Credit: Erin C.J. Robertson
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Nubia and Frantzces of Chronicles Abroad and Jazzie and Chris of Black Digital Nomad to address the controversial, some might argue click-bait article titled, “Thailand Tells Black People Don’t Come Here: The similarities to Trump’s immigration agency are hard to miss” written by Nigel Roberts and recently published by Black media publication NewsOne. The article certainly struck a nerve as my compatriots had family and friends forward them the article expressing concern as well as asking whether they should still spend their hard-earned Black dollar on visiting Thailand.
Press play to tune in:
The article, which cites IOL, states that Thailand’s immigration is seeking to suss out “who are the good dark-skinned people and who are the ones likely to commit crimes,” this is according to Immigration Bureau Chief Surachate Hakparn.
The operation dubbed “X-Ray Outlaw Foreigners,” originally launched in 2017 though its efforts have intensified, is designed to target Nigerian and Ugandan “romance scammers,” who allegedly fake romantic interest in order to defraud Thai locals as well as those who overstay their visas to commit fraud. Unfortunately, refugees and asylum seekers have been caught up in the immigration crackdown.
“Thailand’s immigration crackdown has swept up refugees and asylum seekers, sent young children into horrid, prison-like conditions, and appears to have clear aspects of racial profiling against South Asians and Africans,” says Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
It’s likely the NewsOne article was written in response to a sting operation that happened in Bangkok’s red light district Nana earlier this month (Oct. 2018), which resulted in the arrest of 30 people, half of whom were Black.
The article draws a comparison between Thailand’s immigration crackdown and Trump’s immigration agenda that sees white immigrants from Norway as more desirable than melanated ones from “sh*thole countries” like Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Sigh… However, let’s not forget that two tourists, Canadian and British, were arrested this month for defacing an ancient wall with graffiti while drunk in Chiang Mai, Thailand and now face up to 10 years in jail or a $30,000 fine. How’s that for stereotyping and racial profiling?
Considering, Nubia, Frantzces, Jazzie, Chris and I (Erin) are residing in northern Thailand, the article came as a bit of shock and starkly contrasted our feelings and experience of living in the Southeast Asian country. We joined forces to assuage fears and offer a balanced perspective on the racial dynamics in Thailand. The sensational article serves as a reminder that white supremacy and racism are global phenomenons that Black people are subjected to whether at home in America or abroad.
All of this gives credence to the phrase,
Don’t listen to what they say. Go see.”
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