Take, for example, Mike Lee and Will Evans, students from the U.S. and Canada, respectively, who applied to be English teachers through the New Development School, a teacher-placement agency in Beijing. Being fluent speakers of English, both believed they would make competitive candidates.
What they didn’t know is that recruiters would not be evaluating them just on their English fluency or academic credentials. Instead, they were judged primarily on physical appearance.
Yeah.. my brother was politely asked to leave his first English teaching job in Shanghai because the kids’ parents’ didn’t want a Black guy teaching their kids English.
Fly 20 hrs across the world.. no white people around.. and you still gotta deal with whiteness. I just find it so discouraging.
Byron Vogue, who works for the corporate English training company Stanford English, said that Chinese recruiters will always prefer to hire Caucasian applicants over their non-white counterparts.
“There’s this concept that if you send your children to English class, the parents are expecting their children to be taught by a white English teacher versus an Asian-American or … a black American,” he said.
A post by Vogue on a popular online forum and classifieds site, The Beijinger, explicitly spells out the phenomenon:
“In Beijing this is the general pecking order in terms of a company’s recruitment (by Chinese managers):
1. White Americans/Canadians
2. White British
3. White Australians/New Zealanders and South Africans
4. European Nonnatives/Black Americans/Black British
5. American Asians/Black Aussies (Australians) and Kiwis (New Zealanders)/Filipinos/Africans”
It says a lot about the rigid, limited perception of “Asianness” when non-native-English-speaking (white) Europeans are viewed as more desirable English instructors than Asian Americans. It’s beyond disillusioning to find that attitude in Asia. In any case, the white Canadian dude (Evans) interviewed in the article (who was openly hired for his whiteness, over the more qualified Asian American candidate) comes across as awfully comfortable with his predicament.