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January 21, 2015


There's extensive commentary in the original article in the Atlanta Blackstar http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/01/08/8-worst-countries-black-people-travel/4/, some of it intelligent (i.e., the signal/noise ratio is no worse than on most blog threads). Certainly black folk in Asia are conspicuously - and generally un-selfconsciously - "othered," which can be extremely annoying, I have no doubt. (As a white man in Asia I was also "othered," but not nearly as negatively, I know.) But actual violence against blacks is likelier in Europe, America, or Africa itself, though as many commentators point out, not so likely as to prevent an adventurous so from traveling there.

Isn't the most common slur against white people in China "white ghost"? Not drawing equivalence here, just annoyed at that bit of linguistic wankery.

It would also be interesting to know, from those of you outside the US, what impact it has had that, for the past few years, people there would also be seeing a fair amount of a black man who is not a Hollywood stereotype. But rather President of the United States. Does that show any sign of making a change in their perceptions?

hasn't seemed to change the perceptions of many Americans...

I don't think the people in any of those countries need Hollywood to be racists, whether against people of African descent or otherwise.

a change in their perceptions

Some of us see the US in a slightly better light than previously.


I've often wondered if future American Secretary of State (under a Republican Adminstration) Bibi Netanyahu and those to the right of him in Israel have a little problem with the Schwartze in the White House.

A person of African descent traveling to China should not be surprised if they are repeatedly stared at or even swarmed by crowds of curious Chinese who will treat them as a spectacle by taking pictures, touching their hair, rubbing their skin, and asking questions that reflect their ignorance and lack of interaction with Black people.

This was my white, red-haired sister's experience in China, about ten years ago.

Also, not far off from my white, blond wife's experience in Japan, about 20 years ago. The Japanese were more polite, they asked before they touched her hair and rubbed her skin.

Not saying the portrayal of black people in American media isn't flawed, just saying this particular example might not be sufficient evidence of that.

Also, African presence in Asia goes back longer than you might think.

The top part of the intstrument looks like a sheng. Here are some youtube vids of the instrument


That shape also resembles the southeast asian khaen

Here's a youtube vid of that

The depiction of treatment in China is correct. It applies to white people too, but more so to black people. It's more true in rural areas than in cities, where it's not so unusual for the local people to see non-Asian people.

Wait, you mean that all Japanese people aren't insanely skilled ninja martial artists?

I bet they're just really good at hiding it

As a German (from Berlin) I think the claims made need a small modifier as far as the treatment of blacks goes.
A) getting attacked or killed in (most of) those areas is not 'certain', it is 'just' a significantly higher risk.
B) it applies not just to blacks but anyone different. Blacks are just the most easy to spot. White Brits or French have been attacked and sent to the hospital too on occasion because their accent marked them as foreigners. The 'wrong' German accent might do as well (some time ago there was a vicious campaign against Swabians in Berlin that matched anything usually aimed at Jews or other foreign 'others').

I might add that I would not go into those areas myself, esp. after dark, if I can avoid it. And I do neither look foreign nor have an accent.
In other words, the claims are not without merit (and should be taken very seriously) but the problem cannot be reduced to hatred of blacks specifically. Avoid any 'nationally liberated zone' if you are not an obvious neo-nazi or can at least look and sound the part. Sad but true.

The sad truth about Germany is that half of the population is simply racist:

50% of Germans agreed with the racist views of Thilo Sarrazin who sold 1.5 million books.

50% of Germans sympathize with the views of the racist PEGIDA movement.

And about half of the press indulges in racist writing masked as critique of Islamism and political correctness.

Many Germans still cling to the jus sanguinis version of citizenship even though the law has been changed for a long time now and despite the fact that immigration is crucial to Germany's future.

The political elite has an increasingly hard time trying to maintain a broadly liberal and tolerant consensus, because half of the population simply doesn't support it anymore.
They risk alienating themselves from the voters or giving in to their demands and changing the nature of the country - the latter happened in 1992 when they changed the constitution as a reaction to the racist pogroms against asylum seekers.

