A class in Taichung Municipal Taichung First Senior High School late last month drew a lot of criticism for naming a booth at the school fair “Hsi Huan Na” (烯環鈉) — which sounded like “indigenous bastard” (死番仔) in Taiwanese. A legislator subsequently revealed that an indigenous student at the school was bullied by his peers in a chatroom after the case broke out.
Racial discrimination continues to take place in Taiwan, and the school incident seemingly reflects a culture of complicity that allows it to happen repeatedly.
In 2020, veteran radio host Luo Hsiao-yun (羅小雲), chairwoman of the Golden Bell Awards’ panel of judges, made “hoh, hoh, hoh, hoh” sounds when announcing that Alian Radio (原住民族廣播電台) was nominated for an award, asking indigenous people in the audience: “Shouldn’t you be making this sound?” Due to protests against her remarks, Lou apologized and resigned.
However, one month later at the Golden Bell Awards ceremony, when a Tao boy in a traditional thong accepted his award, mainstream online media mocked him with headlines such as “showing off his buttocks,” “I’m the most visible of all” and “going butt-naked onstage.”
A lot of people also left offensive, discriminatory and sarcastic comments on the live message board of the event organizer whenever indigenous nominees won awards. The organizer did nothing to stop such discriminatory language from appearing on its official Web site.
US sociologist Douglas Kellner has said that a phenomenon may be a sign. A single incident may reflect not only an individual case, but also a serious common problem in society. The school incident, along with the other discriminatory incidents against indigenous people, reflects a core issue: Is society complicit in perpetuating such racial discrimination?
For the students who came up with the disputed name, why didn’t anyone find something wrong with it? When they bullied an indigenous student in the chatroom, why didn’t anyone stand up to stop the bullying? And when online media mocked the indigenous winner, why didn’t any of their reporters think that they have crossed the line?
From Kellner’s perspective, racial discrimination is no longer a problem in competitions, education, workplace or media, but a problem of society as a whole, and many people in our society remain blind to racial discrimination. Oftentimes, they cannot sense the seriousness of the matter until it creates a public stir.
If Taiwanese think that racial discrimination is an important issue, the Ministry of Education should promote ethnic education in high schools and universities. The Ministry of Culture should have cultural interpreters at major award shows, such as the Golden Bell, who can help hosts explain the significance of the traditional costumes worn by indigenous nominees.
The National Communications Commission should require all electronic and online media to bolster on-the-job training on ethnic literacy for reporters.
If the government sits back and watches racial discrimination occur again and again, then we will all become complicit in allowing mainstream culture to keep on bullying indigenous people. In that case, the goal of building a society that respects cultural diversity would only be empty talk.
Hsu Chih-ming is an assistant professor in Shih Hsin University’s Department of Journalism.
Translated by Eddy Chang
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
Taiwan is beautiful — no doubt about it. In Taipei, the streets are clean, the skyline is gorgeous and the subway is world-class. The coastline is easily accessible and mountains can be seen in the distance. The people are hardworking, successful and busy. Every luxury known to humankind is available and people live on their smartphones. As an American visiting for the first time, here are some things I learned about the country. First, people from Taiwan and America love freedom and democracy and have for many years. When we defeated Japan in 1945, Taiwan was freed from Japanese rule. In
The ultimate end of a situation in which communists are in charge of a capitalist economy is economic depression, with China’s economic woes the prime example. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has suspended monthly reports on youth unemployment, which had previously been at a record high, going beyond 20 percent and rising. It is often joked about in academic circles that when a national laboratory has made a great discovery, the institution will quickly call a news conference to announce it to the world, but when the research has been a total failure, the institution will keep it under wraps. The
Taiwan’s first indigenous defense submarine prototype, the Hai Kun (SS-711), is to be launched tomorrow and undergo underwater testing next month. It is a major breakthrough in upgrading the nation’s self-defense capabilities, and would make it more difficult for China to blockade Taiwan. Facing Beijing’s escalating military threats and ambitions of expanding across the Taiwan Strait, a domestically developed submarine was first proposed in the 1990s under then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). The Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program was formally initiated in 2016, as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, with the aim of creating a fleet of eight domestically developed submarines. The