Racism a battle in Chinese workplace

Marketplace Staff Feb 13, 2008

Racism a battle in Chinese workplace

Marketplace Staff Feb 13, 2008


Doug Krizner: Trade between China and many countries on the African continent has been rapidly increasing. The annual volume jumped 31 percent last year.
Africa is rich in natural resources, things the Chinese desperately need. But as these relationship grow, race has become an issue. Bill Marcus reports from Shanghai.

Bill Marcus: Skin whitener sales drive the growth of China’s prestige cosmetics industry. In this commercial, Cinderella’s prince is so impressed with her white skin, he’s come back for all three sisters. The message is clear.

This West African woman is one of thousands who came to China on a scholarship and stayed for economic opportunities. But once she got there, she says she was told the boss didn’t want her, because she was black.

West African Woman: You’re white: You’re brilliant, you’re intelligent, you’re rich. You’re black: You’re foolish, you’re poor, you’re not intelligent.

African American Boston native Virginia Hunt got hired over the phone to teach English for a summer:

Virginia Hunt: When I actually landed and met the person who had hired me, I could tell from his face that he wasn’t expecting what he saw.

She says she was told she would not be hired because she was black.

Silk Road Advisers CEO William Dodson says there are ways to blunt the racism.

William Dodson: Nine-tenths of discrimination is how you present yourself.

Dodson’s been here for five years. He describes his skin tone as coffee-colored.

Dodson: They see I’m a Westerner, and therefore assume I have money, and therefore want to take it. Whether it’s buying a bun on the street, or a manufacturing project to a government agency.

Chinese press portray Africans as unwilling to work overtime and ignorant about finance.

China Academy of Social Sciences African specialist, He Wenping, says the battle against racial discrimination will be long and fierce.

He Wenping (voice of interpreter): Even if an act of discrimination is a separate, isolated example, we should face it with the highest degree of responsibility and find the right way to solve it.

Blacks say they stay for opportunities and because they believe China is changing as it grows and that its attitudes towards blacks is evolving.

In Shanghai, I’m Bill Marcus, for Marketplace.

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