That said, Germany is awesome if you hang out with the right people in the right places.

No major disagreement there, novakant. I would add that certain 'repectable' politicians (almost exclusively on the conservative side) have for many years fed the resentments for political gain. E.g. there was a "Kinder statt Inder" (children not Indians) campaign that demagogued against 'green cards'* for professionals (the Indian IT expert being the posterchild) and for child bearing premiums for 'true' Germans (i.e. not the third generation of Turkish immigrants with German passports). PEGIDA has a lot in common with the Tea Party (including being run by frauds).
What makes Sarrazin dangerous is that his demagoguery is a poisonous mix of quite solid 'bare' facts combined with a pernicious spin and a few genuine reasonable ideas, so he can't be simply dismissed as a common fraud. He makes enough sense to be taken seriously and can thus propagate the poison outside the circle of the usual suspects.

*not the genuine thing. It was supposed to be not much more than a work permit and emphatically did not guarantee a path to citizenship.

Of course, another way of putting that, is that the left creates an opening for politicians they don't like to gain widespread support, by dismissing real concerns, ignoring solid facts, and rejecting genuinely reasonable ideas.

One could also watch politicians squirm when the 'patriots' they conjured up don't follow the script and openly speak the subtext in their presence while the media are watching.
'Where can I sign up against furriners?!
'Eh, we are collecting signatures against Green Cards while the unemployment rate us up. (Hiss: you are not supposed to say 'furriners' while the TV camera is pointed at us)'
'OK, now where can I sign up against those dirty Indians?'

The liberal politicians, especially these days, also do a miserable job of making the case for their positions. Generally, their arguments are couched in terms which will resonate with those who already agree with them. But leave those who do not seeing nothing persuasive.

And it's not because they do not have good arguments, in many cases. It is more because they have some of the same habit of talking to an echo chamber that the right has -- although the right has made a flourishing industry out of it.

that 'industry' the right has created works very very hard to make sure that its customers will be actively hostile to anything anyone on the left might say.

that's how you get average people saying things like "keep the government out of my medicare" and fighting against modest minimum wage increases. they've learned that the most important thing, always, is to oppose everything a liberal says.

The depiction of treatment in China is correct.

Yep. People in China openly gawk at people who don't look like anyone they've seen in their lives, because they mostly don't get much of a look outside their own country.

We traveled with a guy who was about 6'4" tall and pale as a ghost, with blue eyes. People would just stand in concentric circles around him and stare. My wife has red hair, and that attracted some (less) attention. Both of my adopted daughters wanted nothing to do with her for a while, because red hair?

It's not racism. It's other-ism. It's anyone-who-doesn't-look-like-us-ism.

Of course, another way of putting that, is that the left creates an opening for politicians they don't like to gain widespread support, by dismissing real concerns, ignoring solid facts, and rejecting genuinely reasonable ideas.

four legs good, two legs bad.

It's not racism. It's other-ism. It's anyone-who-doesn't-look-like-us-ism.

I think this is about right.

It's not racism. It's other-ism. It's anyone-who-doesn't-look-like-us-ism.

Agree. It's curiosity mixed with freak show mixed with starstruck. It's different from hatred stemming from historical resentments or injustices.

Or, to use the technical term, xenophobia.

Of course, "us" in these terms means not so much "me and my relatives" as "me and the people that I see every day". Which is why the US has somewhat less of it than elsewhere -- we have a wider mix, and it is better spread around than elsewhere.

Well, those "near albinos with bright red hair" are almost certainly aliens. Or mutants. Okay, certainly descendants of mutants. Sure they look kinda human. Kinda.

Just don't piss 'em off. They'll rip your lungs out.

A friend of mine, of northern European descent (half Swedish, half other stuff), standing about 6'4" and weighing at the time about 300 lbs, went to India. I want to say this was in the late 80s. He traveled to some smaller villages, where he said people would gather around him in fairly large numbers to point and laugh at him.

Mao Ying inspired a bit of spectacle round these parts, I recall.

As did Yao Ming, by all accounts.

