Racism is a problem.
Stories of racism turn up all the time, in every part of the world, whether it is an African-American who dared to return to America leaving behind in Shanghai the Chinese woman he impregnated, a black Brazilian man standing next to his Ford Ecosport SUV at a Carrefour in Brazil, or another African-American Harvard professor entering his own Massachusettes home. And these are just instance of racism against black people, in a world where racism and reverse-racism cuts not just both directions but every direction.
To see this, we only need to revisit the aforementioned Lou Jing fiasco, where a Shanghainese girl of mixed blood (black American and yellow Chinese) found herself in the middle of a torrent of racist comments by Chinese netizens, all kindly translated for us by infamous China-tabloid chinaSMACK (and the upstart ChinaHush).
Just as the examples of Chinese racism were outrageous were the foreigner comments predictable. In the face of ridiculously ignorant and malicious racism by many Chinese netizens, many foreign netizens flooded chinaSMACK’s comment section with equally ignorant and malicious racism against the Chinese. “A hah! I knew Chinese society was racist!” the chorus crooned.
To be sure, many of them meant well, meaning to voice their distaste for and opposition to racism in general, but so many simply couldn’t do so without racially generalizing the Chinese in the process. It was as if the only way they could show that they were outraged by racism against blacks was to be even more racist towards the Chinese. It made me wonder: Are these people here to condemn racism? Or are they here to condemn the Chinese?
Some may say, “we’re here to condemn the Chinese for their racism”. Indeed, and is it necessary to be racist in doing so? Or are we really here to use racism as an excuse to condemn the Chinese? Is using racism or tolerating racism to condemn racism somehow right? Or does it just create more problems of self-righteous hypocrisy…amongst races? Are those of us who consider ourselves non-racist actually not racist? Or have we merely been trained with conditional response to certain forms of racism but not others? What is more important? The state of being racist or the state of being Chinese?
Websites like chinaSMACK are as accurate — and as flawed — a representation and reflection of foreigners as it is of Chinese people.
Behind racism is a frightening combination of ignorance, insecurity, and plain stupidity. To this day, the vast majority of humanity is still content to align themselves to race and nationality over logic and rationality. We still find it more important to reinforce or tolerate the superficial identities and seemingly persuasive diatribes that make “us” better and “them” worse, rather than celebrate the similarities that make “us” better and condemn the similarities that make “us” worse.
Racism is a problem. With all of us.
UPDATE: Great post by Uln on this topic over at CHINAYOUREN »