Tag: racism


01

Aug 2003

Weird Racism

Recently I visited a photographer to discuss the possibility of doing some work for him. He’s a nice guy, a Hangzhou local, probably pushing 60. It didn’t take long to conclude our business, and it became clear soon thereafter that he just wanted to chat. I was happy to oblige him.

He talked for quite a while about his wife, who happened to work at the high school adjacent to ZUCC. He went on and on about how my school had taken some of the land that had originally been alotted to the high school. I wasn’t particularly interested — other than some vague curiosity about how the Chinese government zones land and allots it to private schools — but I listened.

Things suddenly got interesting again when he started talking about foreigners. The guy was funny. He had one word to sum up entire nations of people. Here are some of the ones I remember:

> Americans – undisciplined (散漫)

> Australians – lazy (懒)

> Germans – inflexible (死板)

> Japanese – cunning (狡猾)

I think he also said something about Italy being full of nothing but thieves, and New Zealand being the greatest country on earth because it not only had gorgeous scenery, but also very few people.

I didn’t take offense at any of this. I was really interested in hearing his opinions because his point of view is a rare one. Here was a man of my parents’ generation who spoke only Chinese but has nevertheless been to many foreign countries and has actually had significant contact with foreigners, both at home and abroad. Naturally, he took with him his Chinese biases wherever he went. In many ways, this guy was just like a Chinese version of so many Americans.

I like how he so matter-of-factly told me that Americans are all sloppy and undisciplined. I got a kick out of it. (I’m pretty punctual, but I guess it turned out to be very cooperative of me to arrive 5 minutes late that particular day.)

What most surprised me was what he had to say about black people. I’m pretty used to comments like, “I’ve got nothing against them, but they’re just so ugly.” It seems a lot of Chinese people discriminate against blacks solely on “aesthetic” grounds. But whatever. I’m not trying to get into that. What this guy had to say was different.

“Black people are good people. I’ve met a lot of them, and they’re really good people. The bad people are the mixed ones, who are only part black. They’re really bad.”

I asked for clarification on that: “I thought Chinese people believe mixed babies are beautiful and smart.”

His response? “Sure, mixed Asian and white babies are. But if you mix either Asians or whites with blacks, you get bad people.”

Bizarre. What can you say to that? Just smile and nod….


17

Dec 2002

Race, Schmace

Race Not Reflected in Genes, Study Finds:

“There is wide agreement among anthropologists and human geneticists that, from a biological standpoint, human races do not exist,” Sergio Pena and colleagues at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerias in Brazil and the University of Porto in Portugal wrote in their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Yet races do exist as social constructs,” they said.

I remember learning in my Japanese anthropology class about how scientifically, race is nonexistent. Here’s the same idea again.

It’s funny–the United States is regarded by all sorts of countries (including Asian ones) as a country with race problems–and yet racism thrives here. It’s just very hush-hush. I remember reading something a Chinese person said, as quoted in the China Lonely Planet: “There is no racism in China because there are no black people in China.”

If you ask a Chinese student, probably over 90% will tell you that there is no racism in China. Yet if you force them to answer the question, there is definitely a sort of “heirarchy of acceptability” for marriage: Chinese first, then Korean, Japanese, Caucasian, African. Why? “No reason,” they say. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Chinese people say they don’t like black people even when though most of them have never even met one.

Japan has serious problems as well. Many Japanese people seem uncomfortable acknowledging that a lot of their genes are shared with the Ainu minority people and the Koreans. Scientists work hard to disprove these theories to maintain ridiculous concepts of “racial purity.”

Asians tend to keep their mouths shut when they have something disagreeable to say, and they don’t go burning crosses or anything like that. But make no mistake about it, no matter what they tell you. Racism is well established here.



Page 2 of 212