Black teachers in Thailand
Does racism exist in The Land of Smiles?
Douglas to start off the discussion.
My name is Douglas Ashby and I'm an African American teacher here in Bangkok.
I've been with a popular language school since its inception. I've taught corporate classes for Sony Vector, Toyota, HP, and so on. I've never had a problem securing work here. Privately, I have instructed over 50 businessmen and international students in various aspects of the English language.
Is it hard to find work for black folks? It depends. My experience is that the more affluent, educated Thais realize that teaching abilities and effectiveness have nothing to do with ethnicity or skin color. Furthermore, my experience is that the more educated farangs who fill director positions at local schools realize that teaching abilities and effectiveness have nothing to do with ethnicity or skin color.
My experience also is that those who might be "academically challenged" , Thai, farang or otherwise, seem to keep the notion that persons of color are seemingly less qualified than their white anglo counterparts (could it be to keep the benchmark at a ridiculously low level?? too conspiratorial for my tastes).
Knowing such, I approach it for what its worth. Racism exists everywhere. I urge all black teachers to buck the system and prove differently.
Does racism exist in Thailand? "undoubtedly" says Mark
In my opinion, there is definite racism in the Thai community. I worked in Thailand for 2 years and experienced it first hand.
First of all as a backpacker. I was waiting for a room to free up at a guesthouse in Bangkok when a black guy came in and asked if there were any rooms. The owner said no they were full. I was shocked to hear as they guy went away, the owner say under his breath, fu*k off you black bast*rd and get out of my country.
In the school that I worked at it was policy not to hire a black teacher. The owner told me that the reason she asked for a photo when applying was to check if they were black or not. When I asked her why, she said that she didnt mind 'them' but the students wouldn't accept a black teacher.
The ironical thing about this argument is that white people often get treated better than Thais (for example in restaurants etc).
Is the white man's welcome coming to an end?
This is a myth being perpetrated by racists largely from Europe, America, and Britain residing right here in Bangkok and other parts of Asia. These people never fail to miss an opportunity to demonstrate their racist attitudes.
To even assertain such a silly topic as to whether a person of color can teach both native and non-native speakers the English language is laughable.
Perhaps, it would serve you best, if you would sober up and look around you. Start with the woman you're climbing out of bed with. The vast majority of people in Southeast Asia have skin that is considered to be black, or close to it.
I wonder, is the white man's welcome finally coming to an end in Asia?
We will overcome
I am black and very hard working. I have a decent education background and now fully armed with a BA and loads of teaching experience. Still it's really difficult for me to get a job in Thailand.
At this one school, a week after I had started to teach, I was told that an Italian teacher would replace me because "I was not qualified enough". I met the Italian teacher "Mr. Alex" and all the staff was so pleased to meet him. I found out that he was actually an Iranian refugee called ‘Ali' who didn't even have a high school diploma!
What's funnier is that one of the other "English Native Speakers" in this same school was an Israeli who spoke some English but did not know the English alphabet - and I was being replaced!! I kid you not!
I have heard of worse scenarios than mine. Due to the fact that I am black and living in Thailand I try so hard to do more than what is required of me to keep a job. It's really painful to see backpackers and other not so qualified teachers replace us because they are white. I dream of a day where all teachers in Thailand would have to go through a government sponsored screening process run by WHITES! Yes! We Blacks have a better chance of employment in Thailand when the interviewer is a Caucasian.
Having said this there are a handful of blacks that are paving the way for the rest of us. I was employed in a school outside of Bangkok. simply because they were happy with a black teacher that once taught there. We have been through worse. We will overcome - slowly but surely.
The Thai children love me!
I'm a browned skinned teacher working here in Bangkok. It's nice to know that I'm not alone. I thought I'd share my views on this topic.
Yes, it's always going to be harder to find work and that's something you have to accept. However, There are so many schools that are crying out for teachers you will certainly find something it just might not be the job you were looking for.
I have a native accent which helps. Although, I think there are probably a lot of brown/black teachers that don't.
You have to remember schools are paying for a native speaker and to be fair if the students can't understand you, then it's a waste of time.
I came over from England worrying about would I find a job. I've not really had any major problems. Unfortunately, in places such as "Pattaya" the darker races can be very rude and aggressive! The Thai people see a lot of this going on and I do sympathize with them.
I'm completely the opposite to this and when most Thai people meet and get to know me their views dramatically change. I'm working at a government school in Bangkok and the majority of children love me. Life can be hard at times but if you don't try you won't know? Good luck!
A step in the right direction
Back in 2001 I came to Bangkok and did a TEFL course with a well known language provider. In my class were two black teachers.
I asked at a school I'd acquired work at, if they would employ them and I was told definitely not. The Thai owners said that the families would remove their children from the school if they did.
Well, three years on I have come back to Thailand to teach , I called in to see my friends at that first training school and am happy to say they have broken ranks and employed a black teacher. A big thumbs up to them. Lets hope those with the mentality of a minion follow their example.
A big step in the right direction.
As a falang teacher working here, and knowing many other falang teachers, word tends to get around on this subject.
There really is no point in trying to reassure black teachers that there are plenty of reasons to come to Thailand. There aren't. The simple fact of the matter is that they will not be hired, certainly in relation to public and private schools.
I don't know about language schools in this regard. As falangs who live here know, there are many contradictions between Thai culture and the teachings of Buddha, just as there are in every other country in the world. The correct term for this is racism, and it is alive and well in Thailand.
Got any female Thai friends ? Ever noticed the latent jealousy of Thais with darker complexions ?
Look out on any Thai street during the day, especially at the girls/women as they cross the road. They are obsessed with blocking any ray of sunshine from hitting their delicate skin.
Why ? God forbid any of it causing them to be darker. So it's just not going to help our black brothers and sisters to sell them false re-assurance. Sad, but true.
Not only Thailand
Well, I don't know about Thailand, but I can tell you about Taiwan.
I'd been working out there for a couple of years when a good friend of mine pitched up with the intention of doing the traditional seven year course one goes through to qualify as a practitioner of Chinese medicine.
Now it just so happens that this friend of mine was a graduate of Oxford University, so he was bright as they come by anybody's standards and surely the sort of lad you'd want to have working at your school. I mean Oxford University for goodness sake!
Well, I'm afraid not even that can outweigh the stigma and prejudice attached to being black. Not even a foreign friend of mine who ran one of Taiwan's "ajarn" equivalents was able to land him a one year contract with a school.
So unfortunately it remains the case that if you're black then Oxford University or not, you're up against it. I wouldn't want to suggest that the prevailing culture in Taiwan tolerates people being openly racist, but nevertheless, it's got a way to go yet.
Some words from Dr Jobass based on his study
I am a social scientist who, among other things, have lived in Thailand, visits there twice a year and conducted the most extensive research on Thai Attitudes Toward African Americans and Africans ever published.
My treatise entitled 'From Victim to Victory to Victim Again' is a comprehensive study of prejudice in Thailand from the days of the war in Vietnam to the first part of 2004. I worked with the American Embassy to bring an end to discrimination against Blacks during the war years leading a team of 50 assistants. The study was wholly scientific.
Most recently, I have done a quasi-scientific study of prejudice in Thailand and the focus was on Africans as the number in that category is growing (representatives from 40 African nations) while there are few African Americans there now compared to the war years. I am an African American of mixed blood. I speak the language and have contacts at several levels of the Thai society.
At the conclusion of my recent limited study, I found that there was no organized prejudice against the African American but there was some against the African.
However, there is also some prejudice against other groups as well as the infusion of foreign capital form Korean and Japan has greatly impacted the total society of Thailand especially in Bangkok.
