Mike Ko Personal Portfolio


Home-School Education
Hong Kong

University of Durham
Bachelor of Science
United Kingdom

2017 - 2018
United Kingdom

    Naturally Racist

        He was a South Korean young man, a fellow student at the University of Sussex. One night on the streets of Brighton, he met several young locals. They made crude gestures and racist insults at him. Then one struck him with a wine bottle twice, smashing a tooth and causing other facial injuries. All of this, because he was Asian.

        Of course it was a terrible incident. A part of me reacted to the news in a way typical of most reasonable people: indignation and horror. Brighton is known to be a place that embraces diversity, whether culturally or racially. Even in this place, racism is still very much part of reality.

        Yet the attack itself was not what scared me the most. What truly alarmed me was that I also felt a contradicting cold indifference to the incident. It was almost like I acknowledged the fact that such things, although unfortunate, happen every now and then. Perhaps, in some ways, racism has been normalised as part of an imperfect world.

        The incident reminded me of a story I heard from a biologist originally from Hong Kong. A few decades ago, he studied for his undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom, but multiple unhappy encounters with racist locals eventually contributed to his departure for the United States of America. Different actors, same story.

        Perhaps we should not be surprised; discrimination against foreign groups may be a basic biological trait wired into us all. In an inadvertent competition to survive - both in an evolutionary and social sense, the people to antagonise would be those who are not like ourselves. Even if this can theoretically be mitigated by education and general cultural awareness, it does not seem likely that racism will go away anytime soon.

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