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African Girl in China

 
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afrokock View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote afrokock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 31 2013 at 7:33am
meeeeeh!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote keepgrowing Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 31 2013 at 2:33pm
Wow. My friend is Sri Lankan and she had similar negative experiences from visiting China causing her to dislike the country with a passion.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mizzsandra00 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 31 2013 at 2:59pm
Originally posted by Midna Midna wrote:

I know they've never seen a black person before but such reactions would annoy me with quickness.

But I understand where it comes from. You see documentaries of white people visiting African tribes who have never met a white person and they instant react with fear or curiosity, they think the person is sick or a monster, covered with ash or are albino. They don't consider white skin to be their epitome of beauty. In fact, didn't a Himba woman tell a white woman in one documentary she wasn't impressed by her white skin?

Culture really does play a huge role in our perception.


Lank?LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote DamiaRose Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 31 2013 at 3:35pm
Originally posted by Anah Anah wrote:

What a classy lady

It takes a certain level of person to be able to see the another perspective, especially when presented so blatantly. I admire her resilience and could easily find myself teaching and speaking to others with compassion and genuine concern to teach them my culture. 

People are easily a product of their environment and many of them don't know any better. I'm glad she was able to dissipate and disassociate her feelings when discussing the stereotypical things known about our culture.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Az~Maverick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 31 2013 at 4:06pm
Originally posted by mizzsandra00 mizzsandra00 wrote:

Originally posted by Midna Midna wrote:

I know they've never seen a black person before but such reactions would annoy me with quickness.

But I understand where it comes from. You see documentaries of white people visiting African tribes who have never met a white person and they instant react with fear or curiosity, they think the person is sick or a monster, covered with ash or are albino. They don't consider white skin to be their epitome of beauty. In fact, didn't a Himba woman tell a white woman in one documentary she wasn't impressed by her white skin?

Culture really does play a huge role in our perception.


Lank?LOL


+1 Embarrassed


LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote CherryBlossom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 31 2013 at 4:18pm
Originally posted by Midna Midna wrote:

I know they've never seen a black person before but such reactions would annoy me with quickness.

But I understand where it comes from. You see documentaries of white people visiting African tribes who have never met a white person and they instant react with fear or curiosity, they think the person is sick or a monster, covered with ash or are albino. They don't consider white skin to be their epitome of beauty. In fact, didn't a Himba woman tell a white woman in one documentary she wasn't impressed by her white skin?

Culture really does play a huge role in our perception.
Midna, was that the one where the Himba woman dressed up the yt woman in traditional clothes and were laughing at her...like they were clowning her so hard..LOLCryCry, I laughed till I cried.

yeah I think we had a thread on it


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sexyandfamous Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 31 2013 at 4:54pm
I am black but my skin is caramel color and my hair is not very Afro. I wonder what will be my experience once I visit Asian countries......
They will probably think I bleach my skin and flat-iron my "kinky" hair to achieve my wavy hair lol

Edited by sexyandfamous - Aug 31 2013 at 4:55pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote IslandSuga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 31 2013 at 5:20pm
Originally posted by CherryBlossom CherryBlossom wrote:

Originally posted by Midna Midna wrote:

I know they've never seen a black person before but such reactions would annoy me with quickness.

But I understand where it comes from. You see documentaries of white people visiting African tribes who have never met a white person and they instant react with fear or curiosity, they think the person is sick or a monster, covered with ash or are albino. They don't consider white skin to be their epitome of beauty. In fact, didn't a Himba woman tell a white woman in one documentary she wasn't impressed by her white skin?

Culture really does play a huge role in our perception.
Midna, was that the one where the Himba woman dressed up the yt woman in traditional clothes and were laughing at her...like they were clowning her so hard..LOLCryCry, I laughed till I cried.

yeah I think we had a thread on it




OMG, iDied at this video! Did she really think she would be accepted? She's mad because they're laughing, i swear the naivete of white people amaze me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote khivey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 01 2013 at 1:34am
Originally posted by OoDles O OoDles O wrote:

I thought this was an interesting read. Having been to China numerous times (and not the good parts) I can relate to alot of the naivety and ignorant curiosity that plagued the locals whom didn't know what to make of me being in their country. 

Quote As a young girl, I dreamt of becoming the first female Secretary-General of the United Nations and following in the footsteps of my countryman Kofi Annan. However, I never envisioned being given the role of Ambassador during my college years. But my year abroad in China gave me exactly that – a practical examination into the world of diplomacy. During my study abroad in China I found myself playing the role of an informal but full-time Ambassador.

Walter Bagehot, a prolific writer and journalist, once opined that “an ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle.” That word “spectacle” probably best encapsulates my experience as a black female living and studying in China. With my dark skin and my long braids, I stood out in most of the places I went, and realized during my time in China what it meant to be an “alien.” On a personal level, my year in China forced me to engage in a complex and intimate dance with the concept of identity; on a more global level, my experiences afforded me valuable perspectives on Sino-Africa relations.

Once, while shopping at a local food market another customer – upon realizing that I spoke Mandarin – turned to me and said: “Excuse me, if I may be so bold to ask, in your country do people consider black skin beautiful?” As someone exposed to Western political correctness, I was taken aback by her lack of tact. I responded: “Of course they do and to be honest I wish I were darker.” She was equally aghast at my response and said, “I would never have thought that in my lifetime I would hear someone say all you’ve said. So you really don’t want to become lighter skinned? In China we believe the whiter your complexion is the more beautiful you are and there are many ways to achieve this.” I politely declined her suggestions to bleach my skin.

