Posted on April 30, 2020

This Woman Got a Visit from the Police After Posting a Video About Racism in China

J. Lester Feder, Buzzfeed, April 29, 2020

Darasa was desperately hungry, but the 7-Eleven refused to let her in.

Darasa had arrived in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in late February on a business trip to buy children’s shoes to export back home to Uganda. She was quarantined in a hotel at her own expense when she arrived, she said, but then she and other Africans staying there were kicked out. Finding another hotel was nearly impossible. “We don’t allow foreigners here because the epidemic is too high,” she said one manager told them. When they finally found somewhere to sleep, they discovered feeding themselves would be just as hard.


The 7-Eleven employees locked the door as Darasa approached and began spraying disinfectants, she said, only cracking it open wide enough to spray disinfectant around her feet. The McDonald’s nearby also wouldn’t allow her inside, nor would the supermarket, where, Darasa said, she was told: “You’re a foreigner, you’re not allowed here.” {snip}

So Darasa posted a video on Facebook on April 23 complaining of this “super racist” treatment. Shortly after, two groups of police officers paid a visit to her hotel. They demanded she delete the video, took dozens of pictures of her, for reasons that were never made clear to her, and began phoning friends who were involved in making the video. A group of four police officers came to give her a “gift” of a face mask, hand sanitizer, and tea bags, but also to deliver a message: “We have to work with [the authorities] — if not, we’ll not be nice,” she recalled an officer telling her.

Darasa said she just wants to go home to Uganda, but she can’t find any commercial flights to take her. {snip}

BuzzFeed News has spoken with multiple Africans in China who were visited by police after sharing videos of harassment or abuse. Ever since these racist incidents made a wave of international headlines early this month, Chinese officials have scrambled to preserve economic and diplomatic ties they had spent years building with African nations. These interviews show that Chinese police are closely monitoring the social media of black people in the country and, in at least one case, apparently infiltrating WhatsApp groups for black foreigners in the country.


A Ugandan known as Omuntu Wawansi, who lives outside Shanghai, secretly recorded his interrogation by immigration police last week after helping several Africans facing discrimination in China connect with foreign news outlets. After Wawansi shared the video with the foreigners’ WhatsApp group, he was surprised to get a call from the same police officer he caught on tape.

“We’re like pets to them — you’re supposed to just stay in their lane,” Wawansi said. “You’re not supposed to speak up if you’re violated in any way.”