University of Oxford based student think-tank study: Racial bullying of British Chinese

When Lisa was asked whether she had experienced or witnessed racism towards her British Chinese classmates, she said no. However, when the interviewer asked her if she had heard any ‘Jackie Chan or Ching Chong’ jokes? She said yes. This indicates that White students may not perceive these derogatory terms as racism, and labelled them as ‘just jokes’.

In line with this statement, one of the interviewees said, “I heard that Chinese people look alike and they have a different accent, but it’s just a joke, not racism.”

When asked about the term-‘Chink’, interviewees were defensive and perceived it to be a racial category instead of a racist word. One of them made the comparison between Chinese ‘jokes’ and Black or Muslim jokes. 

“Calling someone ‘Chink’ feels more acceptable and Chinese don’t mind it so much. They just walk away or ignore it. They know we are joking. If you called a Muslim ‘terrorist’, he or she would make a scene.”

Interestingly, White students may engage in racial bullying without the realisation that they were doing so. Even more worrisome is when British Chinese students’ bullying experiences have rarely been investigated. Racial bullying of British Chinese groups in schools is an issue that has not received much academic attention, despite being the third largest non-indigenous minority community in Britain. Furthermore, British-born Chinese, as a sub-group of the Chinese community, have been neglected in academia. Academics explained that this is because British Chinese are regarded to be the ‘minority of minorities’. They also argued that British Chinese are also not considered to be ‘troublemakers’ and generally do not threaten moral order in Britain, which may lead to the lack of policy of academic candidate on the particular group.

However, this does not diminish the fact that racial bullying of Asians is a prevalent and pervasive problem in Britain. A small study done in a large city in England showed that 80% of Asian children have been teased by their Caucasian peers because of their race. Another study done in Manchester secondary schools showed that 48 per cent of children had seen ‘racial fights’ and 77 per cent had heard racial name-calling. From these statistics, it is clear that racial bullying is widespread, and often takes the form of verbal abuse, and may sometimes escalate to physical bullying.

British Chinese may have been overlooked in studies targeting bullying because British Chinese are perceived to have assimilated into British culture, exhibiting similar qualities and mannerisms, and hence should not face any form of racial bullying. However, British Chinese may be subject to a different form of bullying. While they may have Anglicised social behaviour, such as speaking predominantly in English, and share cultural similarities as other British citizens, they remain visually different. As a result, British Chinese are often targeted based on their looks. Evidently, British Chinese may still be victims of racial bullying, in spite of their shared cultural similarities. Therefore, it is clear the issue of racial bullying of British Chinese remains an unexplored and pressing problem.

At OxPolicy (a student think-tank based in University of Oxford), their research hopes to explore racial bullying of British Chinese by uncovering the prevalence and type of racial bullying that British Chinese experience, how educators currently approach the issue of racial bullying. The student think-tank also hope to propose policy measures that educators and policymakers can adopt to mitigate this problem. For example, to help more people understand that racial slurs are not jokes.

To achieve this, OxPolicy hope to employ the help of any British Chinese to provide insight into your experience with racial bullying in secondary schools through filling out this survey.

With your help, we can have a clearer understanding of what racial bullying looks like from the perspective of a British Chinese and potentially bring more attention to this crucial issue.

Click here for the survey

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