I am from China and as many of you know, China isn’t a country with that much racial diversity as in the US. Everyone on the street has the same skin color, speaks the same language and bears almost the same culture. It’s a country of uniformity and everyone is “racially equal”. However, it seems that we also have a certain kind of idea of the superiority of the white race.

As I was young, whenever I heard of western countries, I would automatically associate them with white people. They are generally richer than we are; they play a major part in the world’s political events as well as international business; and somehow almost all the latest technologies come from them. We were not taught to ignore people of other races, but somehow in many Chinese people’s perception, the whites are generally superior. It’s this perceived superiority of the white that lead to some uncomfortable situations. For example, in the city I am from, there’s a large group of African people living in a particular area that’s in some way separated from the area we native people live. There is also a great number of white people living in my city—it’s a huge and international city, so it’s natural that so many foreigners are here to do their business. However, the way some people treat these two groups of people are completely different. They regard the African group as “less privileged” than they are, and they generally avoid making contact with them because they think that those African people are in some way “dangerous, unfriendly and unkind”. They often use bad words to refer to African people. I really hate to say that but this is a real situation in my city. However, those people treat the white group with a dramatically different attitude. Whenever they meet a white guy, they would be more patient and friendly than usual, even more friendly than to their fellow Chinese friends. In addition to that, I have witnessed situations like this: when a Chinese person and a white person are quarrelling and sometimes even fighting on the street, some people would naturally help the white guy and attribute all the problems to the Chinese guy although it’s actually not the case—it’s the white guy that started all these. I have to point out the people who have that distinct attitude toward the white and the African people are only minority, most people are kind to all regardless of race. But still, the perception of “white superiority” by some people is a problem.

I can often see news about how an African American gets in trouble with and was treated without respect (sometime brutally) by white police but the white police can still get away like nothing happened. Those news are somehow annoying to me and I often connect them to my past experiences mentioned above. Together, they show that whiteness has become a kind of “privilege” in the world. Now I am studying in the US and I take a writing class about whiteness with most of my classmates are white. At first I was little concerned—I may not feel comfortable in the class. But I am glad that my classmates are all very nice and friendly, and the classroom atmosphere is also an inclusive one.

Advertisements