Being black, in Shenzhen at least, is tough. It’s tough because of how people treat me and the longer I’m staying here, the more I want to leave. A lot of the people here look at me as though I’m an animal or a creature from outer space. On the other hand, there are some who look at me with fascination and great curiosity. Either way, it gets to me and has been for a while now.
Between people trying to sneak a photo of me, jumping out of their skin when they spot me, laughing when they spot me, pointing at me, screaming when they spot me, calling me “black person” and saying it with such disgust, talking about how dark I am, I’m truly tired of it. My Chinese colleagues and some friends constantly tell me that I shouldn’t pay attention to any of it. “It’s harmless,” they say. “Don’t take it personal,” they say. “People who do that have no education,” they say. “You’re beautiful and tall and they’re not used to seeing someone like you. Don’t let it bother you,” they say. Well? That doesn’t help me at all. It’s frustrating to have to deal with it all the time! I can’t do anything, in peace here, without there being some spectacle around me.
I try my best to not let it get to me but there are times where I just want to yell at the top of my lungs and disappear. Sometimes, I also wonder if i would be having so much of thirst problems, if I were lighter. Don’t get me wrong—I would NEVER bleach my skin and I love that I’m dark chocolate but, I just want to me normal, in China.
Is that too much to ask for?
Being black, in China, is tough AND draining -_-.
It’s just a normal Tuesday, at IKEA. 1. Why is it so crowded?! Don’t these people work?? They can’t all have a day off like me.. And 2. Yes, people here actually go to IKEA, and sleep!
Something about us. 🇯🇵🍱🍣 (at Coastal City Mall Shenzhen 海岸城 深圳)
The children here are unbelievably spoiled. You can say it’s because of the “One Child Policy” but I believe it’s due not only to that but also to what I’ve observed as the “New Money Effect.” A lot of people in Shenzhen, and in other parts of China, are obtaining money rather quickly. These are people who come into money and have no idea what to do with themselves. For some, it hasn’t changed their behavior, it hasn’t bought them manners nor class buuuut, it does allow them to spend a lot on themselves and of course, their children (if they have any). The people under the “New Money” umbrella are the ones that can be observed not disciplining their children and spoiling them like none other. They can be in midst conversation and if their child(ren) is (are) repeatedly calling for them, to the point of screaming and hitting, the parent from “New Money,” will drop everything to focus on the child(ren).
I’ve seen countless children throwing fits or doing things that shouldn’t be allowed but all their parents do is laugh (which encourages the behavior and reinforces it as being positive), or just allow their child to run the show. If a child is tired of walking, said child is passed from arm to arm, ensuring that his/her Angelic feet never touches the ground again until the destination point is reached. I’ve seen countless of children, between the ages of 5 and at least 7, in strollers! These children are spewing out of the stroller but, it doesn’t matter! I’ve seen a mom comforting her child for at least half an hour because her child dropped one of many pieces of candy she had in a box of candy. The other day, while on the metro, I saw ONE child, with six family members (mother, father, and both sets of grandparents)! The child’s mom was wiping sweat off of his forehead, while one of his grandparents was giving him a drink of water, and the rest of his family members were talking about him and how great he was. I have more examples but, I’ll stop.
These children raised by parents of “New Money,” will grow up to be absolute terrors and I do not want to be here for that!
Celebrated the 4th of July, in Shenzhen. (at 锦绣中华 Splendid China)
Now, when most Chinese people here see a black person, they automatically assume that s/he is African. In my case, this is true-I am West Africa but also North American. Either way, it appears as though there are a few West African women who live and work in Guangdong province as prostitutes. Due to this fact, I am now more concerned with how I am viewed here.
I remember going to Guangzhou city last month, and to my surprise, a few Chinese men were cat calling me. I say to my surprise because of all of my three years in China, this has NEVER happened to me. I just looked at them, shook my head, and continued to my destination. A few minutes later, I met up with a friend and explained to her what had just happened. Her response? ”yeeeaaah, that’s because they think that you’re a prostitute. That’s why when I’m out on the streets, I just walk as quickly as possible, and ignore them” (she’s North American and of Haitian decent). I was shocked, to say the least. I am the furthest thing from a prostitute and personally I would never and could never be a prostitute. At the same time, I was also saddened because these men had their ideas on how all African women they encountered behaved, and African women are more than what these men perceive us to be.
Another incident…Just a couple of days ago, my boyfriend and I were in Hong Kong. We were leaving our hostel and were on our way to dinner. We were in the elevator of the hostel with three Indian men and an Asian woman (I couldn’t tell if she was Chinese or Japanese or Korean because, I’m bad at that). My boyfriend had his back to the elevator doors and I was facing him. All of a sudden, I feel someone groping my butt!! I turned and one of the Indian men pretended to be looking in the other direction. I turned to face my boyfriend, turned back to face the Indian man, gave him a nasty look and said “that is NOT OK, sir! Not okay at all!” He goes on and on about how he’s “sorry” and he “didn’t mean to” and all this other bull crap. I looked at my boyfriend, who then gave the man the dirtiest look ever and trying to contain himself from going off on the guy, while this man kept going on about how “sorry” he was. Yes, he was a sorry man, to EVER THINK that he could just touch me (or any woman) in ANY WAY and think that I would be okay with that. I had half the mind to slap him but I didn’t want there to be any serious problems.
Back in mainland, I always see people giving my boyfriend and I the strangest mixtures of looks (some from the locals and some from other foreigners). Yes, I am dark chocolate while he’s more dulce de leche but I get insecure at times and feel as though we’re getting these looks because people think I’m a prostitute! 0_o. It does bother me at times but at the end of the day, I have to remember that I know who I am and what I do (I’m a teacher and a wonderful one at that), and ignore all of the people who don’t matter.