The unspoken but mutual understanding regarding immigrants in various parts of the non-Western world is that there’s one group of them who can escape with an excellent deal: the White race.
They’re mostly mentioned as expats, whereas non-white aliens fall under such categories as immigrants and guest workers. And being an expat comes with a variety of privileges. Call it a white privilege if you would like. It doesn’t only exist in America; it’s a worldwide phenomenon.
This privilege was the topic of heated debate last week in Hong Kong, a city that has for an extended time been enthralled by all things Western thanks to its 150 years of colonization by the British.
But even in Westernized Hong Kong, the outrage was sparked because the Hollywood actor Nicole Kidman was allowed into the town without quarantine.
This waiver was to participate in the filming of an upcoming American drama series for Amazon Prime. Ironically, the series is named Expats.
The Janice Y.K. Lee book on which the show is predicated may be a nuanced reading of race and sophistication and doesn’t always represent expats in a particular light.
But the filming of the series seems to be making the other point: that a world-famous white actor can do what they need and skip isolation at a time when local authorities had just made an unpopular decision to reinstate, for several countries, a three-week quarantine period—the world’s longest.
This restriction has affected thousands of individuals trying to reunite with loved ones or run their businesses.
Neither Nicole Kidman nor Amazon seems to possess commented on the controversy. Still, in any case, the blame mainly rests with the Hong Kong government, which has actively supported the exemption is given to the actor and four other members of the assembly crew.
Exemptions For Hong Kong Residents
Officially, there have always been exemptions for those providing “professional services within the interest of Hong Kong’s economic development.” Therefore, the government points out that thousands of Hong Kong residents returning to China can enter without quarantine, as do end-of-the-day truckers and diplomats.
But this has not run down well with most business managers, social or international. It’s also sparked anger and desperation among Hong Kong citizens in Australia trying to travel home.
Business owners, whose activities have a way more direct impact on the economy than an Amazon Prime television program, are frustrated that they need not been granted equivalent privileges.
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Many travelers have had to endure 21 days during a cramped hotel room—paying thousands of dollars, with some experiencing PTSD, depression, and insomnia long after their confinement.
But Nicole Kidman gets to return and go from an $83,000-a-month mansion, and Amazon has not even waited for the scandal to subside before starting filming.
The initial shoots have only drawn more flak. Consistent with local media, the assembly crew orientalized a street market, in cringe-worthy fashion, by bringing in “exotic” Chinese props like lanterns and calligraphy scrolls.
Criticism has also been made from dozens of team members and extras meeting together without masks, compulsory public spaces in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau says it doesn’t “collect any information on the race or ethnic background” of these exempted from quarantine.
Still, it seems unlikely that an Indian, Vietnamese, or Nigerian actor would be waved through, albeit to possess a worldwide reputation.
A Philippine director shooting a movie about the lives of tens of thousands of female domestic helpers in Hong Kong—who are all critical to the economy—would have a fat chance of getting an equivalent perk, albeit they, like Kidman, had arrived from Australia.
Thousands of domestic helpers stuck within the Philippines and Indonesia are barely allowed back in—and naturally need to undergo the three-week isolation.
Sadly, the people of Hong Kong have long viewed white privilege as how the planet works. It’s what they also ask, with their Western styles, appreciation of Western labels, and passion for Western passports academies.
It was apparent during the demonstrations of 2019 when the celebs and Stripes and therefore the Union Jack floated from the barricades, and junior demonstrators attacked region Chinese observers but left the White race alone.
Many protesters even sought support from Donald Trump and his merry band of white supremacists. This “colonization of the mind” is that the result of decades of subjugation.
But it isn’t just employment. Almost every aspect of life—the sports we play, the garments we wear, what children are taught in schools, the books and news we read, the tv we watch—is predominantly influenced by the West.
With white privilege integrated across the region, expat communities routinely escape with bad behavior. The youth of COVID-19 were a number of the worst offenders of the principles about wearing masks, gathering in groups, and social distancing.
From Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, individual expats didn’t appear to feel an obligation to the welfare of the local population. In Hong Kong, a report said the expat community was “widely perceived” to be “more reluctant to interact in social distancing or placed on masks” and spoke of a “cultural gulf.”
The preferential treatment of the White race is so widespread that even wealthy, Western-educated Asians can experience discrimination in restaurants, airports, and upscale shops.
Many will know the humiliating experience of being challenged at the entrances to posh apartment buildings or hotels while the White race is allowed to stroll through.
Nicole Kidman might not perceive herself as a part of that hierarchy. She once famously refused to use a racial slur within the script of The Paperboy, which is to her credit.
But while she may reject the foremost blatant and offensive acts of racism, the reality is that she remains the beneficiary of a wretched global system—one that’s obligingly upheld, far too often, by non-white people themselves.
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Simi is a creative person who loves to write about technology, games, business and entertainment. She has been writing since she was 8 years old and her first story won a contest at school. Her love for creativity never dies as she now spends most of the day working on one creative project or another.