Racism In Thailand, My Thoughts
I like the "Racism in Thailand" article and it is very true. I'm Black American from suburbia Pennsylvania and I've been coming to Thailand regularly since last year when I was working in Australia. Thank God for all those discounts. However, in April, I got "stuck" there when I had a work-visa mishap with the Australian government. It wasn't bad at all because, well, it was Thailand, I had a Thai girlfriend, and I knew some people from my previous trips. HOWEVER, living there (even as short as 3 months) is WAY different than any 2-week getaway. You begin to know the system and the racism becomes a lot more clear. No farang, I feel, will ever fully understand the Thai society, but they'll, at most, get a general idea.
Racism in blacks is generally more directed towards Nigerian population, rather than the Black Americans. Apparently, Nigerian crime "business" has given all black people a bad name in the "Land of Smiles", and smiling could mean "I
hate your damn guts". I did some research out of shear boredom (plus drunk conversations with other Black Americans) and about 90% of the Nigerians in Thailand are involved, directly or indirectly, in organized crime which is based around
scams, and drug trade such as heroin around the opium Golden Triangle. Apparently, they have access to 90% of the world's heroin supply….and almost ALL Thai people know this. Immigration started in the 1980's and then spread like Ebola.
Nigerians flocked there illegally primarily by fake passports and bribing with help of other Nigerians. Then the Thai government made a rule that Nigerians had to get visa from the UK to enter, which is extremely difficult…and they STILL got
in. There's over 6,000 currently living in BKK. So, 15 to 20 years of African crime, drug trade, and trouble with the authorities and most Thais have had slim to nil contract with black people, period. So that's where it starts. Some
Ghanaians get into the business too, but a lot have US Passports, which makes it is easier for them.
Every Black American I met in Thailand has told me that it is extremely IMPORTANT that Thai people not confuse me with Africans. And, sorry to say, they were right. I get treated way better and with more respect as when I open my mouth, I say where I am from, or show my passport. God knows how many times other Thai people have questioned my lady friend on what the hell she is doing with black guy instead of a rich white dude. Once her response includes "American"…..then that's the end of the conversation, life goes on. Even at Dream World Amusement Park, the cashiers actually questioned my girlfriend on my nationality and made me show proof. What was that? It's not like I was gonna sell something to that Bumblebee mascot. What's even worse was that my lady friend even admitted she didn't like black people before she met me. Because her previous "black exposure" was strictly around Sukhumvit Soi 3 and Soi 5, she assumed all black people were like the "bad" Africans. Yeah….weird. And most Thai people (like mentioned in the article) really can't tell the difference between Africans and Black Americans until you open your mouth. They may even confuse you for British, which is still "good".
I have a Black American friend there who teaches English (his father even retired there but that's a different story). He's been there for almost 2 years and has told me plenty of stories of his experiences of being confused for African. The guy doesn't even look anywhere near African (meaning Fresh of the Continent), plus he's very very light skinned. He told me one incident where he was waiting for a taxi with his girlfriend. The taxi driver zoomed past them and then backed all the way up to take the fare. My friend is actually fluent in Thai and he overheard the taxi driver say to his girlfriend, "If you were not standing next to this man, I would have never picked him up." Then, he mentioned something about how blacks short change on fares and don't tip.
Well, let's put it this way. Everybody is at fault. Thais stereotype black people (mainly Africans) and foreigners stereotype Thai girls (mainly low class bargirls). Every time I go, I always meet the dozens of drunk Farangs still pissed off about their first bargirl friend that broke his heart and took his money…yeah, then they assume the other 92% non-bargirl population are the same way. But let me say this. Being Black American has its crap with it, too. Everybody thinks I'm in the military, because I'm under 30 and hit a gym in the last year. In the Ermita district of Manila, it's actually good to let people think that, so your chances of getting mugged are lower…but that's a different story.
Thailand is great is place, and every black American who is not a jerk, cheap, or just plain idiotic should have a good time. However, I did get kicked out of an upper floor gogo bar once, but that was mainly because it was in low season and I wasn't too willing to empty my wallet in the place. Then, I learned from sources that upper floor gogo bars are "enter-at-your-own-risk" establishments. Thailand is fun place and Thai people are generally fun-loving. Racism is everywhere and it's a non-escapable reality anywhere in the world, even in outback Australia.
So it is ok for a Black American to write a negative piece with many generalisations about blacks originally from Nigeria, and other parts of Africa? I laugh to myself, I really do.
* A note to readers: I was unsure whether to post this article and so I sent it to a few long term readers asking their thoughts before running it. The overall consensus was to run it, so I did.