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America’s BLM movement sparks race discussion in Thailand

Caitlin Ashworth



PHOTO: Unsplash: Vince Fleming

While the Black Lives Matter movement continues unabated in the US, a broader discussion on discrimination and racism is now being brought up on the other side of the world. Some foreigners and locals with dark skin have spoken up about the overt racism they’ve experienced in Thailand.

While activists in America protest alleged police brutality and racial profiling, some with dark skin in Thailand say they’ve lost their jobs or been denied entry into bars because of their skin colour. White skin is seen as beautiful in Thailand with many skin whitening products even sold at convenience stores. Dark skin has been associated with low-paid outdoor work, while lighter skin has been perceived as ‘successful’ as many with office jobs stay indoors.

In an interview with the Washington Times, Zipporah Gene, a professional in black media, said she’s been denied entry into bars, denied service in shops and asked to pay at restaurants before even getting food. Often times she’s been called “kohn pew dam,” meaning “person with black skin,” or “pew dam suay,” meaning “black skin pretty.” While the terms aren’t derogatory, Gene said the attention to her skin colour was weird. She admitted hat things had improved as Thailand has become more international and tourism grown in the past decades.

Vlogger Natthawadee “Suzie” Waikalo, whose father is from Mali and mother is from Thailand, has been speaking out about the racism she’s experienced in Thailand. Waikalo says she was fired from a job and her employer didn’t give her a reason, but said she later found out she was fired because her appearance “made the company look bad.”

A Bangkok Post columnist Yvonne Bohwongprasert said she’s noticed racially motivated arrests of Africans, especially Nigerians.

“If they do appear in Thai media, it is mostly either the butt end of a joke or about their arrests by Thai immigration for overstaying their visas or scamming offences.”

In an op-ed piece for the Bangkok Post, Palis Pisuttusarun wrote… “Please stop pretending racism doesn’t exist here.”

“…we must show up for the black community everywhere by making sure that Black Lives Matter in Thailand. Even if racism is disguised in a different form here, it’s important we don’t feel alienated by this movement and use our voices to call out racism in our local communities.”

SOURCES: Washington Times | Bangkok Post | Union of Catholic Asian News


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  1. Avatar


    Monday, June 29, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    Please, Thai people, never allow this plague to take root in your country, or everyone will suffer from it.

  2. Avatar


    Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 12:21 am

    It seems to me if you are a Western black person and claim to be a victim of racism then it is automatically true no matter if there is proof or not.

    If you are white and ask for proof then you are automatically a racist by default.

    I am talking about the UK etc.

    But naturally and for generations, Thais have had white-skin people who are are generally from the north and darker-skinned Thais from the south and they just accept what they are without screaming and shouting about skin color.

  3. Avatar


    Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Im glad to see Thai people admitting a few things need to change. Many people here in the USA have denied and absolutely refuse to acknowledge the racism here. finally it exploded with what we see taking place on a daily basis. I’ve learned, sometimes its better to remain quiet and listen intently to the cry of the oppressed. Racism is alive and well through-out the globe. However its not a man made law or the threat of being fined or jail that can removed such deep seated hatred.
    Only the truth can move the heart to change a person. yes the truth found in Gods word the Bible. Goto JW.Org I just thought Id share what helped me.

  4. Avatar


    Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 7:29 am

    The biggest racists in America are black Americans. The biggest killer of blacks in America are black Americans.

  5. Avatar


    Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 7:35 am

    The biggest killer of blacks in America are black Americans. Everyone knows this fact, but instead people continue to chase the racism myth… And now some clever person wants to spread this sickness to Thailand.

  6. Avatar


    Friday, July 3, 2020 at 5:08 am

    BLM is an anarchist group and the US is the least racist country in the world. Stupid to bring this conversation to Thailand, non-applicable.

  7. Avatar


    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    Stop trying to import your ideologies to our country. This does not apply to our culture and you are yet to truly understand the context of our culture and society in its entirety. Yet you feel the need to preach to us in our own country as a guest. This is the new white mans burden; you need to “civilize” and “enlighten” the “barbarians” and “heathens” with your “progressive” ideologies without any consideration to applicability and differences in circumstances. Literally no real thai person cares about BLM we got our own thitd world problems to deal with. The only people trying to import these neo marxist ideologies are privileged thai yuppies indoctrinated in east coast colleges, and you people. I dont go to your country to actively participate in your politics as an outsider because I know my place, please know yours, and try to get in touch with how things actually work here. We will continue to fight for, not against our interests and we will NEVER become like you.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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