Everyone’s been looking at it wrong because everyone is looking at it through their own perspective. What I thought of as racism in Vancouver, the kind that dismisses Asians as a joke permeating all of America, is actually fear.
It takes a lot of work and luck to develop these type of connection with travelers. A connection that can surpass the racial line so that you can freely discuss issues knowing that there’d be no judgement from the other side. Time, patience and certain type of curiosity to how the world works. German guys are particularly interested in these things. The benefit for me, is getting answers on questions that people will not answer honestly if I was the one who asked the question.
It took me a few second to process this new fact as F recounted his run-ins with local Canadians. White-people-venting-their-frustration-to-their-visiting-European-cousins type of encounters he had. They didn’t outright say they fear Asians, it was F’s innate sense which made him conclude it as such. As a tourist to our country from Germany and more used to another kind of norm, this contrast was obvious to him. Fear of foreign invaders, I would expect the Germans to understand best what this fear feels like, but apparently, Vancouver fears Asians even more.
The fear, is that of Asians buying up all the land and taking over Vancouver. The fear of being replaced as the dominant and ruling class. The fear of being excluded, an outsider in their own land, because the Asians were not able to meld into the society nor speak English.
Everyone who comments on an immigrant group who does not integrate almost invariable mention that they are not trying to learn the language. The reason why it is the way it is was so obvious to me that I never gave it a second thought. That is, until F said in a matter-of-fact manner that anyone can learn a new language at age 40 and not integrating is the immigrant’s fault.
I went “Excuse me?” Give me an example of anyone learning a new language and speaking it fluently past 40… 30 even. Then I realized that they are thinking of learning a new language based on their own experience between the Latin based languages; English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch etc. Whereas I was thinking in terms of Mandarin, French, Arabic, Russian where the roots are completely different and there are no basic common ground between them.
Herein lies the real meat of this particular debate. Most people of white races experiences learning a second language with another language similar to theirs whereas the Immigrants-who-are-not-integrating experiences learning a language that is completely different. When you think about it this way, anyone from these problematic self segregating cultures are doing so because there is no way for them to ever be completely fluent in the host country’s language. Between a friend circle where you can express yourself fully and a friend circle where you are limited to an IQ of 80 because of the limited ability to express yourself, everyone will pick the former circle of friendships. Leading eventually to self segregation.
If you want to experience this as a person of white race. You have to go to Singapore. The most prosperous country in Asia where a bunch of white people are trying to get into the financial industries and running into trouble. The frustration that they experienced at not being able to speak Mandarin is palpable. Still it misses a big part of the experience, Singaporeans will not resent you for not integrating as Asians are pretty mellow about other cultures minding their own business and being in their own cliques.
As the world continues its globalization, real world studies like these will become increasingly necessary in order to ease tensions. I realized that I am probably doing the work of a PHD research on race, because of my lifestyle. An academia researcher will most likely not be able to engage in physically being in different places to do research and stealth interview people the way I do. Yet these are the people our government rely on to make policies on the matter.
Racial differences can only be experienced and felt.