Is this considered racist behaviour?


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emlee

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Mar 10, 2008
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#1
Hi, I was in Italy, Switzerland and France late last year. I enjoyed experiencing different behaviour of the locals and appreciate how Singapore has tolerated some of our bad behaviours. There is 1 instance however, after sharing the experience with a colleague, he assured me that I was mis-treated as a Chinese (racism).

Case in point: I was in Rennes station, after a long day in Mont St Michel, waiting for my 9pm train (time was just past 8pm). By this time, the station was mostly people trying to get home. Some of the shops have closed, some barely have any merchandise left. My wife and I wanted to rest our feet and so we bought a crepe from a cafe in hope to use their chairs and table. We ask for the crepe to go for we just wanted to sit for a while. The cafe was empty, no customers.
After we got our crepe, I immediately sat down at an empty chair and put my bag down. But before I could take a bite, the shop attendant came out and ask us to leave as we did not buy our food to be consumed there.

I did not give it any thought, just accept it as face value. Partly also because we noticed none of their local people did what we do, and we also noticed similar absence of such Singapore-type behaviour in Paris, Rome or Florence.

Was the shop attendant being racist? Or is it common courtesy not to occupy shop's space if one did not purchase items from there (to be consumed that is)?
 

Zichar

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Apr 22, 2008
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I wouldn't have thought much into that
Have encountered the same here actually, and not just once, though I can't quite remember where now
Was told succinctly that
Tapao = tapao
Eat here = eat here
I do remember being amused and recused myself from their premises
I automatically assume it's a no-no for places with service tax
If the rules are enforced on all patrons, then the notion of being racist isn't true.
In your case, you simply don't know how the attendant reacts to the others *shrug*
 

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edutilos-

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#3
Case in point: I was in Rennes station, after a long day in Mont St Michel, waiting for my 9pm train (time was just past 8pm). By this time, the station was mostly people trying to get home. Some of the shops have closed, some barely have any merchandise left. My wife and I wanted to rest our feet and so we bought a crepe from a cafe in hope to use their chairs and table. We ask for the crepe to go for we just wanted to sit for a while. The cafe was empty, no customers.
After we got our crepe, I immediately sat down at an empty chair and put my bag down. But before I could take a bite, the shop attendant came out and ask us to leave as we did not buy our food to be consumed there.
Emlee, I'm not sure about the policy in that shop, but I have a simple explanation.

In Europe, for many places, the take-away price is different from the eat-in price. The eat-in price is higher, because it probably factors in human labour for cleaning/clearing/washing required when you eat-in. Well, supposedly anyways.

Since you had indicated that you had told the attendant that you wanted the crepe "to go", this might mean that the shop had charged you the takeaway price. In this case, you should not have ate in.

If the shop doesn't have such a policy of differentiation, then I do not know. My suggestion is to live and let live and not dwell too much on this, even if the guy was being an arse, it's already done. Cheers.
 

ed9119

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#4
8ish to 9ish.... they're preparing to close shop soon and keep/chain up tables and chairs...... so they dont want anyone sitting down for a long time and pushing back their closing time ...... or were just ready to close up anyway

So they likely sent you off more for selfish reasons than the color of your skin ...... OR sure.... it could well be your skin color too but they hide behind a different reason to do what they did ..... you cant prove that. It happens EVERYWHERE ... even in Singapore

Racism is manifest ONLY when one raceis treated IN A WORSE/UNFAIR MANNER vs other races ....... ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL
 

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flipfreak

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#6
i will not consider a 1 off isolated incident something with racist overtones. to think that way is to take the easy way out and just blame it on the other person.
 

emlee

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#7
thank you all. I thought so and agree with you. to comment on some of your notes:
- no, the price is the same whether eat in or take away.
- yes, there is no comparison on how the locals are treated.

but, yes, I did not think that was racist behaviour, but my colleague was so adament, and I have very little Europe experience to tell otherwise.
Overall I enjoyed such experiences (weird but true). This is how we know the differences in social grace and behaviour of other cultures, part and parcel of the travelling experience. It also reminds me of how spoiled we are in Singapore (e.g. putting our bags on chairs, denying other patrons).
 

