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Racist Chinese Advert?

Racist Chinese advert
Racist Chinese advert

An advert for Chinese detergent Qiaobi appears to have caused outrage to people around the world. In the advert a Chinese woman is loading her laundry when a black man enters the area cat whistling in order to get her attention.

She then beckons to him and forces him into the washing machine and locks him in. At the end of the wash, instead of the black man a Chinese man pops out of the machine showing that the detergent can remove any type of ‘stain.’

The advert has been loaded on to Youtube and some commentators insist that it is not racist, rather black people were just being overly sensitive about the advert.

One commentator even pointed to a similar advert done in Italy about ten years ago, which seems to have inspired the making of the Chinese advert (don’t underestimate the ability of the Chinese to copy other people’s ideas).

In the Italian version for Coloreria, it was a wimpish looking Italian husband wearing ill fitting Y-fronts who comes up to his wife as she is loading clothes into the washing machine.

She forces him into the washing machine and after the wash, out pops a hunky black man with slogan across the screen ‘coloured is better.’

At best this and the Chinese advert are clumsy and insensitive. And yes you can describe them as racist adverts, especially the Chinese one, for the simple reason that they pander to stereotypes.

If the advert was made by black people, and with a black woman who washes her black partner into a white or Chinese person, then the race dynamics would be different.

The racial stereotypes might still be the same, but it would be less offensive because it would not be about one race insinuating that it was superior and another inferior.

The fact is that China is still a place with horror stories for black people as well as other races that are not white skinned. It is a place where white skin is glorified as better and black as dirty and ugly.

Even in 2016, China is a place where most Chinese people have never met a black or brown skinned person, apart from seeing them on screen.

China is still a place where people stare and point when they see black people, and where cabs sometimes refuse to pickup black people.

Black people doing business in China should also be wary of the attitudes of the authorities towards black people. As a black person, disputes with your Chinese supplier can be costly as two visiting Nigerian business women found out a few years ago.

They had a disagreement with their supplier in China about their product, but instead of the matter being resolved in court, they were reported to the police who seized their passports and locked them up indefinetely.

So are the commentators on Youtube right in saying that black people are being too sensitive? I am not so sure, however one thing is obvious – there is an ongoing backlash against real and perceived victim mentality of some black people. And as a black person, dare I say that I am inclined to agree.

No Justice No Peace - Black Lives Matter
No Justice No Peace – Black Lives Matter

You only need to look at the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign, that was especially energized by the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri in the US in 2014.

His death was a tragedy just like the deaths of many other young black men, however these were mostly flawed or even dangerous men who had either flauted the law, attacked or been aggressive towards police, and therefore made any campaign based on them questionable.

And for the Black Lives Matter campaign refusing to countenance the value of all lives, or question the conduct of some young black men or reject aggressive slogans like ‘no justice no peace,’ leads to resentment and claims that black people see only themselves as victims and care about no one else.

So it comes as no surprise that there are so many comments on Youtube in support of the advert and anger towards black people. Black people working on equality and justice need to be more inclusive and less agressive in their campaigning style.

No campaign should be the end in itself – it is about winning hearts and minds. The aim of the campaigners should be to bring those who disagree with you to your side of the argument and not to antagonize them.

That should be the positive answer to racist Chinese adverts and other forms of injustice.


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