Another time, a Beijing taxi driver asked me why Africans eat one another and why the continent is so chaotic. Despite my attempt to use facts to dispel these notions, he remained unconvinced. The driver noted the first character for the Chinese word for Africa, “fei” (非), means “to not be; not have; not; wrong; incorrect; lack.” I had never thought about it critically; but upon further reflection I became intrigued as to why another character with the same sound and tone but a more positive meaning was not used instead. It raises the question, how are Africans and Africa regarded in China?

With international focus on Sino-Africa relations sharpening, the official rhetoric in both China and Africa purports a relationship cemented around “brotherhood,” “friendship,” “mutual benefit,” and “solidarity.” But despite the voluminous trade between the African continent and China and the intimate political relations between several African countries and the Chinese administration, on a person-to-person basis, ignorance, misunderstanding, and intolerance still persist.

Ignorance breeds curiosity, and during my year-long residence in China I felt as though I was part of a circus act. People constantly took pictures of me. Other foreign friends would often joke that I was living the life of a celebrity; that feeling may have lasted for a day, but it quickly becomes annoying in everyday life. Taking the subway – having cameras flung in my face, being gawked at and becoming the topic of discussion for commuters – was an indescribable ordeal. While trying to sightsee at the beautiful vistas China is known for, I often became a tourist site myself – the surprise attraction at the show. It was unsettling to hear people discuss my skin, my hair, and the size of my hands. To preserve my sanity, I found amusement in eavesdropping on people discussing my appearance and then, to their dismay, casually joining their discussion in Mandarin.

I can’t stress enough the number of times I fantasized about snatching and flinging a phone used to take my picture, or going on a Mandarin rant at certain over-inquisitive commuters. But I also became aware that some of the most jaw-dropping behavior – like rubbing my skin to see if it was dirt or pigment – came from people who had probably never interacted with a black person before. I was also aware that first impressions are particularly important and so felt responsible for making a good impression. I felt burdened to respond with equanimity lest I validate anyone’s impressions of Africans as barbaric and wild.

Growing up in Ghana, my identity was not based on my skin color. Color was not something one had to think about; it was a given and did not say much about who one was. Race, unlike in the U.S. and China, was more or less a non-factor. Tribe, religion, class, socio-economic status, and lineage had a much greater impact on one’s identity and image than color.

But in China the story was different. There was rarely a day where I didn’t hear people say “Black person” or “African” as I walked by – it was a fact that people felt compelled to point out to themselves and to others around them. Living under a perpetual spotlight and having various identities thrust upon me, I came to realize that people are only able to fully understand who they are and what their culture is when they are not only challenged but also presented with a contrast. It is the contrast between two cultures that allows you to understand the intricacies and complexities of one and my experience in China afforded me that opportunity.

I was also fortunate to become closely acquainted with a Chinese family that took me under their wing and treated me as a member. I became acquainted with them because I was different, and they were curious. Their curiosity afforded me the chance to share aspects of my culture and the understanding I had about African affairs while also learning about Chinese culture. Our interactions allowed us to obliterate many misconceptions and prejudices on both sides.

Others often ask me if I found Chinese to be racist, and whether their treatment of me as a spectacle – taking pictures, touching my hair, rubbing my skin, staring at me – does not indicate a racist attitude. I respond that I find them curious. Many of the experiences I had were borne of ignorance, not racism. Despite always being identified as “Black” and “African,” I never felt discriminated against or antagonized, but rather treated with warmth and friendliness. Because I spoke Mandarin, I could often understand what people said about me, and they were rarely disparaging or maligning. On the other hand, some of my friends who have heard about my experiences feel that they reflect a deep lack of respect, and thus racist feelings. I also acknowledge that my experience is not fully reflective of that of other African students, as I never had to seek employment and so was never turned down because employers preferred “white foreigners,” which other African students in China have told me is commonplace.

The ties that hold Africa and China go back to Africa’s independence era – China was an ally helping to bolster newly independent nations and in fighting liberation wars, while African countries’ support was pivotal in the People’s Republic of China joining the United Nations. But with the increased movement of people across borders, and an intensification of economic relations, the scope and nature of Sino-Africa relations are increasingly becoming personal, no longer limited to high-level economic and political exchanges.

What is sorely missing is cross-cultural understanding. Regardless of whether it’s simply intrigue or racism, it’s clear that misconceptions and ignorance bedevil both sides of the equation. The prospects, however, are encouraging: there are currently over 12,000 African students studying in China on Chinese government scholarships. Hopefully, as more students take up the mantle of cultural ambassador, the awkwardness will subside. I, for one, am happily retired from my position of “Awkward ambassador.” But there is more work to be done.



Yep, Chinese were made to believe darker skin is not beautiful and a lot of their products have lightning agents in them. I've been asked the same question by some students. I've read my students journal and they described me as having black skin. I had to give them a lesson on identity and I told them the correct way to refer to skin complexions. 
The darker skinned Chinese get teased...I remember I saw a little boy who is a shade lighter than me and he said to his mom in Chinese "She is black like me". He felt he is black because his peers called him that due to his darker skin complexion. 
Another issue they have with darker skin is that it is associated with poverty in China. The Chinese who have a darker complexion are said to be that color because they have to spend hours working in the field. The women walk around with umbrellas when the sun is out and everyone will wear hats or anything to keep the sun from their faces and skin. 


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