France Through My Eyes : Racism / 我眼中的法國 — 種族問題

“You gotta open your eyes when you ski,” I was told after I fell hard while skiing down a steep hill.

I was stunned at such a racial joke aimed at Asians and their stereotypical slanted eyes. He saw my expression of disbelief and maybe realized he shouldn’t have said that, but he didn’t excuse himself either.

“I was just joking,” he laughed it off.

I didn’t say a word. I probably should have though, but at the moment my brain somehow couldn’t function from the shock that a teacher would say something like that.

As much as European countries can be extremely diverse, racism still exists, even in such a globalized and modernized world. I saw it for the first time I visited Paris in 2013, when a policeman said to us in English that he doesn’t speak English and basically refused to give us directions to our desired destination.

For starters, I speak from personal experience. But there are so much other cases that I’ve heard about, even in my own school here, not just aimed towards Asians, but other origins too. However, for privacy issues I prefer not to tell their stories.

What really surprises me is the fact that racial comments are more often made by adults than supposedly less mature teenagers. From what I’ve seen, people my age are actually more accepting towards other cultures, and never hesitate to learn more about them and experience them when they can.

I’ve had a little kid ask me if all Chinese people had eyes like “this”, while she put her fingers to the outer corners of her eyes and pulled to make them small and slanted.

“Look at me, do I have eyes like that?” I said.

“No,” she replied after some observation.

“So do you think all Chinese people have eyes like that?”

“No.”

In fact it doesn’t really bother me when little children say things related to racial stereotypes, because it’s part of the initial process of learning to differ between different races. When they get older, they’d meet people that come from all over the world and realize that stereotypes aren’t always true. Just like when the little girl met me, the first Chinese she has met in her life, and saw for herself that Asian physical appearances are not always like the image she had in her mind.

But I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at the adults who still think racial discrimination is no big deal. Adults are supposed to be our role models, and I’m sure being racist isn’t a trait that children should be taking after. It is also the responsibility of adults to make it clear to the younger ones that making racist comments is rude and unacceptable.

On the other hand, social media might’ve also subconsciously put some stereotypes inside the minds of children. Disney portraits Mulan with slanted eyes, but it is in fact very exaggerated and rarely anyone has physical traits like that.

Personally I haven’t been met with extreme racism in France, and the little incidents that did happen to me were also pretty rare. However, what is most important is that one must not be discouraged just because they were the center of a joke or mean comment based on their ethnicity. What we should do is to stay confident and show the world that we are not less worthy than others.

我這一年在法國讀的高中是個非常多元化的環境,有來自各地的學生,同學之間也很互相包容。有時我甚至覺得跟我同齡的人比較懂得接受與自己不同的文化,因為我在法國碰到的種族問題,以及各種其他人遇上的事件,都是大人引起的。

還記得一月中我跟著學校一起去滑雪,最後一天跌得亂七八糟還扭到脖子,下山的接駁車上我正在跟同學聊著我如何跌倒。一個男人跟我說:「妳滑雪的時候首先得把眼睛張開呀~」明顯是在開亞洲人鳳眼的玩笑。我一臉驚訝,當下不知道怎麼回答。他看我表情不太對好像意識到自己不該講這種話,但他也沒有道歉,只是笑了笑說:「我在開玩笑。」

我特別驚訝,因為這個男人是我們學校的老師。

身為大人的責任之一就是要當一個好榜樣。但是當小孩看到大人這樣開種族玩笑而且還當作是一件沒什麼大不了的事,他們只會跟著學,因為他們根本不知道這樣的行為是不對且不尊重其他人的。

或許也是因為社群媒體詮釋各種文化的方式帶有刻板印象,例如迪士尼的花木蘭那雙斜到快要變豎著的眼睛,導致小孩對陌生的文化有先入為主的想法。但我覺得對於小孩這並沒有什麼問題,畢竟他們年紀還小,也很難懂得除了外貌差別以外的其他異處。等他們慢慢長大了開始接觸來源不同的人,自然而然會理解到刻板印象的一些錯誤觀念。當然這同時也必須伴隨著大人們向小孩子解釋種族尊重等等。

放假期間一個小女孩問我是不是所有的亞洲人的眼睛都長「這樣」— 她用手指把眼角往外拉形成兩條細細又傾斜的線。

「看看我,我的眼睛有長這樣嗎?」
她觀察了一下並說「沒有。」
「所以妳覺得亞洲人的眼睛都長這樣嗎?」
「不覺得」

這種成長是好的,她問我這個問題我並沒有感到不開心,反而是想要好好跟她解釋,讓她第一次遇見亞洲人就瞭解到這個刻板印象不是全體亞洲人都符合。

我在法國看見的種族問題不是只針對亞洲人。在學校也有發生其他的種族被老師貶低或指責的情況,但因為隱私問題我就不說他們的故事了。

碰到種族歧視並不應該因此而感到自卑,反而要保持自信,證明我們並不比其他人差。

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