Pink Bag Series delves into white privilege in Asia

The ULM Femhawks have added yet another talk in their Pink Bag series this semester.

The theme for this semester is “Privilege.”

Last week, professor James Pettit conducted a talk on “Privilege Abroad: Experience of a White American Expat in Asia and the Middle East.”

Pettit used his experience as an English teacher in different Asian countries to show the racial stereotyping that exists in Asia.

Pettit spent most of his time teaching in South Korea, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia.

However, his years as a white teacher in Asia allowed him to experience the privilege a fairer skinned person has in Asian countries.

According to Pettit, “some people benefit from unearned and largely unacknowledged advantages, even when the advantages aren’t discriminatory.”

The value of education has been growing exponentially in many East Asian countries.

Pettit had parents willing to pay him large amounts of money for after-school English tutoring solely because he was a native, white speaker. Schools even paid his airfare to come teach English during summer.

“It was enlightening to know how, when you are born into certain conditions in life, you are entitled to privileges which others have to struggle for their entire life. If I wanted a job as an English teacher in an Asian country, I would be racially profiled. Even though I excelled in English, I would struggle a lot,” said Lawrence Khadka, a computer science freshman.

For an Asian parent, the ideal English teacher would be an inexperienced one as such people would be struggling for a job and would not complain a lot with the pay rate.

According to Pettit, an ideal native speaker would be white, blonde, blue-eyed and young.

During his days in Asia, Pettit earned a lot of money due to dedicated Asian parents who were willing to go to any means necessary in order to globalize their children’s education.