Taiwan is Rude.
2017 is officially the year of cis-gendered straight men and gay white men needing to get their stuff together.
As I routinely tell people, living in Taiwan as a Black woman can simply be exhausting on a level that I did not experience in the U.S. There are some days where I just need to “de-people” as I call it because it can be a lot to handle. There are no safe spaces besides the immediate space which is yours.
If I went out to dinner with a group of people I did not know well in the U.S., I would be shocked if someone said something deeply problematic to me. However, in Taiwan every time I have gone out with people who were already not friends someone has felt the need to say or do something which really encapsulates the power of how Western racism as a brand has been manufactured so well I can find it on the other side of the world being spewed out of the mouths of people who think Jamaica is in Africa.
It really bothers me that people are really out here trying to be cute and trendy and pretending to be “woke” and yet are still people who often say some of the most offensive things.
Remember what you will read below is not an uncommon experience. To experience sexism and racism all within the span of hours is an all to frequent occurrence. I am going to break this down into different stages of my experience during the course of one evening.
Chapter I- Catching Blackness
As usual and as many people of color who live in Taiwan know if you are on the MRT (Taipei's metro system) very often people will get up and move if you sit next to them, since you know, they don’t want to catch your Blackness or your Ebola or whatever other affliction they think I will bestow upon them. Maybe they think I will jack them for their k-mart discount sneakers and clothes. I will never know.
Chapter II- Problematic
White cis-gays in the span of 20 minutes let all of the racism fly.
It started when one guy said “Bye Felicia.” It stopped when I said there was no Felicia there to say bye to. After the "Felicia event" I heard them start on how some people like men of color (let me remind you, they live in Asia. What these men need to be called are the color-less ones). I asked about what friend had a fetish, and they were talking about the Kardashians and their like of black men, to which I said the Kardashians are the worst. I called out the Kardashians for using Black men are items for them to use and exploit. R.I.P Kanye. Then proceeded to talking about how Latinos can drink a lot and how men from the U.K. are nice and polite. These mother fuckers from the U.K. have physically and mentally raped their way across the world and you want to talk to me about manners? Not today. Needless to say, it was not okay on many levels. I left that place to wash the taste out of my mouth and went somewhere else.
Chapter III- Invading spaces
After leaving the racist White men behind. I was outside in a public space talking to my friends about intersectionality. We are having a good time and I was happy to talk with people whose company I enjoy, when a White woman who does not know me, or introduce herself to me proceeds to just put her hands on me as if she is entitled to my space because as we have seen time and time again, where is the value in Black bodies?
Chapter IV -What is no?
A man is being extremely problematic and with the help of others, I have to force him to get out a woman’s lap and tell him not to touch anyone.
The Final Act
Because of the problematic behavior I witnessed before, I was talking to 2 other friends about when men should intervene when it comes to harassment. My friend’s acquaintance then buts into the conversation. Me being me, I said his friend was wrong for touching someone and violating their space. I interjected because as he was being verbally aggressive to my friend. He then starts yelling at me saying I should be in my place. I said he was in our conversation and he needed to back up. I asked him to move and get out of my space and would get closer and put his hand in my face as I told him he needed to leave and get out of my face. This went on for maybe about 10 minutes. Asserting myself only made the situation worse as I was verbally harassed and physically threatened all while the Taiwanese police watched from outside and laughed.
I truly need these straight cis-men to get their act together. This is specifically a message for the Black men in Taiwan. You can’t cry racism and say people need to get along when you can’t even tell someone to stop harassing a woman. The Black men who choose to live in Asia often have this bizarre idealization of whiteness or Asian-ness and place it before Black women because Black women do not deserve the same level of respect other women receive . They don’t see you as a full human being and don’t even have the courtesy to apologize for someone threatening you with physical violence after you ask them to back away when they start yelling at you after interjecting themselves into your conversation.
The audacity of someone to defend physical violence against a woman because they are from a different culture is insane to me. The harassment women face at the hands of cis-gendered straight men is all too real. This specific de-humanization of Black women is a specific off-brand which you find only in places in Taiwan. Later the friend of the man who physically threatened me, did not apologize to me, but admitted to another man later he was wrong. Why would someone do this? The answer is because I don’t deserve to be treated as an equal, I have to be talked down too and not acknowledged because at the end of the day these straight Black men out here in Asia don’t respect me, and they are usually out here because a lot of them don’t respect Black women at all and often feel the need to put them down.
While I like to think social media can make changes, I am still living on the other side of the world where people can’t even acknowledge their racism without answering with something racist. I need men in 2017 to be better, and with all of this other racist bull-shit that I am wading in I need these cis-straight Black men out here to be better...I need them to be better.
Shout out to my friends who helped me, men and women alike, I love you.