Having grown up and lived in South Africa for most part of my life and now Living in China for the last two years, I have certainly seen and witnessed oppression amongst those who are of a different skin colour or class. In China, there are many people who are becoming wealthier overnight, however what most people do not realise is that those Chinese people who live in rural areas are severely oppressed and looked down upon, especially when they migrate to the city to look for work and leave the family behind. The living conditions they live in are severely poor and neglected and the wages they earn are an embarrassment that companies should be ashamed and ask themselves if they could live like this too. To make it worse I came across a situation at school where a student in my class from the previous year was extremely rude to his bus buddy, which is the lady who takes care of the children to and from school on the bus. She is also a cleaner at our school and wants to earn extra money to pay for her daughter to go to university, so she asked if she could be a bus buddy too. Anyway this child that I had previously, who was taught by his father, who is German to treat Chinese people like pigs had turned around to her one day and said I am not listening to you on the bus, you are poor and dirty because you clean my toilet at school. Can you believe it?
As a result this kind cleaner and bus buddy, was hurt, upset and embarrassed that a child could say that and she certainly was not treated in an equitable manner by a child, which has learnt to treat Chinese people like this.
I on the other hand was certainly furious, disappointed and disgusted that this little boy said this and at the same time shameful that this white little boy who is a guest in her country, was so demeaning to a Chinese lady who is working hard to pay for her child through university.
I believe that in order for this incident to become an equitable one, if I was still this little boys teacher, I would call the parents in, explain that the behaviour in their child was unacceptable and question why he thinks that this is okay. I would also sit down with the child and explain that this attitude towards those who may be less fortunate than him is not okay and unacceptable too. I would ask the parents and the little boy to apologise to the cleaner/bus buddy lady.
If you were the teacher of this little boy, how would you handle this situation?
- What and/or who would have to change in order to turn this incident into an opportunity for greater equity?