The Racism Virus

Like many, I've been reading the horrific stories of how many black migrants and residents are currently being treated in China.

From being kicked out of their living spaces to being banned from McDonalds, racism is alive and well in in the east. Prejudice and racism isn't exclusive to any one part of the globe. The accounts are disgusting full stop.  

And yet, compared to the backlash of the use "China Virus", there has been significantly less press coverage and 'outrage'.

Of course calling the Corona Virus, the "China Virus," isn't in itself racist. But any reasonable person can and should acknowledge many are using the term to incite exactly that - racism.

Having had the opportunity to live in Shanghai growing up in my teens, I have had the unique privilege to immerse myself in a small part of the Chinese culture.

The many hundreds of Chinese people I met were kind, hard working, and cared deeply about their country and family.

I have said time and time again, I've never felt more 'safe' than I did while living in Shanghai.

However, in my time there, I also was able to see that racism, especially towards black people was fairly prevalent.

While living in China, I also had the privilege of having a live in maid, an incredibly common luxury for expats living abroad. Dolly was one of the kindest and thoughtful people I've ever met, and she quickly became family.

We would often stay up late in the night talking about the world, my travels, and her incredibly difficult upbringing.

One evening we were talking about American culture, and out of the blue she asked:

"Are you afraid of black people?"

Knowing her to be kind to everyone she knew, I was taken back by her question.

She meant it sincerely, and of course my answer to her was no.

But what she said after I think about to this day.

"All the movies and T.V. shows I watch made in the U.S. make black people look scary!"

And I am certain she isn't the only one who held those views.

Given the fact many Chinese people learn English and American from culture from American film and media, representations of people certainly play a role in how the world views them.

To blame racism in China on American media would obviously be only a sliver of the entire story, but I found the discussion incredibly fascinating and sad nonetheless.

What we consume plays a signifiant role in how we see the world.

And there's a lesson in there that most of us would benefit from reflecting on.