I hope to do a more scientific study of the problem in the year approaching if my time permits, as my agency has the funds for such a study and it is needed, although not requested or seen as important for the Thai elite.
Preconceptions do vanish
It's not easy for a black person to work as a teacher in Thailand. On the other hand, the onus is really on people like me to share experiences and set the tone of the discussion.
I'm a black American who has taught English in Thailand for three years. I have not experienced any reportable racism. In my experience Thais are not racist; they're prejudice -- just like people all around the world.
In a homogenous society, as is the case for Thailand, it is not surprising that people would have preconceived notions of strangers (blacks or otherwise). My experience has shown me that after even a few seconds of social interaction, the great majority of Thais are genuinely nice and welcoming.
The reaction of course is dependent on how I present myself. Apparently I'm on to something.
My guess is showing respect, being polite, patient and presentable (a few things my parents taught me) cause a friendly response. And trust me, the response is genuine. As a testament to this genuine nature and in terms of teaching opportunities, I have dozens of private students (from P1 to M1 as well as a few adults) outside of my work in a private school.
Thais, in my opinion, who are not familiar with blacks, seem pleasantly surprised once an amiable experience is gained. In fact, the experience, at first, is a novelty and people seem to like that they like it, which ultimately makes the experience more profound.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not on a crusade to win people over. I put forth the same modest social effort in all situations.
With regards to teaching, I have worked in several primary schools (through an agency) and of course get a curious look from parents and teachers the first morning of a term. However after the first lesson, once everyone realizes I'm an effective teacher (i.e. prepared, informed, fun and engaging), any and all preconceptions vanish.
The kids dig it, the schools dig it and the parents seem to like that their child has "the black teacher", not to mention that the child is actually learning.
Maybe the uniqueness of the experience is more memorable? I don't know. I do know that native English speakers of color (particularly blacks) create the possibility of a broad learning experience by simply not being a status quo teacher.
Think about it, you have two equally (I mean exactly!) qualified and talented teachers, both American, one white and the other black, respectively. Which one offers the greater learning experience beyond the language instruction?
Remember that both teachers are equally skilled. I believe the black teacher can affect the child's lifelong learning in terms of social tolerance and world view. As you are well aware,
Thai kids could certainly use a broad world view. And as I am well aware, Thai kids are completely color blind to race.
Unfortunately at some point as children move on to adulthood they tend to gather an opinion about racial matters. Most opinions, and definitely negative ones, are based more on assumptions than actual experience.
The web forums about how difficult it is for black teachers in Thailand and other parts of Asia just reinforce the status quo (i.e. English teachers are white guys) and discourage some blacks from experiencing these places for themselves; as a result denying students the broad experience.
Furthermore it may instill the false idea that there really aren't talented teachers of varying hues, hence perpetuating issues of ignorance.
If in fact it were true that there are no capable teachers outside of the status quo, it would really be a frightening science fiction-type scenario. Without a doubt, it's well past the time that we view ourselves, all of us, simply as Earthlings.
The more I've traveled, the more I realize that that's what we really have in common, Earth. All of the differences, the colors, cultures, customs and such are here to make the shared experience more interesting. Why limit experience?
The negativity didn't come from Thais
I am a Black American and would have to agree with others. Thais are not racist, but are very much regular people - overwhelmingly decent but prejudiced just like everybody else in the world, including the Black people from my big city neighborhood in the U.S., who would look a Thai up and down if one randomly walked through our all-Black block.
I have just recently returned from Thailand, and, while not a teacher, have travelled extensively through parts of the country. I did not experience any racism from the Thai people, although I did get a huge amount of stares and curious/perplexed looks, especially outside of Bangkok.
About the only negativity was if I didn't buy from a vendor at the various night markets - then some would shout rudely, usually in Thai, so I'm not sure if racists words were included.
I travelled with a group of four young Black women (braids, twist, naturals, and a perm) and we were never denied access to anything and got along great with pretty much everyone we met.
The Thai people especially responded well to us when we spoke a few words of Thai to them. In Koh Samui, many seemed generally surprised that we could say anything or would ask us where we were from. They even greeted us more enthusiatically than they did the Europeans.
By the time we left Thailand, we had heard that we were beautiful several times and a few cab drivers even held their arms against ours and said "same, same" in regards to color. Sure, we ran in to some Thai grouches along the way, but for the most part they were all good. A smile and a good attitude can get you through any place!
Usually any negativity that I received came from the huge amount of white Australian, British, and American farangs that congregated in Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Koh Samui. And Bangkok, to a lesser degree.
Honestly, the whites looked at us with pure contempt and had an attitude of entitlement to Thailand. You could tell that they felt that we had no right to be anywhere in Thailand. We had one group of whites tell our tuk-tuk driver to take them as passengers (mind you while we were still in the back) and had an old white guy literally walk up and shove us from behind.
Seriously, I am not making this up. There were other incidents but they are not even worth mentioning.
In my opinion, I think that many of the difficulties mentioned by some of of the Black teachers in this forum are the result of European and American whites spreading lies and racist notions about us. I've experienced their bad attitudes first-hand and they are a large, influential group in Thailand.
This is even more reason for Black people to continue to travel to Thailand (and anywhere else for that matter) and undo any damage that may have been done.
As for the Vietnam war stuff and other historical issues that may have affected the way Black people are perceived in Thailand, I really can't speak to this because I know very little about it. But honestly, I think that most Thai are intelligent people and will treat you decently as long as you are respectful and decent.
I say anybody Black should at least go and try travelling/teaching/living in Thailand. There is no guaranteed great experience anywhere that you go, but its highly unlikely that you'll experience any real problems other than the typical foreigner/farang-out-of-water situations.
Melissa Jones is currently teaching in Thailand
I am a teacher in Thailand. An African American woman.
The issue about Black people in Thailand is one that should be discussed as often as possible. There is limited information about our experiences here and I think it is important that we share the good bad and ugly.
In the name of sharing, I would like to share my experience in hopes that you revisit the topic in the future. I came to Thailand totally ignorant of basically everything and I hadn't even thought about potential racism. Having just graduated from an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), I had been sheltered as much as one possibly could be from racism in my every day interactions.
Coming here opened my eyes to how deep and how far racism has traveled.
It definitely is here in Thailand. It is as present as it is anywhere where there is access to Western media. Unfortunately one of Americas greatest exports is media- Hollywood, advertising and the likes. And in America, African Americans images in mainstream media aren't exactly diverse and we aren't painted positively as often as we are negatively.
Here, this racism is all inclusive not only affecting African Americans but also Thai people with darker skin. Kids wear white powder on their faces to lighten themselves and I would venture to say that whitening creams are one of the highest selling products in the Thai market.
The word for white doubles as the word for beautiful for God sakes! Having said all of this, it is important to realize, as I have being here, that this racism or idea that lighter skin being the symbol of all things good, in some shape or form reaches to the very ends of the Earth or it seems that way.
That doesn't mean that everyone everywhere excepts that to be true. Thailand is no different and everyone of every race who has the opportunity to visit, or work here should jump at it.
Living in the South with the darker Thai people, I have felt welcome. The Thais have called me beautiful and treated me kindly while some have not.
Yet for the most part I have been welcomed with warm smiles, and offered food and drink most places that I've gone. And most of importantly my children love me...
In order to overcome the stereotypes we must make connections with people, we must show them hard work ethic in the work place not because we have to but because that is what good workers do.
