Monday, October 31, 2005

Chinese are not racist (Part I)

Overheard while walking home in the evening darkness – Two young women and one guy, all white-collar office worker type, strolled behind me, looking like having just finished dinner together.

Girl 1: Now it’s your turn to tell a joke.

Guy: Ok. (Thinking for a beat) Here’s one. A Chinese guy prayed to God, “God, please let me fly.” God heard his prayer and granted his wish. He gave him two wings, and the Chinese guy turned into a yellow angel. Next a white guy prayed to God, “God, please let me fly.” God granted his wish and gave him two wings, and the white guy turned into a white angel. Lastly a black guy prayed to God, “God, please also let me fly.”

Girl 2: And he turned into a black angel?

Guy: Be patient. So God heard his prayer and granted his wish. He gave him two wings, and the black guy turned into a bat.

All: Hahaha.


Other Lisa said...


I remember the racist attitudes towards Blacks even back in 1979. There were a lot of Africans studying in Beijing at the time ("a lot" relative to, say, Europeans), and there was always this underlying attitude about how they were 'uncivilized' and untrustworthy. Kind of ironic, given the Chinese government's official line about "helping our African comrades."

BTW, typo alert: 'angel' not 'angle'

Beijing Loafer said...

Thanks for the alert. English is such an ambiguous language!


Albatross said...

I believe the Chinese "racist attitudes" is still different from the real, white people "racist attitudes". Like we call foreigners "Lao Wai", it's nothing insulting.

Also, there WERE a lot of "untrustworthy" Africans in China. Many of the African students were from upperclass families ... and you know how corrupt African governments are ...
pointing out a common problem in a race is not necessarily a racist attitude. Sometimes it's just a fact.

Beijing Loafer said...

I don't think that racism has to mean nazism. It doesn't have to be overt statement like "they are all stupid" or "let's not give them any jobs". The beauty of culture is that it's nuanced, but also insidious.

Statistics and stereotypes sit across a fine line from each other. I guess everyone has his/her own definition of what's acceptable. I simply try to frame the sound and sight of what I saw.

Of course that framing is determined by my own personal opinion. And my personal opinion is this - Chinese, Indians and Americans are very much alike in many aspects: all are proud and hardworking, and all carry similar patriotism and sense of superiority.

And once again, I didn't say Chinese are racists. ;)

Other Lisa said...

When I was in China the first time, I was often struck by this overwhelming sensation that China and the US were in this weird, cosmic, yin-yang relationship. So very different and yet so very similar. Big countries, as China Fool says, hardworking, patriotic and suffused with a sense of their own superiority.

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TheFool said...

God damnit, I hate spam bots.

Anyway, getting to the subject at hand... racism is inherent in every culture and nation, we just tend to distrust people more the less like us they are. If they don't look like us, talk like us and so on, it's harder to identify with them. That makes them less human than us, in the dark corners of our subconciousness, and invites a feeling of difference and, more often than not, superiority.

That being said, this is weakened by knowledge and thinking; just being aware of the term racism invites you to think and consider whether or not you are one, and education tends to tip the scales in the right direction. Of course, there are those who avoids the issue by refusing to believe in it, or saying that it is not a problem.

As usual, I'm quickly getting lost in my own words... bottom line is, racism is a primitive reaction to how we see ourselves and compare ourselves to those around us. Overcomming it is one of the things that makes us civilized.

Cheers from Norway, good reading. :)

TheFool said...

Oh, forgot something...

Albatross, I'm afraid racism is one of the many interesting inventions wrongly claimed by "white people". Skin colour has no impact on personality either, it is determined external factors like the culture surrounding you - there are quite a few differences between Europeans from different nations, and more between Europe and the USA.

P.S. We call foreigners "foreigners", and it's not really insulting. :)

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Anonymous said...

The Chinese, particularly the Han, are virulently and viciously racist, and always have been.

Phrases such as 'gui loh' and 'ang moh', though now painted as merely meaning 'foreigner' are originally venomously insulting in character.

The Chinese, in fact most Asians, notably the Japanese and Koreans, are actually almost unabashedly racist, or, like the Jews, they'll act all meek and friendly, until they get the numbers and money, then take over......and then watch out !

Chinese, are by and large, much more racist than white people.

The Japanese, of course, hate other people that they call 'Asian', and see themselves at the top of the heap, with Caucasians below them, then their "fellow' Asians, and Indians, and then Blacks way, way down at the bottom.

Having said all that.....I love a lot about Asia and Asians, especially the Chinese, I have Chinese in my family, I love Chinese girls, I like Chinese phiolosophy, art, design and literature... I just don't have a blinkered view, a 'rose tinted' view.

I know the good, and the bad, in people, and peoples.


Beijing Loafer said...

Your last sentence surely makes sense...

Baishan said...

I lived in China for two years and have been strongly involved with Chinese back in Ireland. Chinese are definitly very racist but not in a hateful way. It's so subtle they don't realise they are racist. Constantly pointing out that you are a foreigner wherever you go and calling you laowai without even making an effort to use your actual race is very annoying. When you live in China for long enough you just want to buy your groceries without hearing laowai over and over again. Even back home in Ireland they call me a foreigner which just seems very ignorant. I still love China and have been studying Chinese for years. It's because of this that I feel upset that I will never be able to be friends with (most)Chinese without being constantly viewed as an outsider.

japanesepiecelily said...

Chinese faggots are fucking racist to me including myself. BTW i am chinese : D