Seeing the Dragon of Racial Prejudice

Stanley Crouch, NY Daily News, February 20, 2012


For at least 20 years, I have heard stories from Americans who speak Mandarin, have traveled to the Asian country and have tales about Chinese bigotry against black Americans and Africans.

Yet this reality is barely whispered in our diverse media circus.

I have no doubt there are thousands upon thousands of decent Chinese and Chinese-Americans who, having known the sting of prejudice themselves, harbor no ill will toward African-Americans. But let’s not deny a stubborn cultural problem when it is staring us in the face.

Here are examples of what I have been told.

One Irish-American friend fell in love with Chinese culture and learned Mandarin. Often in New York’s Chinatown, he heard this answer when Chinese New Yorkers were asked by those from the mainland what New York was like: “Fine. But too many black people.”

A friend who does business in China and travels there at least six times a year was questioned by a Chinese cab driver who claimed that Chinese people were amazed that George W. Bush had chosen Condoleezza Rice to represent America to the world.

Why? “Because she is black, quite an embarrassment; it dishonors your country,” was the cab driver’s answer.

Another frequent business traveler to China was recently in a Hong Kong bar with college-educated, upper class, very successful men who were supposedly well-educated.

After a few drinks, one said to him upon seeing a black person on the bar’s television, “They need to wash more. That is why people do not like them.” {snip}

These are just stray anecdotes, you say? Well, I invite and hope to encounter some defenders of Chinese adherence to transcendent humanitarian beliefs.

I actually expect to hear nothing other than accusations of supposed black American paranoia.


But let’s be clear: A broad admiration for certain facets of Chinese culture ought not conceal the fact that bad racial attitudes there may be at least as pervasive as they are in the United States.

There are those who would have us assess individuals not as being human types, but as being examples of what we’re told to genetically expect from a given ethnic group.

That is an impulse that all of us—across skin tones, ethnic cultures and political systems—must continually expose and fight.

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