I am currently teaching English to Japanese children at a private English language school in Yokohama. I started teaching there in May 2015 so it`s only been less than a year. My colleague, the native English speaking language instructor (who is caucasian) is leaving soon and a new instructor will take his place. I`m not sure why it`s taking time, but the headquarters still hasn`t decided who will be the new instructor. They have, however, come up with two candidates. One is a male instructor who was born and raised in Canada.His parents are from India. He has experience in teaching English to children and speaks Japanese to some degree. The other candidate is an African American woman. The manager saw her demo lesson and apprently, she was very good. She has a punk rock hairstyle and she doesn`t speak any Japanese. All of this is based on what I heard from my colleague; I have not met these candidates nor have I seen their demo lesson. I asked my colleague, "does the new instructor have to be caucasian?" He answered, "well, it`s image".
The Japanese are often prejudiced against non Caucasians. In this case, the new instructor`s ability to teach English has nothing to do with his/her ethnicity yet the parents of the students as well as the students themselves are likely to find caucasian instructors more attractive than non caucasians. It is highly likely that the two candidates are dark-skinned and perhaps they are the ones "left over" where all of the other caucasian instructors were assigned to their new workplaces. Even in this day and age, racial bias like this exists! There`s not much I can do about it, as the boss of the native English speaking instructors is caucasian and he would prefer caucasian instructors over non caucasian instructors. He is responsible for choosing the new instructor at my workplace, neither the manager nor I have any power in the decision making process.
What is your opinion regarding this bias?
It is nothing new, among African American people it is understood that much bias and prejudice is not necessarily in plain sight.
This pro-caucasian bias seems to be on global scale, unexplained and unjustified except for the domination resulting from colonialism, power influences.
In this case, I would have decide against the African-American woman only because if both candidates are evaluated equally, the one with some ability to speak Japanese would be preferred.
So, you can understand the difficulty in dealing with these issues and attitudes in the United States.
Nice to meet you and would be interesting for us to exchange an idea or two.
Thank you for comment. So this prejudice is apparently on a global scale, as you mentioned. I`m not surprised, though I can only say from my experience having lived in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. I have a further update on this case. The new instructor has finally been decided. He is a Danish young man who currently resides in an out of town location in Japan. He speaks multiple languages including Japanese and English (as well as his native Danish) and has taught English at another English language school in the past. Apparently, his Japanese is quite good, which is a plus! What I want to point out is that the two candidates I mentioned in my last message were turned down and they were native English speakers! The new instructor is not from an English speaking country, but he is caucasian. I spoke to him briefly via skype and he seems to be a serious but nice man. The manager said, after he had seen the African American woman`s lesson, that he would be fine with an African American instructor, but that he was afraid that "the students would be scared"! How do we know that the students will be scared? I am fully convinced that this whole hiring process is based on racial prejudice!
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