非洲女孩在中国:中国人不是种族主义者,而是缺失跨文化的理解

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导读:As a young girl, I dreamed of becoming the first female Secretary-General of the United Nations and following in the footsteps of my countryman Kofi Annan. However, I never envisioned being given the role of Ambassador during my college years. But my

As a young girl, I dreamed of becoming the first female Secretary-General of the United Nations and following in the footsteps of my countryman Kofi Annan. However, I never envisioned being given the role of Ambassador during my college years. But my year abroad in China gave me exactly that -- a practical examination into the world of diplomacy. During my study abroad in China I found myself playing the role of an informal but full-time Ambassador.

当我还是一个年轻的女孩时,我曾梦想成为联合国第一任女秘书长,追随同胞科菲·安南的脚步。然而,我从未想到会在大学期间被授予大使角色。但在中国旅居的这几年确实让我在外交的世界里有所实践。我在中国求学期间,我所担任的大使虽非正式,但却为专职。

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Walter Bagehot, a prolific writer and journalist, once opined that “an ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle.” That word “spectacle” probably best encapsulates my experience as a black female living and studying in China. With my dark skin and my long braids, I stood out in most of the places I went, and realized during my time in China what it meant to be an “alien.” On a personal level, my year in China forced me to engage in a complex and intimate dance with the concept of identity; on a more global level, my experiences afforded me valuable perspectives on Sino-Africa relations.

多产作家兼记者沃尔特·白芝浩曾认为:“一名大使并不单单是一个代理人,他更应是一种展示”。“展示”这个词可能最能概括我作为一名女黑人在中国生活学习的这段经历了。由于我黝黑的皮肤和长辫子,几乎所到之处我都那么显眼和特别,我知道在中国这意味着我是个“外星人”。对于我个人来说,在中国的这几年迫使我不得不与身份观念进行复杂、亲密的过招;在更全球化的层面上,我的经历也使我在中非关系上获得了更有价值的看法。

Once, while shopping at a local food market another customer -- upon realizing that I spoke Mandarin -- turned to me and said: “Excuse me, if I may be so bold to ask, in your country do people consider black skin beautiful?” As someone exposed to Western political correctness, I was taken aback by her lack of tact. I responded: “Of course they do and to be honest I wish I were darker.” She was equally aghast at my response and said, “I would never have thought that in my lifetime I would hear someone say all you’ve said. So you really don’t want to become lighter skinned? In China we believe the whiter your complexion is the more beautiful you are and there are many ways to achieve this.” I politely declined her suggestions to bleach my skin.

曾经,在当地一家超市购物时,一位听到我说普通话的顾客走过来跟我说:“不好意思,我冒昧的问一下,在你们国家人们认为黑皮肤漂亮吗?”正如有人会触及西方政治正确性一样,我对他的毫不隐晦吃了一惊。我回答道:“那当然了,并且说实话我希望自己能更黑一点。”同样,她对我的回答感到惊讶,“我觉得这辈子我都不会再听到你这样的回答。难道你真的不想变白点吗?在我们中国,肤色越白越漂亮,而且变白的方法很多。”我礼貌的谢绝了她美白我皮肤的建议。

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Another time, a Beijing taxi driver asked me why Africans eat one another and why the continent is so chaotic.

Another time, a Beijing taxi driver asked me why Africans eat one another and why the continent is so chaotic. Despite my attempt to use facts to dispel these notions, he remained unconvinced. The driver noted the first character for the Chinese word for Africa, “fei” (非), means “to not be; not have; not; wrong; incorrect; lack.” I had never thought about it critically; but upon further reflection I became intrigued as to why another character with the same sound and tone but a more positive meaning was not used instead. It raises the question, how are Africans and Africa regarded in China?

还有一次,一位北京出租司机问我为什么非洲人会人吃人,为什么非洲那么混乱。尽管我试图用事实来消除他这些观念,但他仍然固执己见。这位司机还给我解释道,在汉语里“非洲”这个词的第一个字“非”,有“不是,没有,不,坏,不对,不足”的意思。说实话我从来没有刻意想过这些,但是进一步思考之后,我很好奇为什么不用另一个同音但更有积极意义的字代替呢。这就引出一个问题,中国怎样看非洲和非洲人呢?

