God speaks in so many different and unexpected forms. I was having such a bad start to my morning and wondered how this day was going to end. After having my cup of coffee I decided to walk away from the negative energy that was surrounding me and the reason for my gloomy mood. I decided to take control of my day. So even though I didn’t need to go into the office today, I decided it was better to spend the day with my head stuck under some books than be annoyed all day. So off to the office I went thinking I would get some reading done and turn all the negativity into something productive.
On my way to the office I passed by a building that I pass by every single day and never pay attention to. But today something made me stop and peer inside and I saw that it was a chapel. I had heard that there was a chapel on campus but I had never thought to go in there and little did I know I actually pass by it every day on my way to the office. .
I just knew then that God was speaking to me and had led me there.The place was so quiet and inviting, so I went inside. There were bibles on each seat and I just picked one and opened to read. I got to spend some time with the Father. He replenished and fed me, he restored my joy. Now I have a secret place where I can go when I feel overwhelmed. A place where I know I will get solace and refuge from the harsh realities of this world.
I have been living in Hong Kong for a month now. I have been observing this society with interest and making my own observations so that I do not succumb to generalizations and assumptions of how Chinese people are or ought to be.
To summarise; this black woman got onto the MTR (train service) and the moment she sat down the Chinese woman sitting next to her took out a tissue and covered her mouth. I MEAN!!!I would be outraged. I have been on the MTR myself in the past month and I must say I have observed some weird behaviors by some Chinese people(not all); such as:
choosing to leave their seat and stand up when you sit next to them
being stared at like you have done something wrong just by entering the train
refusing to even touch you or your elbow even when the train is clearly full and it cannot be avoided
But someone covering their mouth after you sit next to them???I don’t think I would have this woman’s courage to stand up and speak against such behavior. So this post also applauds her confidence and pride in herself as a black person in Hong Kong. It sparked a lot of debate around racism and basic ignorance of some Chinese people which explains their behavior towards minorities.
I decided to read further about how black people are generally perceived in Hong Kong. The truth is we (black people) are a minority and although Hong Kong is described as a diverse, first world city; there are not many black people relocating to this city in their numbers. Mainland China seems to have the greater numbers of black people living there. So I came across an article stating that Hong Kong is in essence a classist society not a racist society. This means no matter what race you are, if you look like you are upper class you will be treated with respect. If you dress like the Hong Kong people; that is wearing flashy designer clothes and watches then they will not feel threatened by you being black. The general assumption is that black people relocating to Hong Kong are usually academics with high academic qualifications or they own businesses and come to Hong Kong on business and return to their countries. So these groups are not discriminated against and they are not that many to even worry about.
The Filipinos, Indonesians and other East Asian minorities are the ones with the “poor illegal immigrant” label in Hong Kong,not black people. This is only because of our small numbers so this is a mild comfort. Does it make it OK though?
My question is if this is such a modern society why are we still having labels at all? Why do we only respect blacks when they are educated and belonging to the upper class? So you are going to cover your nose when the “ordinary looking” black person sits next to you and you call yourself evolved? I know that any capitalist country will have classism as an issue and that is a whole other battle to fight. Our humanity is such that we fear anything that is different from us and we would rather not associate with it. And by “we” I mean all of us. Even black people say racist things about Chinese people and that is not OK either. It is our lack of understanding and it is sad that it has been discussed over and over and yet there is still no one with a solution to the problem.
My social investigations continue…but the experiences of that young woman and her mother on the MTR show that racism is alive and will not be going anywhere anytime soon…
It’s my second week in Hong Kong and I didn’t want to spend Saturday indoors watching the high rise buildings of Hong Kong from my window. I thought let me go out and see what’s out there. I also needed to go and meet someone so it sounded like the perfect opportunity. Problem is I still don’t know my away around Hong Kong but I had the confidence of a tourist with wanderlust…so I went out on my own. It didn’t matter that I still cannot pronounce the names of some of the stops on the MTR West Rail line but all I knew was I needed to get to Tin Shui Wai. So I walked to my nearest station; Siu Hong, at least I know how to get to that one and Tin Shui Wai is just one stop…even I can do that.
I got on the MTR just fine and got to Tin Shui Wai with no hassle. Because I didnt have credit on my phone I decided to load some for my China Mobile line. Problem :the Rekanan China Mobile line I bought comes in Indonesian language, only God knows why. So I bought HKD100 (about USD12,50) worth of credit but couldn’t load it. I could see the recharge pin and the code to enter but everytime I entered the number I got this message:
Voucher isi ulang yang Anda masukkan tidak valid. Harap menggunakan voucher isi ulang lainnya.
Now you can only guess that all I got from there were the words “valid” and “voucher”. There was still no credit on my phone. This meant I could not get hold of the person I was supposed to meet and all the wifi spots around me were secured. Wondering what to do, I remembered my friend had said I need to take Exit B at Tin Shui Wai then take the K65 bus and get off at the last stop. I didn’t want to give up before getting to my destination so I continued even though I knew I would not be able to call her when I arrived. I just told myself “this is how you get to know the place”.
This is where the lesson began: I got to the last stop and still could not find free wifi. I still could not load the credit I had bought and most importantly EVERYONE I TRIED TO SPEAK TO COULD NOT SPEAK A WORD OF ENGLISH!!! So I learnt today that when Hong Kong Chinese people cannot speak English they wont even speak to you or attempt to hear what you have to say. I laughed out loud when a young man just screamed NO, NO, NO when I was approaching him to ask if he could help me. Before I even said a word!! Now I don’t know if that was racist or not, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
So there I was at a deserted bus stop wondering what to do now.Lucky for me, I saw a young girl who was on her phone and she could speak English. She gave me her phone to call my friend to come meet me. Thank God she even trusted me to hold her phone. I probably would have ended up going back without seeing my friend if this girl hadn’t come along. I learnt later that my friend was so worried because I had texted her to say I am on my way and it took me longer than normal to get to her. It should take about twenty minutes to get from Siu Hong to the last bus stop but I took about an hour because of my little incident.
Now I don’t know if it’s worth exploring alone or not, but I am still glad I went out. I was going to be fine if I had a phone that could actually make calls. Nonetheless it is far much better to get lost in a place where you can ask for directions and today I could not even get a word in; let alone ask where I was. Guess it will take some getting used to.
The locals are not very friendly in these parts, but I am new so I will see how it goes.
*for my recent pics in Hong Kong head on over to my instagram page My IG