11 January 2012

Seriously? This is the "racism" that gets people all upset?

Being an ignorant foreigner, I only learned about the D&G incident when a fellow Libertine posted this link on the facebook (it seems that CNN has been reduced to publishing Google translations of Apple Daily articles).  Apparently, when Chinese people working for D&G discriminate against Hong Kong Chinese people in favor of Mainland Chinese people, it's called racism.  Generally speaking, "racism" is not something that occurs between people people of the same race.  Discrimination?  Yes.  Stereotyping?  Yes.  Racism?  No.

Ok, you say, so it's not racism, but it still sucks.  That's true, but it's hardly the shittiest thing happening in Hong Kong right now...though you wouldn't know that from looking at my facebook news feed, which is full of anti D&G rage.  I think this is a case of the historical discriminator becoming the discriminated against and not liking it.  If you're used to being a member of a richer, more powerful group who has historically discriminated against other groups, it can be quite shocking to find that the shoe is suddenly on the other foot. I've seen this before, in my own motherland.  Believe it or not, there are tons of white people in the US complaining about what they call "reverse racism" (I love the term, since it exposes them as racists who think that racism has a proper and an improper, or "reverse," direction).  From affirmative action programs which give tiny advantages to the historical victims of white racism, to the color of the current president's skin, these people think they're losing their own country, and they're pissed off!

I think something similar is going on in Hong Kong between Hongkies and Mainlanders.  Hong Kong people are used to treating Mainlanders like....well....Filipinos (ok, maybe they never treated Mainlanders that bad).  Problem is, many Mainland tourists have money now, and very little sense about how to spend that money, so all the overpriced European fashion outlets now prefer Mainlanders to Hongkies, since Mainlanders make for easier victims of the mental colonialism that D&G trades in (in the US, these same gaudy fashion firms mainly target nouveau-riche black people with their marketing campaigns).  If D&G wants to discriminate against me because they think I'm not dumb enough (or rich enough) to buy all their ridiculous overpriced crap...well they're right, and I take it as a compliment.  Look, does anyone have any doubt that D&G has been discriminating against Filipinos, Indians and Pakistanis in exactly this same way for years and years?  But suddenly D&G does it to the group that's used to doing the discriminating, and it's an outrage!

The difference is that Filipinos are used to being the victims of racism in this city, and ethnic Chinese Hongkies are used to being the victimizers (just like white people in the US).  Remember the "bus incident" when some crazy Filipino dude randomly killed some small number of Hong Kong people in the Philippines and suddenly every Hongkie in the city was firing their Filipino housekeeper and spewing all kinds of racist anti-Filipino vomit all over facebook?  I do, and I also remember that fellow Libertines Henry and Eric were the only Hongkies I knew who were pissed off not at the Philippines, but at racism against Filipinos.  So here's the bottom line: if you weren't pissed off by all the anti-Filipino discrimination then, then you don't get to be angry about this stupid D&G shit now.  If you've never spoken out against the very real and very serious racism directed at Filipinos, Indonesians, South Asians and Africans in Hong Kong, and you're suddenly speaking out about this, then you're not really against "racism," you just think it has a proper, and improper, direction.


  1. Thumbs up.
    I'm of mixed race born & lived all my life in Hong Kong.
    Discrimiation & racism against Filipinos & south asians is "normal" in the chinese culture.
    I have experienced this all my 40+ years living here, but I guess one gets used to it & it becomes "normal", especially if you grow up & live here for so long.

  2. I agree to everything in your post and I think it's something needed to be written, and is better written by a non-local. For me, the "discrimination" doesn't really bother me. It's a fact now locals are discriminated in many imaginable ways, inside our "own territory", if you like (mind you there's still a border up north. This Hi-tech Village still officially operates separately from the Motherland and there's no reason why it should not be). Now the whole HK is designed and builded to serve motherlanders, and I've just fucking paid my tax for all this shit a few days ago. Some argue that they sent the PLA here free-of-charge but so fucking what? They're not protecting us, they're more like protecting their rubbish-bin down south (yes, I think now they use this Village as an asshole for whatever problem they have up there, one-child-policy, money laundry, fake goods, they're all solved in here). I started to question why we should not go independent (here comes the bit that guarantees a ban inside the GFW, but we're banned anyway). I seriously do not see and feel ANY economical good the CCP brought...I guess we'll just be fine without CEPA or whatever...

