Appalling Racism

In case there’s anyone here who doesn’t already read ChinaSMACK, check out this post (although be warned, this is a good mood ruiner). The short version of the story is that a half-Chinese, half-African-American girl who was the product of an extramarital affair went on TV, and Chinese netizens went crazy. Some comments, of course, are supportive, but many of them are deeply, disturbingly racist.

We’ve discussed the question of racism before here, most memorably last spring, when we accidentally touched off a bit of controversy and earned the ire of famous Chinese blogger He Caitou. He told me repeatedly that there is “no racism in China.” If you’ve lived in China, it’s probably a phrase you’ve heard before.

There’s no point in even discussing the question further; to my mind, anyone with a functioning brain can see that there is racism in China (just as there is everywhere else). What concerns me is the steadfast denial that such thoughts and feelings exist, even when presented with pretty damning evidence.

For the record, I’m aware that the USA has serious racial issues and that we once had slaves. My intention here is not to foster a shouting match about who is more racist (any comments that even look like they’re headed down that road are going to get deleted). Nor do I wish to suggest that China needs to approach this issue the same way the US has. I do believe China needs to admit that there is an issue, though (something the US has emphatically done). In fact, I think China has a unique opportunity here to head off more serious problems by addressing this issue now; on the flipside, continued denial this issue exists are going to cause bigger and bigger problems assuming that the number of foreigners traveling and moving in to China continue to increase.

Is this denial going to lead to massive social instability? Probably not (for the moment let’s set aside tensions between the various “Chinese” ethnicities). Is it going to affect a lot of Chinese people? Again, probably not. So is it worth trying to deal with this issue? Obviously, I think so, but I suppose there is a case to be made on the other side, albeit a pretty harshly realist case.

I look forward to reading all of your thoughts in the comments, but before you comment, I also want to note that I do recall the issues brought up previously regarding differing perceptions of the word “racism” in China and the West. An insensitive joke isn’t associated with racism in China, hate crimes are. Lou Jing’s case is racism any way you skin it, though. There may be no physical violence, but she is still suffering psychological abuse as a direct result of her race. If that isn’t racism, then…well, nothing. It is racism, period.

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0 thoughts on “Appalling Racism”

  1. It makes me sick how foreigners constantly support the CCP going against their mantra of “FREEDOMOCRACY!!!” when it benefits themselves narrowly perhaps at the expense of the Chinese people.

    Yeah, and it makes me sick that you assume all “foreigners” (because we’re all the same!) have the same goals and values regardless of what we say or do. You know what? Get the fuck over it.

    Do you really believe this crap? Bone structure, facial structure, bite, hair patterns, all differ significantly between races. I won’t even get into health and psychology because it will probably offend you.

    I meant by external appearance. But go ahead and get into the health and psychology bit if you can find any sources to support you that are less sketchy than your last “source”.

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  2. Go to wikipedia.com

    Then search for the following-

    “Tay Sach’s”, “sickle cell anemia”, “color blindness”. I have a wealth of information regarding prevalence rates of disease based on race group but these three have identifiable genetic markers associated with them.

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  3. Thanks to ChinaGeeks for posting this, I hadn’t known about it before. Something i find interesting about this is that on Chinese language websites it is getting discussed much more than in the English language blogs administered by overseas Chinese or returnees. Not that it is of utmost importance, but I have noticed a tendency for many of the popular English language sites to point out any and every slight against Chinese, singling out individual bloggers, photo captioning and to strongly question the “western media” portrayl of China and Chinese involvement in the world. Here we have the intersection of reality tv, the internet in China, Chinese people, and a hot button blog topic, but not much mention.

    I think some people would rather have racism be a one way ticket, in this instance into and towards the Chinese, and won’t discuss Chinese racism itself, except to justify or attempt to write it off. I have heard a few mainland Chinese say that overseas and returnees were like this more than mainlanders, but I hadn’t really thought about it till now.

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  4. Hunh? Do you know what the words you are using mean?

    Monolithic literally means “single stone” and has come to mean “a large uniform block” and since you are using the adjective, you are saying that foreigners, as a whole, or more like a large, uniform block than the Chinese? Really? From what perspective? How? Explain.