In Filipino barrios outside the urban areas, a white western visitor, and I'm sure the impact of a black individual is even more extreme, is greeted by the entire population, most of whom stare at you mutely for days, as I learned happens lots of places when I traveled.

But even in downtown Manila, where westerners are all over the place, teeming crowds of people waiting to cross at stop lights will check you out. After living there for awhile and becoming oblivious to it, some friends from home visited and as we were waiting for the light to change, they nudged me and asked out of the corner of their mouths, "What's with EVERYONE staring at us?" I looked up and saw what they were talking about and quipped, thrillingly, "They're measuring you for soup", but, you know, that's how I roll.

Dozens, maybe hundreds, depending on the size of the barrio, of children will follow you about everywhere you go, touching the hair on your arms, which they find as strange as if you had landed from a distant galaxy.

If you sit in an open air place to eat, dozens of kids will hang through the windows and check you out.

All of them call you Joe. They even call white American women, Joe, from GI Joe.

Yes, if you were very tall, Filipinos found that hilarious.

You are at once a celebrity and a freak. Finally the human race has noticed me, I thought. This is great! Then weeks later, I thought O.K. now leave me alone. There was no privacy in public for the "puting".

Once, a young man in a small barrio approached me and asked if I knew Bob .... from Chicago, Bob being the last American he had met years before when the former was a child.

The obscure tribal areas find you even more of a novelty. You have to be very careful to observe all of the offers of hospitality, especially when offered meals. Try everything, even the dishes that are still moving, otherwise you might cause offense, not that anyone will let you know.

The Beatles declined Imelda Marcos' hospitality and nearly got hurt.

But it's 99.9% friendly curiosity.

On the other hand, in 1970, while hitchhiking in this country with hair and feet down below my knees, I was glared at and occasionally threatened by passing American motorists in multiple states while they hold you in their armchair and feel your disease.

The world is a hoot.

Could have been worse. Could have been an ISIS patrol staring at me from a ridge.

Barack Obama related the time as an adult standing in front of a hotel entrance and being handed car keys by a white guy who wanted his car parked.

I think it happened just the other night as he left the Congressional chambers after addressing the Nation.

feet down below my knees

Generally better than the alternative... and in most cultures, too.

You can feel his disease...

Here's a black man in America.


Armed ... unarmed, makes no difference, while black, you don't have to travel abroad to have white men kick your ass.

I'll wager if he had been white, the firearm would have been good to go with citizen whitey and the gentleman would have gone unmolested.

If three black men tackled a white man armed legally, the latter would probably have gotten off a shot and probably killed one of them, probably named Trayvon.

That would be OK with citizen whitey too.

"Try everything, even the dishes that are still moving, otherwise you might cause offense, not that anyone will let you know."

Maybe having my (then) fiancee along shielded me from the "still moving" stuff, but the only thing I really found objectionable was the balut. The locals would actually be impressed when I'd eat a pancake made of whole, unshelled shrimp. I think they must have encountered a lot of foreigners who were picky eaters. Though that time the neighbor brought over some humba, even she thought it was too fatty. We used it to grease the frying pan the next morning when making breakfast. (Tocino. Liked it so much I had to learn how to make it.)

I will say, I'm average height for someone born in the 1950's, which means below average today. It was the one and only time I got a taste of what it was like looking over the crowd's heads.

Anyway, on the whole the Philippines are a very friendly country for strangers, though my wife says it would have been rather different if we'd ventured into the areas where Islamic terrorists are active.

"Armed ... unarmed, makes no difference, while black, you don't have to travel abroad to have white men kick your ass."

As always, the rate at which these things happen is the important variable, since they're going to happen everywhere.

Does anyone have any idea what kind of instrument the black musician is playing? Is it supposed to be purely fantastic? The white musician's instrument looks much simpler and more plausible, though it doesn't match European instruments of the period. Might it be a three-stringed psaltery?

A quick google suggests that both instruments are supposed to be purely fantastic - indeed that they are there to contribute to the overall sense of fantasy in the picture.

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