Racist stereotypes of Chinese used in classroom

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We saw this go by on Facebook a while back from a teacher, but now that newspaper Parool has written about it in more detail, it’s time to share with you that Dutch schoolchildren have been learning about Dutch pronunciation using unambiguous racist stereotypes about the Chinese.

To learn about Dutch words ending in -ng such as ‘lang’ (tall) and ‘bang’ (afraid), the Laterna Magica elementary school in Amsterdam suggests children read the sentence “Shing, shang, shong plays ping-pong in Hong Kong.” To remember the -ng sound, the textbook says the children need to “make ‘slanted eyes’ using their index fingers”. Next to this comment, there’s a colonial era cartoon of a Chinese man.

Although in use since 2012, the school claims it has replaced this part of the textbook, but a media expert from the University of Amsterdam says the bigger issue is that all the educators and teachers involved in making this book had not given a single thought as to how this would promote racist stereotypes.

To drive the point home even further, the university expert said that children still sing ‘Hanky Panky Shanghai’ sung to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’ at school birthday parties and use their index fingers to make ‘slanted eyes’. YouTube just gave me a few hits of mostly white people thinking this is normal behaviour.

And to make it a hat trick, the worst we’ve ever heard about the Chinese was a racist carnaval song that was pulled off the Internet featuring the lyrics “A Chinaman cannot see what’s above or below, in fact, he sees everything through a slit”.

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