Take, for example, Mike Lee and Will Evans, students from the U.S. and Canada, respectively, who applied to be English teachers through the New Development School, a teacher-placement agency in Beijing. Being fluent speakers of English, both believed they would make competitive candidates.
What they didn’t know is that recruiters would not be evaluating them just on their English fluency or academic credentials. Instead, they were judged primarily on physical appearance.
Yeah.. my brother was politely asked to leave his first English teaching job in Shanghai because the kids’ parents’ didn’t want a Black guy teaching their kids English.
Fly 20 hrs across the world.. no white people around.. and you still gotta deal with whiteness. I just find it so discouraging.
Yep. And guess where Chinese people get their information about Black Americans? From US media.
When I was a student in China, I would explain this to people all the time. Perplexed Chinese students would ask me, Why are there so many Black criminals in America (by which they meant, the USA)? I would say, Believe me there are far more white criminals, but where did you get this information about Black criminals? They would answer, American television, American news, American movies. I would say, Those are made by white people and are not an accurate picture.
That was before the explosion of basketball and hip hop in China, which have somewhat expanded Chinese exposure to Black folks. These days, Kobe Bryant is probably just as popular among the younger generation in China as Yao Ming. (LeBron James is second; it’s a dividing identity-establishing question among Chinese youth, “Kobe or LeBron?”) Of course, basketball and hip hop obviously aren’t enough to change overall perceptions of Black people, as we know from the USA itself.
In any case, skewed representation, racist stereotypes, and specifically anti-Blackness in US media (both news and fiction) are not only harmful to people in the US, but these perceptions also inform — and misinform — an international audience and propagate global racism.