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  5. @ anonymous: the fact that those diseases affect mostly (but not entirely) one race is because of shared genes from an original common place of origin (with sickle cell, for example, sub-saharan Africa). Since the people in that area are almost entirely black and only relatively recently have begun to spread more widely (in terms of the scope of human history), the disease still affects mostly blacks, but the fact that it DOESN’T affect ONLY black people is just further evidence that there isn’t much to “race” that’s genetic beyond aesthetics.

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  6. monolithic: Constituting or acting as a single, often rigid, uniform whole

    English 101.

    @ anonymous: the fact that those diseases affect mostly (but not entirely) one race is because of shared genes from an original common place of origin (with sickle cell, for example, sub-saharan Africa). Since the people in that area are almost entirely black and only relatively recently have begun to spread more widely (in terms of the scope of human history), the disease still affects mostly blacks, but the fact that it DOESN’T affect ONLY black people is just further evidence that there isn’t much to “race” that’s genetic beyond aesthetics

    The reason why it affects only one race is because it confers a survival advantage in their environment. The sickle-cell helps vs. malaria, which is a big killer.

    Now some Africans are developing antibodies that stop HIV from becoming AIDS.

    This is the basics of genetics…

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  7. Right, but my point is, it DOESN’T only affect one race. It affects MOSTLY one race, because their origin is a single geographical location, but it’s not exclusively black people who can carry the sickle cell trait, for example.

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  8. (54) 黑人,

    I don’t have a blog but I’ll try to answer your question, being an overseas Chinese who’s lived in Europe and North America most of my life.

    First, I think self criticism is difficult for humans in general. How many of us can truthfully identify all our faults, or are happy to? Second, self-criticism is even more difficult in front of other people – especially when you grow up being a visible minority and faced a lot of racism growing up (which I take, a lot of overseas Chinese bloggers have). Why? Because you don’t want to fuel all the bullshit that other people are already throwing at you. Chinese bloggers don’t need to highlight the China’s problems, they’re being covered in media and other blogs around the world, 24/7.

    Do I recognize that China has problems? You bet I do. But I am not jumping up and down to announce them to the world. I just don’t see the need to. Aside from discussions and blogs like these where people have obviously taken the time to actually educate themselves about history/politics, on a day to day basis I’m still dealing with a lot of ignorant comments.

    It’s late. I’m tired. I hope this makes sense.

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  9. Right, but my point is, it DOESN’T only affect one race. It affects MOSTLY one race, because their origin is a single geographical location, but it’s not exclusively black people who can carry the sickle cell trait, for example.

    But that’s what a race is, a group of organisms with many shared traits due to having limited contact with other parts (or breeds) of their species.

    Once you get different “enough” they split even further, which is why so many organisms evolved from just a few single-celled creatures a few billions years ago.

    Why? Because you don’t want to fuel all the bullshit that other people are already throwing at you. Chinese bloggers don’t need to highlight the China’s problems, they’re being covered in media and other blogs around the world, 24/7.

    Yep. Why criticize yourself when lying assholes the world over are willing to exaggerate and make up rumors, not for your benefit, but to make themselves look better?

    Europe and America are far, far more racist than China is or ever was or ever will be. Chinese racism is something for Chinese to discuss among ourselves, it’s really none of anyone else’s business. Foreigners suggesting that the CCP should clamp down further with censorship are pigs.

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  10. Yeah, and you’d never see an article like that on the Chinese blogosphere either because the author would be accused of being 汉奸. That 家丑不可外洋 attitude is useless, especially when the issue we’re talking about is something that pretty much ONLY affects non-Chinese.

    If China wants people outside China to stop discussing “internal” issues, pretty much the only way to accomplish that is to go back to being an irrelevant shithole. Welcome to being a world power.

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  11. the only way to accomplish that is to go back to being an irrelevant shithole.

    Hey, that’s not fair. Lots of people still talk about Southern Europe.

    Welcome to being a world power.

    Okay, then say hello to nationalist backlash from said world power and the diaspora.

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  12. REALLY now? You made a whole post to whine about a few non-factors making “racist” remarks about some girl, and acted as if though it’s indicative of some kind of real problem in China. You’re the one whining about nothing-

    Meanwhile Western bloggers feed Chinese nationalism every second with their pathetic, hypocritical complaints.

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  13. Ah yes, racism — totally not a problem in China. Unless, you know, you ask someone who is a member of another race. Anyway, I’m done arguing about this with you, it is pointless and is cutting into time I should be spending researching new posts.

