Lou Jing

r-stern replied to your post “Lol, it’s funny because I’m a Southern European as well and people…”

That reminds me of this young mixed girl (Afro-american+Chinese) who got bashed for participating in a singing contest in China. Did you heard of it?

Yes, I remember reading it on the news a few years back. Her name is Lou Jing, and this is her with her mother. People said really awful things questioning her right to identify as Chinese after she shot to prominence because she made it to the finals.

In a country like China where 92% of the population is supposed to be Han Chinese (as I have mentioned many times it must be noted this is to an extent obscuring the ancient assimilation of non-Han), being mixed whichever way does bring its experience of Otherness. After all, like being Japanese/Chinese has all sorts of historical baggage attached to it, as in the case of somebody I knew with a Chinese father + Japanese mother. However colour matters- it is undeniable that people like Lou Jing are plainly not seen the same way this English+Chinese dude I know who people frequently said was “handsome because he’s mixed”. 

It’s plainly obvious when people mistake my sister and I for being mixed: I recognise very well that in that context, their “you don’t look Chinese” was meant to be a compliment because they referenced my wavy hair and double eyelids, or her very light skin and prominent nose. Or they just outright asked if we were Eurasian. It’s annoying to have people disbelieve your authenticity and there are indeed insidious implications about the way specific features are always sourced to belonging only to whiteness and Europeans. BUT it would be disingenuous to suggest the way we were perceived to be “non-Chinese” was as loaded with all the negative connotations the way Lou Jing was perceived to be non-Chinese because of her African-American heritage. Despite having a Chinese mother and being born and raised there + speaking fluent Mandarin. On a more general note…people just really fixate on skin colour a lot, which is why my cousin, who married a dark-skinned Indian man, frequently gets all sorts of questions about why her son looks darker than her.

Antiblackness as it exists today in China or amongst Chinese ppl in general, imo is an intersection of the ancient prejudice against dark skin based on class + absorbing white supremacist ideas + perceiving the African continent as a whole as a “backwards” and “uncivilised” place. The third point especially needs to be understood with the context of Chinese imperialism and eons-old notions of civilisational superiority embedded in our culture. It really shouldn’t just be brushed off as due to “lack of exposure” or “cultural differences” or “xenophobia towards foreigners” because again, there’s a difference between being white/chinese and black/chinese.

President Obama’s arrival in China on Sunday is being eagerly awaited by many people, especially one young woman in Shanghai. Lou Jing is of mixed race, with a Chinese mother and an African-American father. She became famous nationally after her participation in an American Idol-type program.

For Lou, the reality television show turned out to be a lesson in brutal reality. The talent contest is called Go! Oriental Angel, and the 20-year-old made it through preliminary rounds to become one of 30 contestants.

Lou is studying for a degree in television anchoring at Shanghai’s prestigious Theater Academy, and her teachers thought it would be a good opportunity. But from the very first, the focus was on her skin color.

Introducing Lou, the host said, “her chocolate-colored skin lights up her sunny character.” In a short yellow satin frock, Lou launched into a rap she had written to introduce herself to the audience. They were shocked by her perfect Shanghainese and Mandarin. In retrospect, this moment probably marked the end of Lou’s innocence — and the start of a process of questioning her own identity.

“When I was young, I didn’t really know I was different from other people,” she says. “It was only after entering the competition that I realized I was different from others.”

The show drew attention to her background, which is very unusual for China. She was raised in a single-parent family by her Shanghainese mother, who is a teacher. Her African-American father, whom she has never met, returned to the United States without even knowing he had conceived a child in China.

In her two months on air, Lou was nicknamed the “Chocolate Angel” and the “Black Pearl” by the media. She wasn’t bothered by these names, she says.

But online, the poison pens were venomous. Chinese posting messages on the Web criticized her skin color as “gross” and “ugly”; they called her shameless for appearing on television. The worst insults were reserved for her mother for having had a relationship with an African-American out of wedlock.

There were online statements of support as well, but the verbal attacks stunned Lou. “I looked at the posts and I cried. Then I didn’t look at them anymore. I decided I would do my best to go abroad to study.”

Her dream is of escape. She wants to study journalism at Columbia University. She believes the lack of knowledge about racism in China is such that many people didn’t even realize their comments were discriminatory or hurtful. But for her, the world suddenly seems a different place.

“Before, on the street, people might say things like, ‘How come she looks like that?’ But that was just a small number of people. When I was younger, I thought life was beautiful. Why is it that now I’ve grown up, I don’t think that anymore?” she says.


Black Chinese, Lou Jing



Growing up black in china.