Posted on September 5, 2020

Living in China Forced Me to Be Honest About the Reality of Race

Colton Morr, American Renaissance, September 5, 2020

This is part of our continuing series of accounts by readers of how they shed the illusions of liberalism and became race realists.

I am a typical white American from a typical Midwestern city. As a teenager, probably the most unique thing about me was my fascination with Asian culture, which led me to study abroad in Harbin, China. I chose Harbin because I wanted to be in a city with few Westerners and few English-speakers. That way, I would have no other choice but to learn the language, the culture, and gain a deep understanding of the people.

Before arriving in this foreign land, I had never thought about race or IQ, but I quickly started to notice differences. For example, Chinese people have an amazing ability for memorization. When people asked me for my cell phone number and I didn’t have a pen handy, I would just tell them it. They would repeat it once or twice aloud and be all set.

More than fifteen years later, and I am still in China, where I teach, translate, and advise Chinese businessmen and college students who are planning on going to the US. It has been that last role that turned me into a frank race realist, as almost every Chinese citizen I have met that’s interested in visiting or moving to the US is very interested and worried about the racial situation there. In having to explain the on-the-ground reality to people completely unfamiliar with America, Americans, and American culture, you have to be frank — and after that, you can’t put your head back in the sand.

For instance: All Americans know to avoid ghettos and majority black areas when traveling. It is just common sense. But China doesn’t have ghettos. There are cities that are more modern and developed than others, but public safety is generally the same regardless of where you are. The same can’t be said for America. If a white person walks around the streets in South Chicago at midnight, as opposed to North Chicago, the likelihood of being robbed or assaulted increases dramatically. While I never wanted to tell someone not to live in or pass through a black neighborhood, I couldn’t pretend to be ignorant of reality — and thereby endanger clients and friends — just to be politically correct.

Two incidents in particular come to mind when I was forced to either be blunt and honest or try to sugarcoat the truth. The first was when I met a Chinese businessman interested in buying a house in Detroit for a very low price. His daughter was going to school in America, and he was planning on immigrating. He wanted to buy a house that was incredibly cheap, fix it up while living there, then sell it. He planned to buy a house right in the heart of a ghetto. I warned him that it isn’t safe living and walking around in black neighborhoods. His reply was hopelessly naive: “I will be safe, lock my door and I won’t bother anyone. If I am friendly and don’t bother anyone, why would they bother me?”

The second was with a girl who was accepted to Temple University. She was very eager to go to America and live the American dream, and I was excited for her! I gave her a lot of information about Temple University and the city of Philadelphia. One important point I made to her was that Temple’s campus is very close to a ghetto. I told her, almost like a father would tell a daughter, “You will not go to this area!” She questioned my theory immediately, and asked incredulously,  “Asian neighborhoods are fine, white neighborhoods are fine, but black neighborhoods should be avoided?” It was an awkward situation, but I felt that I had no choice but to be as honest as possible. I told her, “I think you will do very well in America. I have black friends, white friends, Asian friends, and Hispanic friends. I treat everyone the same. However, there is no denying the fact that crime in black areas is much, much higher than in white and Asian areas.”

After encountering several situations where I told the truth about America, I felt a sense of pride and professionalism in pulling no punches when describing the place. Unfortunately, I have many foreign friends in China who not only wouldn’t dare admit the reality about race and crime, but teach their students the exact opposite! Students love to hear foreign teachers debate this topic. They never imagined two foreigners from the same place could offer such contradicting views, or that this conflict of views could get so ugly. Despite having lived in China for the majority of my adult life, being married to a Chinese woman, and having mixed-race children, whites who cannot confront the reality about racial dynamics in America still tarnish me with the label “racist.”

Clashes between myself and liberal colleagues only intensified as time went on. In 2014, after Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, some white teachers in China cited it as a perfect example of how whites in America “bully” and “oppress” blacks. This claim didn’t change even after the forensic evidence was released that did away with claims that Brown had had his hands up and was trying to flee. No matter what facts I pointed out to them, they all maintained that the whole incident was a clear cut example of a racist white cop “hunting” an innocent black male. The excuses white liberals give for black behavior in America go on to be taught to Chinese students with the same ignorant, nearly religious, certainty. Even in China one cannot escape the refrains about slavery, terror perpetrated by the KKK, Jim Crow, “lack of education,” “lack of resources,” “oppression,” etc.

Luckily, the Chinese do not seem to be as easily swayed as Americans. In 2016, a liberal Canadian and I were discussing immigration with our students. He asked them, “Wouldn’t you agree that the majority of foreigners who come to China are friendly, they teach you about Western culture, and should be welcomed here?” The students agreed, and the Canadian, pleased with himself, continued: “Then don’t you think it’s wrong for a person who wants to be President to not allow immigrants in? And wouldn’t it be heartless to build a wall to show the world that he doesn’t want them coming to America?” Once again, the students agreed.

I gave the class some more context to better understand the situation, and informed them that in 1960, whites were about 90 percent of the population in America. Today, their share of the total is closer to 60 percent — and in 25 years, they won’t even be the majority. I then asked them, “I’m sure we all agree that foreigners are welcome here?” Just as they had with the similar question from my colleague, the students agreed, but then I continued “What if someone suggested that we open the gates and flood China with millions upon millions of immigrants to the point where it would reduce the Han Chinese to a minority, would that be something you would approve of?” There was no ambiguity in their response: “China would never accept that.” Finally, I told them about the fences and security China has along its border with North Korea in Dandong (which I have seen in person), and asked, “Does anyone think that this border fence in Dandong is racist against foreigners?” Not one student said it was.

My lengthy stay in Asia has reshaped the way I think about race, crime, and immigration. China would never be intimidated into thinking they have to take in millions of refugees and unskilled immigrants. The Chinese people would never fall for the idea that they should reduce themselves to a minority in order to show how compassionate they are. It seems that all non-white countries respond in the same way. Nigerians don’t want to be reduced to a minority in their own county, neither do the Japanese or the Pakistanis. Perhaps my change in opinion about this reflects that my own thinking has become more “Chinese” after being here for so long.