It seems racial issues don’t even escape China
It all started with the lure of the glitz, the glamour and the dream of being China’s next pop star. But, as with many reality shows, Lou Jing’s instant fame came with unanticipated consequences.Lou Jing was born 20 years ago in Shanghai to a Chinese mother and an African-American father. According to her mother, who asked not to be identified in this report, she met Lou’s father while she was still in college. He left China before their daughter was born.
Growing up with a single mom in central Shanghai, Lou Jing said she had good friends and lived a normal life. “When I was young, I didn’t feel any different,” she said.
But as soon as she stepped into the national spotlight on a Chinese reality television show called “Go! Oriental Angel,” Lou Jing became a national sensation — not necessarily because of her talent, but how she looked.
“After the contest started, I often got more attention than the other girls. It made me feel strange,” Lou said.
The reality show hosts fondly called her “chocolate girl” and “black pearl.” The Chinese media fixated on her skin color. Netizens flooded Web sites with comments saying she “never should have been born” and telling her to “get out of China.”
Lou Jing’s background became fodder for national gossip, sparking a vitriolic debate about race across a country that, in many respects, can be quite homogenous. There are 56 different recognized ethnic groups in China, but more than 90 percent of the population is Han Chinese. So people who look different stand out.
“We lived in a small circle before,” said her mother. “But after Lou was seen nationwide, some Chinese people couldn’t accept her.”
It has been a shocking ordeal for someone who says she always considered herself just like every other Chinese girl.