactions I get when interacting with or being in the presence of other (especially white) Americans here in Taiwan.  They often have an air about them that wants so badly to prove their "superiority". 

Here's an example of the arrogance I'm talking about:


What?  We're all "whitey"?  Why do some of these people have to either "otherize" us or make themselves the representatives of all Americans or all foreigners?  Don't get me wrong, I laughed so hard when I read this, it's beyond ridiculous.  

There seems to be this strain of exceptionalism that some caucasian Americans have that blinds them to the fact that not all Americans in Taiwan are white.  To them, if you're not white, you must be from Africa, Asia, or some other location.  And even if it's clear that you are from the same country as them, they feel the need to deny the fact that you're living in Taiwan by making comments like "When are you going back home?" or "Enjoy your trip!" or "Sometimes it's hard to get around without knowing Chinese, right?".  Or, they insult you and deny the fact that you're in Taiwan through hard work by saying things like "You must have a lot of money to come here!" Yes, I'm a millionaire!  And you are too, right?  Idiots.  Just because you see a black person going abroad doesn't mean they have to be rich in order to do it.  It's about determination not money, and determination isn't unique to color.

As with any topic, not all Americans behave in the following ways toward me, but it happens often enough for me to notice a pattern.  It doesn't anger me anymore; instead, I just observe with amusement and keep a smile on my face when I know I'm talking to/am around one of these types.  It's like living in a social experiment!  Therefore, here are the types of annoying fellow Americans I've encountered.

#1 - The Birther: "You're from America?  Oh...but where are you really from?"

Naturally, when you get into a conversation with another foreigner here, each other's nationality comes into question.  I don't mind being asked where I'm from, it shouldn't really be assumed that I'm American just because I have an American accent.  What's amusing to me is when I tell another American that I'm from the States and they feel the need to challenge me about it.

"Oh, so what year did you come to America?"

"How long have you lived in America?"

"But her name's not American..." (This is the latest one that occurred...I turned around an explained that my parents are from Nigeria...and the person then asked me how long I've lived in America! haha)

Sure, like Obama, I was born elsewhere and whisked off to America.  Sure.  But seriously, why is it that Americans frequently turn into birthers, questioning my American-ness?  I'm assuming it's because I don't fit into the stereotypes or preconceived notions they have in their heads, so they must try to make it seem like I'm from somewhere else.

(And we all know how much Americans ironically love to do this in America.)

There was another recent incident I had with a birther type at a social event.  I put my name and e-mail address on the mailing list we created, and when this woman saw my name, she made a face and said "Oladipo (mangled it, of course). Huh, okay..."  I turned to her calmly and explained my heritage, and she simply said "Oh, that explains it."  It's like these people forget that America is a land of emigrants!

#2 - The Deer in the Headlights: "Oh my, I don't believe my eyes!"

I've noticed that foreigners tend to silently size each other up.  On the train, in the store, out and about on the sidewalk.  We notice people who are different because we stand out a lot ourselves.  This is normal, and I don't find it offensive.

What bothers me are the people that see me do something that usually only a person who's here for awhile or is living here would do (buying lots of groceries, working out in a non-touristy area) and stare.  That long, drown out, stare like a local would give me.

O_O

It's not fleeting; it last for a long moment, or it's a long secession of glances.  I pretend to not see these people, but I wish they'd just go on their way.  Especially the guy staring me down during my jog, or the one who kept looking at me in the checkout line at the grocery store, and outside all the way to his car.  I clearly remember one incident when I went out to eat with two of my friends last year.  At the restaurant, there was a family (white father, Taiwanese mother, two kids).  The father stared at us the whole hour we were there.  It was irritating and uncomfortable!  

The deer in the headlights, they all but say "What are you doing here?" Why do these people act like they've never seen a black person before?

#3 - The Bigot: "We're in Taiwan, I'm allowed to be racist!"

This is, by far, the worst kind of American I've run into.  I'm not surprised that they're here, Taiwanese society seems to put white folks above even the locals.  The general pecking order seems to be (this is simply what I've noticed):

White American males
White males from anywhere else
White females from anywhere
Chinese (from Taiwan)
Chinese from abroad (ABC, BBC, Singaporean, ect.), Japanese, Korean 
South American, people from the islands who aren't black
Black American males (basketball is popular here)
Taiwanese aboriginal, Indonesian, Philippino, non-East Asian
Indian, South Asian, Middle Easterner
Black non-American males
Black females from anywhere (unless you look like Beyonce or Rihanna, or you don't have dark skin...you might go somewhere in the middle)

So, as there is a huge social disparity between white males and black females, it doesn't shock me much that I've been treated terribly by some of them unprovoked.  This usually happens when the guy has a local woman on his arm and feels the need to insult my looks to impress her.  I'll never forget the day I was waiting for the bus, and this guy and his woman pass me by.  The guy made a remark about how ugly he thought I was and they both went away laughing in an overly exaggerated manner.  I've had a similar experience on the train where they guy said my afro looked like a mushroom.  I love how this group of obnoxious Americans at Taipei 101 who saw me and a friend and said it's part of the culture here to dislike black people.  Actually, it's something that's been perpetuated.

