Opinion / 首页Blog

God save native English speakers

By eddieturkson (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2014-12-17 17:57

This is not another of those rants from a black dude finding it difficult to secure a job in China. It’s not a black and white article, even though it is, on the MS word doc I’m using. It’s one of those rants where I’m trying to spice up the whole story, at least to make it juicy so you don’t have difficulty swallowing the truth.

It’s not just about criticizing the system; it’s about pointing out an anomaly that has left a sore in the eyes of the majority (non-native English speakers) of foreign expats in China. An anomaly that has been left unchecked with such impunity and disregard for the racial and culturally diverse expat community in China, and criticism against it won’t go away unless a real check-up from heads-up.

It’s hard to write on this topic without causing uproar or rants from native English speakers in China, so I chose my words very carefully. I might step on a few toes though, due to the tone. But please bear with me, it’s not my doing; blame it on the system and its culturally insensitive dogma in attracting foreign talents.

So which system am I referring to here? The whole system in China and its mentality on all things English native speakers are good and non-natives inferior. There are exceptions though, but very rare. This is a sensitive issue in China and most non-native English speakers prefer not to discuss.

If my memory serves me right, China’s foreign and opening up policy is to accept people of all racial and cultural diversity and no discrimination against minority groups, I don’t see any phrase which stipulates that China recognizes only English native speakers from wherever, but that is what is in practice even in some high places, all for the sake of face or grace.

I chose the title God save English native speakers simply because the phrase “native English speakers” has become synonymous with all Caucasians (whites) even when a person is not an “English native speaker”- allowing all white people in China to masquerade as native English speakers. I have highlighted English native speaker here, because the phrase itself is questionable and has been discussed extensively as to who actually is a native speaker. I still have some misconceptions and hope someone will do me a favour by schooling me as to who actually can be described as a “native speaker” or an English native speaker.

So why should God save English native speakers? God should save them because even menial jobs on placement boards want native English speakers. It has become some sort of a fancy cliché. If I should copy and paste here, the sort of jobs apart from teaching, looking for English native speakers, one would wonder the real motive behind such ads. Restaurants, night clubs and even bars want to hire native English speakers. It has become mediocre looking at job opportunities in China on even major websites and from organizations that confidently claim to have a repertoire of racial and culturally diverse international teams, when in fact; all their personnel are English native speakers.

If its teaching English, basically oral English and its accompanied tasks, then who gives a damn? Few people have a problem with that, and personally I don’t. The job could go to an English native speaker for all I care, and I mean one with professional teaching expertise, not just anybody. But with jobs that require specific professional expertise and qualification, for example in fields like marketing, advertising, graphic design, international trade, engineering, finance and accounting, I don’t thinks such jobs should be advertised with preference for native English speakers as a requirement.

It’s a shame, since that does not reflect China’s acceptance of people from all races, and our culturally diverse planet. Those employers and recruitment agencies (even on LinkedIn) that place such hypocritical and racially bias job ads have no idea about human resource and who they’re really looking to employ.

Fine, the point is, if you the employer or recruitment agency know what you are looking for (obviously looking some white face to grace the occasion when he need arises and not a competent personnel) you can still place the ad without being racially bias, and reject the applications you don’t need behind the scene after short listing. But because you don’t want to receive tonnes of applications, you rather prefer to discriminate. This form of discrimination is not different from any other form of racial discrimination and until such ridiculous requirements for jobs not related to teaching English are withdrawn and frowned upon, criticisms against the system won’t go away, at least not in the foreseeable future.

The original blog is: http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-1825133-25356.html

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