China and Africa

'Chinese fight to be black'

The headline above is taken from the South African newspaper Mail & Guardian, and gives an idea of what a weird country your correspondent's homeland of South Africa is.

South Africa has a set of laws called the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act (BBBEE), which is intended to right some of the wrongs of apartheid. Under BBBEE, black, Indian and what South Africans called 'coloured' people enjoy certain rights such as preferential treatment when applying for jobs or university entrance.

Chinese people, who were discriminated against during the apartheid years, have not been able to enjoy those benefits.

This is from the Mail & Guardian article titled "Chinese fight to be black':

After years of waging a low-key campaign to be recognised as black under South Africa’s laws of redress, local Chinese are squaring up to the government in the High Court.

The Chinese Association of South Africa (Casa) wants to seek a declaratory order for South African Chinese to be treated as coloured and benefit from the Employment Equity Act and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act.

...Historians Melanie Yap and Dianne Man describe the community of between 10 000 and 20 000 as “one of the smallest and most identifiable minority groups in arguably the most race-conscious country in the world. Too miniscule in number to warrant any serious … attention … [they are] unknown and largely forgotten.”

Casa’s Patrick Chong said his organisation took up the campaign when Chinese employees started differing with their employers over their classification under the Employment Equity Act, and whether they were entitled to affirmative promotion. “We had meeting upon meeting with the department of labour,” said Chong, “but they refused to give an official interpretation of the Act.”

...Darryl Accone, author of All Under Heaven: The Story of a Chinese Family in South Africa, remarked that the underlying problem was one of perceptions. “People imagine the Chinese were somehow white or honorary whites … a confusion with the Japanese, who did have honorary white status.

“But the government has no excuse -- they know the Chinese were classified [under apartheid] as either non-European or non-white.”

Thanks to DK for the links

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There are currently 4 Comments for 'Chinese fight to be black'.

Comments on 'Chinese fight to be black'

There's quite a parallele here in the USA. Asians do not enjoy any of the minority benefits dished out by affirmitive action. In regards to education and the professional arena, the reasoning (at leat implied) was that Asians are smart and hard-wroking enough to succeed on their own, totally ignoring facts such as that Chinese was the only race ever to be barred from immigration by legislature, or that most second generation Asians grew up in less-than-optimal environments not unlike other minorities. I don't think Africa is the only "weird" country when it comes to issues like this.

I applaud the CASA... I would also like to believe that their actions go beyond seeking recognition of their ethnicity solely for economic reasons. I hope that it is with pride in their ethnicity (Black Chinese) that they seek this recognition.

In my research, I find that most people don't know there were several dynasties in China that were ruled by Blacks:
1. XIA Dynasty (c.2205-1766 B.C.)the first dynasty founded by Blacks
2. Shang/Yin Dynasty (c.1700-1050 B.C.) Black/Negroid people who were referred to as Asyi and Yueh are found in Chinese records.
3. ZHOU Dynasty went to African by way of Iran
4. Shang Dynasties:
Shang-Li (ruled by the Li-Qiang (Black)
East Y (Black)

The totem, "Blackbird" was a Black ethnic group in China.

The LiMin were Blacks who were associated with Yao, a Black Chinese hero.

The Lapita is the earliest known Black/Negroid culture in Indo-China (1600-1200 B.C.)though the DNA (HLA Antigen) dates back prior to 9000 B.C.

Etc. etc. etc../.

The racism that blacks endure in Asian society is fifty times worst then in white causcaian society. The second e-mail message highlighted the black/asian history, is that taught now in schools i think not. Would africans get equal rights and equal treatment in China, Japan, South Korea i think not. I have visited South Korea and if you are a person of color other than Korean or White you are demeaned as worthless. There is discrimination of individuals who are half Korean. When you see stories like this when a race of people demand fairness and equality , but in their own country they would never give it to others of another race. It almost appalling.

I love irony. Remember the anti-African riots in Nanjing in late 1988 - complete with mobs of violent, abngry, young Chinese men shouting "Kill the Black Devils"?

For those who are interested, Frank Dikkoter's book "The Discourse of Race in Modern China" is an excellent introduction to the subject.

It's also worth pointing out that the Chinese are beginning to pay more attention to Barack Obama's candidacy and the very real possibility that he may be elected president next November. In recent years, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has often been the target of widespread racist commentary in Chinese chatrooms. If Obama is elected, how might similar racist attacks on a sitting president influence U.S./China relations? Food for thought.

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