The casual racism of the 21st century

It pains me that as our borders blend into each other and we become one global nation, there are still old ways of thinking that dictate so many things that we do today. My nephew, the other day, was telling me about his school driver.

“He’s so funny. He speaks butler English”.

I asked him what this butler English meant. He had no idea. I remember when I first learnt the phrase. I was 11 and my English teacher told us how, in the South, people from Tamil Nadu were hired as butlers and clerks because of their immense ability to pick up new things and their reputation of being hard working. However, while speaking English, they often translated how they would say something in their native tongue. They developed unique phrases that they came to be known by.

Butler English.

And their ‘kind’ were called ‘Anglo Indians

That phrase was used as an insult. And 55 years after our freedom, still used but no one has any idea what it means.

Then there are job ads like these that really offend me.

Job Description

Qualifications –

MUST have native level English BUT should be born in an English speaking country like Canada etc etc.

Aren’t we in an era where a job should go to the one most qualified for it and not to someone just because they were lucky to be born in one country? I don’t even understand why this is not a bigger issue and why no one is making any noise about it. What happens to the idea of ‘equal opportunity’ if an employee rejects you even before it meets you because you just carry the wrong passport, have the wrong accent, are the wrong skin colour?

Oh the casual racism of modern day!

38 thoughts on “The casual racism of the 21st century

  1. I can understand you.
    Today I am also very distressed looking at the results from the elections for the European Parliament. The appalling immense growth of right wing ‘nazi ‘ parties like Ukip and Fronte , National and in general a racist attitude across Europe .
    People simply don’t learn from history!
    So sad!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was watching the elections closely as well. It is an alarming trend for sure. It will be interesting to see how far parties like UKIP can go in this day and age!

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  2. I am inclined to the opinion that if the person who is going to be paying a salary has a preference for purple people with pink spots, they should be entitled to hire them, while everyone who is not purple with pink spots should be happy NOT to work for anyone with such bigoted preferences.

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  3. I agree with you that discrimination based on race, disability, religion, sexual orientation etc is wrong. It is wrong because it is focusing on irrelevant factors which have no baring on the person’s ability to do the job rather than solely focusing on the requirements of the work and the capacity of the job applicant to perform competently. I am not sure though that specifying that a person is born in an english speaking country such as Canada is racist. It is certainly discriminatory and I would oppose such specifications, however a black or asian person born in Canada and possessing a good grasp of english would, I assume be considered alongside white people, born in the same country without any discrimination on the basis of race. I think that what you are describing is, perhaps discrimination based on one’s place of birth rather than racism, because a person of Indian parentage, born in Canada would, I assume be able to apply for the position but anyone born in India would not, hence discrimination based on place of birth rather than racism. Such discrimination is also wrong but, as I say I am not sure that it does, necessarily constitute racism. Hope all is well with you. It is a rainy bank holiday here in the UK with showers off and on!

    Kevin

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    1. Hey Kevin, yes I agree that an Indian with a Canadian passport could apply for the job. But an Indian who has lived in Canada sans said passport cannot apply. I have friends who have applied for that job and have sent in the photos that they have required. If you are a different colour in that photo, they have asked for “proof” that you are a Canadian/British/Australian citizen. I think what I meant to say is that people tend to put all people from one country in a bucket of stereotypes. The number of times I’ve been told “Oh, but you speak such good English for an Indian”. I have heard the same comment asked of my BRITISH friend – “Oh but you speak such good English for an African”. She is born and brought up in England and still has to face that sort of casual racism. No one thinks twice about those sort of comments or that type of stereotyping.

      I concede your point though. What would the word be? Third-worldism?

      I heard the UK has stolen some of our monsoon. What have you been upto this Bank holiday weekend?

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      1. Thanks for your genorosity in sharing your monsoon with us, it is truly appreciated …! I have been writing over the bank holiday. It isn’t easy to get back into writing but, once started it gets easier. That is terrible, that such discrimination takes place. For all the UK’s problems (and we have many) that kind of discrimination would, rightly be illegal here. Is there a movement pressuring the Indian Parliament to outlaw such advertising?

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        1. I meant to add that stereotyping is wrong but it can afford great amusement. For example I am sure you are well aware that I am sitting in my book lined study, the oak bookcases gleaming after having been freshly polished by the housemaid, as I sip the brandy which has been brought in, on a silver tray by my trusty butler Soames. Forgive me, I must go now as my house guests are calling for me to join them for a game of cricket on the beautifully manicured lawn which fronts my stately home …!

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        2. That is a job posting on a UK ESL forum since they don’t hire Indians, it’s moot to publish such an ad here. I doubt many Indians dream of teaching English. Still, I think jobs should be given on merit and not race or colour or country of birth.

