You’ll remember the White Privilege Checklist by Peggy MacIntosh that has such entries as the following:
3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
Some of these may seem out-of-date now, but there are new ones, including:
If I need some extra cash in China, I can rent myself out to enhance scenes by playing a role or even just providing a white face.**
For a day, a weekend, a week, up to even a month or two, Chinese companies are willing to pay high prices for fair-faced foreigners to join them as fake employees or business partners.
Some call it “White Guy Window Dressing.” To others, it’s known as the “White Guy in a Tie” events, “The Token White Guy Gig,” or, simply, a “Face Job.”
And it is, essentially, all about the age-old Chinese concept of face. To have a few foreigners hanging around means a company has prestige, money and the increasingly crucial connections — real or not — to businesses abroad.
So two questions:
Does anyone feel as though they do something comparable, but more or less for free? (Think: showing up in a group of faculty supposedly thrilled that Prof. Never Give Up won some prize. With the press there.)
If we show up to provide faces for free, does it become wrong if one is paid? Or is it that pretending to be pleased is OK, but pretending to be an interested wealthy foreigner is not? Even if one’s pretending to be pleased might give people the impression that there’s more significant research at one’s university than there is?
Here’s CNN’s clip; it is not exactly enthralling:
**From what I understand, skin whitening products are popular in China, so the impact of privilege may be even more serious than the surface suggests.