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Recognising Racism in HK

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

Please read our blog BLM and HK's social contract.

24 June 2020, RTHK. Rampant racism claims at KGV sparks diversity review.

The English Schools Foundation (ESF) on Wednesday promised to take an unflinching look at “deeply troubling” allegations of rampant racism and sexual misconduct among teachers at King George V (KGV) school.

The foundation's Chief Executive Officer, Belinda Greer, said in a letter to parents that it will be developing action plans over the summer to strengthen diversity and equality across all its schools.

More than 1,400 people have signed an online petition calling for immediate reforms at KGV.

The action was initiated by a person who says she graduated from the school this year. She says the belittlement of the Hong Kong and non-white culture, such as comments on how some foods smell, and the mockery of Asian languages and names, were prevalent on campus.

She said teachers have made it a habit to mispronounce, misspell, and make fun of the names of Asian students.

This 'casual racism', she says, has also filtered down to the student body, and some teachers just turn a blind eye to racist, sexist and queerphobic comments and behaviour on campus.

The writer also slammed what she said was the "sexualisation of students" on campus, with teachers "purposefully looking up their skorts" – shorts with a skirt-like front – to check if they complied with the school's uniform rules.

Some of those who signed the online petition echoed her criticism.

One writer identifying herself as a former KGV teacher, Nina Gaad, wrote: "this resonates so deeply with my experience here. I voiced my concerns. I wrote my concerns down. They were ignored".

Another comment which apparently came from an alumni, said "I too have been through the ESF system and have personally witnessed forms of racism, name calling and intimidation from teachers way back in the day. Sad to hear it still happens".

But some disagreed and accused the writer of "ruining the KGV brand" and "affecting every graduating student and their job opportunities in the future".

In response to the allegations, KGV's principal, Mark Blackshaw, said what he has heard over the past few days is "deeply concerning", and pledged that "immediate action" will be taken, without elaborating.

The school's governing body, the English Schools Foundation also called the allegations "deeply troubling".

In a letter sent to all parents, its CEO, Belinda Greer, said the ESF will develop action plans over the summer to strengthen diversity and equality procedures and ensure that the practices experienced by every student meet their standards.

"We must listen when we hear the experiences that have been shared with us by some of our students in the past few days", she wrote.

"Perceptions are real and we cannot afford to dismiss them or to be defensive in any way."

"We must never shy away from looking critically at ourselves, or from realising that we can and must always strive to do better for our students and their families”, Greer added.

22 June 2020, RTHK. Firms still wary of hiring ethnic minorities: study.

Research commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission suggests there's a disconnect between employers' values and their actions when it comes to hiring ethnic minority youths.

As part of a study into the education and career pathways for young ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, researchers conducted phone interviews with hundreds of employers.

Overall, respondents disagreed with 11 negative statements about ethnic minority employees put to them by researchers – such as "cultural and religious differences may lead to conflicts".

Dr Rizwan Ullah, the deputy convenor of the EOC's policy, research and training committee, said a mindset change is needed.

"The employers need to be given some incentive, in particular the SMEs, to get these locally educated EMs to be on board, and I'm sure some smart accommodation can make some changes," Ullah said.

"And of course, as we always advocate, if the government take a stronger lead, hire more non-Chinese speaking kids in different postings, I'm sure that will change the employers' mindset and the society's mindset."

Respondents to the phone survey also agreed with the statement that it was understandable not to hire those from ethnic minorities because of a low proficiency in Chinese reading and writing.

Dr Simon Chan from the Baptist University's department of social work, said a tailor-made Chinese-language curriculum is needed for ethnic minority youths, as the existing curriculum is "very elementary" and doesn't meet their needs when they enter the working world.

See these BLOGS:

8 May 2020 a South Asian man died in HK Police custody

Education (Part 2) : Perpetuating inequality

HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam discriminates & coerces Foreign Domestic Helpers!

Hong Kong riot cop rebuked for chanting 'black lives matter', 14 June 2020, Reuters

Further Reading:

Hong Kong riot cop rebuked for chanting 'black lives matter', 14 June 2020, Reuters

Why we Hongkongers also need to address racism and anti-blackness in our own backyard, 6 June 2020, HKFP

Hong Kong needs to confront its problem with racism, 10 June 2020, HKFP

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