We should show our bright smiles and not come into Thailand defensive and ready to combat racism. Racism is ignorance and a kind action can educate. This is a beautiful country and I love it here. I'm not staying forever, but I am glad I have the opportunity to be here and experience everything that I have.
You might be interested in....
It's not the 'Land of Smiles' for us - Facing challenges as a black teacher in Thailand
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Hi, I am a Kindergarten 2 teacher at an international school in Bangkok. I would like to get ideas for black history month to do with my four year olds. I am not sure what is age appropriate and how to be relevant to their culture as well?
By Leah Richter, Bangkok (12th February 2021)
The most humorous thing of all is American people. Referring to themselves as African-American or Asian-American and so on. If you are born in America than you American. White, black, brown, pink. I am a white man born and raised in Africa. These self made titles are just naive and racist, assuming all Africans are black. Vast majority of North Africa is Arabic. And why have Asian-American and Indian-American? India is Asian. Again naive. Yet the only one you got right are Native-American..They are the original inhabitants of that land. I've never heard an African refer to themselves as British-African or French African. We call ourselves from the country of birth, Nigerian, Egyptian, South African etc. Americans calling themselves African is an insult to Africans. Yes you are black, so what, you are born and raised in America makes you only American. I never met a black American that knew one bit about Africa and its struggles. Let only trying to name 10 African countries. And locating on a map..wishful thinking. If you insist on these titles than why are white Americans just called Americans? White people in America are British ancestors. Why whites not called British-American? Since the beginning of mankind skin colour is attributed to climate. People from hotter climates tend to have darker skin and colder climates have lighter skin. Just boils down to the amount of skin contact with the sun over tens of thousands of years. Life is simple. We are just humans.
By Grant, Bangkok (17th May 2019)
Thanks for all the above comments.
As a black South African I expected the racism to some extent although didn't realise how far it could go.
I've been in Thai for three weeks and while enjoying the culture it also had super undertows of racism. I teach kindergarteners so from 3-6 and kids would not enter my class cause they were scared. So it's not a thing that's people grow into.
While I find kids in families of better economical status to be less aware of my skin it's still can be an issue. Once in class then things get easier after a week or two.
Sad part is getting a school job. Being more qualified, better prepared and just a better teacher than some of my counterparts means nothing. Literally had a principal walk out a contract signing after just seeing me and shouting at the HR manager while she held my certificates and Cv. It's sad that some lazy bad accent kid with no experience can get a job accidentally while we qualified darker skinned are rejected before we even open our mouth.
Although thanks for the comments, feel was needed not to give up and keep striving for a chance (and then keep striving not to be replaced).
Some of yol lucky you are black American, Africa may as well be from hell during application phase
By Lucky , Bangkok (10th November 2017)
This is so disappoint as I was very excited to come teach English in Thailand. After reading all the comments, I'm not so sure. What is so funny about this is that , Chinese, Thai and all other nations have opened businesses and we support and buy from them.....this is craaaaaaazy!!!
By Thulisile , south africa /Pmb (6th January 2017)
Thai people want their skin to be lighter and brighter.
But that's not mean they hate people who got a darkskin.
In a shop of big department store, if you're black thai man, the seller may treat you like a trash.(may be 40%)
But if you're a foriener who got a black skin, they will treat you like a common foriener.
Please do not think thai are racism, may be they just afriad to speak english.
And it's really normal that thai people choose not to sit next to you in skytrain or bus, they always do that to other thai people too.
You have to admit that thai poeple do not care about foriener skin. There is a few racism to black people here.
Common thai would judge other thai poeple with their skin, lighter is better. But not for foriener, it's okay to every skin tone.
You do not need to get well educated in english to be a english teacher here(for common high school, not international high school) and your salary still higher than thai teacher because you are from other countries.
Bangkok is the most developed province in thailand, if you choose to apply a job here you must prepare for yourself. If you choose to apply a job in other province, you do not have to prepare yourself with that much. There are a large gap between Bangkok and other province.
I have a black female teacher in my school, one high school in bangkok. She is so flawless and stunning. Some teachers hate hers, not because she is black but because she is too much out standing in school. By the way, in my opinion i think those teachers are really bad. It's okay to be outstaning but it's not okay to hate each other.
If you're a teacher here and you saw your students did had a few attention to your class, it probably not about your skin colour.
Students here are too shy to answer a questions in class.
That's not true that thai people do not want black teachers to teach them.
Okay i will list a rule to be a teacher here
1. No tattoo that can let other people can see it.
2. Do not be rude to students, even though some students may say really rude word(common students here did not know about the n word), you have to tell them with kindness because they did not even know well about what that said.
3. Be silent is considered to be polite in thai. Do not talk loud in public place, do not talk in elevator. Do not shout out loud in class. Do not talk loud in temple too.
4. Thailand is not a place that common to have sex with each other. Do not judge pattaya as Thai. That's impossible to have sex with your colleages at the school.
5. Thai people not into thick people or black people. Thinner is better, lighter is better. (But for me, healthy is better)
6. Shake hand is not should to be greeting gester here. It's unappropriate to touch other person. Use 'Wai' insteaded, and you would see a better reaction from them.
Sorry for my bad english.
By 18 thai man, Bangkok (30th November 2016)
I am a black lady who had thought in Thailand for six years and I think Thai people are not racist. The first school I was employed was a public school iin Bangkok and the first thing the Dean of studies made sure didn't happen was that I will not think of leaving them. He asked for my desk to be changed because almost all the teachers who had sat on it had left so he didn't want me to leave.
Every now and then there always a gift on my desk from one teacher or the other and from one student or the other. The students called me black all the time and I was angry sometimes but I was told they were curious. So what I did was get closer to them and asked the to touch me. When the found out the color wasn't coming out they were surprised and asked me if God made me so, I said yes. Thai people are so religious that the will not like to offend God in anyway. Now started willfully letting them share important moments of my life, sadness, illness and thank God I got pregnant and they kept on touching my stomach. Finally they got used the fact we were all human .
By Valerie Epie , Philippines (12th August 2016)
I have enjoyed all your comments guys. Thank you for sharing. It has given me good reasons why I should travel to Thailand and teach English even though I'm not a native speaker(English has no master).
By Derrick Lutandula, Africa -Zambia (12th January 2016)
I am a black teacher in Thailand and have had only minor problems. Nothing too serious to be honest. I just recently started blogging about my experiences and plan to get a lot of interviews from other black teachers and professionals living and working in Thailand. You can check it out at www.farangdam.com.
By Michael Hunter, Thailand (5th May 2015)
I lived and taught in Thailand between 2012 and early 2013.As an African the fight was tough as i spent every blessed hour of my life struggling to prove that i was up to the task.I however realized that we were just crusaders in a new world struggling to preach the gospel of good hardworking black people. The first school i worked with never hired a black man before in their entire history until when the director decided to change the criteria for selecting teachers by interview accompanied with exams which i happen to crack.At moment two black teachers have been recruited from my country Cameroon; just to say the gospel sank deep in their marrows. Before then I spent 4months struggling to get a job and in most occasions i was turned down for obvious reasons(Even a black man wants to teach?) . I later worked in an international school and that earned me credits and any top school was making efforts to give me a try there after. I later taught in this school in Chiangmai and was loved by my kids but one thing that kept ringing in my head and very pissing is when i realized young white folks getting a salary higher than mine for the reason that they are native speakers though they were just coming from University ( with my 8year teaching experience as a Science teacher this was not fun.) For my 1year 6months in Thailand i have been out of Thailand on four different occasions for visa runs as i failed on many occasions to secure a work permit due to the unfair treatment from Thai immigration on African passports.I got stoked out of thailand on multiple occasions and schools have to intervene and on two occasions the embassy agreed issueing a tourist visa rather than a Non B visa promising i will get it changed in Bangkok.I dont just want to dive into the intricacies of the matter here as per the treatment i got there on the two occasions ranging from exclamations when immigration officers happen to see my salary on my work contracts to how they wonder a blackman teaching in a top school.After i explain the difficulty to secure a work visa to the Human resource of the last institution in which i worked, they had to accompany me each time i have something to do with the immigration. On many occasions they have to explain that its because I am a science teacher and that is why i was hired ( i struggle to pick up a few words in thai ) and those were very uncomfortable moments. I remember one old lady at human resource telling me to put on white shirt the day i was to go for visa change.Thai police clearance, police clearance from home, a photo of myself sitting in and another standing out of where i currently reside where just some of those strange things to come about when an African went for visa change.
