Sunday, 3 June 2018

Nationality


I was scanning my FlipIt news feed on Friday and came across a story in the Sun about a Romanian who owns a bakery business in the UK and will only employ Romanians, as he thinks Brits simply don't work hard enough.


Naturally, this story attracted the ire of Sun Readers; however, it's a complaint I've heard time and time again from British employers - I have a friend who would rather employ Eastern Europeans as they at least turn up for interviews, turn up for the job if they pass the interviews and put in a hard day's work.

Regardless, this got me to thinking about how Chinese restaurants seem to employ only Chinese. Similarly, Indian restaurants and Italian restaurants seem to employ only Indians (or rather Pakistanis) and Italians. Have you ever seen an advert for waiting staff for Chinese, Indian or Italian restauranalts specifying nationality? No, because specifying a nationality would be illegal; staff are usually solicited through contacts and family. However, you'd expect to be served by an Italian in an Italian restaurant for an authentic experience.

That said, I have been to a Chinese restaurant in a small town up north where young Brits did the table waiting, and indeed there is one in Chipping Sodbury that similarly has young Brits waiting on table, but both are in rural locations where there are very few naturally occurring Chinese.

That. or course, begs the question of what a genuine Chinese, Indian or Italian is. Nationality is fluid, being generally defined by one's passport; ethnicity, however, is genetic. While it's relatively easy for a Brit to pass him or herself off as an Italian by the simple expedient of a bit of hand waving and the adoption of a cod-Italian accent, it's harder for a white Brit to pass him or herself off as an ethnic Chinese or Indian without some drastic cosmetic work.

Go to any Chinese chippy in Liverpool and you'll be asked what you want in a thick, Scouse accent indistinguishable from any other Scouser. For how many generations must a person of Chinese or Indian descent trace their lineage to a British birth before we drop the Chinese bit of British-Chinese or the Indian bit of British-Indian? We don't generally call anyone of, say, German descent and born here Anglo-German - we define them as British, unless you're a Brexiteer, of course, in which case anyone with a foreign surname has to be shipped out on the next plane from Heathrow.


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