"Liberals like to think that racism is a product of ignorance, of a lack of contact, and that as human mobility increases, so racism will decline. This might be described as the Benetton view of the world. And it does contain a modicum of truth. Intermixing can foster greater understanding, but not necessarily, as Burnley, Sri Lanka and Israel, in their very different ways, all testify.
Hong Kong, compared with China, is an open society, and has long been so, yet it has had little or no effect in mollifying Chinese prejudice towards people of darker skin. It is not that racism is immovable and intractable, but that its roots are deep, its prejudices as old as humanity itself."
"In our 14 months in Hong Kong, I learned some brutal lessons about racism. First, it is not the preserve of whites. Every race displays racial prejudice, is capable of racism, carries assumptions about its own virtue and superiority. Each racism, furthermore, is subtly different, reflecting the specificity of its own culture and history.
Second, there is a global racial hierarchy that helps to shape the power and the prejudices of each race. At the top of this hierarchy are whites. The reasons are deep-rooted and profound. White societies have been the global top dogs for half a millennium, ever since Chinese civilization went into decline. With global hegemony, first with Europe and then the US, whites have long commanded respect, as well as arousing fear and resentment, among other races. Being white confers a privilege, a special kind of deference, throughout the world, be it Kingston, Hong Kong, Delhi, Lagos – or even, despite the way it is portrayed in Britain, Harare. Whites are the only race that never suffers any kind of systemic racism anywhere in the world. And the impact of white racism has been far more profound and baneful than any other: it remains the only racism with global reach.
Being top of the pile means that whites are peculiarly and uniquely insensitive to race and racism, and the power relations this involves. We are invariably the beneficiaries, never the victims. Even when well-meaning, we remain strangely ignorant. The clout enjoyed by whites does not reside simply in an abstraction – western societies – but in the skin of each and every one of us. Whether we like it or not, in every corner of the planet we enjoy an extraordinary personal power bestowed by our color It is something we are largely oblivious of, and consequently take for granted, irrespective of whether we are liberal or reactionary, backpackers, tourists or expatriate businessmen."
You can read the rest of the article at Rombo's blog and the title is The Gobal Hierachy of Race. An article that appeared in UK Guardian news paper in September 2003