Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Shanghai Student’s TV Success Releases Flood of Racist Posts from Viewers in China

November 12th, 2009 by Ajuan Mance

 

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Lou Jing, a student at Shanghai’s Theater Academy, dress for a night of competition on Go! Oriental Angel.

Lou Jing, a junior at Shanghai’s prestigious Theater Academy, considers herself completely Chinese. Many in China’s TV viewing audience would say otherwise. The daughter of a Chinese woman and an African American man she never met, Lou Jing nevertheless felt comfortable in the nation of her birth, that is until she appeared on a popular television singing competition. Her sudden visibility to those far outside the Shanghai region that she calls home sent shockwaves across the nation as viewers were confronted with the realityof multiracial identity, embodied in a talented young woman who is both Black and Chinese.

A contestant on the popular American Idol-type show, Go! Oriental Angel, Lou Jing made it through the first several rounds of the program and became one of 30 finalists. While she does have some supporters and fans, the sheer volume and intensity of her detractors’ comments have made news across China and around the world. In late September 2009, Time Magazine described the controversy as it was unfolding:

In August, Lou’s appearance on the show not only boosted viewer numbers but also sparked an intense nationwide debate about the essential meaning of being Chinese. Over the past month on Internet chat rooms, where modern China’s sensitive issues are thrashed out by netizens long before they reach the heavily censored mainstream media, Lou’s ethnicity has been the subject of a relentless barrage of criticism, some of it crudely racist. Many think she should not have been allowed to compete on a Chinese show, or at least not selected to represent Shanghai in the national competition. She doesn’t have fair skin, which is one of the most important factors for Chinese beauty. What’s more, her mother and her biological father were never married; morally, the argument goes, this kind of behavior shouldn’t be publicized, so she shouldn’t have been put on TV as a young “idol.”

These kinds of posts on the most popular chat rooms have attracted thousands of comments. A few have been supportive of Lou, but the rest range from expressions of fear and ignorance to outright racism. One of the most popular posts about Lou Jing on the KDS Life forum asked in mock seriousness, “Is it possible that she is Obama’s daughter?” Another poster said, “I can’t believe she’s so shameless that she would go on TV.” Most of the critics are agreed on one point: that this black woman cannot be regarded as a “real” Chinese.

Other posters called her skin “ugly” and “gross,” and referred to her as a “bastard” whose mother is a “whore” (Source: chinaSMACK.com, NPR.org)

In the end, Lou Jing did not win the competition, but her Go! Oriental Angel experience has forever changed her perspective on being Chinese and Black. In an interview with NPR, Lou Jing described the shift in her attitude:

Before, on the street, people might say things like, ‘How come she looks like that?’ But that was just a small number of people. When I was younger, I thought life was beautiful. Why is it that now I’ve grown up, I don’t think that anymore?

Lou Jing hopes to leave China, if not permanently, at least in order to finish her education in peace. According to NPR.org, “[h]er dream is of escape. She wants to study journalism at Columbia University. She believes the lack of knowledge about racism in China is such that many people didn’t even realize their comments were discriminatory or hurtful. But for her, the world suddenly seems a different place.”

Posted by Ajuan Mance

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Posted in Black Students, Current Events, Higher Education, race

9 Responses

  1. Rob Taylor

    The Han Chinese are the dominant culture and they are extremely racist and concerned about “purity” which is something that’s well known but swept under the rug by the neo-Orientalist enthralled with Asian culture in general and modern China in particular.

    The first time I met another Bi-racial kid I was 7-8 and this kid and his sister were black/Vietnamese. The girl had a scar on her arm where villagers tried to set her on fire.

    America is pretty much the only place in the world where the multi-ethnic are treated fairly, though I’ve seen a decline in treatment as we move away from being proud of our melting pot culture and instilling the false pride of Identification with ethnicities and nations we know little about.

    It used to be racist who would talk about the problem of Interracial marriage, now it’s everyone who claim they are “just trying to preserve unique cultures” etc.At this rate within 100 years we’ll be just like the Chinese.

