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Unintended racism

#1
We have a multi racial staff of 1000 people working on this project in north eastern Thailand and racism is simply not tolerated. However a bit of unintended racism creeps in occasionally.

Example: We have a lovely Nigerian HSE advisor called ... well, lets call him James. As I say a really nice bloke, very knowledgeable about his job and very helpful and not at all like some of the HSE Nazis that still crop up. He is as black as a top hat.

The Thai's here are very polite and respectful. They refer to everyone by their first name but always also preface the name with the honorific Thai word for Mr. The word is Khun.

And so it is that James gets called "Khun James" about a hundred times a day.

Any other examples of unintended racism, sexism or whathaveyou out there in the wild?
 
#2
If you think that constitutes 'racism', unintended or not, then you've surely been infected by the deeply offensive offence disease. I'm a racist by moral conviction, so I should know. My blokes in Indonesia used to call me Pak Whisky, which I always thought a bit rude, but they also addressed me as Kommandant, so I occasionally felt the urge to click my heels together and salute with one hand on my belt buckle.
 
#4
in isaan james is lucky to be called khun, if the thais wanted to be racist, they could just as well call him mengda damm(black pimp) or ling damm(black monkey) as we used to experience in the early 60,s when the thais used to think, that angrit taharn(english soldiers) were to stupid to learn the thai language, and in 45 years their attitude has not changed much
 
#6
Yeah, while I have encountered a lot racism across Asia, India takes the cake. I blame the British colonial system for this entirely. You don't want to be black or even a shade darker than white in India. Depending on where you are, but particularly so north of Delhi; everyone South of Delhi is considered a 'kalu' (kah-loo). While it just means black, as in the colour, it is a very derogatory expression. They call caucasians 'Angrez' or 'Gora' (white) or 'Gori' for gals, which again, is not expression reflecting any sort of mutual respect. I have seen, first hand, an ambassador of a minor african republic, refused entry in swanky New Delhi night club for no other reason than him being black...
 
#7
During an Instructors course, I was given six commonwealth students to teach a lesson to
( My Instructor wanted to see how I would over come any Language barriers/problems)

Over confident me starts the lesson with the line:

As this is a complicated lesson, we will take it slow and most of this lesson will be monkey see, monkey do!!!!!!!!
 
#8
Not unintended racism as such but it will still lead to much mirth no doubt. The new joint Chairman of Investec (South African Bank) was announced yesterday. No kidding his name is Fanni Titti.
 
#9
Whilst working offshore Angola, the Control room Operator kept leaving messages for me to call Mr Sambo at a certain number, of course I ignored the messages until a pissed off Mr Sambo, an Angolan Engineer, eventually managed to get hold of me and ask why the hell I wasn't returning his calls!!

Also whilst working with American drilling rig crew from the deep south, one has to be careful when using the terms stumpjumper & coonass.

Also, along the lines of MS164's post on communications
During an Instructors course, I was given six commonwealth students to teach a lesson to
( My Instructor wanted to see how I would over come any Language barriers/problems)

Over confident me starts the lesson with the line:

As this is a complicated lesson, we will take it slow and most of this lesson will be monkey see, monkey do!!!!!!!!
In Angola whilst our new to Afrika, very green Canadian Boss was giving a "Pep" talk to the national crew about the need for good Housekeeping & person hygiene he said to them, "Remember this is your home for two weeks in every four, we want you to treat this facility like your own home!" Half the guys lived in shanties with no facilities other than an oil lamp and saw nothing wrong with spitting, pissing, shitting on the main deck outside the accommodation! ( & inside, not unusual for them to piss in a water bottle rather than get out of their bunks and open the door to & use the ensuite facilities!!!) Mirth from the assembled ex-pats.
 
#10
in isaan james is lucky to be called khun, if the thais wanted to be racist, they could just as well call him mengda damm(black pimp) or ling damm(black monkey) as we used to experience in the early 60,s when the thais used to think, that angrit taharn(english soldiers) were to stupid to learn the thai language, and in 45 years their attitude has not changed much
...it appears to me that a fair proportion of English soldiers were also too stupid to learn the English language.
 
#11
Yeah, while I have encountered a lot racism across Asia, India takes the cake. I blame the British colonial system for this entirely. You don't want to be black or even a shade darker than white in India.
Makes one proud to be British to realize that racism never existed in the Indian subcontinent, or the whole of the world in fact, until we ignoble Brits invented it and imposed it by military and economic might upon the peace-loving, anti-racist populations of the globe! The power of British racism even stretches back into the fourth dimension, as earlier generations of 'immigrants' into India took it upon themselves to emulate us by trying to rule the country and have lighter skins.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
several years ago, I was working for a large cable tv firm, and was backing up my boss in terms of admin, training and what have you. as we did permanent late evening shifts, we got saddled with all the part time workers (students, mums etc.) and trying to keep track of them all, knowing when they should be working etc. was like herding cats and quite frankly a thankless job. some would do fairly regular hours, others you'd see on what seemed like a completely random basis, which didnt help things.
one of them, a girl called Sam, is leaving...my boss asks me to put the paperwork in motion. Dozy tw*t me, concentrating on something else completely, replies 'Sam?? sam who??' (despite me working with this girl every day - duh) 'you know - Sam - she works part time', comes the reply.
Mind still a million miles away, what do I say in reply to that? 'Oh', (referring to the part time staff), 'they all look alike to me.'
'excuse me??' says my boss.
not taking the hint, I reply again 'they all look alike to me', bashing away at my pc. then about a minute later I realise the room has gone deathly quiet and everyone, but everyone is staring at me...guess where Sam's parents hailed from...
My, how we laughed afterwards with the HR people as I was given a formal written warning.

