Are We Racist?

>> Friday, January 5, 2007

"Davao is
a melting pot of cultures. "
I've written that line in several scripts and I'm officially taking it back now. Now, it's "Doha is a melting pot of cultures."

Only over a month and already I have met people from all over the world. It's hard to determine if it's a person's cultural background that forms his character or simply the handiwork of his parents like how he was brought up during childhood. But when you get to meet two or three guys coming from the same cultural background and who are not necessarily relatives it is easy to form a stereotype. I don't care, I'm human. And for whatever it's worth, one bad stereotype for Filipinos living in Doha is that they're gay.

I felt the urge to write about this after several funny events that occurred this week, thanks to my good friends, the Chinese from mainland China. One has to stress that they're from mainland China because you don't want to get the Hong Kong Chinese to get offended.

My boss employs around a dozen Chinese men and women. Most of them are above 30 years old so one would think that they're fairly intelligent. Not.

Case Number One: The "Have to Eat" Episode
I took a shift in my boss' internet cafe when the supervisor called in sick. I didn't mind taking the job for a day because I am familiar with how the inet cafe works anyway (remember Ventana?) and I already know the people working there including the Chinese cook Bin Chang. I don't want to explain why they serve Chinese food in an internet cafe so let's move on.
Bin Chang can't speak English. His English vocabulary consists of under 10 words including Hi, Oh and Haha. So when someone orders food from me I have to point at pictures from the menu and show them to Bin Chang so he'd know what to make. Yes, he's pretty smart when it comes to that. But lunchtime came and some people wanted to order. I told Bin Chang to make some tea for a couple of customers and he smiled and motioned something that seemed like "No way, Jose, it's lunchtime and I need to eat. Making tea for customers will take up 2 minutes of my time and I can't afford that delay for my lunch."
Oh my gawd. Is he stupid? If I were the boss I would have fired him already. Jeez. He's not making tea just cause it's his lunch hour. I mean I've heard of unions in the work force but this guy is just being inconsiderate. I think he's just stupid for saying that.

Case Number Two: To Billiard or Not to Billiard
I share a room with two other Chinese men Yang and Chun Yang. Jimmy, our Chinese driver, came to the Education Center the other day and asked me, Yang and Chun Yang to go with him to the internet cafe because the boss apparently told him to move some computer tables upstairs and move the billiard table to make room for the computer tables. Sounds simple? You wish. And by the way, don't bother asking why, aside from serving Chinese food, they have billiard tables upstairs.
The second floor of the internet cafe is divided into two rooms. The billiard hall (that has two pro billiard tables) and the internet room. Basically, what the boss wanted was to move the computer tables to the billiard hall. They took me there for the extra hand. I just lifted whatever they wanted me to lift. I can't join in with their discussion because it's in Chinese (how did you guess?) So when they started taking apart the billiard table, I just said to myself "wow, what a waste." They wanted to destroy the billiard table, take it into bits and pieces so they could move the whole damn thing into the other room. But guess what. When we finished moving it, the boss called and asked for updates. I told him what we have done, I said we moved the billiard table to the next room. He asked how we did it granting that the door is too small for that massive thing. So I said we deconstructed it. And he said "WHAT?!" And I just thought "Oh my gawd the Chinese are in deep shit!". Whoever said three heads are better than one ought to make some exceptions.

Case Number Three: The Early Bird Catches What Exactly?
Last night Jimmy told me I have to wake up early today because I'm joining three other Chinese guys to go to the Criminal Evidence Department to verify our records and for fingerprinting (it's a Qatar ID thing). So I got up promptly today. I'm just following these guys because I'm new here and they should know better right? So we went there early as planned and when we got to the gate the guard told us to come back on Sunday because it's the freakin weekend (Thursdays and Fridays form the weekend in Doha)! Early for nothing because someone didn't stop to think what day it was. Yeah, including me. So I guess it rubs off. Arghhh.

Suffice to say that because of these latest events from the Great Wall, I have to say that the Chinese, well, particularly the ones I'm working with, are dim witted. I know I am wrong. I know that there are probably more smart people in China than there are stupid ones but I'm just talking about the guys in my backyard.

Am I racist then because I formed a stereotype based on what I have personally experienced? Is it only racist when it's a negative stereotype? If I said that the Chinese play Mahjong really well, am I not being racist then?

I'm spending the night at my boss' house because it's the weekend, and so I'm staying in my boss' son's room. Although tonight, I'm not sharing the room with his son, but with this black kid from South of Sudan (a guest). He's extremely black. And my boss' son and daughter freaked out. My boss daughter said she's not racist but the guy's just too black. Could one say that he's not racist and then remark that someone is too black all in one breath?

As I am writing this, the black kid is on the bed behind me. I don't mind being around him. He's black but I don't think it's abnormal. It's just how he is. He probably thinks I'm too pale. Anyway, I guess I'm not really racist, just someone with enough bad luck to be surrounded by stupid people. OUT.

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