    Also, we're ALWAYS discriminated inside luxury brand shops, even before the horde of motherlanders came. What pissed me off was that it's fucking outside, in the public area. I did go to take a pic outside on Sat and it's more about the lulz (yes, I secretly wanted somebody inside D&G to come out and I'll have a whole evening of entertainment) and my hatred towards authority of any kind.

    1. What ignorance.

      HK economy will end up like Taiwans (going no where, but Taiwan at least do have a "hightech economy") if it wasn't for the Mainland tourist spending idiotically in HK on whatever they see as luxury or quality or safe goods HK economy is pretty much just a dead cat. I am sure that maybe you & many other of those self centered arrogant hongkies dont need to deal with mainlanders on a occasional basis for a living, but then I am pretty sure many of your clients, family or friends will directly or indirectly have to deal with mainlanders for a living & I am pretty sure they have to pay taxes too. So just because of your head up your ass attitude (like many Hongkie's especially the post 80's gen) of not "feeling" the benefit doesn't mean other hongkie's are not benefiting from it.

      BTW don't even bother bitching that they are driving up prices or turning the HK to a shopping mall. For one Hong Kong is not a "Hightech" Village (what a lame attempt to add non existence pride to oneself), it used to be a manufacturing hub, which then were changed to a property speculation driven economy even before the handover in 1997 (AKA a good for nothing economy that does not produce shit or add any value to the real economy, resulting in the destruction of industries that add real & not artificial growth to the economy). As a result HK only have a few things she can offer and is Consumption, Health Care, Education & Service industry. Ironically the only leader in HK that tried to rein in the property led economy is the first CE of HK who is completely vilify by us HongKies, yet the one that completely missed the bubble (Chris Pattern) is praised for the "good old days" (Aka the blind prosperity that comes with all speculative bubble economy before it ends terribly - 2007 US housing market anyone?)

      If you got a problem with how motherlanders behave please go dig some history and find out where most of the greedy show off values were inherited from. How about a little hint in the 80's 90's, people from a "high tech" village?

    2. ORLY?!

      Enjoy your Hong Kong then.

      Thanks for your education, I'm only 12 years old and of course know nothing about the history, professor sir.

    3. oo please no need I am just glad that I can help boy, don't hesitate asking if you need any help in pulling your head out of your arsehole boy. It must be hurting for being in such painful position for so many years. I can get you some lubricant, what flavors do you prefer? Strawberry or chocolate?

    4. Let me see...three comment posts at $0.5 each.

      You just earned $1.5!!! Way to go!

  3. I stand corrected on this being a new phenomena that Hong Kong people aren't used to. Henry says that Hongkies have ALWAYS been discriminated against by these luxury brands, and I'm sure he's right that this is nothing new. So this has been stewing for a long time...I guess I should have known that (I certainly knew about the feud/rivalry between Mainlanders and Hongkies on what is fundamentally an issue of respect). The D&G incident was just the catalyst. Every good protest needs two things: long-simmering anger, and a dramatic event to serve as a catalyst.

    Still, the hypocrisy is shocking to my liberal, foreigner sensibilities. Where was the backlash against people firing their domestic helpers in response to something some random, crazy Filipino did? There probably was one in the Filipino community, but it was silent.

    I guess I'm expecting too much of humans when I hold them to this anti-hypocrisy standard. After all, a few white people did participate in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, but it was very few compared to the white population. Yet Irish-Americans stood up to anti-Irish discrimination, and Italian-American stood up to anti-Italian discrimination...and so on.

  4. I really don't like to discuss people as a group (let's say race, gender, or color), people should really treat others as a unique human being, because there are always people who gives their "group" a bad name.
    You related the "bus incident" to this D&G incident? Let’s talk about the D&G incident first, is there any reason for those people NOT to be angry? In this blog entry you created a relative privation, by saying "Oh this is not the shittiest thing that is happening". Well I am glad they are angry, HK people get discriminated in their own city because some company said so? That's utter bullshit.

