When I was in line to buy an Airport Express ticket today, there was a tourist in front of me doing the same thing, except this tourist spoke Mandarin and was obviously from the mainland. The clerk wasn’t particularly enthusiastic towards her. When it was my turn, I spoke in local HK-style Cantonese to him and there was a marked change in his attitude and behavior. It was almost like relief on his end, glad to finally be interacting with his own kind, and he was much more friendly towards me. To be completely honest, I was glad that he treated me this way. I experienced no majority guilt. I think I’ve mentioned it before; it’s nice to be part of the majority after being a minority for over two decades. I know what it’s like to be discriminated against.
The fact of the matter is, prejudice is everywhere and cannot be avoided. We may dance around the issue with political correctness, something that is superficial and invented by politicians in an effort to gain more votes, and we may think that prejudice in society is gone, but if we truly do think that then we are fooling ourselves. It is animal nature to be prejudiced. Lab mice who got electrocuted when they go after a certain food will start avoiding that food even when the electricity is turned off. When the news reports police discrimination time and time again, people learn to be wary around them. When a big percentage of crime is committed by a certain demographic, our awareness level increases whenever a member of that demographic enters our vicinity, even though rationally we know that not all of them are like that. This is millions of years of evolution, of learning how to survive. Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me.
As humans, we are (theoretically) able to suppress our animal urges to behave in a civilized manner. I do try to live my life in this way, treating all people, regardless of their race or class, in the same way. Sadly, many people think differently than I do. My problem with people has always been, what the fuck did I do to you for you to treat me in this manner? Every new face to me is a clean slate. I will give you the benefit of the doubt until you show me otherwise. Why can’t everybody be like this? I guess the answer is, see the paragraph above.