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From ‘gweilo’ to ‘bun bun’, racism is usually rooted in older ideas

22 0 379

A recent comment to one of my columns stopped me short and got me thinking. I’ll have to paraphrase, as it was quickly removed by moderators, but it basically said that, as a white person, I had no right to make value judgments about Hong Kong. The inference is that my skin colour excludes me from saying what I feel is right or wrong about the city I have made my home. But it was not that sentiment that I found jarring; it was the blatant racism behind it.

I’ve no idea where in the world the commenter was from. What I do know, though, is that some places in Asia colloquially use derogatory words for foreigners and Hong Kong is arguably the biggest culprit. Such terms can invite racism. That’s not to excuse that each English-speaking country has a rich vein of insulting words for people from various cultures and religions.

Geneticists tell us that there is no such thing as race; to them, we are all descended from a common pair of ancestors whose offspring, over the millennia, moved to other continents in waves. The colour of skin and eyes, hair texture and physical features are determined by proximity to the equator and environmental conditions.

From a Western perspective, race was concocted........

© South China Morning Post