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Black in Asia

“Racism is a real problem in Asia, partly because Western media continues to shape negative opinions of colored people. It’s racist predispositions like these that make Asia almost impossible for “non-whites” to live in comfortably.”

“Come on, pull your pants down and let us see.”

“Yeah, let us take a picture, we’ve heard that black people have bigger dicks”

I was backed up into the corner of our hotel room while four of my Taiwanese classmates stood around me. I had nowhere to go.

“Don’t be shy, LET US SEE”, they insisted.

After repeatedly refusing and getting extremely close to a violent outbreak, they finally backed down. However the comments and curiosity lingered while we lived in close quarters until the end of the graduation trip.

I was a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Taoyuan, Taiwan for my entire junior year of high school, and while I was prepared by my program for the common obstacles that most people face when they move to Asia, I was not prepared for something like this.  It is an experience that took place solely because of the color of my skin.

More than half of my sponsoring club in Taiwan didn’t even know my name. I would go to all of their events and speak once a month at the club meetings and until the day I left they all called me Obama.

Granted, I spent a year in Taiwan and I only saw a hand full of black people so I assumed it was just ignorant racism. They must not have known any better, but then I moved to Shanghai.

Here, even in the so called most ‘western’ city of China, people don’t believe that I am American. There have multiple times when a Chinese national did not believe I was an American citizen because of the color of my skin. “You’re not from Africa?”, they’d ask.

Furthermore, after going to the same tutoring job interview with my white, blue-eyed, blonde-haired friend, the tutoring agency gave her over ten jobs and I didn’t get one.

To make matters worse, my modeling agent in the United States told me that she “can’t find me any work in China, because they’re not too fond of dark skin”. She has never signed a non-white model in Asia before.

Now, for a physical example, let’s take a look at the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” movie poster.

John Boyega, the second MAIN CHARACTER of the movie, has been significantly shrunk down on the poster released in China. Why is this? Why can’t a black man be a hero? Why can’t a black person be American? Why won’t Chinese families let black people tutor their children? Why isn’t China “too fond of dark skin”?  Why is a homogenous population so racist to a race which they have had no historical conflict with? And most importantly, why is it not being talked about?

I didn’t write this article so you would have pity on me. I wrote this article to spark conversation on a topic that is being ignored by homogeneous societies that are not affected by the situations above. Racism is a real problem in Asia, partly because Western media continues to shape negative opinions of colored people. It’s racist predispositions like these that make Asia almost impossible for “non-whites” to live in comfortably.


This article was written by Andre’ Lucas. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Arshaun Darabnia

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