(no - luckily my boss knew me very well, so he knew I dont think like that. but as an example of me sticking my foot in it with great aplomb, it's fairly typical.) :(
 
#13
When I go back to Gansu, it's common for people to address me to my face as 'foreigner' - "Hello, foreigner", "How are you, foreigner?", "Have you eaten yet, foreigner?" etc. One old chap who ran a tea and cake stall called me Mr Barbarian all the time.
 
#14
Yeah, while I have encountered a lot racism across Asia, India takes the cake. I blame the British colonial system for this entirely. You don't want to be black or even a shade darker than white in India. Depending on where you are, but particularly so north of Delhi; everyone South of Delhi is considered a 'kalu' (kah-loo). While it just means black, as in the colour, it is a very derogatory expression. They call caucasians 'Angrez' or 'Gora' (white) or 'Gori' for gals, which again, is not expression reflecting any sort of mutual respect. I have seen, first hand, an ambassador of a minor african republic, refused entry in swanky New Delhi night club for no other reason than him being black...
'Angrez' simply means 'English' and 'gora' means 'horse.' In the pre-terrorist days I used to be followed around villages in AK, NWFP and the Punjab by gangs of kids shouting 'gora! gora!" at the top of their voice. I used to ignore the little beasts and they went away but our interpreters told me that one of my more traditional colleagues, dressed in panama hat + linen jacket, cravat etc used to try to remonstrate in that posh Englishman manner. As a result, he apparently ended up like a sub-continent version of the pied piper.

By the way - the Indian caste system, heavily reliant on pigmentation, predates British colonialism by several thousand years.
 
#16
Makes one proud to be British to realize that racism never existed in the Indian subcontinent, or the whole of the world in fact, until we ignoble Brits invented it and imposed it by military and economic might upon the peace-loving, anti-racist populations of the globe! The power of British racism even stretches back into the fourth dimension, as earlier generations of 'immigrants' into India took it upon themselves to emulate us by trying to rule the country and have lighter skins.
I wouldn't confine that to the British but Europeans as a whole. In Mexico, anyone with an obvious aboriginal appearance is treated very much like a second class citizen compared to Mexicans descendant from the Spaniards.
 
#17
'Angrez' simply means 'English' and 'gora' means 'horse.' In the pre-terrorist days I used to be followed around villages in AK, NWFP and the Punjab by gangs of kids shouting 'gora! gora!" at the top of their voice. I used to ignore the little beasts and they went away but our interpreters told me that one of my more traditional colleagues, dressed in panama hat + linen jacket, cravat etc used to try to remonstrate in that posh Englishman manner. As a result, he apparently ended up like a sub-continent version of the pied piper.

By the way - the Indian caste system, heavily reliant on pigmentation, predates British colonialism by several thousand years.
Forgive me: 'Ghora' pronouced with an 'h' after the G is a horse. Gora is simply light or pale and refers to the caucasian skin tone. Angrez indeed means English, though you should add, that is usually followed by an insult such as 'agrezi bhenchood motherchod' which puts things in perspective. I was unfortunate enough to have earned my nickname on the streets of Delhi and Mumbai, or, as I shall always call it, Bombay, so I had a fair bit of exposure to that kind of language.
 
#18
When I was a recruit instructor, the Fijian boys were just starting to appear in our ranks. One morning on muster parade, instead of addressing them as 'lads' I mistakenly referred to them as 'gopping, locker-headed, no-necked gorilla niggers'

Easy mistake to make. I was berated for it and rightly so. In future I made a concerted effort to simply refer to them as 'black cunts'.
 
#19
Forgive me: 'Ghora' pronouced with an 'h' after the G is a horse. Gora is simply light or pale and refers to the caucasian skin tone. Angrez indeed means English, though you should add, that is usually followed by an insult such as 'agrezi bhenchood motherchod' which puts things in perspective. I was unfortunate enough to have earned my nickname on the streets of Delhi and Mumbai, or, as I shall always call it, Bombay, so I had a fair bit of exposure to that kind of language.
Thanks Viceroy.

I cannot claim to be an expert. I attended a 6 month intensive full-time Urdu course in the seventies and was taught by a journalist from the BBC Urdu Service. When I actually worked in Pakistan, almost everyone used "Walayati" rather than "Angrez".

I am confused by your explanation on Ghora/Gora. My dog-eared Urdu dictionary shows "Ghora" as "horse" but has no "Gora" at all for light or pale. I shall investigate further....

BTW I recently watched a Hindi film on TV in which the characters repeatedly referred to "Bombay" whilst the sub-titles translated this into "Mumbhai"! I can follow educated Urdu and educated Hindi on films or news summaries reasonably well and I can still get the gist of a conversation in decent Punjabi. Nothing serious but it's good fun.
 
#20
Makes one proud to be British to realize that racism never existed in the Indian subcontinent, or the whole of the world in fact, until we ignoble Brits invented it and imposed it by military and economic might upon the peace-loving, anti-racist populations of the globe! The power of British racism even stretches back into the fourth dimension, as earlier generations of 'immigrants' into India took it upon themselves to emulate us by trying to rule the country and have lighter skins.
So true, the self hating, guilt ridden, apologists always forget that the caste system, where If somehow a member of a higher caste came into physical or social contact with an untouchable, the member of the higher caste was defiled, and had to bathe thoroughly to purge him or herself of the impurity, was prevalent long before the wicked Imperialist British had ever set foot there and is still going strong today!
But never mind even the slime Blair apologised for slavery, despite the fact that virtually every country in the world had slaves (& according to the UN there are still countries where slavery of a type is practiced), and our country was the first to ban it internationally & used our navy to intercept ships of other nations to enforce the ban! We must therefore be guilty of this terrible crime, even though it was the African tribes who, in the main, were capturing slaves themselves & trading them to the Europeans for goods!
 

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