Being Black and Chinese – and representing China?


Away from the typical and belabored ethnic binary of Anglos and African-Americans in the U.S…. China has an ethnically mixed contestant in “Go Oriental Angel,” its version of American Idol.  The contestant, 20-year-old Lou Jing, has stirred the main land into craziness.  Her mother is Chinese.  Her father, absent, is African-American.  The Chinese are flummoxed by Ms. Jing’s brownness.

Lou Jing – Chinese and African-American

Lou Jing – Chinese and African-American

Time Magazine has a decent piece about the controversy and the assumptions.

Is the question of, “what makes a Chinese” as loaded as the one that asks “what makes an American?”

A New York City-based diversity trainer’s writing often reminds me that people perform their ethnicities; people expect typical and stereotypical behaviors from others, whether they are Anglo, of African descent, speak Spanish, or are Indiginous.  So how do you perform your Chinese-ness or your Blackness?

Lou Jing doesn’t have the typical or expected Chinese features, other than speaking Chinese.  In the United States, you would think or assume that the only duo of peoples who were dating “outside of their races” (what an utterly ignorant and absurd phrase!) were black and white people.

From news reports, China’s racism seems to be even more agonizing that North America’s.  China, as with many South Asian countries, has nearly no ethnic diversity, at least as American’s understand it.  If you consider this, in-depth, much of this resembles North America’s preoccupation with ethnic or image purity.

In some ways “Go Oriental Angel’s” producers have presented her life story in a typically North American manner: they emphasize the stresses and the hard road that her still young life has been.  But there are doubts about how hard her road was.

A website, China Hush, has a lengthy interview with Ms. Jing that clarifies her background. It also reflects a young lady who is wise beyond her age.

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