It's sad that they think they can stoop so low just because it's accepted here.  There are so many foreigners in Taiwan that I'd say, in at least Taipei, the look of society is beginning to shift.  Too bad some of those at the "top" are working hard to make sure they remain there.

38 comments:

  1. it doesn't shock me much that I've been treated terribly by some of them unprovoked. This usually happens when the guy has a local woman on his arm and feels the need to insult my looks to impress her.

    Honey, that's why God invented vicious comebacks.

    This is the perfect opportunity to unleash the dreaded Black Bitch Dragon. I wish a motherfucker would...see if I don't respond with a long, dick-withering tirade that'll ruin his sex life for months.

    And make sure to learn to talk smack in Chinese.

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    1. Haha, I know my share of Chinese insults, I'm just don't have the guts to use them. xD I have, however, perfected the evil stare.

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  2. FuriousGeorgeRockwellOctober 13, 2013 at 2:49 AM

    I wouldn't put Black American men that high on the pecking order; we're on the bottom. Black women are above us because at least you can get a job.

    Now, if you were talking about Japan about half of a decade ago, you'd be correct because of the hip-hop/Black man fad that existed there, but nowadays, the pecking order globally has Black men on the bottom; this is especially the case in Asia and Taiwan even more so.

    To the poster above, "bitch dragon" tirades will do nothing. A white guy will never have a ruined sex life in Taiwan unless his peckerwood pecker falls off due to STDs or overuse. You'll just end up getting knocked out and nobody will care. If you're not in a position of power, there is little that can be done. Try to consolidate with racially aware Black brothers and sisters in Asia for protection and business opportunities.

    Never expect those in power to want to give it up; and if you ever acquire power, don't be foolish enough to share it or give it up. We have to play this "game' viciously, just as our enemies have.

    The white man's paradise is the Black man's hell. Protect yourselves at all times, and in the words of brother ChampionKaji, "Heterosexual Black men have no reason to go to East Asia".

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    1. FuriousGeorgeRockwell, a morbid aspect to your last point; I've known of East (and Southeast or even Southern) Asian women who are fascinated by black men. But for all the wrong reasons, namely that said women regard BM as walking dicks to stuff them at their pleasure & whim, not living & breathing humans capable of life, laughter & love.

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    2. FuriousGeorgeRockwellOctober 13, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. There is no need to insult women to get your point across is there?

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    4. Apparently, there is. Hence the dismissal.

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    5. @ FuriousGeorgeRockwell: You are part right and you are totally wrong.
      True black men get it rough since the West started to fumble around Asia, but Black woman have been either Ignored or just been sexualized and called ugly. Like I bet now most white men wouldn't say those nasty things like "You're ugly" to a black guys face, but they wouldn't hesitate to say it a black woman to try to impress their host.

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    6. @FGR: I looked for a job over about 3 months, and the one I have now was there only one I got a call back from. Also, the person who owns the school is an American which really helped. In addition, I'm in Taipei, not the country, so my co-workers have (I assume) had more contact with foreigners. Out of the black teachers I've run into, all of them have actually been men.

      I get your frustrations but that last quote? Seriously? And it doesn't surprise me where that comes from; ChampionKaji is banned from a couple of Taiwan expat sites for a reason.

      @Zydar & Javan - So true. I think black men have it slightly easier than women here because they're seen as people not to trifle with; people are scared of them (not saying this is a good thing though).

      But I think nearly every group thinks black women are fair game. A lot of the local men think it's "funny" when you dress up because why dress up when you're "so ugly". I've gotten this crap from black men who have local friends as well. The local friend will see me, ask their black friend what they think, and their friend will proclaim my ugliness just to continue to fit it. As for women, they all know they're more desired than you are, so they act likewise.

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    7. Well...which part of Taiwan...S. Korea, and Japan have you been?

      And Also..not all Asians are hostel towards black men and women. True you got some buttholes in the mix, they do call black women ugly, oversexed (a paradox) and every ugly thing you can think off; but they don't represent the whole race. Maybe if you wasn't trying to hit on women you would seen that. So please mind yourself. There are more important issues at large.

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    8. @FGR - At first I thought you were at least a little serious, now I'm not sure whether or not you're a troll. I hope you are, because if you've been going around any country anywhere with this sort of attitude, it's clear why you haven't gotten very far. You seem to have issues beyond facing discrimination.

