20th August 2013
HK Kindergarten Books: Use Skin Colour to Distinguish Nationality – White Means American, Black Means African
Kindergarten school books in Hong Kong teach young children to use skin colour to differentiate people’s identity, and say that Caucasians are Americans. Parents complain that its a “completely wrong concept”. Longman Publishing Group’s Chinese language textbook for kindergarten K3 children titled “I am Chinese” teaches students that Caucasians are Americans. Some parents said that United States is a racially diverse country, and it is wrong to use skin colour to distinguish an individual’s nationality.
In the third page of “I am Chinese”, a Chinese language textbook published by Longman Publishing Group for kindergarten grade K3 children, four pictures of kids were used to described different nationalities: the child with yellow skin is Chinese, the other with white skin is American, the child with brown skin is Indian, and the darkest skin tone child is branded as Congolese. A question followed the pictures: “These children are from different countries, what are their differences?” Another following question is “Do you know what colour of skin do you have?”
Mr Siu, a parent of his kindergarten child, thinks that with over 200 races and tribes in the world, using skin colour to label one person’s nationality is not accurate. He also thinks that the “method to distinguish people’s nationality” this textbook teaches is wrong. He worries that children in kindergarten are taught the overly simplified definition of nationality will make it very difficult to understand the difference between races and nationalities in the real world.
Fermi Wong, Executive Director at Hong Kong Unison, thinks that Hong Kong’s education fails to help children understand the difference between nationality and ethnicity. United States is a multiracial country and people in all colours can be US citizens. One must not over-simplified the matter.
Wong added that although young children may not be able to gain in-depth understanding of the concept of race, but some simple wordings to introduce that one’s ethnicity does not dictate his/her nationality.
Eva Chan Sik-chee, convener of Parents Concern, thinks that it is wrong for this chapter of this textbook focuses only on differentiating different race, and uses only skin colour to distinguish a person’s nationality. When these children meet a black American, “it will be confusing for them”. Chan said that marriage across different races is very common these days, skin colour is not a good way to distinguish a person’s nationality.
“I am Chinese” is written by a group of people including Rebecca Cheung Hun-ping. The preface of the book states that the book aims at enhancing children’s conscious of being Chinese via each unit, helping them to learn about Chinese matters, nurturing young children’s recognition of their Chinese identity, and young children also have to “feel the profoundness of Chinese culture” and “understand the great achievements of Chinese (people)”, and began to grow their love for China at early age and be proud of being Chinese.
Another creative graphic by Passion Times reporting on the news:
Title: I am American
From left to right: Michael Jackson; Barrack Obama; Deng Zhuodi (grandson of Deng Xiaoping)