    Now, racism might not be the correct term in English for this incident, but that doesn’t mean discrimination should be treated any less than racism. I know very well that some of the HK people are prideful, and feel superior to the outsiders (or just different), but that should not be made into an argument to justify why they shouldn't be angry.

    Let's talk about the massacre happened a year ago, which you used to compare to this D&G incident, can you even compare them? I can see that you were arguing that some OFW (Oversea Filipino Workers) were fired due to this incident, those employers in HK probably had their head so deep in their asses they couldn't act logically, but can you say that the majority OFW were fired due to this incident, so you can't really blame the entire city for it. Like I said before, there are always bad apples and there will always be. But the D&G, as a company, refuses HK people from taking pictures outside their stores, and not just one of their stores where individuals might have acted on their own to discriminate, so it is safe to assume that the mastermind behind it is the D&G Company.

    The massacre did have some harm done to OFW in HK, even when the killing was done by one person (that one bad apple), and I would believe that most people would be logical enough to not to blame on the workers, but rather the government. The way Filipino handle the incident was a joke to the entire world, have you even seen the pictures? Those "police" are clearly unprepared, the government fails to protect the tourists in their country, and yet the president refuses to apologize to the mourning families; that's what made most people angry.

    Coming from an American, I was hoping that you would understand how it feels to be generalized, but apparently I was expecting too much as well. In the case of D&G incident, the company will give in, sooner or later. But this "HK people vs. minorities" argument, it's going to stick for a long time. If there’s anything to blame, blame the media for not giving enough attention when discrimination happened to the minorities.

  5. Will,

    First of all, let me thank you for expressing the anger that my post generated in reasonably respectful terms. Until now, I've only heard from people who understood my point and agreed with it. I'm glad you wrote this, since the facebook censorship of this post is a clear indication that I pissed a lot of people off. But before I clarify what I was saying, I'll deal with the arguments you made, most of which I anticipated before I wrote this. What I didn't anticipate was how people would misconstrue what I wrote, and you've helped tremendously, if unintentionally, in elucidating that for me.

    Racism and non-racial discrimination are both bad, but they're not equally bad. There's a decent body of legal philosophy devoted to the subject, but the basic argument that I find compelling is that race, essentially by definition, is an immutable characteristic. A week ago, if you were to put on some clothes with giant fashion labels, wear your backpack on your chest with a camera around your neck (basically dress like a stereotype of a Mainlander) and walk around speaking Mandarin and you could have taken all the photos you wanted right in front of D&G. A Pakistani in TST does not have the option of physically "becoming" a mainlander in this way, and he knows that he must avoid "loitering" in front of the fancy fashion outlets...hence his location in front of the Chungking Mansions and not D&G. The difference is that you are already the race of their preferred customer, and he is not. If D&G were discriminating against you in favor of white people rather than Mainlanders, it would be worse because you're physically incapable of resembling a white person. You may not agree with that argument, but before you dismiss it, I suggest you do a bit of reading, since you're philosophically-minded anyway. There's no shortage of ink on the subject. I certainly did imply that racism is worse than non-racial discrimination, you understood me correctly on that. If D&G were favoring white people over Asians, I definitely would not have written this post, or I would have written a very different one.

    I guess I did also imply that the anger toward the Philippine government was overblown a year ago. I think it was. Is anybody seriously surprised that a poor country like the Philippines has an incompetent police force? Hong Kong has one of the absolute most professional police forces in the world, and so maybe some people here don't understand that the cops are very different in poor countries, but that shows a lack of perspective. As I said to Henry and Eric at the time, the shocking thing for me was that intelligent, worldly Hong Kong people who I knew and respected were suddenly blasting all this racial anger all over facebook. That was my implication when I compared both outbursts of anger to white racist's anger over "reverse racism." If you aren't against it when it's done to other people, you aren't really against it, you're just self-interested. The intelligent, worldly Europeans, white Americans and East Asian-Americans that I know and respect don't get seriously angry about any discrimination that they may face, because they know that so many other people have it so much worse.

    But as I said in my comment above, I think I sometimes still expect too much of our species. Hypocrisy is part of our nature.

