exotic black woman

Adjusting to life in China hasn’t been easy. It is the first time in my life that I am really aware of my race, like you have no idea. I know I am a Black woman, but that’s not something that’s stuck in the back of my head when I exit my house (in my country). Sure, there’s racism, but I never felt out of place. Back home, I’m just a woman. In China, I am a BLACK woman. It took a while to get used to being openly discriminated against, and it’s not fun. My heart truly goes out to people who go through this on a daily basis. Aside from the stares, the photos taken without my permission, people pointing at me saying, 黑人 (Black person), some Chinese see me as an exotic Black woman.

exotic black woman

Nattiya (my roommate), last year’s Grammar teacher, Teacher Lin (林老师), and moi. Welcome lunch during my first week in China. Most people were surprised that my hair grew so much in just two months, lol.

 Yes people. More and more Chinese people I come across think of me as an exotic Black woman. I must admit that their way of complementing me did bother me a lot. Things like,

  1. You’re not as black as other Black people.”
  2. “Your hair isn’t as hard as that of other Black people.
  3. “Your eyes are bigger than that of other Black people we see.”

The abovementioned “compliments” bothered me. I thought, “These MF-ing RACIST Chinese!” I couldn’t understand how they thought telling me I’m not as black as other Black people in China, is a compliment. Now that I can speak the language, I can converse with them, tell them that their way of paying people compliments, isn’t really a compliment. Skin color and whatnot are sensitive topics. To them it was like saying, “Wow, it’s hot today.” It was something “normal.”

Now that I can express myself better in Chinese and explain certain things to them, Chinese see me as an exotic Black woman, LOL. Well, thank you very much.

I hated explaining that though I am Black, I was not born in Africa, though I am of African descent. They didn’t understand that. I explained to them that, just how Chinese people can be found in every single livable crevice on this earth, Black people are also (almost) everywhere in the world.  Now I also know that their “discrimination” SOMETIMES is just curiosity. You’d be surprised how many Chinese have yet to see a Black person, unaware that we come in all shapes, shades, sizes, what-have-you. Oh, and I’m around 1.61 m, but here in Jimei, I am TALL!!! For the first time in my life, I’m taller than 60% of the people I meet! In the north they’re waaaay tall, there I’m short again, LOL.

The fact that I am Black, but not African, and that I speak Dutch… makes me an exotic Black woman.

I never liked the  Dutch language. I think it is boring, boring, and so boring. Since I speak Chinese at least 20 hours a day, I now long for someone to speak Nederlands.  I am the first Black person many people here have met (even foreigners) who speaks Dutch. Especially when they hear it is somewhat similar to German, LOL. Oh, have I also mentioned that I’m tall here in the South? I feel the Dutch-speaking Naomi Campbell.

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My Life in China
Author: Tiara Ray

I truly believe it's never too late to follow one's dreams, I'm doing just that. Born and raised in the Caribbean, now living and studying in China. I love life and live it on my own terms. Cheers!

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    6 Responses

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  3. Tiffany Elder says:

    Omg, I can relate to this a little bit. I’ve never been to China but many years ago in LA, I was having a photoshoot with a photographer at the Observatory. Just me and the photographer, no crew taking amateur photos. A group of Chinese tourist, about 7 of them who were middle-aged, saw me and had me take pictures with them but they were all fighting over me to take a pic. None of them asked me, and probably didn’t speak English, they just did it lol. It was so weird to me but funny at the same time. They were acting like they found Naomi Campbell lol. I’m 5’11” so that could also be a reason but they were acting was like they’ve never seen anything like me before, haha. It was kind of cute.

    • Tiara Ray says:

      Hahahahahaha! So funny! Hey Tiffany! Hahahahaha! Sorry that I’m laughing again, but this is so funny! And I can guarantee you this will happen to you on a regular basis if you come to China. You’ll be surprised how many Chinese haven’t seen foreigners yet, so they will brag about it to their friends when they go home. Hhahaha, really funny! Thank you for stopping by!

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