By Marsh, Baltimore (1st December 2013)
I think Humans in general enjoy categorizing themselves. Trust me if we humans where all one same color, humans will pick on something else, such as class in society, tribes, clans, religion, name it, in order to make themselves more worthy than others. I am an African, and its tough though, but, never give up and make a positive impact where you are, you will surly get what you want and make a difference
By Fiona, (21st August 2013)
i love the comments i have read about Thailand and the Thai people and the experiences of people of color who have gone there. i have/am considering visiting/living there myself (maybe for a year or two). from what i have read, i think there is a real opportunity to help the Thai people and those multi-hued people who visit from around the world, to escape the self hatred that is exhibited in the behavior described in some of these comments. within America, African-Americans (to a great extent) were liberated from their imposed low self-esteem, when some of their leaders began to tell them (us) how beautiful 'black' is and rectified the language by redefining the definition of 'black' found in dictionaries stating that it is "the absence of color".
the definition was corrected to mean (and explain) that 'black' is the combination of all color (add together the 3 primary colors to get 'black') and was a representation of the entire hue of the color spectrum, thus it is the best representative of 'humanity' and the idea of being 'humane'. with this understanding presented, it was made clear, that all peoples could be called 'black' and be identified with some part of its' hue (including pink people, many of who promote the non-hue of the exclusion illusion, called 'white'.....there are no 'white' people).
this understanding allows for people to better understand nature and why The Creator place a black space in the center of the eye, why the core of all hair types is black, why the holy land of all tribe of native American was called 'The Black Hills', why the science of the structure of elements is called "Chemistry", which means "the black art", Why the original name of Egypt, during it's pyramid building days, was "Khemit", which means 'the black land' or 'land of the black', why mammals are above all other species on earth because of the amount of black melanin in their pineal gland and mankind, having more melanin than all other mammals, are above the other animals because their greater ability to utilize imagination, why scientists worldwide say the greatest thing in the cosmos is the black hole at the center of all galaxies, etc. therefore, it becomes imperative for these people to know that anyone who is looking at 'black' and its' gradation of hues as being 'less than', are exhibiting an un-natural understanding steeped in ignorance of the way of The Creator; i believe this explains the hypocrisy of those with this mentality who claim to honor the practice of Buddha, may The Creator be pleased with him.
By Muneer, USA, 2012-08-08 (7th August 2012)
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By BertEronfergek, United States (16th May 2012)
This is a fascinating article and something I feel very strongly about. I am a white teacher here in Bangkok and have heard both sides of the story from those who work here and those who come on holiday. After living here for 8 years I think it is fair to say that there is definitely a prejudice in Thai society against people with darker skin. Whilst racism may be displayed openly or discretely, readers may be horrified to know that this notice was displayed at a bar in central Bangkok:
"Due to unacceptable behaviour, black men will no longer be served here".
A friend of mine had already ripped down another notice in which the word 'men' had been replaced by 'monkeys'. Thailand has a long way to go.
By Old timer, Bangkok (4th February 2012)
I read this subject with great interest.
It may smack of 'conspiracy theories,' but I do agree with some of the comments above that this perception that Thai's are racist towards blacks is something that is perpetuated by a number of whites with shady ulterior motives.
As a matter of fact, one "farang" teacher above pretty much suggests that blacks do not even consider coming to Thailand to teach, since it is sooo racist and there are no opportunities. This sort of attitude only reaffirms suspicions that some whites are quite resentful of blacks (and perhaps others of 'color') coming to Thailand for whatever purpose.
Along those lines, also pointed out above are anecdotes of white people in Thailand giving blacks hateful stares and whatnot. For many years now, white people from Europe as well as countries from America have been at the 'top' of the pecking order in Thailand. While on the surface they seem to "bemoan" Thai racism, in fact they tacitly approve of it as they relate story after story about how Thai women and people hate dark skin, worship white people, etc. etc. Thailand was their very own paradise where they could party everyday, find jobs easily, and again, be at the top of the pecking order when it came to foreigners.
So some of these white people, whether tourists, retirees, or employed such as teachers, suddenly see people of color start to encroach on their 'turf,' and compete for what they perceive is their "right," they start to feel jealousy and resentment. And some will do what they can to combat this, by intentionally spreading lies and furthering negative stereotypes about blacks and other non whites.
While no one can deny there is racism/prejudice in Thailand, name me one country where there is not? And how can some generalize about Thais as being racist, when they themselves have racist and narrow minded views about others? The bottom line is, don't believe everything you read and here.
By Interested to Teach, USA (22nd January 2012)
If you can speak Thai, and those around are unaware if this, you may hear a lot of unpleasant things said about yourself and others if the assume you are unable to understand. Thais do not show their emotions and feelings as readily as people in West (and other cultures) so it's their actions that speak volumes (the exception being when they think you can't understand). You will find the most distasteful views among older people, but I have seen incredible racism toward Khmer, Burmese and Falang. I once showed my displeasure at a senior government officer (who is Western educated) taking a photo of a dead Burmese girl on the road (who had died in a motorcy accident) to show her friends. Her response, "She is only Cambodge, there are many more where she came from".
Thais can be callous and superior, after all they are constantly reassured that Thailand is the best place on earth. Ask a Thai, "where do you want to go in the world?', Anywhere you want? The answer will almost exclusively be a place in Thailand.
I cannot count the number of times a senior, male and female has moved some considerable distance to move away from me (in suit and tie) on public transport, and its very common for older people to insult me, not knowing that I speak fluent Thai, I always ensure, if given the opportunity to tell them on leaving the mode of transport that I read, write and speak their language fluently.
Interestingly this is far more common in the city than in the Jangwat.
By Brian, Krung Thep (29th December 2011)
Regarding Mr. Real Deal, Earth, and Ms.Shanna Katy,
Mr. Real Deal, you need a nuptial with reality because you are a playboy. Talking about Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand, etc. is a fantasy land of extravaganza. This is not the reality of life. Being suave and debonair is nothing more than a person who wants to be sophisticated to the world. As for Ms. Shanna, you give the appearence as if you like fantasy land. This is why you agree with Mr. Earth. When persons live with tribal people, also with very poor people and help them, that is the real deal, not fantasy. A good idea, if you are interested in the real deal is join organizations such as Peace Corp, Golbal Red Cross, etc. and stay for an extended period of time and find out for yourself. Then see if persons will agree with fantasy or reality.
By David, USA (19th September 2011)
Thank you Mr. Real Deal, Earth ....your added balance and 2 Bahts were GREATLY appreciated. I have opted to vacation in Thailand and actually turned down the job offer I was considering for a number of reasons. Nonetheless, I am intrigued and love what I've learned of the Thai Culture and I am eager to visit. Who knows what the future may hold.
