by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian
Ever wonder how an internet meme gets started? Or, for that matter, how it then spreads and metastasizes until it becomes accepted fact?
Over the last week, we’ve seen one particular meme develop about China: “China Hates Black People” (courtesy of Perez Hilton).
This idea didn’t, however, originate with Perez Hilton. It started last Friday with a story in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, “Authorities order bars not to serve black people,” which alleged that Chinese government authorities were secretly planning to ban blacks from bars during the Olympic games. Reporter Tom Miller based the story on the claim of one anonymous source:
“Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians,” said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.
Then Miller quoted another unnamed source, a “black British national who lives in Beijing,” to further shore up the story:
“Chinese people are prejudiced, but I would have hoped that the government would set a better example as it debuts on the world stage.”
The story was then picked up by legitimate news sources like Reuters, The Globe and Mail, and The Age, and that was before it hit the blog-o-sphere. Four days later, around the same time that the Chinese government officially denied that such a ban existed, Perez Hilton posted the story, et voila…a meme is born. In the two days since and at the time of this writing, 649 comments have been made about Perez’s post, and many of them are loaded with xenophobia, racism, and hate, and not just for the Chinese:
Look. There are plenty of reasons to distrust the Chinese government and not believe a word it says. Free speech does not exist there, dissidents are routinely jailed and silenced, and the government doesn’t pretend to be a democracy. We’re all pretty familiar with its suppressive tactics. Just ask Tibet. As a first-generation Chinese-American, I was raised with a healthy dose of suspicion when it comes to China’s government, because it was the Communists, after all, who chased both sides of my family out of the country, tried to kill my great-grandfather, tossed my great-grandmother into a labor camp for the rest of her life, almost killed my father (the bomb that dropped next to him was, fortunately, a dud), took away my mother’s ancestral home, made one of my uncles a permanent invalid, and generally devastated the lives of everyone I’m related to. My experience teaching in China after I got out of college only confirmed my feelings that this was a country where you couldn’t talk freely and you had to toe the party line and the government had ultimate power.
But I find this story about China banning blacks from bars during the Olympics–and how little it’s been substantiated–very difficult to swallow. China has strong ties to Africa, some of them a bit too strong for my taste (just ask Sudan). Beijing is an international city filled with foreigners. Of course, you will find Chinese people who are prejudiced, racist, and xenophobic. Some of them are my relatives! (During my year-stint there, I met a lovely older teacher who told me he was “afraid of blacks” even though he had never actually met a black person. And where did he get this idea? American movies.)
Kudos to the Shanghaiist for following up the South China Morning Post‘s story with a considerable debunking and especially to Beijing Boyce (“A Somewhat Young China Hand on the Local Drinking Scene”), who did some actual reporting on this and hit many bars in Beijing after the story broke, painting a drastically different picture from the one in the Hong Kong paper.
Still, the Chinese are great at keeping secrets (just ask Calgon). So if this turns out to be true, you know that Diana and I will be first in line to shame the shit out of my mother ship. But, in the meantime, the idea that “China Hates Black People” is out there and, sadly, although it was intended as a commentary on racism, it’s only served to stir up more.
(To contact Perez Hilton, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at email@example.com.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- croquet on Voices: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
- Shazza on The Racialicious Links Roundup 12.5.13: Black Twitter, Black Academics, Iran, Chicago and Elan Gale
- nicthommi on Comedian Aamer Rahman Explains “Reverse Racism”
- the_miekster on Race + The Netherlands: Resistance, Lost in Translation
- moniyer on Race + The Netherlands: Resistance, Lost in Translation
- The Walking Dead Roundtable: 4.8 “Too Far Gone”
- Voices: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
- The Racialicious Links Roundup 12.5.13: Black Twitter, Black Academics, Iran, Chicago and Elan Gale
- On Disability and Cartographies of Difference
- A Muslimah’s Guide to Rocking the World
- Quoted: Dr. David Leonard Pens Open Letter to Marissa Alexander
- The Acclaimed Web Series Black Folks Don’t Returns for a Third Season
- Comedian Aamer Rahman Explains “Reverse Racism”
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black celebrities comedy diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity interracial relationships Kerry Washington latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion Scandal sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes True Blood tv Uncategorized white youtube