So what if I know more about dangling participles and comma splices than the typical white American? I’d be unqualified to teach English in China because of my skin color.
An article in the L.A. Times reports on the blatant job discrimination going on in China against Chinese Americans for ESL teaching positions. The overwhelming majority of language institutes prefer to hire white instructors. I would blame them, except the patrons of these institutes have white fever, loving all things blond haired and blue eyed, and the racist supply must meet the racist demand.
“I’ve had to deal with Chinese parents who have the mentality of ‘White is right,'” Benjamin Newbry, associate director of the Princeton Review test-preparation company in Shanghai, told reporters. “It’s just the idea that somehow if you’re white, it qualifies you, and skills don’t really matter. Being white becomes a plus on your job application.”
Or you don’t have to apply at all. Matt Froude, a 27-year-old white Australian was approached on a bus one day in Shanghai and without more, received a job offer to teach English.
The Chinese want to be taught by white people. When the English teacher isn’t white, “Chinese parents aren’t shy about complaining.” Newbry said these parents often “were up in my face” and could get “pretty aggressive when it comes to their kid’s learning environment.” Drawing in some of my experiences with the uncouth, overbearing, and tactless mainlanders I’ve met, I have a feeling Newbry’s comments are an understatement of what really goes on.
When interviewing the parents about their preference for white teachers, one parent unabashedly said, “Of course.” His rationale: “Their pronunciation is more precise.”
Are there laws in China against race discrimination? On paper, sure. Yet employers explicitly state age and gender requirements on job postings. What’s more, the applications for teaching positions at these language institutes require photos. This requirement is why someone like Jennifer Ashley, who graduated from Cal. State L.A. with a degree in English didn’t get hired–she’s a dark-skinned Eurasian and her photo would have clearly shown that.