By Shanna, Katy, Texas (19th September 2011)
I have to chime in. I really need to add balance. I have been to Thailand twice. Once with the military and then later for about a month for holiday/vacation (I extended my stay). As a young, sociable, *very*attractive, well spoken, well dressed, well groomed, intelligent African American male..... OMG, I had the time of my life. Locals invited me to their houses, apartments, parties, clubs etc. I went every where. I even visited several temples. I displayed and was given the utmost respect. I was the center of attraction and made it work for me. I rode Motorcycles (I'm a rider) almost everywhere, always had cool Thai friends and just socialized (you should see me work). THAT was the experience that I was looking for. I wanted to BE with and AMONG the Thai people. I didn't approach them as a tourist but as a person that was happy to be living in the same space as them. And this is in both BKK and Pattaya.
It really all depends on how you network and what vibe you put out. People can see how GENUINE and comfortable you really are.
I still have friends that I network with to this day. Thailand wasn't racist to me AT ALL. I may go back and live there one day.
..... just my 2 Bhat : )
By Real Deal, Earth (18th September 2011)
While I realize I asked for suggestions on information about Thailand; it is apparent that you have completely misread my response. It is my belief that my response did not have any form of cynicism. On the contrary, I wrote and expressed myself to ensure that my inquiries were well received in hopes of ACTUALLY learning about a potential place of residence. Furthermore, I don’t believe anything I said related to my placing blame on other people and cultures for actions of prejudice, injustice, or any of the other global concerns described in this post. My statements were quite the opposite; as I stated the images people allow to be public domain and the persona one upholds can go out and cause damage as people across the globe view entertainers and their behavior as the norm for an entire cultural and so on and so forth. Lastly, I simply stated that the VERY things you are personifying in your response; stereotyping and ignorance (lack of knowledge about a person, people, or culture) lead to and cause such damage from the fear and misguided beliefs left unchecked or corrected). At any rate, no further advisory is necessary so thanks.
By Shanna, Katy, Texas (12th June 2011)
To Persons of Concern,
Whenever you are contemplating the plethora of relocation, it would not be a good idea to bring the self-inflicted attitude to where it is that you go. On this thing called the globe, it is not so much prejudice. It is more concerning about meme of what people are about. Abrogating what predecessors have done makes it extremely hard for successors. The mosaic of people globally has separate cultures as you mentioned that you have been exposed to and education is the answer of the panorama of knowing of other nations. But people when traveling who bring a paralysis of blaming other people for their actions create a catastrophic gulf of problems to divert the attentions for themselves, but people can think for themselves. People need to cease with having the self-inflicted attitude.
By David, USA (12th June 2011)
I wanted to write and thank Douglas Ashby and the other educators (Melissa Jones and Don Johnson) as well as the other posters. This is article was amazing, thought provoking, and insightful am considering a move to Thailand and had been searching for a plethora of information about the country, culture, job opportunities, and possible issues with my potential relocation when I came across this article.
I am in agreement with Don, Melissa, and several other posters about racism and prejudice being a global problem and definitely agree about the need to educate those ignorant to the existing stereotypes and poor media images. The incidents and attitudes described in many of your personal experiences and views further supports that one’s reputation can succeed them and cause much damage. I will not be alone should I choose to relocate (my 14 year old daughter will accompany me and it is a GRIEVE concern as to how some of these issues in Thailand will affect she and I both being black females).
I am a former Navy-brat and travelled all over the US for most of my childhood. It was commonplace in my childhood being amongst people of various cultures and backgrounds; as a result, I have a very broad my scope of thinking and outlook on life. Having been afforded such a rearing, racism and prejudice were not apparent for me until I moved to Houston, Texas as an adult. Racism and prejudice continues to be a life experience in which I learn to LIVE through, TRY to educate, and LEARN from.
I have mixed emotions after reading this article; on one hand I am sadden at the influence of ignorance and moved at the challenge to educate. Nonetheless, I have a ton of questions and many thoughts on this matter and before I write a book; I will opt to end here. Should anyone have any suggestions for me with regards to jobs, location, and helpful tips about Thailand; I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Shanna, Katy, Texas (9th June 2011)
In general, to people who write as proponents of any comments giving morphing when in situations of reading things to what they remark to, think about syntax. Stay on mark. When people do not need a visa from origin when arriving at destination, the immigration officers give a visa stamp at airports or points of entry for a certain amount of days. As for in generalizing how people are of whatever ethnicity depends on the permeation of their behavior. This is not focusing on stereotyping. When persons travel abroad and visit, that is a good aspect as for populaces who decide to take up residency in various countries with honest intent. But when using bombastic words, readers can shuffle their own thoughts. As for dart throwing looks, it takes two different directions for persons to be looking at each other. Also it is very whimsically to have the thought of thinking that persons put people on a totem pole that would be stereotyping! It is complete gibberish to show criticism of how a nation reflects on how they choose to use their thoughts. Populations from all over the world operate differently whatever in whichever system is chosen. Neighbors are even different. Fall or land on your own feet and cease with fallacy. Become an expatriate because if a person claims to be of another nationality than this, would not be his or her MOTHERLAND, even if they have relatives in another country. Every person has a perspective or enlightenment that is a Creator’s given right, so keep on expressing. There is no certain stereotype. It is how a person portrays themselves in public whichever ethnicity a person is. Stop stereotyping. It is good that people have an opinion. That is what freedom is all about. So don’t try to stifle people. Keep expressing.
By David, USA (25th April 2011)
Interesting article and some very interesting comments. I've only been to Thailand twice in my lifetime and haven't experienced any blatant racism. About the only complaint I had was from the few vendors and tuk-tuk drivers who tried to overcharge me for service. I don't think it was due to the hue of my skin, but just me coming from the west. While there I did observe some Thais walk around town with umbrellas while it wasn't raining and on a few occasions wear long sleeve t-shirts in the sweltering BKK heat which I found a little puzzling till my cousin explained why.
As with the one of the original posters, the only real negativity I received was from some whites visiting from western nations that gave off a vibe of sole entitlement to Thailand. Or as one previous commenter put it - a feeling that they are put at the top of the totem pole. Not all were like that of course, I met some cool English speaking Russians who actually bought me a round of beer while bar hopping in Pattaya. We talked sports and about Thailand in general. I haven't had as bad of experience as one of the OPs such as being shoved from behind or being denied lodging. But while exploring BKK with my cousins we did draw some stares...only from from westerners mind you. The Thais didn't seem to even notice us.
I have never applied for a teaching job in Thailand, so I can't speak for the experiences shared by the original posters in that area, but it was quite an interesting article to read. Based on the number of television commericals glorifying fair skin I saw and the number of fair skinned Thais in executive type positions and the number of dark skinned Thais doing manual labor it wouldn't suprise me. I agree with one of the OPs suggestions,urge all black teachers to buck the system and prove differently. Easier said than done I'm sure. I am certain in time performance will speak for itself and overcome some if not all of the barriers encountered as word spreads.
To all those people writing comments that are of European white ethnicity or of white ethnicity from various places around the globe that are in Thailand. I assure you that most, if not all blacks are aware that Thailand is an Asian country. Not where we came from well, in my case it is where 1/2 of me came from. Not all of us require visa to visit and most of us come to Thailand for what you call 'honest intent'.
We don't need you to remind us to adjust our thoughts or even assimilate to the host culture if staying for long periods. Please don't think that cause you lived in country for 4 years, you are the resident expert of how blacks should carry themselves when travelling abroad or just generalizing people of color in general. As for enlightening our thougts...in the future just keep such enlightenment to yourself. I'm proud of my African-American heritage, and equally proud of my Thai heritage and would hope that while you're in my MOTHERLAND you are there with honest intent and not there just adding the sterotypical reason most, not all, white westerners visit Thailand.
