Discrimination, Racism,...You name it.
A question I’m often asked is if I have to face any discrimination, or worse, racism while living and traveling in Europe. Now I have to make it quite clear that I have no problem communicating in English, especially in speaking. Plus, I’m a confident person (at least I hope I am). Despite all of that, I sadly have to answer that I do see and face discrimination myself. If you still think discrimination and racism is not real, you’re either very stupid or super high on cloud 9 to not have your feet on the ground because it’s dead real. Let me share with you some recent incidents that I had with this sensitive subject.
Now, until this point, I must be able to write down 10 or even more stories about my experiences with discrimination. However, to keep it short, and I don’t think I need 10 of them to even make a point. I mean, isn’t it already very clear?
The 1st one was when I was in Berlin, lining up at the oh-so-famous kebab place called Mustafa's with a group of 7-9 people, all Vietnamese. We got our kebabs, were indulging ourselves because it’s past mid-night and our stomaches were crying for food. A drunk ass man stood in the line for his kebab yelled at us and tried to make an “announcement” to everyone on the busy pavement at that time:
"They’re Chinese. They have money. We must make them pay more for the food."
He yelled in German but a a few people in our group, who grew up in Germany, translated it for us. We politely responded that we’re not Chinese but he seemed not to care and just kept shouting the same thing over and over again. I know he was drunk and acting like a maniac but it’s offensive for everyone standing there, even the kebab stall’s staff. We then just told each other to leave before it got any worse because we don’t believe in violence, nor ugly at mind & heart people.
The 2nd story happened in Prague Airport when I was transiting to fly to Hamburg from Helsinki. I was tired and had rough boarding before that because my boyfriend forgot the passport and I had to fly alone. I went to Paul’s cafe to get a croissant. I ordered at usual, nothing went wrong until I was about to pay. Living in Northern Europe, I’m so used to using card for anything and at anywhere. As I was pulling out my card to pay, the seller woman gave me such harsh attitude as if she were yelling at my face: “Wanna pay by card? If you want to pay by card, you HAVE TO tell me first!”. And then she kept that grumpy face while I was paying after that what-the-hell moment. I, being tired and grumpy as well, snapped back: “I’m a customer. YOU should be the one asking me what payment choice I wanna go with. And what is that attitude? I’m paying for my food, not asking for free". The fact was, that woman treated me that way because she assumed I was small and weak, and may be, suck at English. Well, I am small but not weak nor suck at English by any mean. She didn’t expect my snapping back, though she just then ignored it like nothing had ever happened. Professional, I know.
Last story in Europe, I only experienced it on my last day in Bern (I was just back from Bern, in case you don’t follow my Instagram, which you should: thisiscincity). I was walking on the street with some girls in the city’s Old Town, heading to the main railway station. A Swiss homeless man approached us and yelled (again, they must really love yelling): “Vietnamese, fuck off!”. He kept doing that repeatedly, until we went off, with a hand gesture as if he was sweeping us away from Switzerland, as if we were some kind of trash. I am impressed that he reckoned us for being Vietnamese but it didn’t make it any better for his absurd and unbelievable behavior. Now, I’ve experienced a few situations in which homeless and drunk unemployed people hating on me or my Asian friends because they claimed that we came to “steal” their jobs. What can I possibly response to that? Hmmm. May be if you were not a drunk ass, no one could have “stolen” any job away from you, especially when you have privileges as a local. OR that if you were ever willing to work to earn for a living without all of that welfare then you’d get why we work so hard for it and hard work always pays off.
Now let’s briefly conclude this interesting and “light-hearted” blog post with a story that I experienced a long time ago when I was still studying in Louisiana State University, America. That day I was hanging out in an in-campus coffee shop with some friends as many other students did. A local man, middle age, came and talked to my group. It went pretty well and I’d even thought he was a nice one. Until he looked at me and paused for 2-3 seconds before dropping this bomb:
- Where are you from?
- Wow. Didn’t expect that! (shook his head).
I was just like “ok” with a question mark kinda face and thought that was it. But no, he gotta go for more:
- Do you have meat there?
- Excuse me? (I didn’t believe what I heard)
- Do people manage to have meat there in Vietnam? Like, chicken, pork,…
I just smirked and left him there to hang out with his own stupidity and arrogance. Discrimination and racism happens to the best of us, when you’re different in terms of race, talent, characteristic, or even lifestyle. Let me assure you, even when you speak perfect English, even when you're born in that specific country, it's still unavoidable to stumble across situations like this which is super frustrating and unfortunate. Judging is human’s basic instinct and if you ask me, I don’t think discrimination will ever completely vanish. It exists in many forms and circumstances and even though we can’t fully escape it, we can always ignore it. Prove yourself with actions, that you’re living your best life possible and if people have any problem with that, it’s their problem, not yours.