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  14. @anonymous

    I’m still confused about how saying “English 101” answers a challenge to your clearly ridiculous assertion that all foreigners are more monolithic than the Chinese. And please don’t start droning to me about 五十六个民族。

    And the “it’s none of your business” bit? Maybe you want to start scrolling up to where you started yelling about America’s racist history, as if all of us needed a lesson. It’s a long page. Better get started.

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  15. Ah yes, racism — totally not a problem in China. Unless, you know, you ask someone who is a member of another race.

    Boohoo, my feelings are hurt by being called laowai! Stop economic development immediately and tend to my needs! I deserve special treatment from everyone, not just 99% of the population!!! Wah wah wah wah wah

    The only “racist” problem in China is special treatment for foreigners. That needs attention more than anything else.

    challenge to your clearly ridiculous assertion that all foreigners are more monolithic than the Chinese

    But you are. And I’m talking about the most common laowai, the ones that come from countries with histories of genocides against non-whites and non-Christians.

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  16. “In fact, for many Chinese, … even when they talk about America they mainly talk about the whites.”

    You need to be asking yourself about the source of their perceptions of America (and the ‘west’ in general).

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  17. Dear China Geeks,
    Please stop blogging about stuff that you find personally important or interesting. You have no right to an opinion (apparently now known as “Whining”), especially if people like anonymous do not agree with you, and of course if your opinions do not contribute to social stability.

    Also, I would like to second this statement by the scholarly anonymous, “Europe and America are far, far more racist than China is or ever was or ever will be” (I double checked this with my crystal ball, its 95% accurate on race issues, 85% on economic issues, but only 25% accurate with lotto numbers).
    I would also like to add, China and the Chinese are better than all of you whiteys, nah nah nah (blackeys too). All of the problems China has ever had have come from foreign devils. Oh and none of what I just said can be considered “racist bigotry” in any way shape or form, and the reason for this is basically cause I said so. Also, big ups to the Chinese Diaspora for utilizing values instilled in them through foreign institutions as a basis to denounce all foreigners

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  18. @anon: “/at the end of the day she is CHINESE!/

    Nope. She’s half Chinese and half African American.”

    You mean half Han. Chinese (as I’ve been told by many) is a nationality, so Uighurs and Tibetans, for example, who are in China and have Chinese citizenship are Chinese.

    Is this right?

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  19. I really wonder why you have left out all the sane and sympethic comments that clearly shows Chinese people are against racism? Here’re some examples I found on Baidu:

    “洪晃:我们凭什么歧视混血女孩娄婧” – “Hong Guan: what right do we have to discriminate against mixed blood girl Lou Jin”

    “娄婧没有错,对娄母也应多宽容” – “Lou Jing is blameless, her mother deserves understanding too”

    “看中国男人怎对娄婧母女发邪火” – “observing Chinese male-chovanism againt Lou mother-daughter”

    “娄婧的呼声感人肺腑” – “Lou Jing’s appeal [to find father] moved me to the core”

    “娄婧天使舞台证明自己和大家一样” – “Lou Jing’s stage presence proves she is the same as everyone”

    “并不是因为她有着奥斯卡影后上海“哈利贝瑞”的称号。而是娄婧切身的故事” – “not because she resembles Halle Barry, but because of her life story”

    “勿以肤色论英雄” – Shouldn’t judge by skin color

    ” “黑珍珠”娄婧证明自我” – “black pearl” Lou Jing proves self-worth

    “娄婧比模特儿更美” – Lou Jing is more beautiful than models

    “大家多谅解她吧” – people should cut her some slack

    “娄婧是个小天使,这与她的肤色无关” – Lou Jing is an angel, matters not what skin color

    “黑色只是普通的肤色” – Black is but a normal skin color

    “很佩服你的勇气” – I admire your [Lou Jing’s] courage

    “自认为一番高论的鸟语,首先让我感到你真丢我们炎黄子孙的脸” – your [racist] self-righteous BS made me feel you’ve lost face for all Chinese

    “应该让我们所有的人值得同情” – they deserve all our sympathy

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  20. I am a Chinese and I currently live in the states. The story from today’s PBS radio program lead me to chinasmack website. I was very shocked, not at the racist attitude, but at how they openly and shameless express their racism without any concern (毫无廉耻地). I taught at a Chinese university for some 10 years before I left the country. I know there is no arguing that racism is an issue in China.

    Like

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