方禮倫:White Men Can’t Drive 白人種族歧視

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I have a love-hate relationship with London. I love London for being the most multicultural and cosmopolitan city in the world, and a city that arguably has most to offer. When I return to London I can’t help but feel I’m returning to the heart of a civilisation that has done more to shape the modern world than any other, and whilst it is not my home city, it feels comforting familiar.

Yet I also hate London. I hate how dirty it is, certainly when compared to much of the country. London may be dynamic, but it is also impatient and aggressive. I am more wary of people in London. And I do not enjoy driving in the city.

Last week I was heckled by an angry van driver whilst driving through Hampstead village in North London.(註 1)Not unusually for Hampstead, a narrow lane had been made barely traversable by cars parked on both kerbs. When a car appeared in front of me driving in the opposite direction there wasn’t the space for either vehicle to pass. Seeing this the other driver reversed a little into a gap between two parked cars, hoping to create space enough for me to pass. However, as I approached it was clear to me it wasn’t enough. Only after careful manoeuvring were we able to pass each other to continue on our way.

During this delay the van driver following behind the other car was getting increasingly aggressive, calling me several times to simply drive forward despite clearly, from my angle at least, there being not enough space for me to do so. When I did finally pass the other vehicle the van driver called out. I remember his words clearly:

“Do you have a drivers license?” he asked. His tone was mockingly aggressive.

“Yes, I do.” I replied.

What he said next shocked me.

“You can’t drive. You can’t fucking drive, mate. White men can’t drive.”(註 2)

The van driver was likely in a hurry. But his words, actions and attitudes said so much.

Why did he make this a racial issue? No other driver present seemed even frustrated, let alone angry in the way he was. And when he made this a racial issue — an issue what I consider to be a racist remark — no one so much as seemed to care.

Who was he to define me as “white”? After all, I am as much Chinese as I am Caucasian. My whiteness was not an identity I choose, but an identity he choose to see in me.

I began to imagine the situation in reverse.

What might have happened if a white man had said to a non-white driver “Black men can’t drive”? I highly suspect people observing this would, quite rightly, have at very least looked on disapprovingly and understood it as racism.

The incident was a reminder that racism is a form of tribalism. Tribalism is something inherent in all of us. Human beings naturally distinguish us from them — it is a result not only of our insecurities, but our social nature and our pattern seeing mind. Racism is not race specific, and to think so, as is sometime promoted, is itself a form of racism.

What unsettled me further was that the van driver spoke to me in an accent and in a manner heavily suggestive that he was a local and a Londoner.(註 3)This was someone who was likely raised in a multicultural environment, in a society that is highly sensitive to and guarded about racism.

It took me a good hour to settle from the shock of this man’s words. That a comment could feel so wrong was a reminder of why we should not underplay the issue of racism, and why we should encourage awareness of it. But it also raised questions as to how some in a society so open to discussing the issue continue to understand it, and how the discussion is framed.

I do hate driving in London.(註 4)

陶傑點評

許多香港人關注,去了英國生活,會不會在當前的形勢下遇到種族歧視。

作者是中英混血兒,在倫敦生活會不會遇到種族歧視呢?若會,那麼他英國的那一半白人血統,又會不會令他減低風險?

在他這篇生活誌中,很奇怪地,他被歧視的原因竟然不是那一半華人血統,而是白人的另一半。那麼對他口出惡言的人又是甚麼族裔?作者沒有明言。

1.

  • Hampstead 是倫敦北面的一個文化精英區,有很多作家、藝術家、音樂家聚居。這個小區旁有一大片草地,叫做 Hampstead Heath,連接草地的是一條短窄的小路,有點像香港大潭水塘那條通往石澳的窄馬路。19 世紀馬車可行,到今日從來沒有擴闊。因此汽車相遇,必須禮讓。

2.

  • 迎面來的一輛汽車很合作,但在它後面的汽車司機沒有耐性,粗言穢語之外,還把作者當做白人。很明顯,在邏輯上,罵人的那個司機不是白人。

3.

  • 作者由他的口音和態度,認為這位種族主義者是本地的倫敦人。以往一貫的概念,倫敦人都是白人,但今日倫敦已經是國際城市。

4.

  • 由此一經驗,作者結論:我討厭在倫敦開車。其實弦外之音,他討厭的是倫敦身為國際城市,所彌漫的這種左翼政治正確風氣,令白人處於弱勢的少數。因此,不要以為只有黃皮膚的亞裔人才會遭到政治時勢的歧視,白人在倫敦或紐約,可能全天候都在遭受欺凌。方禮倫這篇文章,或會令今日在英美的華人覺得好過一些。

陶傑英文遊花園

香港和台灣,面臨世紀的變局。海外華人居住西方國家,也數目龐大。如何提升英文程度,克服文化隔閡,加強英文能力,在亂世中至關重要。

許多華人都有合理的職業或專業的英文程度,但如何在原有的中學文法訓練基礎之上,探討高層次的英語文化和表達方式,以備融入英語世界主流社會?

本欄介紹評析欣賞英文的寫作細節,分享經驗,歡迎提出不同的評析角度和心得。

※ 此欄文章為作者觀點,不代表本網立場。 ※

方禮倫(Evan Fowler ) ,本地出生成長、中英交界的香港人,在劍橋和倫敦大學政經學院畢業。現居英國。 英文怎樣能表達得更好?香港的英文教育,著重文法正確、詞彙廣泛。但除了這兩樣,說好的英文、寫好的英文,還要有某種英語的理性與感性思維。 好的英文必清晰、婉約而有教養,與中文寫作文化略有不同。有時借用英文的文化特色,用於中文,可以別具一格。但若有一日移居英語國家,與以英語為母語的當地人溝通,融入主流社會,摸通英文表達藝術的深層結構,會很有用。 方禮倫的英文筆觸細膩,每週五他會以英文與我們見一次面,講述香港和海外華人關心的事情。除了獨特的觀點,其文筆可供英文寫作學習參考。