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On Being a Black Expat in China

A few weeks ago in April, videos of the horrible treatment black people were receiving in the Chinese city of Guangzhou were making its rounds on the internet. I watched in dismay as African immigrants and black expats in China’s Guangdong province were being denied service in places like hospitals, restaurants, housing and hotels and more in a new wave of Covid-19 blaming. It seemed strange that this was happening given the recent spread of sinophobia in the United States and the Chinese government repeatedly asking trump to not refer to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.”

The situation was so bad that the US State Department issued a travel warning to African Americans against going to the province. As we perfectionists know, traveling while black is a nuanced subject. The crazy thing about the 24/7 news cycle is people’s day to day horrible realities can quickly become yesterday’s news to those of us around the world. As of last week, officials in China’s Guangdong province have announced new measures aimed at combatting racial discrimination. The measures target businesses such as hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and other places where Africans have been routinely turned away, as well as residential compounds. Education, public transport and medical service providers are also included in the new regulations.

This comes after many African countries’ officials, including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, along with the African Union commission summoned China’s ambassadors to answer for what’s happening. China has a special relationship with the African continent. Some might even call it new waves of imperialism. To keep Africa welcoming this “partnership” with open arms, China had to address and rectify this issue. But there’s a history of friction in the city of Guangzhou with its African population … This is not just a result of discrimination due to Covid and I wanted to delve into this. 

I reached out to my friend, Imani Bashir, who recently moved her family from Wuhan, China. Imani and I discuss her time in Wuhan at the outbreak Covid-19 and her experiences in China as a black expat and an American expat. We discuss the privileges of that, curiosity vs. racism, xenophobia, being Muslim in China and even knuckin’ and buckin’ in Egypt. Check it out on my IGTV: Checking In – What’s Happening in Guangzhou & Being a Black Expat in China at @Nneya on Instagram OR in audio form on my podcast, Nneya’s Perfect World!

Have you ever been to China? What province and what were your experiences? Do you believe that the government will successfully combat racism to maintain a happy “partnership” with African countries?

Instagram screenshot, two smiling black women on IG Live

Dimmi! 👇🏾

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