          I’m so glad you’re writing, Kevin. Is this the new secret story we shall not mention here? How’s our champion, Trigger?

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          1. Yes I am writing a literary masterpiece to rival that of Tolstoy’s War and Peace (he said modestly), but can that be our little secret, just between you and I! Trigger is well, still devouring my colleague’s lunches. A week or so ago he returned to my desk, tail wagging proudly, quite obviously delighted with himself. I sensed he had something in his mouth and, on checking found a pear which he had barely started to eat! I took it off him and consigned it to the bin as by letting Trigger keep it he would have taken it as a reward for bad behaviour!

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      1. Better than it used to be. Our society is much more diverse because of all the immigrants. Still the main problem is that there is little mixing of the different ethnic groups or races outside of work. Poverty is still a larger problem among people of color. Some of that is due to prejudice, some due to poverty begetting poverty, and some due to the higher number of single parent families among people of color.

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        1. I think people everywhere have this tendency to stick with the familiar. Even if it means that they never have the joy of learning about other cultures and experiencing lifetime adventures. I have family in the US and in Australia who only hang out with other Indians. I have made the same discoveries wherever I’ve travelled. I’m glad it is better than it used to be. I wish it was close to perfect though!

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  4. Over the years I’ve found it sad that in situations like the one you point out, the person placing the ad is often unaware, on the surface, of the bigotry they are displaying. It is the type of ad that they have “always” run to good effect, so why change? Looking in the mirror only shows us the surface, seldom the cancer within.

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    1. My long term dream is to travel around Asia, teaching English. I did a TEFL course and so sometimes get these offers in my inbox and I am just filled with rage. Every single one of these type of job descriptions require someone from a certain geographical location. I am more horrified that I haven’t really found anyone complaining about it. People seem to just accept that as an Indian, you are just not entitled to certain jobs, no matter what your qualifications are.

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      1. First, I hope you are able to live your dream. It sounds exciting, as well as edifying.It wasn’t many years ago that this type of ad could run in the U.S. Now there are restrictions, but nothing would be done unless there were complaints. The squeaky wheel syndrome lives on in this country.While racism still exists here, it isn’t as prevalent.Mixed race (I hate that term) marriages are a larger percentage than they have ever been. It seems that our younger people are much more tolerant than when I was a young adult. There are reasons to be optimistic here. I can only hope it is true throughout the world.

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        1. I am in a “mix race” (I hate that word too) relationship and I still get fingers pointed at me and more often than not, a distinct feeling that I am being watched. But it isn’t so outspoken. I just feel really strongly when there’s a job to be done and they deny you the opportunity because you didn’t have the good fortune to be born in the first world!

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    1. It’s one ad among a million of them. If you just type in “ESL jobs” you’ll find most of them saying the same things. I even saw a Disney English ad for a job in China that requires the same things. I mean, a company that big, surely they are meant to be better than this.

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  5. That is really interesting, and these are the things that really impedes progress. It is sad to think about how racism has slowed the evolution of society and humans…but hope is out there that we are moving forward quickly.

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  6. Oh, my—you should hear the way I’ve heard people talk where we live right now in Texas! I can’t believe anyone could be so ignorant and mean-spirited sometimes, even supposedly well educated people and ones who are in other ways very generous and kindhearted. It simply amazes and shocks and sometimes absolutely horrifies me. The world is changing and improving in many ways, but we still have a long, long way to go! I’m glad there are others like you who share the concern. May we all become wiser and more peaceful and loving. 🙂
    Kathryn

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  7. Such a lot of bullshit!A while ago I saw a post about school kids in Brazil (I think) correcting the English of American celebrities in Twitter. So much for English proficiency due to being born in a English speaking nation.

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  8. When foreign language is concerned it’s impossible to escape this sort of thing no matter what language it is. For the school, having a NATIVE NATIVE speaker is a prestige issue and then there’s also the problem of transmitting a native accent to students, which is hard unless you’ve had lots of experience abroad. Oh well!

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    1. I know it is a prestigious thing to have a white person teach you. I’ve grown up in the third world, I know what that’s like. However, wouldn’t you rather have someone qualified teach you rather than some Tom who has barely passed his degree and says should of instead of should have? And as far as accents go, mine isn’t Indian sounding so they don’t need to worry their kids will start sounding like one. It is very unfair and I can’t really justify their way of doing things. You can’t get a work permit, even if there are people who are willing to hire you as a private tutor.

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      1. Yeah I see what you’re saying. Some of the whiteys do suck (I was really surprised at the low standard when I was teaching in Japan; I’m also a whitey). Too bad the world’s students will be deprived of you!

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