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Ebony in China

Beijing is becoming more and more international. About 100,000 foreign nationals are living in this metropolis now, coming from every part of the globe. Within this large foreign community, there is a small group who believe they have yet to become well known to the Chinese. They are African Americans. In January, Darryl Penrice gathered them together by forming a non-profit organization called Ebony in Asia. He did this so that black Americans like himself in Beijing can liaise with each other, and introduce African American history and culture to the local Chinese. Darryl grew up in Chicago and has been living in Beijing for up to 5 years. I recently met him in Club Deep, a bar he opened with his Chinese friend in eastern Beijing. .

You first came to China in 1999. What brought you here?

You're running Wild Styles Productions. What kind of company is it here.

How do you like your life in Beijing?

You can speak good Chinese. Are you well connected with the local Chinese? Or do you rather network mostly with fellow Americans or other foreign people in Beijing?

There are about 50 African Americans like you living in Beijing. There are students, businesspeople, teachers… How is this group special from other foreign communities, say white Americans or Africans?

Not long ago you set up Ebony in Asia. What prompted you to do this?

You've said that perceptions of African-Americans among the Chinese are
mostly based on what they see in movies or hear in hip hop music, and this has led to some pretty skewed ideas. What else do the Chinese have to learn about Black Americans so as to have a balanced understanding?

When you guys sit together, what problems and issues would you talk about most?

Do you have any notable experiences, be they positive or negative, of being in China as a black American?

What activities has Ebony in Asia launched, or is planning for the near future?

That brings us to the end of CRI's Voices from Other Lands. We've just talked with Darryl Penrice, founder of Ebony in Asia, a group of African Americans in Beijing, and potentially in other parts of Asia.

(CRI March 12, 2004)


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