By Kevin, Baltimore, MD (23rd April 2011)
To all those people who have written comments or will that are of African black ethnicity or of black ethnicity from various places on the globe that come to Thailand. Thailand is an Asian country, not where you came from. You are in the country on a visa which is a privilege, not a right, and when you come to Thailand or other Asian countries, as individuals, you are to assimilate to the culture, not to wail about why other nationalities don’t adjust to the thought pattern of your culture. This is their infrastructure.
You come to their countries for various purposes and hopefully with honest intent. Thailand also other Asian country have their own crimes and circumstances. This is not xenophobia of Thais or etc. I myself have lived in Thailand for an approximate 4 years, I have absorbed many things, but I have adjusted. It has not been an easy path. For a person to go abroad from one’s own country is a good experience with good intent. However, ebony people will say that whenever other persons have a perspective that is racist, and you also start defacing other cultures when you cannot get your way. Look people, they don’t want your crime, your so-called aristocrats, war refugees. For your information, Thailand does not have welfare. Start working on your own infrastructure and cease being squatters. Most, if not all, ebony people create issues when there are none. They start talking loud and become annoying, and wonder why other ethnicities shun them off. It’s because of their bad behavior.
I have read and talked to black gentlemen who have said that Asian women adore them. It doesn’t matter if you are a four-foot ogre and have one eye as a Cyclops, money will attract attention, no money, no honey or excuses. Being charismatic is superficial and in the duration of time, people will figure out your façade. Everybody has a mind, so to say that Caucasian people may say bad things about black people. Even if people talk bad about other persons, guess what? People can think for themselves. They have a mind. People see and hear black people’s legacy. I have heard other ethnicities and black people talk about their behavior. People do this to themselves. They don’t need any help. I hope I have enlightened your thoughts.
By David, USA (21st April 2011)
I'm half Thai, and I can tell you that--yes, Thais are racist. It's not just towards blacks, but other darker skin Asians as well. I could never imagine a lynch mob mentality or even an attitude that leads to overt violence towards Africans, but rather, the racism manifests itself in ignorant opinions and attitudes towards black Americans/Europeans/Africans.
I would like to address the idea that whites are spreading these rumors about Thais--I have seen absolutely no evidence of this. Moreover, I have seen several whites try and counter the racial attitudes of Thais on many, many occasions. I would imagine such ideas are mere conjecture and themselves racially suspect. I have yet to see a white person in Thailand say one negative thing about blacks; however, I've seen whites even commend Guinean students for being superb with their English and studying skills. I myself, have tried to to combat the racist attitudes of several Thais I've spoken to.
These attitudes do not stem from some deep seated fear "of a black planet" or being overthrown by blacks, such as I've seen in the USA by racist whites, but merely from the fact that Thais are often surface level thinkers. Their education system doesn't not teach them to develop critical thinking skills, and they far too often don't question or contradict authority or what is told to them. I have never had a student adequately express to me what it is that makes them proud to be a Thai citizen that goes deeper than, "Thais like to smile" or "We have delicious food like Som Tum"....I'm not joking. It's very surface level here. So, the form of racism that they express never goes deeper than not liking skin color, appearance, or what they perceive as rude behavior.
It will say that some Thais quote stuff they've seen in movies and American media when expressing their racism. The Rap industry is a HUGE component of some of the things these kids reference...shocking but true. Again, surface level thinking.
But the last thing I want to say is that I've seen a few Black Americans and Black Africans who seem to enjoy themselves here in the BKK, and don't seem to fuss much about racism. THey even have Thai friends. I know 2 of them personally, and though we never bring up racism as a subject, they appear to get along just find in Thailand and love it. I will note that these folks are a joy to be around and quite friendly, so I think they really made an effort. It probably helps them that so many upper level managers here are Western or Indian--if it were just Thais, they might be whistling a different tune.
I love it here, but I'm a Luk Krueng (half Thai/Half white)--that sort of puts me on top of the totem pole.
By Dan, BKK (12th March 2011)
I found this article helpful and insightful, if not entirely reassuring. I am a 30/yo male of mixed-race (black and white) so my skin is lighter than most AA's (as long as I stay off of the beaches of Puerto Rico...Man do I love that sun!). I am greatly interested in teaching English abroad and was immediately concerned with the possibility of not finding work because of my skin color. I want to thank Melissa Jones, Douglas and the gentleman who has been teaching in Thailand for their responses. They have allowed me to hope that if I knock on enough doors, I will find a suitable place to work.
By Darius, Minneapolis, MN (6th March 2011)
What the previous poster said about rich, insulated, aristocratic Thais in relation to whites who show higher knowledge and / or an advanced skill set is equally true of how whites behave towards minorities who show greater skill or intelligence than them here in the USA and elsewhere. It causes them no end of psychological discomfort, particularly when we are talking about white university professors, many of whom are racist.
By Kenneth, (8th December 2010)
Douglas is a good example that everyone with qualifications, enthusiasm and will to teach - can teach. Colours have no meaning in BKK however Chiang Mai...well here things turn out not go so smooth. Thai people(not all of them) thing by specific categories - foreigner teacher= white skin + blue eyes + blond hair. I don't like this way of thinking but honestly...it saved me few times since I am not a native speaker.
About Thai people and skin colour - it has nothing to do with racism!!! They just like bright skin because majority of Thais would love to be white themselves 555 So no worries! They no ideology behind that. I bet all of you teachers who live here long enough and spend free time with Thai people already knew about that.
Calling Thai people racist is a colossal misunderstanding - they just like the way typical white boy/girl looks like...simple example: look at Thai pop-culture - all of it inspired by Korean pop music and movies.
Few words about Mark's response...I am fully aware of school's attitude and I really despise this. At same time I know my students' opinion on that...Few students from Mattayom 2 told me that they'd be simply afraid of 'African-American teacher' - I'd tried to get more explanation on this one but I didn't get anything more. Then I asked my Thai girlfriend- what she thinks about having "African-of any origin" teacher - she said now it's be ok but at time when she was in high school she'd be scared - funny isn't it? Have to admit that she comes from educated family and is Payap English major graduate - though her answer wasn't satisfactory enough.
On racism in Thailand again - it's nothing compare to problems we have in Europe and what I remember from the past years. Here in Thailand I experienced racism few times but from certain group of people. Mainly Muslim owner of a restaurant and his family, they never wanted to serve me and when I finally I got there with my Thai friends I never got the food I ordered hehehe :) Well, I am not angry and I won't spread a word of hate here or anywhere else. I got used to situations like this in Europe and States. Can't be friends with everyone right?
Just be easygoing and smiled - Thai will like you but still expect gossip behind your back- that's the way they are hehe it's ok with me really. Summing up - are Thai people racist? Some of them for sure. Not all!!!!! They have expectations towards foreign teachers - not just about skin, also clothes ...tattoos are not welcome - I my self have so everyday have to cover them with long sleeves hehehe Is it racism I get from them? No!!! It's the way they expect me to be...IF I had a problem with this I'd come back to my old job in Scotland. Good luck to all of you...and don't judge people too fast!
