Saturday, 3 September 2011

Can Career Choice Lessen Racism Towards British Born Chinese?

So on my last article, I tried to express ( in my opinion) that this blog was a vehicle for us to contribute our more activist suggestions, as a group, on a regular basis

We've also seen the dangers of being invisible + perpetual foreigner stereotype myth and with no political voice.

But as far as career goes,  how can we reduce racism and increase invisibility ?

Here are my first two thoughts:

1. being more visible in all kinds of jobs
2. cornering a particular British institution so that all people are forced to familarise themselves with seeing our faces.

A case in point: South Asians are known for serving in pharmacies, hospitals, and conveniences stores. This has done a great thing for their public image, as in these descriptions they are indisposable. Arguably there may have been a time when this was a stereotype but seeing South Asians in these necessary positions, on a regular basis have given Asians a familiar identity, and opportunity for a white-centric Britain to see Asians on a regular basis, thereby becoming more 'accepted' - to the point that now an Asian-run corner shop/convenience store is a regular part of the British community.

Blacks have a different situation, due to the slavery issues, plus they have a strong media presence and are talented artists.

Whilst there are British Born Chinese who hold positions in  Pharmacies and in Hospitals, as doctors and nurses, it can be argued that maybe we need to appear in a more diverse range of  public jobs.

Chinese are typically known for restaurants, takeaways or herbalist shops owned by 1st gen Chinese who whilst providing a unique service, do nothing to disprove the perpetual foreigner stereotype myth that ALL ethnic Chinese are currently labelled by racists with.

It can be argued that our parents worked hard as immigrants to arrive in this country in order to create a base for us to live, with hopes that we would maybe create a better name or image for British Born Chinese...or maybe they just didn't think about it .

However the reality is that we are arguably found in vocations that are behind the scenes in nature

- IT
- accountants
- pharmacies

And visible  in higher regarded professions:

- banking industry
- lawyer
- doctor/medical profession
- optician

Scattered throughout public service industries:

- office admin
- shop assistant
- social service
 - recruitment services
- airport security or security of any kind.
- postman
- emergency ambulance services
- housing officers
- media - news reporter/ presenter

  But  a lack of appearance in  the more 'white-centric' jobs of public occupation:

- construction /road worker
- rubbish collector
- firebrigade, police
- secret services
- footballer.
- teacher
- lawyer
-taxi driver

'Physical' public service jobs listed above tend more to be blue collar typically white-centric occupations, which could pose the question: would more BBC males being seen in the the physical jobs enhance our male image, or even lessen racism from the more typical perpetrators of racism ?

Typically BBCS aspire for the higher level visible positions such as doctors and nurses, and it is also assumed that the higher up one climbs the ranks,the more assimilation is required , at least until managerial status is reached, where typically the 'glass ceiling' often stands in the way.

As has been discussed widely on this blog, there are two ways to increase the BBCS presence - a bigger media presence ( which clearly wont happen unless BBCS decide to create more online video presence) or in our jobs. Lawyers, accountants, doctors, bankers, these are all very high profile positions but they do nothing to counter racism from a grassroots level. And simply, if we choose not to counter racism by creating alternative media, the only other option is to choose occupations that would establish ourselves on a grassroots level to create familiarity amongst the British public.

In a nutshell - if we choose to let our careers represent our invisibility , we need to choose more working class blue collar jobs IN ADDITION to the high level jobs, because this is where the racism comes from. Once again in these cases, familiarity will reduce the 'perpetual foreigner'  stereotype myth that we are constantly faced with.

Indeed this is not to say that BBCS should pander to British society to make ourselves 'useful' , the point is that to counter the perpetual foreigner myth that is unfortunately perpetuated by FOBS who do not choose to master their English language properly, then if your average RAC man, construction worker, plumber , post office man, see us, a BBC in an every day position, the chances of the 'perpetual foreigner stereotype myth will be, in my opinion, greatly reduced.

It can on one hand be argued that 1st generation Chinese whose English is not so great are doing a disservice to British Born Chinese culture by not trying to improve their English, but at the end of the day, it's up to BBCS to show the 'the other side of British Chinese culture, by appearing more in regular jobs and balance out the common racist misconceptions. Other Ethnic groups do this, why dont we?

It is also a known fact, that in the UK the middle class is being squeezed, and that certain jobs that are considered 'low' or 'working class' are ironically some of the highest paid jobs -traindriver,busdriver, black cab driver, construction worker, fireman, are all quite well paid jobs. Wouldn't it be an idea for British Born Chinese to consider these kind of jobs in addition to that hard sought for accountancy position or doctor position, boost our image, as well as bringing in some good income in this harder economic times?

