China… still working on understanding other cultures.

16 05 2010

So, this is an actual posting on the wall of a local “western” coffee shop frequented by students at Nan Da, the Stanford of China.

“Hello How are you? I want make foreign friend, all friend welcome! (except no Muslim please as I am not interested in dying)
Lets be happy happy together!
My name is Shirley.
Mobular: xxxx
QQ: xxxx
-Happy Shirley”

Takes your breath away, right? We encounter weird racism all of the time. Chinese kids love the NBA stars, worship Michael Jackson but are basically terrified of black people. Asian-American and Asian-European (is that a thing?) teachers have trouble getting teaching work because Chinese parents don’t believe they speak English (or their native language, French, etc.) as well as a white person. Ads here will even specify ‘white, native speaker.’ It’s pretty offensive to the foreigners but it’s impossible to argue with someone on their own turf playing by the rules they are allowed to make.

Our armchair anthropology theory is that China hasn’t allowed immigration so they simply can’t wrap their heads around the idea of people who look different (or the same) having a different (or the same!) culture. The idea that a white child who is born and raised in China being “half-Chinese” wouldn’t hold water (and you can’t have dual citizenship in China, anyway.)

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