11 November 2009

Racism and Chinese Identity

For quite some time, most Chinese evidently imagined themselves to be relatively homogeneous and monocultural. Now, as China opens more and more to outsiders, interracial marriage and thus multiracial children are a greater and greater part of life.

Lou Jing is a young woman of mixed race. Her mother is from Shanghai, her father an African-American who (apparently) remains unaware that he fathered a child while in China. Hoping to become a TV newscaster, Jing became a contestant on an American Idol-style game show. Her skin color made her an immediate celebrity and the subject for some nasty racial attacks.

As National Public Radio puts it, the experience is forcing many Chinese to confront whether they imagine "race" to be a component of the national identity. The story is well worth a listen.

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