So  how does your job make you more visible as a British Born Chinese, and why do you consider these reasons to actually be benefitting our BBC image if at all?

And is there a job position /career occupation that we can present as being of more usefulness to British Society that would eliminate the stigma of the perpetual foreigner stereotype myth?


  1. You're wrong. Simply it is a numbers game. With what 400,000 population even if there are the jobs you listed above.

    - construction /road worker
    - rubbish collector
    - firebrigade, police
    - secret services
    - footballer.
    - teacher
    - lawyer
    -taxi driver

    By pure numbers you are not going to see enough of us doing those jobs. I've done at least 3 of those things above. Remember Tesco estimates the UK population based on food consumption to be 89 million. 400,000 is absolutely nothing.

    The only real method in which to get more exposure is simply to have more and more children. You know like our parents generation. My dad had 7 brothers and sisters, but only had two himself.

    It is like Arafat once said the most powerful weapon is the womb.

    People from India, Pakistan Africa know this, they number 2-3 million which is why even though they are generally discriminated against and hated by the native Caucasoid population the politicians will bend over backwards as there are votes in this population. With super low voter apathy they make up 1/10 of the voters.

    While go to a Muslim/Indian area in the UK, very large families are the norm, even their own children the 2nd generationers have a lot of children. Imran from school who I bump into now he had 13 brothers and sisters and in the 15 years since high school, he had had 9 children.

    Chinese make up 1/40..... thus a numbers game.

    Like China.... China has 100% Chinese therefore Chinese occupy almost 100% of all professions.

  2. "We've also seen the dangers of being invisible + perpetual foreigner stereotype myth and with no political voice."

    IF the perpertual foreigner stereotype is a 'myth,' then why discuss a myth?! The myth is the result of stereotyping of FOB's, so why is the article putting emphasis on BBC's to solve FOB problems? If FOB's are responsible for it (not BBC's), IMO the article is looking at the issue from the wrong perspective.

    I go to weekend trips where we've driven through little known UK towns and I've seen a Chinese person walking around every town or a Chinese takeaway, Chinese are everywhere in the UK but in small numbers, they're not invisible at all.

    They maybe absent from the media or absent from positions of power- which creates the myth, that like employment is an issue of discrimination or a culture of discrimination or not having the right contacts, not knowing influential people, therefore its largely out of the control of average BBC's.

    If its argued BBC's don't apply for certain types of professions or jobs in the first place, well, how do you know? There are no statistics in the article to validate that assumption. How do you know BBC's haven't tried to become a professional footballer? - But didnt make the cut. If anything, its the FOB parents who discourage BBC's from entering certain types of professions, therefore the focus of your article focus should be on the fault of FOBs that place channelled limitations on BBC's. On the contrary, I have no doubt that unlike FOB's, most BBC's already do white man's jobs within the white community.

    In terms of employment, Chinese in general, maybe less visible or avoid certain professions, but why do you blame them? Racism against Chinese is the fault of British society, if you're arguing Chinese themselves are partially at fault, then quite frankly you've taken on the white man's agenda. Who would want to want to work with these chavvy white racists unless they had no choice? Why should BBC's work with racists whilst the FOB's who are responsible for the foreigner stereotype hide in their own FOB community? The British armed forces is a good example where theres an obvious absence of Chinese, IMO, this is correct, Chinese should never serve the queen.

    Although, its quite amusing how a lawyer is strangely placed in that bottom alongside a refuge collector! There are Chinese barristers, I've seen the barristers list, but judging by the names, I assume they are FOB's.

    Politics - the points are muddled in relation to jobs, being a taxi driver is not going to increase political presence of BBC's. The only link is that some of those jobs you've listed are unionised, that should in theory create slightly more politically minded individuals with organised labour, but the list is muddled, may have been better to assess under unionised professions, public sector vs private sector etc.

  3. We can't really work in MI5/MI6/SIS coz they will think we're a mole from the Chinese government! Anyway wot if they ask u to spy on ur own country? r u really gonna betray ur own motherland? betray ur fellow Chinese people?

  4. You are naive Kai, have you never come across anti-CCP and anti-communist Chinese? There are millions of them who would quite happily spy on China and report back to the west.