  6. Unless you're under immediate physical threat, anger is generally a counter-productive emotion that makes things worse for all involved. I don't think Gandhi, MLK, or Nelson Mandela were angry men, and I don't know of anyone in history who did a better job of fighting discrimination than those three. Malcolm X was angrier (at first) and as a result, he was less effective than King (until Malcolm became less angry later in life). This is not to say that I never get a little angry when I'm stereotyped, but I never should. Laughter is generally a more appropriate response.

    Back to the Pakistani in TST, is this "his own country?" Many South Asians have been living in HK for generations, they speak native Cantonese and are deeply integrated into the society. Yet they face racism from the police as well as store owners and employers. The Pakistani in TST already knew he couldn't hang out in front of D&G taking pictures. And from what I can tell, it's always been that way. How do you think that makes people feel? Did you see anon's comment to this post? That's how many minorities in HK feel. I also face some mild discrimination and quite a bit of silly stereotyping (though it's usually the Brits who stereotype me as an American, Hong Kong people tend to stereotype me as a gweilo).

    But I'm not complaining about that, because there are other people in this city who face much more serious discrimination, discrimination that is correctly called racism. I don't face real racism in HK, and neither do you. Real racism is worse than anything you or I face in this city (it's certainly possible that you have experienced some real racism in the US, and as an American I'm sorry for that if you have). I don't face discrimination that limits my opportunities and affects my daily life, and neither do you. But many people in HK do, and they are the reason I wrote the post.

  7. I wanted to contrast the two types of discrimination, and contrast the two responses. That's pretty much it. I wasn't comparing this stupid D&G incident to the murder of 8 people, obviously. I think you know me better than that, so I'll just chalk that one up to a straw man argument or a misunderstanding of what I said, and leave it at that.

    I think where you go seriously wrong in understanding my intent here is your understanding of the last two sentences, and that may be my fault. I certainly think I'm clear enough that those two sentences are my main point. I actually thought about my use of the pronoun "you" in those two sentences in particular. I thought it was ok, because the sentences in question are both clearly conditionals, at least to me. But now I see that my use of "you" is being taken by some to mean "Hong Kong People." That was not my intent. IF "YOU" don't satisfy the IF CLAUSE, the THEN CLAUSE doesn't apply to "YOU." I think where you misunderstand me most is where you start using math. I wasn't making any assertions about averages, or majorities or what percentage of HK people satisfy my if clauses. I was asserting that white racists complaining about "reverse racism" definitely do satisfy my if clauses, and that some people in HK apparently do to. I honestly don't know if the percentage is greater in HK or the States or anywhere else, and anyone claiming to know is talking out their ass, unless they have some serious research to back it up and even then they don't really know. It's for you to decide if the if clauses apply to you.

    By the standard set forth in those conditionals, Henry and Eric are not hypocrites, and are genuinely anti-racist because they were angry about the right things a year ago, and because they have some perspective about who the real victims of racism are in this city. The right thing for an anti-racist in HK to be angry about a year ago was the sudden uptick in racism directed against Filipinos, not a random tragedy in the Philippines. Shit happens. Crazy people exist. People die who don't deserve to. Governments in poor countries don't function very well. These are not reasons to get angry, or if they are a non-racist non-hypocrite would have to get angry at every single school shooting, random terrorist attack, etc. that happens anywhere in the world. Only getting angry when it's your own ethnic group that's the victim shows a lack of perspective, if nothing else. I'm not angry about 9/11, and I never was. On the day it happened, the two things I was concerned about were: is there gonna be a huge backlash against Arab-Americans? and who is my crazy president going to start wars with? I think those were the right things to be concerned about on that day.

    I didn't speak out publicly a year ago, because I self-censored myself so as not to piss off certain already angry people. I figured since nobody died in this recent incident, it would be a less sensitive time to make my point. Plus I had a new point with HK people suddenly complaining about "racism."

    I wanted to contrast the two forms of racism, and the two responses. And I wanted to say that IF someone only gets pissed off at discrimination when their ethnic group is the victim, THEN that person isn't really against discrimination, they're just a self-interested hypocrite...as most of us are. I liked the aesthetics of the last two sentences better with "you," instead of "someone" or "a person," but I should have gone for clarity over

  8. aesthetics. I can see how, particularly since I'm a foreigner of a different race, the "you" could feel like "you people" or "you Hong Kong People." So I'll take responsibility for the misunderstanding, as a writer should with his audience. But I stand by what I said in those last two sentences, if understood correctly.