By Daro, Chiang Mai (26th November 2010)
Thank you all for contributing to this post. You have given me much needed insight into the world of TEFL in Thailand. Most of us would agree that racism is everywhere, however it doesn't mean that one needs to accept it and press on through it. Something has to be done on a global scale to address the issues we have with complexion. We are advised to simply set an example and affect a few by displaying a charming character? Well let's think of this, there are many impoverished/enslaved individuals in this world today displaying a charming character and it's not doing much for their situation. I love the fact that South Africans stood up for justice and there are many other instances throughout our world history demonstrating the need to stand up and disapprove of negative realities. Sure there are individuals in the world who do not judge people based on the color of their skin. However for the most part collectively and systematically we acknowledge complexion as a discerning trait for intelligence, capability, and behavior. So what that one thinks black is ugly and white is beautiful...it's an opinion..a prejudice. However when that opinion/prejudice determines whether I will receive an opportunity or not, then we are dealing with cold hearted racism. I don't think it's up to us to change individual opinions. I think it's up to use to challenge the systems and pave the way in other countries as we have in the western world. We are far from perfect here, but systems have been set in place (and are constantly being evolved) to address grievances. This needs to be addressed systematically. It would be great if the UN handled issues like this..but that's another topic.
By Ann, United States (23rd November 2010)
I think the racism is not coming from the students. It is coming from the school as they want to attract more students by saying that they hire native English speakers. Although they hire anyone who is white. I've worked here for almost 10 years and I found that some of the teachers here are from Russia, Iran and other Non-English speaking countries. I guess these schools, colleges and language centers should be more concentrating on providing better education than a white man. I wish color of the skin could make a difference in eduction but it doesn't.
Thais don't go to only US, UK, Canada, Australia or South Africa i guess. They would never be able to catch the accent as the first language always influence the second language. They should be taught English as a language. Well, I don't know how long would it take but I don't see any changes happening so far. It is getting worse and worse everyday. Wish you good luck all non natives...!!!!
By Richard Reese, Bangkok (25th October 2010)
The majority of Thais are innately racist. The only exceptions are to be found among those who have lived/studied abroad, and have shed their blinkers.
Technically, Thailand was never invaded (even though they welcomed the Japs in to avoid trouble). So, Thais are very inward-looking. They haven't had waves of immigrants (like Einstein), and most have never been further than the local town. Until King Chula 5 went to the UK and observed western ways, 98% were peasants and 2% were old feudal aristos or monks. Both ruled with a rod of iron. If you like, you can also say that the Americans brought about change in the 60s, when they 'rested' here during Vietnam. In the 60s, many people were still in loincloths, and grew rice. Try to imagine a feudal country which suddenly gets hit with Hollywood, Hamburgers, Stockings, Big Cars. If you are a simple country lad, it's like arriving in Disneyland. You want some. Look at the glorious consumption culture now.
The other reasons are many. Thai society is stratified anyway. The rich aristo Thais look down on everyone. They live in an ivory tower of Mercedes and maids and Armani. They look down on the chinese, who are better at business and not as lazy (the 'bad' word for chinese is jek--like chink). All of them in their turn look down on Issan people as peasant farmers and also on southern people because they are 'brown' people. Everybody looks down on Laotian people, who are regarded as 'lower' than even Issan people (with whom they 80% share a common language). If you observe closely, you will see that Thais treat eachother like excrement. If you are the junior maid or typist, your life is insufferable.
There are huge schisms in Thai society. People rarely strike up genuine new friendships on a train or at the gym. Your 'group' is formed at primary school, and a sub-group maybe from high school. The group is all you need for friends, and you stick for life. Thai people are not 'socialised'. They are polite, but do not cope well with new people, especially those from a 'different' section of society.
The jury is still out on whether the word "farang" is derogatory. I believe it to be quite racist, because it is used to delineate, or distinguish between 'us and them' by Thais. It is used quite openly--even my Thai partner sometimes refers to me as 'the farang' when discussing me on the 'phone with friends. I think it is very impolite. If we lived in London or LA, I would use their name.
White farang are a necessary evil. The presence of educated and highly intelligent whites (as teachers, hospital managers etc.) creates some kind of dissonance. Deep down, the Thais know that "quality" farangs (not the Nana/Cowboy drunks) are better educated and more switched on than they are, so we are tolerated, although the Thais are a bit scared. One manifestation of this is that, even in many top universities and schools, Thai teacher/managers do not consult with the farang staff..even those with MBAs and MEds and, more importantly, vast experience.
There is a dissonance created...something like a huge invisible chip on a Thai shoulder, which is especially pronounced if you are a big Thai fish in a small pond. You are used to having all you want from birth, with maids bowing to you. You ignore the unmentionable brown Thai people, you go to university, you get your Thai MA or PhD (which may be of dubious quality or totally edited for you because you pay). So, you have this perpetual huge idea that you are Hi-So or better than everyone else (although you will still grovel to higher aristos) After a time, you realise that the farang teacher, engineer or manager is often better educated than you, and certainly has more common sense and better day-to-day ability in the job than you. You know that you probably can't teach a language or run a business AS WELL AS the farang can. This makes you squirm inside (you were spoilt from birth and you went to Thammasat or Chula or ABAC). You squirm even more when you see that the farang is not interested in Louis Vuitton bags (a sign of your brains, wealth and superiority). Your brain starts to short-circuit. The farang doesn't appreciate how rich and clever you are and why people must bow down to you. You get resentful. You start to convince yourself that farangs are bad asses and snake heads (here for lust). It doesn't help that you were already brought up to loathe everyone else and to be as antisocial as possible, although you are a native of the Land of Smiles...so you are able to gleam when your picture is taken for the Bangkok Post cocktail party.
Where is all of this leading? Are Thais racist towards black people? Absolutely. They are "racist" to each other (if that makes sense), and certainly to white people. If you (thai) see a black man for the first time, you will freak. If you are poor, it will be like seeing a martian. If, on the other hand, you have crocodile skin shoes, then your automatic reaction will be to run home and plaster yourself with even more of that Clarins 3000 baht skin-whitening cream. Hurry!
By eddy, The Big Handbag (21st October 2010)
Wonder if any agency have openings for Asians to teach at schools where Asians are invited with open arms and not blinded by 'only native speakers from US/AUS/South Africa/UK etc' because of image and denying kids from real education, when these natives don't even have an idea what they are doing standing in a classroom.
By Aziz, Bangkok (20th October 2010)
Asian people in general are frightened of black people, it's not only in Thailand. However, if any one doesn't like the racism here, they can simply return home. Same for the white skinned peoples living here. This is Thailand, and they're not obligated to like anyone if they don't want to.
By joeohen, Bangkok (20th October 2010)
Yes, there is racism in Thailand as there is anywhere in the world, but putting the few racist Thais aside you are left with people who are better than good. What racism there is comes from a lack of education and lack of interaction with people of other nations and races. As a caucasian maybe I have only experienced racism in Thailand on a tiny scale compared to what an African American teacher would encounter but this racism is never malicious as it can be in my own country Australia where muslims, Indians and boat people are the current whipping boys and girls. As Douglas (first comment) pointed out, the advice to those with dark skins is to come in with a positive attitude and charm the pants off the Thai teachers and students. Good luck
By Terry, Australia (17th October 2010)
I had extremely funny experience with one school. I called the school as they were looking for some teachers to teach in Bangkok area. The lady answered the phone and asked me few interesting questions:
1. What is the color of your skin?
2. Are you bald?
3. Are you handsome?
4. Are you fat?
5. Are you married to a Thai lady?
After answering these interesting questions, she asked me to talk to my wife. My wife was quite angry as she asked her if I'm handsome or not. She didn't ask me whether I was qualified to teach English or not.
