Welcome back to One Last Thing, my current column on things I get mad about – all condensed into a steaming hot cup of tea, served to you straight. Today’s awesome column is about white privilege, because hey – I’m going there.
Now, it’s kinda sick how we worship the white man. You know the stereotype, guy A gets treated better than guy B because the first guy is white. This thing is called white privilege. To sum it all up, this is a term for societal privileges that benefit people identified as white in Western countries, beyond what is normally experienced by non-white people under the same circumstances. What comes to mind is the recent Brock Turner case, where a rapist had a shockingly brief prison sentence and an even earlier release date due to him being a young, white male in comparison to similar cases where the defendant was of a non-white ethnicity; and that’s really only the tip of the iceberg.
Here in Asia, just by listening to anecdotes from many of my peers combined with a couple of personal stories, it becomes clear that white privilege runs rampant. Not only is there a distinctly Eurocentric standard of beauty being upheld (fair skin, large eyes, lighter hair – all at the detriment of our multiracial natural beauty here in Asia), but the majority of white men who do come to South East Asia behave as if they are god’s gift to the people – or gods themselves, and they demand tribute. I’ve been approached by a white man on the streets of KL itself, asking if they could ‘buy me something pretty’ so that I’d be their pretty thing on their arms. There are multitudes of so-called jokes about British men exercising their ‘colonial right’ by dating Asian women. How is this even funny?
One friend who spent the majority of his life abroad has drawn comparisons between countries such as America and New Zealand. In his words, he’s faced more racism in New Zealand than he had in America. He’s told me a story of four ‘bogans’ in New Zealand who started shouting slurs and things like ‘go home, chink’ out of their car. When his then-girlfriend flipped them off, they quieted down for a second before hurling racial abuse at her while objectifying her. Question: who in their right mind thinks that this is acceptable behaviour? Sure, Malaysia has its fair share of people who would do these things, but when it’s combined with the privilege that there are little to no repercussions – it’s both disgusting and alarming.
On the other side of the coin, I’ve got friends – blue-eyed, blonde haired white boys – who were treated with adoration by Asian people. On holiday in China, one friend was paid in liquor to sit at a businessman’s table – just because he made them look ‘better’, all because of his blue eyes. Another friend is Eurasian – his father is British and his mother is Chinese – and he’s told that he’s ‘blessed’ because he didn’t inherit most of his mother’s Asian features. It’s no wonder a lot of these people have overinflated egos.
Now, of course – I’m not trying to paint all these people as the same, but the dog-like adoration Malaysians tend to give to these people is ridiculous. It’s why you see a number of expatriate pre-teens strolling around the streets of Sri Hartamas and Mont Kiara, preening like peacocks. The amount of entitlement is astounding.
If you’re going to call me racist, I’d like you to think about it for a while. Who here is profiting off of our low self-esteem? It’s definitely not us. Then again, fetishization of any culture tends to lead to greater cultural miscommunication which is roundly and rightfully made fun of online thanks to the current state of globalization due to the increasing access of the Internet. With terms like ‘weeaboo’ being thrown around like confetti, the endless emasculating stereotypes of Asian men and the amount of white men who think Asian women are delicate lotus flowers, we’re looking at a lot of things to fix. Tune in next time for the next part in this series, and why don’t you tell me what your thoughts on the matter are.