With international focus on Sino-Africa relations sharpening, the official rhetoric in both China and Africa purports a relationship cemented around “brotherhood,” “friendship,” “mutual benefit,” and “solidarity.” But despite the voluminous trade between the African continent and China and the intimate political relations between several African countries and the Chinese administration, on a person-to-person basis, ignorance, misunderstanding, and intolerance still persist.

随着国际上对中非关系关注度的锐化,中非官方都称这种关系是“兄弟关系”,“深厚友谊”,“互惠互利”并且是“团结一致”的。但是除了中国与非洲大陆的部分贸易,中国政府与几个非洲国家亲密的政治关系以外,在人与人这个基础层面上,无知、误解、偏执仍然存在。

Ignorance breeds curiosity, and during my year-long residence in China I felt as though I was part of a circus act. People constantly took pictures of me. Other foreign friends would often joke that I was living the life of a celebrity; that feeling may have lasted for a day, but it quickly becomes annoying in everyday life. Taking the subway -- having cameras flung in my face, being gawked at and becoming the topic of discussion for commuters -- was an indescribable ordeal. While trying to sightsee at the beautiful vistas China is known for, I often became a tourist site myself -- the surprise attraction at the show. It was unsettling to hear people discuss my skin, my hair, and the size of my hands. To preserve my sanity, I found amusement in eavesdropping on people discussing my appearance and then, to their dismay, casually joining their discussion in Mandarin.

无知就会萌生好奇,我在中国居住的这一年中,在某种角度看,我感觉自己像个马戏团小丑。人们不断地给我拍照,其他外国朋友都开玩笑说我过着名人般的生活;这种感觉可能会持续一天,但是很快它就会变得恼人,因为每天都是这样。地铁上,无数的照相机晃在我面前,被人盯着看,成为来来往往的人群议论的主题,这是一种不可名状的痛苦。当我试着去欣赏中国美丽的街景时,我自己却往往成为一道风景--在观光中我有着惊人的吸引力。每当听到人们议论我的肤色、我的头发、我手的大小,我都会很不安。为了保持理智,我在人们对我形象的议论中找乐子,甚至让他们惊讶的用普通话加入他们的交谈。

I can’t stress enough the number of times I fantasized about snatching and flinging a phone used to take my picture, or going on a Mandarin rant at certain over-inquisitive commuters. But I also became aware that some of the most jaw-dropping behavior -- like rubbing my skin to see if it was dirt or pigment -- came from people who had probably never interacted with a black person before. I was also aware that first impressions are particularly important and so felt responsible for making a good impression. I felt burdened to respond with equanimity lest I validate anyone’s impressions of Africans as barbaric and wild.

我不能不强调,我曾无数次想把人们拍照的手机一把夺过来给扔掉,或者用普通话对那些过于好奇的行人咆哮。但是我也意识到,对于那些以前从未接触过黑人的人来说,他们很可能会有更令人膛目结舌的举动,比如揉我的皮肤来看看是不是有污垢或颜料所以才黑。但我也知道第一印象尤为重要,我的责任感告诉我要在中国留下一个好印象。我感到很有压力,但我仍然泰然处之,以免让任何一个人觉得非洲人野蛮或者粗鲁。

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Zahra Baitie 采访残疾儿童教育中心的Edward Ndopu

Growing up in Ghana, my identity was not based on my skin color. Color was not something one had to think about; it was a given and did not say much about who one was. Race, unlike in the U.S. and China, was more or less a non-factor. Tribe, religion, class, socio-economic status, and lineage had a much greater impact on one’s identity and image than color.

我在加纳长大,我的身份并不基于我的肤色。肤色并不该过多考虑,它是给定的,也说明不了什么问题。不像在美国或中国,种族或多或少都不是一种重要因素。部落,宗教,阶级,社会经济地位,家世比肤色更能影响一个人的身份和地位。

But in China the story was different. There was rarely a day where I didn’t hear people say “Black person” or “African” as I walked by -- it was a fact that people felt compelled to point out to themselves and to others around them. Living under a perpetual spotlight and having various identities thrust upon me, I came to realize that people are only able to fully understand who they are and what their culture is when they are not only challenged but also presented with a contrast. It is the contrast between two cultures that allows you to understand the intricacies and complexities of one and my experience in China afforded me that opportunity.