      CK wasn't banned for being a black man, he was banned for his nonsensical tirades and accusing everyone and everything of being racist.

      "Feminine-minded".

      "Black men are becoming more feminine globally. Black men in Taiwan and Korea are incredibly feminine, while brothas in japan are more masculine. Maybe there is more room for us to be masculine there, maybe it's the influence of older, masculine brothas there, or maybe it's some other factor, but that seems to be the case."

      Really? Wow. Since when has Taiwan been for gays and females only? And Japan only for "real men"? The fact that you have to constantly point out that you're a "real man" makes me question your security in your manhood.

      "This is why our new objective is to raise awareness and urge heterosexual Black men to avoid travel to Asia unless they are happy being celibate while watching others have a field day"

      "What's wrong with hitting on women? I ain't no shame in my game. Only thing wrong with it that I can see is that as a Black man, you're not going to get much play in East Asia, and it's a waste of time and resources. If brothas could get play on the regular out there from 6's and up, I'd encourage more of us to go there and build businesses (forget the white man's ESL game)."

      It seems that your anger stems more from the fact that no one wants to have sex with you in Asia (anymore...if they ever did before. *shudder*). It doesn't seem like you care about getting a job, improving yourself, experiencing new things, having fun with friends, or doing any of the other things that make life important. You claim to care, but who would hire someone with a negative mindset like yours? BTW, I live by a blasian family (African father, Taiwanese mother, two little boys) and they seem happy and full of life. I've spotted three other families with this same composition. Doesn't look like your militant objectives are on point or coincide with reality.

      So, stop with your crazy generalizations. I've had a lot of bad experiences here myself, but I've had a lot of good, met great people, and can't wait to do more here. It's people like you that scare other blacks from going abroad and seeing the world. Stop painting an unrealistic image for people to look at. You should get help immediately because there's clearly something wrong with you. And in the future, learn to speak for yourself.

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    9. @ FuriousGeorgeRockwell: I'll make this short, yes there are racist people out there. But there are people who haven't had a interaction to black people. Only interaction is by movies and the internet (full of racist thing). but instead of trying to scare people away why do you try to do something better. By you saying nasty things you are offending the very people you are trying to help. By you saying this and being dissmissive to black females you are no helping. It's either you are part of the solution or part of the problem, stop being part of the problem.

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  3. "Heterosexual Black men have no reason to go to East Asia".

    That's a disturbing comment. Might want to reword it.

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    1. "Heterosexual Black men have no reason to go to East Asia".

      *shudder*

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    2. "Heterosexual Black men have no reason to go to East Asia".

      SMH.

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    3. Dear there is no way to reword that to make it sound right!

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  4. Nicolette, thanks for sharing, as usual. It's like they're forever tourists, and all the entitlement that comes with that in connotation. It sounds a lot like the colonized mind.

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    1. Bingo. That's what I'm talking about. These men are often the leftovers, castaways, and flat-out rejects of their country, which is precisely why they go to Asia.

      I mean...Negro, please.

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    2. "Forever tourists", that's a good way to put it. Especially the ones who have been here for half my life and can't even order a meal in Chinese.

      And that site... =_=

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  5. Thanks for sharing this Nicolette. Their behaviour is precisely the reason why I steer clear away from white people anywhere. Annoyingly enough this kind of white tourists are not only present in Asia but in several African countries as well. Wrt to that pecking order, I do agree and feel that travelling as an African woman does mean that I automatically get relegated to the bottom of the pile, usually no one pays me attention (which is not a bad thing!). Or if I say I'm a tourist lots of people would think I'm African American because Africans don't have that kind of money to travel for fun (yet in other places once I say I'm Nigerian people expect that I have a lot of money). I've also encountered people who assume I'm a sex worker...and I've faced gross treatment from all Westerners, not just "whitey" when I travel, the exception would be the months I spent in the south of France where I made really good friends with two African American and a Mexican Canadian woman. Due to all these experiences I've adopted a "no new friends" approach to travelling, I usually visit countries where my friends live so I stick with the old friends and only talk to Black people but that is if they talk to me first :D

    It is really strange the way white men think they can openly diss Black women...the same thing happened to a friend of mine in China who had to deal with a white guy calling her ugly and asking why anyone would date her in Mandarin (which she speaks fluently) at the airport. It is clearly nothing but hate, trying to bring Black women down. I don't even want to know how they justify this in their twisted minds.

