BLACK IN KOREA
If you want to know what it is like being black and living in Korea, then this post is for you.
I'm writing this as I'm on a work break at Starbucks, downing a venti white chocolate mocha with whipped cream. YAAAASS. My sweet students surprised me with a loaded Starbucks gift card for Valentine's Day, so your girl has been going on solo dates - just my laptop and I.
Korea is great. My kids are great. The parents are, for the most part, great. And the culture is phenomenal. But, one thing I'm not entirely happy about is the ignorance. It is soooo real. And I started this blog post with a light anecdote to not skew your perception of my students - they are amazing kids. Brilliant, loving humans. However, there are some things they just don't know about. I, for one, am one of those things.
BEING BLACK IN KOREA
We all know the "black" narrative: Black people are poor. Black people are uneducated. Black people are violent, blah blah blah.
Unfortunately, it's a narrative that is too saturated with misconceptions, which are perpetuated in media. Mind you, I'm literally writing this as I'm blasting Fetty Wap's "Trap Queen" through my Beats headphones.. We all play a part in this narrative, so can we really blame the general public for buying into it too? Kind of a rhetorical question. I don't even know the answer to this. But one thing I do know is, if a kid makes an ignorant comment, I'm going to correct them.
10:00 am - Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Me: "Class, we are going to draw different items that we can donate to poor children. We can draw books, clothes, toys, and so on."
Student: "Teacher, you are poor.. because you're brown face."
OH HELL NOOOOOO. Teaching has definitely changed me for the better. I can control my emotions, and not react irrationally. I take a minute to digest the words, and then execute a plan of attack. In this case - education. Poor me? No, poor kid. He doesn't know better. And it is my job to educate him.
I then engaged in a discussion on how there are poor children in every country, including Korea and other Asian countries. Most importantly, I elaborated on the fact that my darker complexion does not define my socioeconomic status and nationality. I have to constantly remind myself that I am the very first, and only, black teacher that has ever taught at my school. And for majority of the students, I am the first black person they have ever come in physical contact with.
Being black in Korea is probably one of the most challenging, rewarding and humbling experiences in my life. The positives most definitely outweigh the negatives, and I can whole heartedly say that I am in complete lust with this country. Despite the homogeneity, I allow my differences to create a unique experience, which in my case, has been very enlightening. I am lucky enough to have met many other foreigners in the country and develop new relationships. On a recent trip to Daegu, my friends and I decided to record an impromptu video discussing our experiences as black individuals in Korea. No scripts, no direction - just an open dialogue one early morning after a crazy weekend.
What are your experiences being a foreigner in Korea?
Peace & Love, Stay Positive; xo