  2. iba

    Fantastic post. Lou Jing’s plight is one (of many) reasons why the world will never like China as they do America. Economics, militarization, it doesn’t matter. We (Americans) are overall pretty accepting of “others”, and honestly, that’s all that matters. For all of our issues surrounding race, the kind of belligerence Jing had to experience just wouldn’t fly, at least not in the friggin’ 21st century. China’s got to get up to speed. It’s sad, pathetic, and downright disgusting. I hope Lou Jing gets into Columbia U. and eventually becomes a U.S. citizen. Go America, F!ck yeah!

  3. Amanda

    @iba If you think that Americans are accepting of others, maybe you live in a different country than I do or maybe you don’t live as a biracial person. I have a white mother and a black father and have faced a LOT of racism. Ironically enough its mainly from black women. Most of it is rude staring but some have gone as far as shoving or cussing me out in Walmart. I have been called ugly and “bastard”, my mother has been called a “whore” who “stole” a good black man from black women. I face this every day of my life. I even went into a black owned store that refused to serve me or my “white whore of a mother.” America is just as racist as other countries if not more.

    Also, the rest of the world DOES NOT like America. They think we are arrogant and try to take over everything.

  4. Ajuan Mance

    The way it’s been explained to me by people of African descent who live in other nations is that, although there is racism in the U.S., Black people in this country did have a civil rights movement, and that has made a significant difference in the degree to which racism is, at least, talked about. Also, there is powerful legislation that has made most forms of racial discrimination illegal, and that is a direct result of the civil rights movement.

    No place is a utopia, but anti-Black racism is an issue that Black people in the U.S. have been shaping discourse around for nearly 400 years now, as opposed to less than 10 in a nation like China.

  5. Adul

    You cant compare the US to most countries. Black people were brought as slaves to america, they were never enslaved in China. What the Chinese see, is some black US man going over there and using one of thier women for sex, knocks her up then ditches the country. For a proud culture like China thats a slap in the face for it to be aired on TV. And as far as whether the world likes China…who cares.

    Chinese culture has been ongoing for 4000 years now. That racism that the Chinese have has kept others out, without that im sure they would have mongrelized by now and fallen apart…like Rome did. Like Egypt did, and like the US will.

  6. Adul

    And the same goes for many European countries, especially Eastern Europe which has 0 history of black slavery…just because some Africans decide to illegally immigrate to there, doesnt mean that the natives have to accept them.

  7. abbey

    Adul, even if that is the way the chinese see it, what about the child who is innocent in all of this, she didnt ask her mother to get knock up by this black guy. don’t her mother’s chinese blood run through her veins. i would consider her chinese since she was brought up by her chinese mother and that is all she knows. And by the way, what about the white and chinese people living in africa and the caribbean are they there legally and why should we accept them

  8. 中国人

    It is weird how some Americans post some exaggerated facts on this type of topics to make other nations and races look bad.

    I guess US is the most tolerant countries in the world and have had a clean history that always supported equal rights and humanity.

    I guess US never had black slavery, nor any sort of segregation in the South, no lynching of blacks, American Civil War was fought over a piece of stale bread. Finally Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr was not a key figure for empowering African American’s rights in US, they were just some gangster rappers talking about blings and hot girls.

    So for those confused American spinsters, let me remind you that 99.99% of US citizens are not American Indian, they were either immigrants or descendant of immigrants. But look at what happened to the American Natives over the course of US history.

    So before we talk about Chinese problems (there are many like most nations of this size), have you American looked at your problems and unfair treatments that you people dealt on the natives? Also post World War 2, US is more like Darth Vader than Anakin Skywalker.

    Finally, Obama is not a black African American president, but rather he is a White American President with a Black African Father.

    P.S. Lets try to fix our problems first and understand our past sins, before we cheer and jeer at other’s misfortunes and mistakes. Be a good global citizens and not some hoodlums with loaded guns that is confused about one’s true purpose in life.

  9. KingPrez

    Scary, but very well put Adul.

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