    My intent was for people to look into their hearts and at their actions, and decide for themselves whether those if clauses applied to them or not. I think that people who know that those if clauses don't apply to them won't be angry about what I wrote.

  9. Hi wesmcl!

    So basically, you are trying to make the point that “discrimination” in this D&G case is pretty much nothing compare to the minority in the same city who faces real discrimination. But should you feel alright to be discriminated just because others had it worse than you? Just because you can “cleverly avoid discrimination”, it is okay to discriminate? Truly you would disagree. I can see your post was to describe how people from HK hold double standard on discrimination, as “Oh as long as it doesn’t affect me, I am alright with it”, then “OMG you kicked me out of my own territory, to hell with you!” Mind you that this D&G incident is about corporation discrimination against a group of people, and the protestors are fighting against corporate discrimination.
    Yes I agree that anger does not help in these situations at all, but in this case I do not see riots or any major harm done to anyone in the company other than the employees who needed to clean up the mess, I am quite pleased to know that people from HK are smart enough to know physical violence can’t solve discrimination but to act intelligent to cause D&G to act, I guess controlled anger could be productive. Think about Occupy Wall St. movement, if you ask anyone in the camp, many would tell you that they are angry, but it’s under control.
    Now again I’ll move back to Pakistani in TST, and I know that many South Asians were born in HK. And anon said that racism is quite “normal” in HK, and I do feel for him, as I have experienced discrimination as well, and it really gets me sometimes. But there isn’t much you can do, as he said it was considered “normal” in the "culture". I could see that you are trying to cause the readers to have some serious thinking over this "culture", and I respect that. This is where future education really matters, because we all die someday, but we can choose to leave out the negativity to our offspring, since most old people are not used to changes, or just too stubborn for changes, just look at America and our little British units system when everyone else in the world including England uses metric systems.
    We should really encourage people to speak out for injustice in the world, because in many cases, controversies help create critical thinking. After all, people getting pissed off at discrimination after becoming a victim are better than not pissed off at all. Don’t you see it? What if MLK didn’t speak out for injustice? Would you think that racism would just go away? Probably not, and people in HK might have a more selfish motivation, and it is not close to MLK's cause at all, but the outcome is what really matters, and I hope the outcome of this D&G incident would create critical thinking about the true racism, enough to rethink this "culture", since the 95% majority group getting discriminated in HK is quite a rare sight to see, and it could be karma seeing this "culture" finally turned its wheel on itself.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I basically agree what Wes said and see where Will is coming from. But I am a bit tired of these "racism" and "discrimination" talks. Certainly, most people in Hong Kong feel offended when "Chinese people working for D&G discriminate against Hong Kong Chinese people in favor of Mainland Chinese people". You may call it "racism", "discrimination" or "hypocrisy" and it does not bother me.

    What really bothers me is our interpretation of the D&G incident. I feel offended not because of discriminating against HK people in favor of Mainlanders, but because of stopping people from snapping pictures OUTSIDE the shop. Our right to public space is less and less if we do not spend. People come out for different reasons and this incident can definitely be viewed from different perspectives like "reclaim the streets", "rule of law" or "peaceful movement". (Check this out: http://commentshk.blogspot.com/2012/01/blog-post_644.html, mind you it's written in Chinese).

  12. Will,

    I absolutely agree that people should speak out about discrimination; that's what I'm doing in my post. I just think that if they want to be consistent, they should do so when it others are the victims as well. MLK didn't only speak out against discrimination against African-Americans. He made the conscious and risky decision to speak out against the Vietnam war, which he rightly saw as a racist, colonialist war.

    When you imply that a majority being discriminated against is something rare in this world, I think you need a little more perspective. Nelson Mandela was a member of a majority group. Gandhi also. Colonialism usually works that way.

    If I saw this anger as something directed at corporate power, I'd be much more sympathetic. Given the context of what feels like a broad acceptance of both racism and corporate power in this city, it's harder for a foreigner to sympathize. I went to the Occupy Central protest; it was not well-attended.

