Archive for race

race/ism in seoul

first thought: even the most oblivious of oblivious of white folks is bound to come out of their year in seoul with an inkiling of what “white privilege” means – and also what it means to be other in a culture. No where else have we (white foreigners)  been photographed and laughed at while at the same time given seats on the bus, cuts in the lines and unyielding tolerance at our ignorance.

 

second thought: Korea’s pretty racist. There’s a lot of shame in being other. My students are not all korean – hell, I’m not even the only non-Korean teacher in the school. But no one wants to say this. Of course, I’m white. I kind of stick out. I see it in the girls that are South East Asian or multiracial, the way students comment about them. “Oh she’s not smart teacher.” I see it in the push to be white. The “brightening” cream, fast bleaches and chems, the impressive  sun-shielding visors that the ahjummas wear. I try to present the USA as multicultural, as a place where racism still exists, but where strides are being made. . . however haltering on the side of white blindness. I try to send out the message: you are all smart. You can all do this. (and they are. No lies.)

 

third thought: I wonder, who am I to come here and judge what I see – from the other foreigners and from the city and country that is my home for the next year. HAHA am I so enlightened, so aware a person? no ways… not in a long shot. Just as racist and clueless as the next fool. I’m just saying what I see. Seoul’s been good for my soul – ha! For my self reflection. Maybe when I leave Korea, I’ll have some other thoughts – and actions- to pile on.