edutilos-

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#8
thank you all. I thought so and agree with you. to comment on some of your notes:
- no, the price is the same whether eat in or take away.
- yes, there is no comparison on how the locals are treated.

but, yes, I did not think that was racist behaviour, but my colleague was so adament, and I have very little Europe experience to tell otherwise.
Overall I enjoyed such experiences (weird but true). This is how we know the differences in social grace and behaviour of other cultures, part and parcel of the travelling experience. It also reminds me of how spoiled we are in Singapore (e.g. putting our bags on chairs, denying other patrons).
Well, if that is the case, then it's hard to say if it's racism. It could be very well that the guy would have told everyone else the same thing. We get all sorts in life anyways.

I have encountered clearcut cases of racism, ranging from a drunk kid lying on a bridge yelling "Chinks, get out!" at a group of us walking by, to a bunch of what seemed to be French teenagers harassing some of my female Singaporean classmates while we were touring Italy - think non-stop Bruce Lee whoops and kung fu stances and prancing in front of them while they walked around the entire museum. There were some less clearcut cases, such as one guy refusing to move aside when I was attempting to board the Tube and moving to block me when I tried to go around him... But for the most part, I have had an enjoyable experience, even in France, where countless people have told me about their bad experiences there regarding this aspect of life. I don't recall getting anything in Paris on my 2 visits there?
 

rhino123

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#9
Well... not sure if what TS encounter is considered racism in Europe, but it certainly is not in Australia (I spent three years of my life in Melbourne). I remember being told to leave in similar circumstances as encountered by TS... and I am with my angmo friends too.
 

edutilos-

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#10
Well... not sure if what TS encounter is considered racism in Europe, but it certainly is not in Australia (I spent three years of my life in Melbourne). I remember being told to leave in similar circumstances as encountered by TS... and I am with my angmo friends too.
Just highlighting - just because you are with ang mo friends doesn't mean that it isn't racism. ;)
 

emlee

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#11
I have encountered clearcut cases of racism, ranging from a drunk kid lying on a bridge yelling "Chinks, get out!" at a group of us walking by, to a bunch of what seemed to be French teenagers harassing some of my female Singaporean classmates while we were touring Italy - think non-stop Bruce Lee whoops and kung fu stances and prancing in front of them while they walked around the entire museum. There were some less clearcut cases, such as one guy refusing to move aside when I was attempting to board the Tube and moving to block me when I tried to go around him... But for the most part, I have had an enjoyable experience, even in France, where countless people have told me about their bad experiences there regarding this aspect of life. I don't recall getting anything in Paris on my 2 visits there?
wow! that is extreme. It would have spoiled my trip. In fact, I have experienced this in SINGAPORE! When we were kids, my cousin's family and mine often visit ECP. 1 time there was a family of ang mo barbecueing in the park. Their kids did that (what you decribed) to us, in our own land! They think they are king of the world. I do think they are the exception than the norm.
 

weelian

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#12
I remember an incident on Murano in Venice. An American tourist (ang mo) wanted to buy a cookie and flashed out an Euro50 note. The shop uncle chided her for being a f**king capitalist. The uncle was quite amused but the tourist (lady in her 30s) was fuming. The uncle was clearly joking but the lady certainly did not thought so. I thought it was kinda funny. My wife and I bought one of those 'capitalist cookie' after the tourist left. It tasted so so.

Rude people are everywhere. To pull out the R word from an isolated case might be a bit oversensitive. If there are like 30 ppl there and only the chinese couple is asked to leave...
 

