“Those Mainlanders” and other racist ways to start a sentence

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I was at a restaurant with friends a few weeks ago. The conversation was kind of slow, so I mentioned my plans for travelling to Hong Kong next year and asked for advice on which attractions to visit.

One of the members of the group took this as an opportunity to talk about all the annoying “Mainlanders” – a term referring to people from Mainland China –  I should be wary of during my visit.

“Mainlanders go to Hong Kong to show off their money. They’ll go into an LV boutique and say to the sales assistants, ‘I’ll take all the bags in the store except these three’. And they won’t even really want the bags, they’ll just buy them to show how rich they are. They end up throwing them away. Even the sales assistants hate them.”

As if Mainlanders were the most wasteful, spoiled, decadent, and thoughtless people he could think of.

During this time, only two of the people at the table (one of them was myself), had polished off their meals. The rest (including the Mainlander Hater) had each left about a third of their food on the plate. Not one of them asked for a takeout box to save the food for later. All the uneaten food went to the garbage.

And as if that wasn’t ironic enough, our restaurant was located on a street which is lined with poverty. There are panhandlers on almost every block. The Mainlander Hater himself drives an extremely expensive brand-name SUV. I still get dizzy every time I think about how much his vehicle must’ve cost.

Relative to most of the world, we middle-class North Americans are the ones who are extremely wasteful, spoiled and decadent. I’m sure the tens of thousands who are living below the poverty line in Metro Vancouver think we middle-class bourgie-wannabes are pretty awful too. Goodness knows I spend enough of my limited cash reserves on frivolous crap like shoes and dresses.

My own parents love to complain about Mainlanders. But when they struck it rich, they started buying useless junk like Gucci watches and expensive cars too.  Rich people are always going to – surprise! – spend like they’re rich, regardless of their race.

But I guess no amount of irony is going to stop people from being racist when all you want is someone to point your finger at.

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Alex Tse writes when no one's looking. She believes in the true meaning of hipster and she'd like it if you became her vegan cupcake friend. Find her on the internetz @alexnotangry and http://alexnotangry.wordpress.com.

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