Video | China: Being Black in China

China is the world’s most populous country with a population of close to 1.35 billion people.   It also has one of the oldest leading civilizations in the world.  For centuries, China outpaced the rest of the world in areas such as the arts and sciences.  In the 19th and 20th centuries, however, foreign occupations, civil unrest, famines, and military defeats racked the country.   By the end of World War II, MAO Zedong’s Communists established an autocratic socialist system, which despite demands for changes from the West, remains in place today.  Since that time, China has seen significant market-oriented economic developments and the living standards of its citizens have arguably improved.  It has become a larger player in global outreach and participates in international organizations.

In the 1960s, China opened its doors to Africans to study at its universities.  According to CNN, since that time, the number of foreigners including Africans and African-Americans living in China has risen significantly.   For example, communities of blacks in major cities like Guangzhou are estimated at close to 20,000.

Despite these changes, major prejudices against blacks remain.   Sociologists blame lack of exposure to blacks, the portrayal of blacks in the media and cultural bias against dark skin as the major issues.  For example, many Chinese believe all blacks are Africans.  CNN notes that Africa is portrayed as a “house of horrors” in the media where its citizens die from war, disease, and crime including from drug wars.

One of the keys to dispelling such incorrect notions is more exposure to blacks in the media and including President Barack Obama’s election in the U.S. and black athletes playing professional sports for Chinese sports teams.   On a more local level, real encounters with ordinary blacks living in China are helping to change attitudes towards the black community.

The following video from CNN highlights a story about Lou Jing, a Chinese girl born to an African-American father and Chinese mother.  Her participation in a reality show helped inform the public about black Chinese.

Click here to view the video.

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