Tue, May 08, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Don't call me `foreign'

Although in essence I do agree with Chiou Shwu-wen's (邱琡雯) article ("Don't treat foreign parents as oddities," May 6, page 8) his piece is still inherently racist, and so defeats his purpose. Simply put, calling someone "foreign" is treating them as an oddity.

People of non-Han background in this country, especially in more rural areas, are forced to grin and bear constant heckling and taunts, not to mention the unabashed staring. All of this is thought to be OK because they are foreigners. I am sure I am not the first parent of non-Han background to have heard one child say to another, "It's OK to hit him -- he's a foreigner."

Chiou commented that there are findings suggesting that "as subjects actively participating in a society, foreigners [sic] don't want to be treated by the host society as someone who is disadvantaged or always needing help, or to sing and dance in traditional costumes and be treated as picturesque oddities at a cultural event."

I agree, but why is Chiou calling them "foreigners"? If they are part of a society, as Chiou describes, then calling them "foreigner" is not only inaccurate but also a racial slur. It is this very labeling that is perpetuating the problems and undermining the cause that Chiou supposedly supports.

As Chiou continues, "one concern is that junior or senior high school students from multicultural families may not want to acknowledge their backgrounds because they want to avoid being labeled or seen as different."

A simple glance at Taiwan's history shows that everyone on this island is therefore a "foreigner." But this is not how the term is used here in Taiwan.

As Taiwan grows more multicultural and strives to become part of the international community, the Taiwanese are going to have to reconsider the utility, not to mention the offensiveness of the term "foreigner," especially the way it is used in this country to refer to someone of another race.

For me, I am comfortable with my ethnicity and accept that I am of non-Han descent, but as I am an active participant of this society -- don't call me foreign!

Matthew Magill


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