China has some learning to do. This practice called “blackface”, which consists of “disguising itself as black”, has the original purpose of “painting people of color in a bad light”.
The festivities are in full swing in China, South Korea, and elsewhere this Friday, February 16th, which marks the Lunar New Year, commonly known as “Chinese New Year”. But this year, under the sign of the Dog Earth, supposed to be a positive element, has started badly for some. The reason? A skit at the “Spring Festival Gala”, the flagship program of China Central Television (CCTV), broadcast around the world every year for the Chinese New Year. In the skit, a Chinese actress, Lou Naiming, painted her face black to embody an African character.
CCTV’s annual four-hour spring show attracts 700 million viewers each year who enjoy their dances, skits and songs. For the purpose of a humorous sketch, Lou Naiming embodied the mother of an African student eager to study in China, according to Reuters.
The arms and face colored black, Lou Naiming also had padding in her buttocks area giving her the appearance of a plump villager … While her daughter, played by a true black woman, explained to her that she wanted to study in China. The Chinese actress said, “Why don’t you agree? A volunteer Chinese doctor saved my life when I was young. Now young Chinese people are building roads for us… I love Chinese people! I love China! ”
In addition, the character of the African villager is accompanied by a monkey carrying a basket on his head, played by an African man according to the New York Times (the actor is not visible under his costume).
Accusation of racism did not take long to come. Chinese blogger Chen Fei Tutu was outraged, saying that the “racial discrimination was so obvious” and “shameful”, according to Reuters.
Another scandal about racism erupted in 2016 in China, after the broadcast of a video advertisement for a laundry machine. A black man was seen being plunged into a washing machine and emerging as a young Chinese man with a broad smile. The Chinese Foreign Minister then declared that the advertisement was an isolated incident and that China respected all countries and was in “fraternal terms” with African countries.
Indeed, ties have been tightened considerably between China and Africa, since Beijing has never invested as much on the African continent as in the last fifteen years. In 2014, Sino-African trade reached $ 220 billion.