I had never thought about it until someone asked how, having been born in what was then known as Ceylon, I feel about being categorised in Hong Kong as an “ethnic minority”- different to being a minority, and which all strangers in a strange land are. It’s the word “ethnic” that’s a puzzler.
Having mulled- not agonised- over this for a few days, I still don’t know how I feel about being an “ethnic minority”, or from where this term originated and what it even means.
Is it a derogatory term, especially in today’s very politically correct woke woke world? Is this term okay for some, but not for all?
Surely, we’re talking about cultural diversity, and which has always been what’s made Hong Kong the rich cosmopolitan city that it is- a city rich in all forms of art and artists from all over the world whose work should be celebrated as being part of the whole buffet of life?
Isn’t it about working with everyone and whatever is already here while waiting for what new steps to take other than another visit to Ocean Park or seeing where once existed a trendy area in Hong Kong called Lan Kwai Fong?
As for the term “ethnic minority”, some friends say that this comes from those pukka colonial days of the Raj, tiffin, pith helmets and having servants to do your bidding.
Going through old clippings and recent letters to newspapers, there have been more and more discussions about this term and, perhaps more importantly, questions about how and where “ethnic minorities” can play a role in Hong Kong society today other than being cricketers, waiters, waitresses, Food Panda and Deliveroo delivery people, and opening “ethnic” restaurants.
The more I think about this term, for some reason, it reminds me of a film called “Watermelon Man” starring Godfrey Cambridge, where a racist white man wakes up to find himself black, and how this turns his life upside down including quite a disturbing freeze frame ending.
This is not to say that I am going to suddenly turn “radical” though it does have me thinking about all “ethnic minority” groups and their present and futures in Hong Kong.
Are they seen as second-class citizens, and what type of future will their children and their children’s children face in Hong Kong?
Do they have a Voice in Hong Kong, and who’s going to speak for them?
After all my many years in Hong Kong and a pretty impressive business and career portfolio, I would be proud to be this Voice.
In fact, I am throwing my hat into the ring to take on this role.
The first step: a multi media exhibition bringing together culturally diverse creativity through art, and showcasing all the ways we have been, and can continue to play an important ongoing role in the future of Hong Kong.