Ko Notes: White Supremacy in Hong Kong
White supremacy has been fueled for centuries. Especially since the Age of Exploration “othering” has been strongly manifested in colonialism, imperialism, and so on. White people who have traditionally held power (and the power to write history) have defined and spread many modern ideologies that are still operational today. (Sub)consciously, white people can behave from a framework of white supremacy, as do some people of color who have invested in this deadly framework, often to tragic ends. The framework has been normalized as has its resultant exploitation.
In Hong Kong, white supremacy is not often discussed. Hong Kong is, of course, composed of people of color. And there are also forms of “supremacy”: people who speak excellent English, work in multinational corporations, or people who work with (or are friends with) white people. So while it may not be discussed, white supremacy is everywhere in Hong Kong. As I read somewhere recently, being white in Hong Kong is like winning an award for hard work never done—not just in the sense that one makes better first impressions in many social occasions, but also in that one is treated better than someone with a darker complexion.
Is Hong Kong racist? Prejudice against ethnic minorities undermines the city's claim to be truly international. “Discrimination” is a hot social topic in Hong Kong, and the discussions are centered on the oppression of those with darker skin, especially people from developing countries in Asia. These folks tend to get lower salaries and face uphill battles when it comes to landing jobs that pay livable wages. We label and rank people according to their color.
The above are just a few observations based on my personal experience and stories gathered via word of mouth. In the face of this, I often experience feelings of helplessness: “Racism is never going to end,” “I can’t do anything,” or “What am I supposed to do?” I feel complicit in these systems of oppression, and it is important to talk about racism in Hong Kong as it is a primary driver of the unfairness I have witnessed in life in Hong Kong. Ultimately, I want to further awaken my own humanity.
Questions to consider: If I do not talk about racism, am I permitting racial injustice to occur in our communities? How does one's identity (mostly referring to those in positions of privilege) shape one’s sense that they are “beyond” the discussion of racism? The book, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, possess an important question: “How do we know how well are we doing?” And to be fully transparent, I don’t know the answer to this question...yet.