Last week, on a blog I follow called Taiwan Explorer, I saw an interesting article (it's a good read) concerning one of the most famous YouTubers in Taiwan, Cai A-ga. Cai was asked by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Taiwan to make a video introducing a label that will be placed on environmentally safe products. You can see the video below:
|A person shared Taiwan Explorer's article|
on Cai A-ga's Facebook page.
As a person who studied Poli Sci (and focused on international politics), I immediately saw Cai's video through an international politics lens.
Here's some food for thought:
One of the biggest desires for the government and citizens of Taiwan is for the world to recognize them as a country, separate from Mainland China. Out of all the 196 countries in the world, only 22 recognize Taiwan as a country:
Currently 22 states recognise Taiwan as the Republic of China (ROC): Belize, Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland and Tuvalu.
-Australian Government, Dept. of Foreign Affairs and TradeWell, that's certainly interesting, isn't it? Most of those countries have a significant or majority Black population. In addition, they are small nations. Taiwan systematically gives monetary support to these small nations, invites their citizens to Taiwan (i.e., to attend college as students), and essentially uses them as a face for the "inclusiveness" of Taiwan. Simultaneously, the government doesn't seem to mind when Cai mocks and insults the people who represent those from the few countries that recognize them.
However, many people in Taiwan think Cai's brand of humor isn't a problem; he has over 1 million followers on YouTube, after all. I don't believe Cai is a malicious person who hates all Black people, but until he and his fellow countrymen and women should realize that their angle on comedy is sometimes highly offensive to most of the world.
I posted a comment on Cai's video. You can see a screen cap of my first comment and some of the first responses below. This is what I initially said in English:
"Black people are not all like this! Why do a lot of Taiwanese people have this view? 'Black people are ugly! Black people stink! Black people aren't smart!' Do you think that if you don't respect black people, Westerners (i.e., white people) will like and respect you more? 'Ahhh, they will come to Taiwan more because we don't like Black skin!' No! This is shameful, it's really bad! You have to think more about you future videos. I lived in Taiwan for three years and a lot of people there thought like this so I left. Most Westerners (including me) really hate this kind of thing!"
Check out my Chinese post for more screen-caps or visit the video itself to check them out. I suppose you could use an online translator to get a gist of the conversation as it would take some time for me to translate everything verbatim. My responses align with my sentiments in this post. However, I would like to address a couple of responses to my comments from YouTube and Instagram respectively as they accurately represent a majority of the responses.
The English translation of this YouTube comment is roughly as follows:
"You have a lack of confidence, so you think, no matter what the situation is, there's discrimination. You're childish. Cai A-ga is representing the goverment? My God, you think this has something to do with the government? Your statements will make people hate you beause you don't understand the intention of the video, you only care about discrimination. There are more problems in the world that are more serious that discrimination. Even if there is no discrimination where you are, you will say there is. You think Taiwanese people are so impersonal, but you're too quick to judge. I suggest that you don't argue and apologize to Taiwan, and Cai A-ga. Either delete your comments or you'll be in big trouble."
Of course, I merely pointed out that the use of the mask was shameful, and that it might be best for Taiwanese people who have this view of Black people (which we all know isn't everyone in Taiwan) to rethink their views. Cai is indeed representing the government (i.e., the EPA) in this video, so I'm not sure why this person feels my making a connection between the two is shocking. Furthermore, I don't understand the threatening tone their comment took.
Personally, I think Cai should apologize to Taiwan for embarrassing the government like this, not me!
On Instagram, "taiwanallen" said:
"You're too sensitive, he didn't mean to offend anyone. If you expand on this logic, if he wore Spiderman mask, it would be offensive toward comic book fans and you'd vilify A-ga. Relax and see the world differently, you'd be happier. Take it easy."
Now, I have to give this taiwanallen fellow some credit for not being ugly or overly aggressive. Nevertheless, I believe he is completely missing the point. Spiderman does not represent a group of people. He is a fictional character that we all know and recognize and sometimes dress up us during Halloween, costume parties, or for fun. Dressing up like a Black man in a grotesque, mocking way is completely different. Naturally, as most people in Taiwan are quite laid back, pointing out that something is offensive means I'm a generally "unhappy" person.
On the bright side (no pun intended), there were some people who agreed with me:
Of course, some people said offensive things:
MrAgrvzxc123: "Please tell me where you got that Black person mask, it's way too funny~"
BradRapstars: "Hahaha, yeah, Black people are idiots, that's what makes them so adorable!"
Granted, these two could be trolls. It's YouTube, after all.
I posted my initial comment on Cai A-ga's Facebook page. Curiously, he liked my comment but didn't answer. Therefore, I commented again and said the following:
Cai A-ga, you won't answer? Do you feel humiliated? Fine, but I'd like you to know: if you use that mask again, I will say something. I've already told a lot of people, and they all think this it isn't acceptable. You are Taiwan's most famous YouTube star, you shouldn't be like this.
Taiwan is truly a beautiful country with many kind people. Unfortunately, there is a prevalent juvenile mindset and lack of world awareness that is holding Taiwan back.
Cai A-ga apologized and stated he will no longer use the Black man mask. More on this tomorrow.