There are several types of social power: money, who do you know and perhaps more combinations of these two, but called differently. When you travel, you learn another type of power, the one given by your skin color. “White” is a different currency in the more colorful countries.
From the very first day in Malaysia, I noticed that people here are extremely nice with me and initially I had two hypotheses: either my mom made me really charismatic or is the people’s nature from around here, to be really warm and nice.
Yes, I’ve heard about racism against darker skin people, especially in the United States, but I thought it was a one-way road, and that it only happens in the case of African-Americans.
White supremacy is an ideology that white people are superior to other races. Being white also defines a social status; in the past, those forced to work on the field were obviously tanner than the higher class people, who were in the house, away from the sun. It seems that this ideology is still preserved in Asia.
Our beauty standards in Europe are totally different from those here. For us, being sexy it means to be as tanned as the Brazilians’ natural skin, but for Asians, it matters to be as white as possible, to look more like us, the Europeans.
Here, at the salons, you cannot find tanning services, but instead, you can find all sorts of treatments to bleach your skin. On the shelves of the shops is the same story, but taken to its extreme.
The whites are treated really good in Asia
After a few months, it looked that I was walking with a hanger in my mouth, every day, to work; I was smiling continuously and only because of the people here! You cannot avoid those looks, which beg for a smile, while they are widely smiling at you. It’s more awkward when I meet a “white” like me and I smile from reflex. Looks weird, we both know it, but I can not help it.
I thought everyone was treated the same way and then I started to see that it’s not like that…
One day, I went to a doctor and I walked through the clinic’s door at the same time with an Indian father, who was holding his two daughters in his arms. We arrived in front of the reception at the same time but I took a step back to give priority to him. The nurse looked at both of us and then turned her attention to me, asking for my insurance card. She let him wait for me and I could not believe it. I quickly gave her my card and I went to sit down, to speed up the process.
I find it sad and odd that they are racist with their own race, and I, an intruder, I’m treated better than them, in their own country.
But, the situation is not that peachy…
Why? Because you cannot distinguish those sincere from those with hidden intentions. Them being so nice it gives you the impression that all of them are your friends and it’s not like that. There are few people that you can rely on when the situation asks for it, and only then you can see which one is which.
The “good news”?
Well, it’s the same story as with the money. They will look at you with admiration or envy, will want to be like you, be with you, you will get more and you’ll be allowed to do more things, but all this with a risk that you have to accept. To not know how much they like you for you and who is your real friend.