Zichar

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#13
I can still remember 5 years ago, with my wife in Launceston, Tasmania; while waiting for the green man, along comes a beaten up jalopy
Filled with youngsters, some hanging outside open windows
One shouted at us 'F***ing Asians, go home!'
Drive-by cussing?!
They burned rubber peeling away, squealing tires and all, notwithsanding the raucous shouting

I was shocked ... and then I almost burst out laughing!
Standing right next to us was a gentleman in work clothes, early fifties, and the look on his face was priceless
Totally aghast, with widened eyes and drooping lower jaw
He stammered 'I'm sorry you had to hear that... they're not... they're just...' and walked briskly away

On the other hand, the subtle hints/undertones I thought I received in Philadelphia were more troubling, of the niggling at the back of your mind sort
Then again I've cultivated a more live-and-let-be attitude now, doesn't bug me much if at all
 

edutilos-

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#14
wow! that is extreme. It would have spoiled my trip. In fact, I have experienced this in SINGAPORE! When we were kids, my cousin's family and mine often visit ECP. 1 time there was a family of ang mo barbecueing in the park. Their kids did that (what you decribed) to us, in our own land! They think they are king of the world. I do think they are the exception than the norm.
Well, there are people who apologise for their behaviour, as Zichar has mentioned.

You can't win them all. What's more important is that we never, ever sink to that level. When you have been put into such a situation, or have had overheard people in another country whispering about over-hardworking Asians, and how they're stealing jobs, you will understand why quite a fair bit of those who have been overseas for extended periods of time would speak up against racist or xenophobic behaviour back home.
 

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#15
I've met my share of racists in Europe, but in that case I think its pretty common for eating establishments to have a distinction between 'to go' and 'eat in'. And you have to give allowance for French people being French.

I get really pissed off when I meet racists, but I've been trying to tell myself not to let some idiots ruin my travels. After all, for every racist there are many, many more open-minded, friendly Europeans.

Something I tend to notice when traveling with my Singaporean friends is that sometimes we ourselves tend to behave like how the PRCs behave in Singapore - talking loudly in singlish/mandarin and generally being 'uncultured'. Maybe if we adjust ourselves from a 'tourist' mentality to trying to live like a local we will find everything more pleasant.
 

weelian

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#16
verselines said:
I've met my share of racists in Europe, but in that case I think its pretty common for eating establishments to have a distinction between 'to go' and 'eat in'. And you have to give allowance for French people being French.

I get really pissed off when I meet racists, but I've been trying to tell myself not to let some idiots ruin my travels. After all, for every racist there are many, many more open-minded, friendly Europeans.

Something I tend to notice when traveling with my Singaporean friends is that sometimes we ourselves tend to behave like how the PRCs behave in Singapore - talking loudly in singlish/mandarin and generally being 'uncultured'. Maybe if we adjust ourselves from a 'tourist' mentality to trying to live like a local we will find everything more pleasant.
Very well said sir!
 

Tyrov

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Dec 7, 2008
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#17
I did not give it any thought, just accept it as face value. Partly also because we noticed none of their local people did what we do, and we also noticed similar absence of such Singapore-type behaviour in Paris, Rome or Florence.

Was the shop attendant being racist? Or is it common courtesy not to occupy shop's space if one did not purchase items from there (to be consumed that is)?
There is your answer. If none of the locals did what you did, it's because you are not supposed to do it.
 

Aug 28, 2006
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#18
doubt it had to do with being racist. they just seem particular about eating in and taking away. I rem cafes in rome not allowing patrons to sit n eat gelatos bought from their cafe even if the tables were empty.

onto another point, i am assuming from your post you are chinese....having said that you would feel the absence of racism here in singapore since most here are chinese....on the whole most places are the same...one does not feel any racism when one belongs to the biggest ethnic group.
 

petetherock

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Oct 9, 2006
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#19
Racism?
Deal with it, I faced abuse in Australia, Paris et....
We live in a multi-cultural world. Most people are warm, loving and friendly. Don't dwell on it and retaliate. Then you become as ugly as them.

Do you want to be an ugly Singaporean?

BTW - if you take-away and then sit down on their chairs, that's just wrong and so cheapo + Singaporean.
 

edutilos-

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#20
BTW - if you take-away and then sit down on their chairs, that's just wrong and so cheapo + Singaporean.
If you read the earlier clarification by emlee, there was no difference in takeaway/eat-in price. I see no logic in your comment here, given that knowledge.
 

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