I do residential deliveries in an area largely populated by Chinese people. Many of these Chinese people do not speak a lot of English. Sometimes I walk away from a delivery exchange with one of these Chinese people and I get annoyed. They often only know one English phrase which is, “I don’t know English.”
If a white person displays their annoyance towards a situation like the one I mentioned, they would probably be looked upon as somewhat racist. If not racist then not a very nice person. So what does that make me? I’m Chinese and I get annoyed. The only main difference between these Chinese customers and myself is that they speak a different dialect of Chinese. What makes me even more of an asshole is that some of my relatives don’t speak English or not very well. That might be the only reason why I’m at all understanding about this no English deal.
My frustration arises probably because it interferes with the workflow of my job. When someone doesn’t understand the English name of a person living in their house it slows things down. Try telling someone who doesn’t understand English that they owe taxes and duties.
If you can say, “I don’t know English,” you probably could have learned, “what is your name” as well. But obviously it wasn’t totally necessary because they can get by a whole lifetime in Canada without knowing any English. There’s enough people here who speak the same language that they never absolutely have to learn. If you need something done that requires English then you call that person in your family who speaks English to help you. As annoying as it is for people who try to communicate with them in English, it must be much more debilitating for people like my grandmother to go 35 years here fearing situations where understanding English is required.
I’ve heard it many times from white people who angrily say, “if you are going to live in this country, you should have to speak English.” It would probably be ideal but the fact is you don’t have to and when you don’t have to do something, often times you won’t do it. Learning English for immigrants here is like losing weight for fat people. People generally aren’t that successful at it cause it’s much easier not to. This country would also be better if there were less unhealthy people but this is the country we live in..if you’re not directly hurting anyone then you can keep on doing it.
I think a lot of people who are thought to be racist aren’t really racist. In my situation, one would call me a racist if I wasn’t Chinese but since I am, people would just call me an asshole. But you have to admit, it’s kind of funny too. It be a good scene for a movie especially if I walked away mumbling a racial slur. It’s not that I hate Chinese people. I just hate it when a Chinese person makes my life more difficult. I would hate it if they were brown, white or olive. I don’t really even hate it when they can’t speak English. I hate it as much as hitting a bunch of red lights or when I have to slow down because of an obese jay walker. But I was kind of disappointed at myself when I thought to myself, “why can’t they learn some English?” even when I know the reasons and they make sense to me.
In recent years there’s been a lot of negative feelings towards rich Mainland Chinese people coming over here in herds and raising the real estate prices. I’ve had Chinese friends of mine say something similar to, “too many China people coming in,” which is funny and hypocritical at the same time cause when our families were coming here in the 70’s and 80’s, white people were probably saying the same thing and we hated them for it. So I guess racism can be mistaken for disliking a group of people who you think are affecting your life negatively.
In North America we sometimes forget that this nation was built by immigrants. Every generation here wants to be the last generation of immigrants because they feel the new ones are taking away from their way of life.