    Whilst I understand why sportsmen such as footballers are important in the promotion of British Chinese because of its idolism within the masses, however...a refuge collector is extremely unglamourous and having a bevy of Chinese refuge collectors will not promote the image of BBC's or British Chinese, if anything they will become rather like Nigerian security guards/ traffic wardens, hardly positive.

    Besides why should BBC's put their butts on the line and endure racism at the frontline of the sinophobic british community in jobs such as teaching where they're almost guaranteed endure or encounter racism...whilst FOB's can just blissfully hide within their own Chinese community and avoid racism together?

    Taking into consideration Ken's point about population. The article is about BBC's, the BBC population is only around 28% of the British Chinese population at the last census 2001, its miniscule 120,000-140,000 or so of which a sizeable proportion wont even have reached 'career age.' so its actually less than 100,000 BBC's, I would also assume some mixed race are included in those statistics, which would lower the numbers of ethnic Chinese BBC's of 'career age' even further.

  5. all futile!

    did you know there once was a law that said that English men had first claim to a scottish woman. why? because english men couldnt beat the scottish men... so they outbreed them.

    its happening with the muslims now.

    on another different slant, women have the right to choose who to breed with.

    this COULD be the reason why white male control media wouldnt not sexualise far east asian men...

    ...thats why they killed bruce lee??!?!

  6. the only career choice that can lessen racism is if you become a bankable director or producer or head of news paper organisation!

  7. @bbcz you're right, i've no idea why the lawyer is in the bottom list, as i already included it in the list above. I agree with most of your points, maybe it should've been a better organised list as you say public sector vs private but no i wasn't taking on the white agenda, i was trying to look at alternative ways of countering the racism that is aimed at us. yes it's mainly the FOBS fault, as we shouldn't have to pander to being more accepted, but if the FOBS wont do anything, and we just get angry at FOBS because of the crap that they have brought us into, then nothing changes, except waiting for mainlanders to become the new BBCS. As you say most of us just have jobs, and that's it, we aren't 'relied on' for any particular niche industry. But like i said, if there is a way to 'deforeignise' the perpetual foreigner stereotype that FOBS have created for us but do nothing to destroy, apart from media, then what would it be?

    Do we have any FOBS reading this who want to come across with some arguments?

  8. What your saying is actually correct in the sense that most FOBs do not work within the white community for their career and therefore never broke new ground and never paved the way for the BBC's, westerners never got to know them, therefore never stopped their stereotypes of Chinese.

    So its down to BBC's to pave the way by taking on these 'white' jobs that FOB Chinese avoid, in the process breaking new ground, breaking social norms and increasing theory opening up opportunities for the next Chinese to evolve and break further new ground, this is correct at least on paper, but whether they get the recognition or respect or create positive role models for being a chinese policeman or a chinese teacher etc is a different issue.

    A Chinese teacher for example could make Chinese people more acceptable to some white kids at a young age. In the far east, they use westerners (i.e non-chinese) as English teachers as a way of familiarising Chinese students with westerners (who have never spoken to a westerner before).

    However, the level of respect is totally different, whilst I have never heard one bad story of a white teacher in China, but turn the tables to the UK and you'll hear many stories of the few Chinese who enter the teaching profession being racially abused in UK schools. Does having indian/pakistani school teachers make white people respect pakistani's? The answer is probably no. I still remember the kids in my school racially abusing the teacher.
    isnt it the case that if youre in a undesirable job - you wont be respected, therefore it wont do your racial presentation/visibility any favours in doing the job in the first place?

    Whilst one understands that sacrifices have to be made in order for there to be progress, is it actually worth being racially abused or putting yourself through that for the principle of increasing visibility? Is all round Chinese visibility worth making a sacrifice for? And doesnt doing so simply mean BBC's will have to assimilate completely into British culture at the expense of their chinese culture?

  9. My sister is a teacher.... at private colleges..

    The thing is about public sector is that it is a closed shop. Even natives here find it hard to get jobs in the public sector and councils. You need to know the secret handshake (you need to know somebody there or be related to somebody there to get a job) before you can even be considered for a job..

    I've been to many council interviews previously and I absolutely blow them away ith my qualifications and work experience..... funnily enough it is always somebody's mate or family member who gets the job

  10. I dnt see the connection between increased visibility and reduced racism.

  11. @bbcz 'is it worth taking on more of these jobs to make our faces more familiar' - no, we should choose whatever job we want to, but fact remains is that whatever your vocation, if you do a good job, people will remember you as 'that Chinese guy who...'

    i guess unless britain has suddenly made it a policy to openly accept and love chinese people, the first place you would see it would be the TV. however thats not happening, and we dont appear on youtube, so i guess maybe racism from pupils in schools will continue.

