Staggering Journey Toward Racial Equality by Angel Xin


How the Black Lives Matter Movement reshapes Black stereotypes in China

SHANGHAI 上海 – James Fallon, a 34 year-old debating coach still remembers an incident fifteen years ago. He was in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a group of friends when he noticed that they were being followed because one of his friends was the only black man in the store. Later, when they left, alarms on the anti-theft detectors did not ring, but the store owner kept glaring at them anyway. “My friend was in school to be a psychologist, but it didn’t matter to the store,” Fallon said. “All they saw was a black man.” It was the first time he felt so close to racism.

James Fallon has lived in China since 2014. Every morning on his way to work, he sees “people doing things that would get black people arrested in the US … panhandling, jaywalking, and jumping turnstiles at the subway station. These are things that [are often ignored here in China], but give a reason for police to go out and arrest and harass  people in the United States.”

Being a minority living in America is still undeniably hard, but #blklivesmatter [Black Lives Matter] activism has upended society. More Americans are acknowledging the struggles by people of color. Americans’ support of the Black Lives Matter movement has escalated in the past few weeks by an 11-point margin, according to data from Civiqs, an online survey research firm. On June 29th, the data revealed that 51% of the entire population supports the movement, while 33% opposes it.

The entire world is becoming aware of the Black Lives Matter movement thanks to social media. Some students in America have participated in local protests, donated large sums of money, and tagged #blklivesmatter in instagram posts. Many around the world, including students in China, are beginning to realise the hidden reality of racism. 

“Even Billie Eilish posted on Instagram saying, ‘I WANT THINGS TO BE DIFFERENT,’” said a student in China who did not wish to give her name. 

 “I will most likely be a minority [in America] since I am Asian,” said 13 year-old YiPan Wang. “This  movement is the start of something that would fundamentally change society  and would ultimately … advocate for racial equality” for blacks, Latinos, and Asians. 

Not everyone agrees.  

“I think George Floyd’s death was horrible. However I do think Americans are overreacting,” YingYao said.  “There are also other minorities being tortured, arrested, or killed by the police all the time. This includes Latinos, Asians, and more.” He continued by suggesting that giving more attention to this specific political movement may potentially steer us away from seeing the larger picture. “Many Asian Americans wouldn’t go on the streets to protest. I would be ashamed,” Li said, “This doesn’t mean that we don’t need help.” The surging number of deaths that corona virus has caused rising discrimination against Asian-Americans. “I hope [the Black Lives Matter movement] can cause awareness for all races,,” Li added. 

In China, nevertheless, voices of support are growing rapidly among the younger generations, reflecting a generational division. Many members of the older generation hold a more conservative view on this issue. Hardy Ye, a 21-year-old law student at Georgetown University Law Center says his parents gave him this warning before he left home. ‘When you are walking on the street during nighttime, try to avoid black people.” 

 “Many people in China are not aware of the value and the cause of the movement,” Ye said. “We only see the violence caused by the movement while ignoring the social and political implications brought by it. The movement is important for American politics because it rejects the nationalism and the increasingly conservativeness of the Trump administration…This movement could become the new focus that may eventually bring everyone together.”

A few decades from now, the world is bound to be different. Sixteen years ago, Barack Obama said in a speech, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America. There is not a black America, a white America, a Latino America, an Asian America. There’s the United States of America.” Sixteen years later, Michelle Obama wrote on Instagram, “Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone.” 

As time evolves, we will undoubtedly have made a huge progress. We will be united, all as one when it comes to defeating racism, and making our society somewhere in which every citizen receives the rights that they deserve to have. Martin Luther King, Jr. had once stated, “The time is always right to do the right thing.” The time is always right to advocate for racial equality.

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