但在中国事情并非是这样。很少有听不到人们说我“黑人”或“非洲人”的一天,人们似乎觉得她们有必要对自己或他人指出这个事实。生活在这种没完没了的“聚光灯”下,有无数的人把各种身份强加于我,我开始明白当人们自己的文化受到挑战并有所对比时,人们只能理解自己的立场和自己的文化。正是这些差异才会让你理解到一种文化的复杂性,也正是在中国的这些经历才让我明白了这个道理。

I was also fortunate to become closely acquainted with a Chinese family that took me under their wing and treated me as a member. I became acquainted with them because I was different, and they were curious. Their curiosity afforded me the chance to share aspects of my culture and the understanding I had about African affairs while also learning about Chinese culture. Our interactions allowed us to obliterate many misconceptions and prejudices on both sides.

我同样非常幸运的能对一个照顾我接纳我的中国家庭有深刻了解。我们相熟是因为我与众不同,而他们对我又很好奇。他们的好奇使我有机会与他们分享非洲文化的方方面面,并且我还能够在了解中国文化的同时与他们共享我对非洲事务的看法。我们这种交流会减少双方对彼此的误解与偏见。

Others often ask me if I found Chinese to be racist, and whether their treatment of me as a spectacle -- taking pictures, touching my hair, rubbing my skin, staring at me -- does not indicate a racist attitude. I respond that I find them curious. Many of the experiences I had were borne of ignorance, not racism. Despite always being identified as “black” and “African,” I never felt discriminated against or antagonized, but rather treated with warmth and friendliness. Because I spoke Mandarin, I could often understand what people said about me, and they were rarely disparaging or maligning. On the other hand, some of my friends who have heard about my experiences feel that they reflect a deep lack of respect, and thus racist feelings. I also acknowledge that my experience is not fully reflective of that of other African students, as I never had to seek employment and so was never turned down because employers preferred “white foreigners,” which other African students in China have told me is commonplace.

经常会有人问我,有没有觉得中国人是种族主义者,他们有没有把我当异类看。拍照,摸我的头发,揉我的皮肤,盯着我看,这些并不代表种族主义。我回答说,我只是觉得他们很好奇。我经历过的很多事情都出于他们的无知。尽管总是被叫“黑人”“非洲人”,我也从未觉得被蔑视或被敌对,但也没有感到过温暖和友情。因为我会普通话,所以我知道人们在说我什么,他们几乎没有敌视或恶意。另一方面,一些朋友听说了我的经历后觉得中国人对人不尊重,因此难免会有种族主义的感觉。我也知道我的经历并没有全面反应出其他在华非洲学生的感受,因为我没有找过工作,所以也没有被用人单位以更偏爱“白种肤的外国人”为由拒绝,然而其他非洲同学告诉我这很常见。

The ties that hold Africa and China go back to Africa’s independence era -- China was an ally helping to bolster newly independent nations and in fighting liberation wars, while African countries’ support was pivotal in the People’s Republic of China joining the United Nations. But with the increased movement of people across borders, and an intensification of economic relations, the scope and nature of Sino-Africa relations are increasingly becoming personal, no longer limited to high-level economic and political exchanges.

追溯到非洲独立战争时期,将中非维系的纽带正是互相帮助--中国是非洲新兴独立国家的同盟,在其独立战争中提供了很多帮助,也正是由于非洲国家的支持中国得以加入联合国。但是随着人们跨国界事务的增多和经济关系的不断密切,中非关系的范围和性质也越来越私人化,不再仅限于高层经济和政治交流。

What is sorely missing is cross-cultural understanding. Regardless of whether it’s simply intrigue or racism, it’s clear that misconceptions and ignorance bedevil both sides of the equation. The prospects, however, are encouraging: there are currently over 12,000 African students studying in China on Chinese government scholarships. Hopefully, as more students take up the mantle of cultural ambassador, the awkwardness will subside. I, for one, am happily retired from my position of “awkward ambassador.” But there is more work to be done.

但是极度缺失的却是跨文化的理解。不管是不是阴谋或种族主义,很显然的是,误解和无知都不利于平等的双方。然而,前景还是很振奋人心的:有超过12,000名非洲学子在中国政府的资助下在华求学。但愿随着越来越多的留学生接下文化大使的接力棒,这些尴尬也会慢慢消失。作为其中一员,我很高兴从我的“尴尬大使”上卸任了,但是依然任重道远。

This post first appeared at Tea Leaf Nation, an Atlantic partner site.

这篇文章最早刊登于《大西洋月刊》的合作网站“茶叶之国”。


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