On racial discrimination

By Gu Bo
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, April 28, 2011
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One of my childhood friends is now a successful businesswoman. She opened a preschool in my hometown a few years ago that is now thriving. So now she's thinking about opening another one. About a month ago she asked me if I could find her a native English speaker to teach at her center. Another friend of mine happened to mention that one of his friends, an American called Nick, was seeking an English teaching job. Perfect, so I hooked him up with my childhood friend.

At first they both seemed very interested, exchanging e-mails and talking about details such as salary, benefits, life in my hometown. But one day my childhood friend called me in surprise: "You didn't mention he's black?"

"Yeah he is," I replied. "Why, does it matter?"

Besides worried about his accent, which I reassured her that Nick was a native English speaker, she went on, cautiously. "This is a very small city in China…," she said, letting her sentences linger. "Parents don't really know…"

I then realized what she was talking about before further explanation. In a small city like my hometown, people think black people do not speak genuine English. As absurd as it sounds, they always prefer a white English teacher to a black one.

This is not just small town, country bumpkin thinking. I've had exactly the same experience in the "international metropolis" of Beijing. A friend who owns a fairly big English training center asked me to introduce English teachers to him and specifically told me that he preferred white teachers. "I don't mean to be a racist, but a lot of my students don't think black teachers are as good as white ones, and I need to please my students to keep the business going," he told me.

While many Chinese claim they are mistreated in the international arena, they are often racists themselves. They show their politeness to people with different skin colors but they adjust the level of fondness for a foreigner in direct proportion with how fair his skin is. What do people say when they see a Chinese woman dating a black man? Their first reaction is, "What's wrong with her?

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