Although each day I start to feel more and more comfortable living in China and dealing with the differences, today I realized that things are still as bad as they have always been. Remember, the young lady that I have taken under my wing? Well… she is doing very well at the school .. the students love her and the other Chinese teachers have become friends… unfortunately the rest of the city isn’t so kind.
Today I was awaken to a frantic call from the headmaster of the school. He was very upset and need to ask my advice on how to deal with something. I soon found out that the apartment owner of the place where the other African-American teacher lived had called and demanded that he move this teacher out of his apartment. It seems that the older neighbors that lived in her complex were complaining about her. Not because she was noisy… Not because she was causing trouble or even threatening them… but because she was too “Black” and she scared them.
My total shock was apparent when I temporarily couldn’t even speak on the phone to continue the conversation. It seemed that the owner of the apartment said she has to move… or he would cause a lot of trouble for the headmaster of the school.
unbelievable…. but … This is the real China. So, my boss asked me how he should handle the situation. He said he had to move her… but how can he explain this to her. He said he hated the fact that these people were doing this.. and that she was a very kind and good-hearted person.. and these people were just crazy.. but he had to do something or they would make her life difficult over there. I understood his situation and I told him I would speak to her.
I think this was the hardest phone call I have every had to make in my life. Telling someone who they were being discriminated against and had to move to a better place. However, I felt the best way to handle it was to tell the truth and then help her to deal with the disappointment and pain of being treated unfairly.
I did call her and talk to her… and then when I met her at school continued to support her and help her deal with the situation. I know it hurt…but I made sure she knew that we were there for her… and so where all the other teachers and students at the school. I mentioned the issue to my husband and he did not seem surprised at all about it. He told me he is surprised it had not happened earlier. He said the older generation of Chinese are like that and that was one of the reasons why he didn’t introduce me to his grandparents, although they know he is married to a foreigner. I am understanding more and more the longer I live here.
It pains me to think that although I have been here for 3 years… and have met the everyone from the Mayor to the taxi driver… that some people would be so cruel just because her skin color is darker than mine.
China has a long way to go when it comes to acceptance of people who are different. It is not only people with dark skin, but people with disabilities, from other provinces and people who are just poor. The thinking of the whole has a long way to go. This whole situation has pulled me back to reality. I am accepted only because my husband is local Chinese, and my skin isn’t very dark and I have been here for a long time.
It is times like these that make me want to start my own civil right movement here in China. I have done a lot of firsts in my life…. and have been a pioneer in many areas… but this is the first time I feel that I have really met a wall. I can’t protect all my friends from this kind of situation but I can teach them how to deal with it and grow from it.
I still love Chinese culture and traditions but sometimes I really don’t the people.
until next time…
- Light Skin vs. Dark Skin (bigeasyapple.com)
- The Invisible Black Girl Series. via [#StylizedConclusions and#BlackFemininity, #BWE, #genderissues, #racialissues, #stereotypes #nwnw] (sophisticatedhipstersdigest.wordpress.com)
- The New Old Age: How Race Complicates Care (newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com)