I got mixed feelings when I spotted this short gallimaufry in a recent City Weekend issue. Don’t get me wrong, I very well know we all speak PC and had learned to walk on eggshells all right when it comes to racial issues. I’m also aware that, here in China, all this careful eloquence gets retrained to ease off a bit. With all due respect, it’s way more relaxed (and I never feel an egg on my face. Sorry, I’ll stop now) amongst my local friends when it comes to people from different parts of the world and to mention the words black or white In return, they are all ready to refer to themselves as yellow without automatically switching on the taboo button. Of course, human rights and the plethora of publications of PC language has not reached the masses, therefore what is disrespectful or ignorant, might be consciously/subconsciously unheard of.
Nonetheless, the simplicity of the egg simile still sounds a bit of an 8th grader humour, no?
So, while racism and non-PC definitely ¨enjoy¨ more elasticity in China, I obviously get puzzled when I need to take a stand on just how I should deal with this in a non-academic environment.
I remember when John, as a Taiwan-born American, first referred to himself, without pausing or blinking, as yellow and I at once thought how wrong it sounded. And now, having lived in Asia for only a year I sometimes say I’m white, which would’ve been unimaginable for me before. It was simply the untouchable word as it never had existed. It was something like Nelly’s story at a Californian corporation back in 2006: she was expecting a client in her office but had to pop out of the building to fetch something. When she got back and asked the receptionist if there was a person looking for her, her colleague gave her the most detailed description, what he looked like (tall, glasses, with a stutter etc) but for all the stars in the sky would have never mentioned the fact that the guy was black.
Be good eggs, guys and good evening.