Lou Jing is like any other girl in Shanghai. A college junior, she’s a student of theater, focusing on classical opera songs. After classes, she browses the malls for the latest fashions. At home, her mother babies her.
And yet on the street, she is still a foreigner. When she opens her mouth and speaks fluent Shanghainese, she’s complemented for her ability to speak her native tongue.
That’s because Lou Jing doesn’t look like the majority Han Chinese in China, a country where, by keeping its borders closed and pushing its native minorities to the West, has remained largely homogeneous racially.
But since the country opened, there have been more marriages between majority Chinese and those of other races. From 1994 to 2008, each year has seen about 3,000 more mixed-race marriages in Shanghai than the previous year. As the children of those marriages come of age in a largely homogeneous country, the backlash against their achievements in the country are exposing a vein of racism and xenophobia.
That’s what happened to Lou Jing, a talented singer and gorgeous girl, when she went on the all-female China version of American Idol, Jia You: Oriental Angels” (加油！东方天使). The show, which in each episode goes into the backstory of its contestants, told the brief story of how Jing had been raised solely by her mother after a brief fling with her father, an American. “Whatever dad could have taught me,” Jing told the hosts, nearly tearing up as they re-told her heart-rending story. “Mom already taught me, and she taught me better.” She made it to the top 5 of the Shanghai competition and the top 30 overall with a rendition of a song from the classic Chinese opera, “Dream of the Red Chamber.”
But after the show aired, there were no tears on the blog forums. There, China’s youth attacked the half-black, half-Chinese girl with vicious racist insults and accusations of her mother’s promiscuity. Netizens called her father a “black devil” and called her evil and inhuman. Others “joked” that perhaps her father was Obama. Lou Jing responded on the forum: “I am DragonTV Angel Lou Jing, and here I make a statement!
- My father is American, not African.
- I am a born and bred Shanghainese person.
- I should not have to bear my parents’ mistake, I am innocent!
- Sternly but strongly protest some people’s racism, my skin color should not become a target of attack!
I reserve the right to take legal action!
In an interview with America’s National Public Radio, Lou Jing says: “I’ve always thought of myself as Shanghainese, but after the competition I started to have doubts about who I really am.”
After she receives her degree in theater next year in China, she would like to study journalism at Columbia University in New York. She wants to be a newscaster. She wants to tell the truth.
On the international web portal, BoingBoing, a commenter noted: “Come to Canada. She’d be more than welcome.”
(Learn more on her interview with the Shanghai Daily, a Time Magazine article about Mixed Race politics in China, and on the backlash against her via ChinaHush.)
Her performance on the show. Note her rap!
Photo Credit: Angel.smgbb.cn