Welcome to The Land of Smiles
By Richard Reese, Bangkok (17th October 2010)
Teaching in Thailand is a show business... This is what I have learned in my 4 years teaching experience... Your qualifications are not important... Your skills are nothing... Sad. Education system in Thailand is finished.
By BARIS, Khon Kaen (16th October 2010)
When I came back to Thailand after a serious illness, I looked around for teaching jobs and got in at a large agency. I saw many westerners working in the office as well as those who came in for teacher placement. During the second week of work, an African American gentleman in his late 20's and a graduate of Boston University, came in for an interview.He did his interview and after I had a chance to talk to him.
I had heard about the agency's non-white teacher policy. The man came out of the conference room with a pissed off look on his face. The HR manager who was Russian / Turkish native told him flat out that Thais did not want blacks teaching their children. I went mad.I went up to the African guy and gave him contact numbers to some agencies that were open to teachers of other races.
By Abdul, Bangkok (16th October 2010)
I agree with the posts that expose the negative circumstances of racism and prejudice in Thailand. It comes down to self-hatred (most Thais are dark skinned). They have been taught by certain groups to shun any thing that is black, including themselves. However, these same polarizing groups travel to Thailand in droves to climb in and out of bed with the "darkies." Very much exploited, Thais are pathetically uneducated and dirt poor. Indeed, it is sad that they do not recognize the vast impact we could add to their economy if they could let go of their ridicules attitudes. In reality, though, they need us more than we need them. We have the education, skills, talent and language they so badly desire. I wonder what would happen if we n*****s decided to boycott their prized export - Rice??
By Lovie, Bangkok Thailand (15th October 2010)
If you are of African descent DO NOT go to Thailand!! The racism is so sickening and frightening you may fear for your safety as I did. Regardless of what people who want to appear educated and politically correct say, Thailand will make you feel as though you have stepped back into slavery. They are very, very, very racist and the worst ones are the poorest ones who lack any understanding. It's not worth it. Go someplace that will welcome your desire to help the global community. I have been in Bangkok for five months. It has been the worst experience of my life! Any Black person who says Thailand is what you make it is self-deluded. No offense to anyone, but the truth needs to be told. Thank you.
By GINA, Bangkok Thailand (14th October 2010)
I am a black South African, living in Bangkok. I arrived here with Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans who do not speak the best English, I had more experience and higher qualifications than they did. The agency we went to blatantly told me that I should find my own employment - whilst the white SA's were placed immediately.
Two months later, after leaving my comfort zone in SA - just for "life experience", I still do not have a decent job (I am a substitute teacher). What I find so mind boggling, is that in South Africa, racism exists because of our country's history. Yet we fight against it, all races, stand together (most of the time) and try to rise up against issues regarding race - yet here, in Bangkok, racism exists purely because they think that black = UGLY.
People avoid me when they see me, they cross the road - I've even had people change seats in the subway because they did not want to sit next to me!! How immature is that!!! Anyways, as clichéd as it may sound - The children are worth it! They don't see colour, and they appreciate you.
By Me!, Bangkok - Thailand (27th September 2010)
I have come to the conclusion blacks need to stop traveling abroad to places we're not welcome. Fuck em! Why should I spend my time and energy proving myself to a foreigner who has a lesser education, and quality of life, than I have. Currently, I teach sixth grade in the USA. When a parent request that he wants his child removed from my class because I am black, I have no problem telling my administration to remove the child. If the child wants to know why he is being transferred to another class, I tell him or her the truth; his parents do not want him in my class because I am black.
Recently I applied to teach English overseas in Taiwan. After learning that they preferred white teachers because "their pronunciation is better and they look better" it made me think otherwise. I do not want to know anything about their culture now ! "Fuck you too ! " If they are unwilling to hire a young experienced teacher like myself with a Masters Degree in education because of my skin color, then so be it ! When people of any culture make statements such as that, it is not about you, it is about the status quo! The European is the status Quo!
Yes even people with their own culture and country believe the European is the measure of all men because they have convinced the entire world they are the founders of civilization and knowledge, but we know in America that is a colossal lie. Africans have contributed so much culture and knowledge to the world, and every major religion and culture should be thanking the African for their civilization! Even Asians their so called god Buddha, has African origins. I know a lot of African Americans has brought in to that Martin Luther King, I have a dream nonsense ! Not knowing, that was a dream giving to him by white Jews ! We have given the world Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammad but when it comes to dealing and interacting with our race, they throw all of those principals out the window ! It is time to deal with these people like they deal with us.
By Mark Jones, USA (12th August 2010)
A lot of this is also due to the "sakdina" system. Why is this important? It is important because the feudal mentality still exists in Thailand. If you understand this system then you'll understand Thailand.
After doing some research on this subject has made me think that I want to shake my hands of this feudal mentality and move on to another country.
Why the hell the Thais can't let go of this feudal mentality and move on is beyond me.
By Anon, Thailand (3rd August 2010)
I've been reading some of these posts with and open mind.
I believe 'When in Rome, you do as the Romans'. I think this particular quote is very important. Most of us North Americans, Europeans...Think because we're from these rich countries, we know what's best. We have this arrogant attitude about us when we go abroad. We walk into someone else's country thinking we're better because we're American or Canadian and then when the locals are rude, we think it's because of the color or our skin. NOT!!! I think it's really important to leave that attitude home when travelling abroad, especially for us black folk. We need to go with open attitude and open our heart and spirit, show an interest in the country's culture, submerge into it. We make great relationships by doing so. Don't get me wrong! I'm not saying we need to forget that we are black. What I am saying is that we need to set by example.
Lastly, I plan to leave my lovely city of Montreal, Canada to teach overseas. I will not let anyone make me feel inferior. If they have a problem with the color of my skin then it's just that: THEIR problem. I might have to look a little harder and that's fine but I'm going to find a great job in Thailand as a teacher. I will not let anything or anyone discourage me. I'm going to pave the the way for my brothers and sisters.
The best of luck to all of you
By Efia, Montreal, Canada (12th June 2010)
I am Aboriginal from Australia, and have experienced racism in Thailand, whilst visiting various stores in Bangkok - I was followed around and checked before leaving the store. In the rural areas I was treated like a local, but then they were like me - of darker skin - I still go back - Peace ---- Thomas
By Thomas, Australia (22nd April 2010)
Racism is the minds of the individuals who percieve it. I've been a teacher in Thailand for nine years and even today I am called black by some of my students. In fact in my first school (an International school) I was abused with racial slur in every class I conducted but I never let it bother me during the class time. It was a horrible experience as after being harrased for five months I was was asked to leave. Many times I thought of what it would be like to sue the school and the students parents for the molestation of my self image and would just laugh as I knew those children are just victims of the native speaker myth that prevailed in the minds of the parents and elders of that time.
Today, I still fear needing to look for a job anywhere in Thailand as language education has reached its peak as a con. The parents and majority of the school administrators around prefer the children to be less intelligent and able (even thought they can do more). Thus they present models to pose for their adds and present a very clean image of their institutes doing away with or hiding the tradittional hard faced rough skin teachers who never looked beyond the school campus for his life time achievements.
The students will definitely overcome their parents and elders biases and prejudices by the time they reach university but I wonder when the commercial language institutes and mentality of pre colonial wealthy owners \ employers will recover.
Racism in education is an obvious possiblity as we teach our children to differentiate and host of other stimulants that help them see people differently but when they look down on folk it shows the biases, prejudices and weakness of the society the children belong to.
I would encourage teachers and facilitators not to see the children in the classrooms as Thai or any other ethnicity but simply as educands and pupils
to work with.
By Waniphok, Bangkok (10th April 2010)