What About Us? - bfegter
“Racism against black people may be the strongest form of

racism in China

,” says one site: The China Expat…

I’m a black college student in America. I have a few questions about teaching English in China.

 First off, great blog! I just discovered it today and have read some very funny and insightful posts.
But I would like to ask you directly about the issues that potential black English teachers face when applying to programs in China.  After looking around online I’ve read some very mixed posts about the difficulties faced by black teachers in China.  Now, I’ve already visited Shenzhen this past month for a 3-week stay, and although there was a lot of staring (sometimes it got a little awkward) and picture-taking, I found the locals to be very cool and welcoming. So, I just wanted to know if the supposed racism faced by black teachers is only found in the educational system?  And if it is, is it by the school officials?  Parents?  Students?
Also, how would you rate your own personal experience as a teacher over there? 
Sorry for the long-winded question lol But I just want to get some direct input on this issue as I would be spending at least a year there following graduation.  Thanks in advance, and keep up the great posts!

I want to first congratulate you on having the opportunity to teach in China.  It is an experience you will always remember and you might end up spending more than a year here.  Many people learn a lot about them selves while they are here.

To answer your questions… you know I want to first tell you that I am going to be honest with you… there are good and bad people here.   It is not in just the teaching industry it is in the whole country.

I want to first focus on the teaching industry.   In China education is number one, so the parents spend a lot of time and money on educating their children.   However, they are not quite as educated themselves on many things… one is the race.   In their mind, Americans are white, blue-eyed, blonde haired people…. they just recently figured out there are other races… when Obama became president.    So, one problem is them believing you are really american…. another problem is the Africans…. Chinese people don’t know the difference between Africans and Black Americas… so they lump us all together….. unfortunately, some of our African brothers and sisters… do not behave well in China… and often lie about who they are… claiming they are American… and since Chinese people don’t know the difference…. they get us confused and we have a bad name and blamed for many things that happen.

It has taken me a full three years… to get the people in my city to understand, who I am; where I come from and to get some sort of respect… and a lot of that has to do with my teaching skills and the fact I am married to a chinese man.  (it helps that he is local also)  However, I can see the difference when the I run into Africans… they are very ghetto and loud… they dress very revealing, and really make a point of standing out… this might be okay in European and Western countries.. but in China it is the exact opposite of what you should do… here you need to blend as much as possible.   They don’t like when you stand out….. too much.

I have had parents… not want black people to teach their students… students that claimed they are afraid of the teachers because they are too black…. and I even had a teacher that had to move because… the neighbors were afraid of her in the dark.  It can get pretty bad  in some places sometimes.  It is a big lack of education and knowledge, what you don’t know you are afraid of in a lot of cases here.

I live in a small city…. by chinese standards…(1 million people) there are very few foreigners here… as a whole… some travel in and out… but only about 20 stay here all the time… (6 months to a year) …I am one of about 10 full-time foreigners in my town…. and I am the only Black american for miles …. and miles.

Yes, in the big cities it is a little easier .. to live… because of the modern conveniences… and there are more foreigners… but… the job situation will be about the same everywhere in china.   You have to remember they haven’t had a civil rights movement, not even a women’s rights movement…. so they are still thinking along the lines of … before MLK….. it takes time for things to change…. and the more educated and experienced Black  Americans that come over the more changes we can see.

This is the truth…. it is hard in China for Black people… but .. not impossible.… I know many Black Americans that have lived in China for 10 years or more…. and don’t plan on leaving any time soon… you just have to have patience with their ignorances.. and blend as much as possible…learn the language.. learn the customs…. and accept that somethings you just can’t change.

Thanks for all your questions and emails I am happy to answer each and every one of them.  I get this question a lot so I choose to print it on my blog for all of you. 

  Just remember “Nothing is easy… but who wants to have nothing?”