    'losing our chinese culture' - do you lose your chinese culture for example, working in an all jewish law company - and you were the single bbc there. would you be losing your culture there or would that be more appropriate because you are getting paid more for it?

    i think bbcs are entrenched in british culture as it is, i dont think anyone held a gun to the head of those bbc chelsea supporters or their ilk, to attend the match?similarly if police force, and teachers, and other white-centric jobs made a conscious point of PROMOTING 'ethnic diversity' as opposed to just having an 'equal opportunities form' im sure all ethnicities would apply including bbcs. however thats obviously not the case.

    @ kai. if you cant see the connection, it's called 'familiarity' of our faces.

  12. ^ I dnt see the link between familiarity of our faces and reduced racism.

  13. i can acknowledge that public sectors are insider groups and particularly white-centric. ive also had interviews, and been witness to 'insiders' getting the job.

    the more i think about the fragmentation of bbcs / fobs / hapa may have something down to colonial history with england,slaves, servants etc . which has either been embraced or stayed away from. hence you see what we have today. in contrast mainland bbcs will probably have a more consistent future,as times are different now, no slavery, no pets, superpower etc

  14. Nah you know nothing - I certainly would not be comfortable spying on China. ' Communism ' is only a label, I don't care what label it uses as long as it remains true to Chinese culture.

    Even a dictatorship is OK as long as it remains quintessentially Chinese.

    Zhong Wenhua shi Zhen, shi women de mingyuen, bu kenung piande.

    Things are already changing, Mao is no longer held in such high esteem, as time progresses, I think Deng XiaoPeng will be seen as the true founder of modern China, him and the great Sun ZhongSan.

    Like Deng said " this is socialism with Chinese characteristics ".


    ha ha

  15. For what it's worth, I am a part-time HE lecturer in Media in a tertiary college in Cornwall.

  16. Depends on occupation and location - some public sector industries are full of ethnic minorities, others not. Haringey council is black-centric, Tower Hamlets is South Asian-centric.

    Can we say theres a council thats sinocentric?

  17. I think there is another angle in this discussion I want to add, and that is the issue of class that underpins one reason why the chinese community are divided. FOBs of a wealthy cigar smoking smug upper class types won't ever want to get their hands dirty mixing folk that have spend their lives surviving on instant noodles. It is also in the interests of those already in lofty positions of wealth to keep the have-nots inactive and give selective awards and publicity to those that support their own causes and business interests, at the end of the day it’s all about self-serving profit, it’s the same in HK or any capitalist cities.
    So any ideas? not so much for change, but at least redress the balance somewhat? Well my starting point would be to review all existing community organizations/charities support groups etc, make contact and see whether they have any interests in BBCs issues and whether they want to collaborate or not at all, some of these people are being PAID very well to do a job to represent Chinese and the interests of Chinese people living in the UK, and see if its whether it all comes down to an alleged funding crisis. And also ask them what they think and believe about these concerns, before drawing on any conclusions. I was thinking of organizing a formal meet up with some sensible proactive reasonable people, but I read some comments on an adjacent blog that suggest there are a few dubious idiots so trust and credibility is an issue. You don’t defeat racism by being racist to other people, you be on a loser before start , the focus is on equality.

  18. which organisations/associations are you referring to specifically?

    Also open a google account, otherwise we have no idea who we're talking to as there are too many anonymous.

  19. @rayvis .media's quite a respectable job though,( im guessing film? )esp if its hands on - going out on location, editing room etc, id imagine after youve shown them your filmskills, the racism shuts up once they get into hands on application.. also part time, im guessing you can come in and do your stuff then vanish. on a different note are there many mainlanders moving down to cornwall recently?

    not sure what the closest to a sinocentric council centre is...are there more bbcs in manchester than london? no idea.

    btw check out this

    theres a bbc video interview on there that i havent seen yet, but im going to email the author if he wants to join this blog.

    @anonymous re class and money are both issues and coming to the uk has maybe divided bbcs up even more what with hk being quite like that already with its already british influence. the first step before organising a meet up is meeting up on here. no point organising a meet up and you get people expecting to do kareoke or eat dimsum. if any of us here were to take a proactive approach it would be using our innate skills whatever they are to do media related stuff, whatever that may be, in between our regular work.