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    1. Cosmicyoruba, i concur. Lately there's been an influx of white people into Malaysia's capital city & its surrounding area. Mostly from Europe, who I view as lesser evils than their US/Australian counterparts (probably because Europe is on the brink of financial chaos) Even so, the privilege they exude is nauseating. Heaven help us all. On the bright side, we're becoming more international. Lots more people from around the world congregate in KL; African students, West Asian tourists/businesspeople, and a small but steadily growing population of expatriates from the Americas. New cultures, fresh ideas and bright minds; all form a harmonious confluence of humanity, with its expected hiccups of course.

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    2. FuriousGeorgeRockwellOctober 13, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      I tend to avoid whites as well as other "people of color", since most of them have the mindset to worship whites and hate Blacks. I encourage other Black folks to do the same.

      Until Black people have power and image to offer something good to the world that rivals the privilege that hating us and worshiping whites brings (and history teaches us that if we do, we need to make these off-brands pay for it, not give it away thinking we can be friends; see hip-hop), or the power to chin-check those that disrespect, marginalize, and kill us, we will always be in this predicament.

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    3. FuriousGeorgeRockwellOctober 13, 2013 at 3:50 PM

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    4. Sooooo not trying to hear about your "yellow fever." *shudder*

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    5. @CY - I can't say I stay away from white people as a general rule because not all of them behave this way toward me, but I don't find it shocking that the majority of my white friends here are European haha. I feel I'm either ignored or fixated on for all the wrong reasons as well. I've never been mistaken for a sex worker (what a ridiculous assumption) but I've had comments along the line of how black women are "hard to satisfy", ect.

      I really don't know what the insults are about. I'd say 80% of the time I'm around a white guy who thinks I'm too far to hear what he's saying, he has to make a comment about my appearance or shock about the fact I'm here.

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    6. "he has to make a comment about my appearance or shock about the fact I'm here."

      Quality humans, those. Getting sensitive cos he knows you can knock him off his pedestal of racial supremacy, and will. Soon. Extinction anxiety, was it?

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  6. Been away for awhile now (Sorry Ankhesen >_>) Got a new job back home in Malaysia, work 6 days a week, with Sunday house chores. Oy. But I popped in on TBA, and this greets my eyes...

    I've said it before to anyone who'd listen, folks of color have a problem with colonial mentality. Either because we see it as an easy way out of a hard life, or we buy into the white supremacy bullshit. In the case of the Taiwanese, it's the latter I suspect.

    Anti-blackness is the fulcrum of white supremacy, as it has been stated before. And the best part? They get other PoC to participate in their fuckery. I'd like to think/consider myself anti-racist, but white people (or at least most of the ones I've met) tend to stretch that belief to its breaking point. A tragedy, as I have met relatively enlightened white folk before (few & far in between though) But that is neither here nor there.

    Keep strong Nicolette, these asshats will know what's coming to them, probably within their lifetimes. Sooner or later, time will prove these words true.

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    1. Got a new job back home in Malaysia

      Congrats!!!!

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    2. I think it's definitely a colonial mentality here fore sure. Every white male is assumed to be smart and rich even if it's clear he's not. They flock to them like moths to a lamp; it's sad.

      Thanks! And good luck with your new job. :)

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  7. @Ankh-I see your site has become a magnet for angry men.

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    1. Yes, and sexists as well.

      The irony of the original post is the prevailing theme of misogyny - abusing black women to aid the in sexual exploitation of Asian women. And some "men" who have commented on here have railed against white men...while perpetuating their misogyny.

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    2. Not really. The one thing all these men have in common is that they consider women to be like property; they want to decide which man gets what kind of woman. No one's concerned with what the women want; that's not even considered.

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    3. women as property...I hate to type it. Yeah that's grade school mess. It's that "why do all the white guys get (insert race) girl" Which I do understand, but guys have to remember that not all women are the same nor are from some assembly line to cater their pervy desires.

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  8. My personal opinion is that travels to East Asia is not for the faint-hearted black woman who does not have high self-esteem. There will be so many places in which white people will be welcomed while you are being shunned, it's not even funny. It doesn't matter how educated the staff or how run-down the establishment: they'll take your money, but that's as much of your presence as they may want to tolerate. I've had this happen to me in China, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.

    In Thailand, I experience what I like to call "Foreigners Paradox", in which I, a Black Woman, was travelling with a white male companion, my husband. It's one of the most bizarre experiences to get humane treatment by proxy, because I'm my husband's accessory. To see locals/expats simultaneously struggling to keep the confused frown off their face while trying to maintain a smile to greet my husband AND freeze me out at the same time? Priceless. I really out to wear a hidden camera and start posting the wacky footage to the web.

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    1. Also, I should say, for every wackadoodle I encounter, there's been beauty, kindness, and friendships encountered to quickly wipe away the sting of cruelty some people have in their hearts. Their loss, my gain. Heck,

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