Explaining Race in China

Couple of days ago, I was listening to the China Africa Podcast on thoughts about race, and the views of racism between Chinese and Africans.

What’s interesting, was the poignant observation, that the Chinese (from mainland China) view themselves as victims of racism, so when they have the double-standard of actually being racist themselves, then “it’s different”. Somehow, there’s always a reason. Very interesting.

Then, today, I heard the Sinica Podcast on the idea of “Han” ethnicity. Not as in-depth as I’d like, but it’s a start:

They did note that the idea of being 漢 (Han) is different now, than what we know of being 漢 (Han) back in the 漢朝 (Han Dynasty). In fact, you can extend it to the fact that the idea of “race” has been different. The only thing that has stayed the same is the sense of “us versus them”, just that who you define as “us” and “them” changes…

Usually, the most frustrating thing you could bring upon yourself, is trying to explain how certain actions and words are racist to Mainland Chinese, and why they shouldn’t be said. I’m not going to do that to myself today, and would like to bring you a slightly lighter example:

An immigrant family asked me what was wrong with the word “Amigo”. Because when blue-collar laborers (of an unnamed ethnicity) come in, that’s what those people call the owners of this restaurant. The owners began to wonder if they were making fun of them, after, the owner told another person, “OK, thanks for coming, Amigo!” To which he immediately replied, “I AM NOT AN AMIGO!” and stormed out. They began to wonder if those blue-collared workers were putting on a smile while using a derogatory term, while telling them that Amigo meant friend as a joke. I told them, “While amigo DOES mean ‘friend’, it’s not appropriate to use in every circumstance,” and to avoid this similar reaction from happening again next time, they should wait ’till the person calls them Amigo first.

This is when the chef chimed in and said, “WHAT the hell kind of logic is that?! Why is it they can call us Amigo, but we can’t call them Amigo?! Yeah, you don’t like it?! ‘AMIGO! AMIGO! AMIGO!’ How does he like, THAT now, eh?!”

How would you explain this?


13=阝12=口 J=丁 (阿)
L=氵 Z=工 (江)
–1312JLZ (阿江)
You can contact me via…

Facebook Twitter Google+  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *