SCMP Letter: Brownface in TV drama shows need to work on inclusion

Hong Kong is known as an international city, but a recent television drama in which a Canadian-born Chinese actress darkened her skin – a practice known as brownface – to play a Filipino domestic worker shows Hong Kong is still far from being a truly inclusive community.
As a member of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority communities, I am happy to that see more of us today are highly educated. Recently, one of my friends, Aljon Rae Grospe, a Hong Kong-Filipino and local university graduate, shared his experiences as an ethnic minority member of the Hong Kong community in a TEDx talk. He talked about how going to a school designated for ethnic minority students meant he faced challenges, such as integrating into the larger society, while playing rugby at university was the key that opened doors for him to interact with ethnic Chinese Hongkongers. However, he still often gets questioned about his cultural identity by many.
How might we tackle the issue? Getting to know each other perhaps is the first step we can take. It may seem easy, but research by the Equal Opportunities Commission revealed that nearly 50 per cent of ethnic minority students never or rarely interact with their ethnic Chinese counterparts.
Recently, I have been engaged in a local education programme D-Generation, in which the organiser gets Chinese and non-Chinese students together to take part in skills training and community internship. I treasure this opportunity to widen my horizons and equip myself further for the future. At the same time, the programme has given me a chance to collaborate with different Chinese students in Hong Kong.
In fact, in this increasingly globalised world, we will have more occasions to interact with people from all over the world and, hence, it is important for us to make a start in understanding and interacting with different ethnic groups in Hong Kong. Looking ahead, I hope we can widen our perspectives on the topic of social inclusion and in so doing gradually have an immense impact on Hong Kong’s community and economy.
Navpreet Kaur, HKU Student

This article was originally published on SCMP on 16 April 2022