    What's the Chinese name for Mosque Street in the Mid-levels? Is it still Mo Lo Miu Gai?
    I suspect it is, and that's because nobody cares about discrimination against Muslims and South Asians. The protests against that have been so muted that even government written signs contain racial slurs.

    So Will, you didn't answer my question: is Hong Kong "their city" too?


    I think what bothers you about the D&G incident is a good thing to be bothered about. I couldn't agree more; people's rights to public space should not be limited by their ability or willingness to spend money. But that means that this is really about economic discrimination, which is undoubtedly a huge problem in HK; I just never new people cared until now. So yes, let's stand up to corporate power, let's "reclaim the streets." It's just ironic that it takes something like this to get people to see that. Mosque Street needs to be reclaimed so that people who go to Mosques don't have to look at racial slurs on street signs.

  13. Simple enough, if that's your question, yes it is. I don't think it was ever a question, it's just that most people in HK are not sensitive enough, or just don't see the need for change.

    And of course MLK didn't just speak out for African Americans, I probably left out a few sentences when I was proofreading it, oh well. To quote his entire legacy would take a lot more time, and which I do not have.

    Funny that you mentioned, I am one of the frequent supporter here in my hometown for Occupy movement, it's going pretty well here.

    Sorry I think this might be my last reply for awhile, since I just got robbed outside of my house with a gun pointed at my head. Sigh, I'll be busy.

    Keep up the good work.

  14. Well those good for nothing fools in the HK Golden Forums is raising money for a Racist ad against mainlanders.

    HKies are notorious racist ask any ethnic minorities or new migrants from mainland and I am sure 99% them can tell you stories of how a self centered HKie discriminated them base on nothing but their race or origin. HKes bitch day and night on how a problem they are, yet they don't see that many of these people have a much higher quality than these Racist can ever dream of having. Some are better off then most HKies, many poorer ones work hard & filthy jobs that pay shitty wages behind alleys so those racist HKies can save a few cents on their lunch. Many of their off springs are our top students in our schools. They try their best to blend in, they learn our language, they get in to our schools yet we reject them based on race.

    IN 1997 we were taught that once HK return to Mainland, Beijing will take all our reserves, which turn out the opposite way pretty much. We were told that our poor cousins are coming to rip us off. Now the poor cousins are richer, and inherited the HK arrogance pushing people around at home and aboard with their new found wealth, but those that are decent are also vilify, those who are ignorant are also vilify. HKies grab in to every opportunity available to act superior to anyone. Once upon time its because they are poor, now its because they are uncivilized, they drive up prices of everything, etc. There is always a reason to discriminate, if you are white you should feel lucky, as the most HKies Racist have no problem taking shit up their arseholes as along as its from a White person.

    But then I think HKies being racist and discriminatory is not such a big deal since HKies will also discriminate from which area you are living, the only reason why this drop down its because many are moving to the places they once deemed inferior because the prices out of their reach, and to continue to support their superiority attitude they are bitching about inferior mainlanders driving property prices out of the reach of superior HKies. Well I suppose HKies reap what they sow when we were the ones who taught those inferior mainlanders how much money you can make by speculating in property in the early 80's & early 90's.

    If HKies like Japanese discriminate against everything that is foreign, I might have some form of respect for this as true to one self identity, but HKies form of discrimination is disgusting, they discriminate a certain race group but have no problem taking shit from another race group. I wonder if HKies will feel justify if one HKies go out and give them a bad name and then we are all grouped together and label and discriminated just because of us happens to be rotten.

    A place where is build by immigrants from all sorts of places where its shameless off springs holds a superior complex against new comers & foreigners is pathetic at best.

  15. I certainly hope Bchung doesn't think he's agreeing with me. If he's really a Mainlander who's being paid to write this stuff, he should get fired. In attempting to insult HK people, he has made Mainlanders look racist and petty (though we at the Pub know that all Mainlanders shouldn't be generalized just because this dude has terrible manners when it comes to civilized debate). A word of advice for you Bchung: if you're going to say that a group of people is inferior to your group because they're bigoted, try to avoid sounding like a bigot yourself...it sorta sends the wrong message.

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