  20. @happybritishchinese Actually I haven't been subject to any racism as far as my teaching experience goes. Although, I teach 18 plus students - in theory adults - the main challenge is engaging young men who tend to be immature. The college doesn't employ many ethnic minorities - don't know the exact figures - but then there isn't that many ethnic minorities in Cornwall compared with other larger towns and cities elsewhere up country. Cornwall does have more minority ethnic groups than it did before, but it is still depressingly backwards in many ways, with casual racism still pretty rife. Although I consider Cornwall my home, anyone that doesn't have a Cornish bloodline stretching back X generations is an outsider anyway.

    Funnily enough, I am working in the same office as my sister at the moment - she's a full-time art lecturer teaching Graphics at the same college. So, as siblings, we are, I believe, the only two BBC lecturers in the whole college, and we both fell into teaching really.

    I guess lecturing is what you would term 'respectable' and yes because I am part-time I can come in, do my stuff and then leave, although I am doing some cover work as a Photography Technician, too, at the moment. Over the years, my outsider status (I have always felt like this wherever I am, whether here in the UK, or in Hong Kong (lived there for a year between 1996-97) has turned into a strength from a filmmaking point of view as it has made me more objective to my own identity.

    Research into my own thoughts and feelings about my identity, through my films about my personal family history and my BBC label, have led me to think that identity is a fragile and changeable concept, in my own personal opinion.

    There is a link below to my film, BBC House Special:

    Although in its early stages, and even though I don't agree with everything (obviously not expecting to), this blog is nonetheless, provocative, stimulating and has certainly made me think more about being BBC, which is good as far as I'm concerned.

    Well, I have lots more to say, but I'm at work, so I'd better do some work.

  21. I agree with some of your Rayvis@1017 open comments, not all BBCs are as ease with their identity or as open and cocksure "we" are varied in our way of dealing with racism, otherness etc. A more prevalent way is just outright denial and blind acceptance (majority of first gen), its takes a bit of courage realise that, because when believes there are little options as a powerless oppressed minority it s vulnerable, but human. Partly for this reason my older brother once graduated had jetted off to HK and loves it there and will soon be married with a HK local, my younger brother is following suit once he is accepted in those HK based graduate schemes. I am staying because on balance UK is more suited to my personality which is not aggressively materialistic, I have worked and lived there briefly its too hot, and I don’t some of their table manners of my home village relatives. About the anonymous thing, staying anon provides a bit of protectionism not cowardly, more than anything else. Much as I like reading and adding a comment I don’t really want to be closely associated with loud mouth naive triad-ly types with too much stored up adrenalin. Reasoned sensible people yes, but it takes time to build that trust and honesty just like in real life. You may not find them from these this blogs, but elsewhere where in little pockets things do happen.

  22. @Ray thats pretty cool you work with your sister at the same place, that in itself can say something for the students who leave that college and their impression on bbc teaching, from what, as you say can at times be a bit of a casual racism backwards place.

    Interesting what you said about being an outsider in HK and UK and that it's helped you be more objective about your identity, in a way, its like being on the outside looking in or the inside looking out. absolut objectivity?

    Yeah it can get contraversial here at times, but i give full respect to BBCz who makes this place a meeting of the minds to 'discuss contraversial issues'. I know ive learnt a heck of a lot, and im here still trying to learn as much as possible from everyone here shape my bbc identity, and of course contribute articles.

    awesome short film btw... Also if youre still in contact with the Chi Chi Tang, would be nice to have interesting female viewpoints on here too, as we get stereotyped as the 'angry chinese male' blog. not a new phenomenon when many western chinese male or female are sleepwalking their uncritical way through life, typically following mass opinion of the masses. ive been there, i know.

    @anonymous, thanks for your honesty. Hopefully you'll be here for the long run. I think in some ways it takes an 'outsider' mentality to be on here. opinions can get heated, but in most cases it's just a degree of strong feelings /pride about our Chinese roots, and especially when as a bbc you are used to adopting the more british than ethnically chinese side, a wake up call like the issues on here can come as quite a shock. but at least it's real. but well done on coming on here to help salvage your chinese pride :D

    off-topic heres an interesting vid i found on female mainlander immigrants and their thoughts on coming to the uk

    quite different to what our parents/grandparents went through as there is now more choice, less hardship, times are different now, people are more tolerant now than before, plus as we know, the perceieved superpower status contrasting with the western economic downfall .

    the good times are now to be proud to be chinese