11/01/2008

You Really Want to Say this Stuff Still?



You ever wonder why little kids in Taiwan point at you and say "foreigner"? I came across these pages in book I guess I bought - for NT$350 - called Baby's Body. Here's a translation, starting with the line across the top: "We are yellow-skinned, but there are also white-skinned, black-skinned and brown-skinned people". The bottom follows: "Wearing a swimsuit, you can see every different kind of skin color." Then "Skin can be cold, hot, soft or rough and give you every different kind of feeling!" The book, put out by http://www.windmill.com.tw/, was not published in 1920 but rather December, 2007.

Over the past few years, Taiwan is, like any place on the globe, becoming more multicultural. According to recent stats, one in five babies born in our country has at least one parent from somewhere else (I'm not sure these stats even consider kids with two "foreign" parents as citizenship in Taiwan is still conferred by the parents instead of place of birth - meaning you can be born here but still not be able to obtain rights based simply on your race). So what on earth is up with this book? Right now, I'm trying to figure out which picture/color/texture my daughter, with her Taiwanese mom and American dad, gets slotted into. I'm already steeling myself for conversations that I'll inevitably have to take part in. Will my Taiwanese daughter see herself, as my sociology professor at National Chengchi University put it, a "problematic child in this new generation of Taiwanese"?

Where does this continued emphasis on skin color lead us?

5 comments:

Naruwan said...

I once edited an English text book in which a reading passage described Denzel Washington thusly: "Although he is black this makes him even more handsome." It made me wonder if the sentence had originally been "Although he is black, he is a handsome man" then someone had said "you know that sounds kinda racist" and it had then be modified to make it sound like the writer was actually cool with the whole black thing.

Anonymous said...

Whats the problem? The book tells really small children about their skin, and that everybodys skin isnt exactly the same and thats just how it is, or at least it seems like that judging just this one page.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Teaching little children to categorize on the basis of skin color is extremely problematic, shallow - you name it. There are lots of better ways to teach them to see other people around them. Does someone actually need to explain this to you?

Anonymous said...

The illustrations show multicolored children having fun together. Beware.

Sorry, but this is just the kind of over the top PC that does more harmm than it does good.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Race-awareness is way over the top in Taiwan. You really can't see this? Or, you think I'm exaggerating? Ask a "foreigner" how many times he/she gets called "foreigner" in a week. I'm all for multicolored people having fun together. I'm a whitish-pink man who lives in Taiwan.

Read my blog. I'm the last person you could call PC. But don't be an apologist for racists because this is a lot more harmful than being PC (besides being boring, how did PC people ever hurt anyone)?