Traveling around world and experiencing different cultures can (and should) be fun and insightful. But what happens when an individual becomes the focus of an entire country solely because on the color of their skin, it’s not fun…but perhaps insightful?
For the past week, social media platforms have been ablaze with reports of discrimination against African nationals in Guangzhou.
In the southern Chinese city, Africans have been evicted from their homes by landlords and turned away from hotels.
In addition to a smaller subset of African Americans, health workers have reportedly gone door-to-door testing Africans for coronavirus as well as a enforcing 14-day-quarantine, many say regardless of whether they show any symptoms, have traveled, or have been in contact with Covid-19 patients.
As a result, a plethora of videos has emerged online of African people sleeping on the streets and outside police stations. In one, Nigerian diplomats delivered food to people standing in the rain.
NO EATING AT MCDONALDS
In a video that has been widely shared online, a McDonald’s employee in Guangzhou, China, held up a sign that read: “From now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant.”
HOW DID THIS ALL START?
This all started when a second wave of coronavirus surfaced in China from foreign travelers.
In Guangdong province, of which Guangzhou is the capital, 183 people have returned from abroad with the virus since it began spreading outside the country. Of them, 22 were from Africa, according to official figures.
As the Chinese government worked to push back against a second wave of the virus, foreigners began being targeted. And while black residents of Shanghai and Beijing have also reported incidents of xenophobia, the discrimination appears to be more widespread in Guangzhou.
Last month, China (as a country) banned entry to all foreigners, although 90+% of the country’s newest cases have been from Chinese citizens returning from countries like Italy, the United States, and Iran.
But the ban of black residents has highlighted systemic racism that has bubbled up in the city — which hosts the largest African diaspora in Asia.
Black people are discriminated in China now and treated as virus.
video showing a black man with his baby is forced locked inside his home by gov officials and asked if he contacted with other African recently.
but his neighbors are free to move.
— 巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao) April 12, 2020
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian released a statement Sunday denying any discrimination, “All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination.”
Zhao, however, did not speak specifically on how Africans were being forced to quarantine for 14 days and tested for COVID-19.
I have been fortunate to have traveled around this world countless times and the reality is that I also have similar stories from China (and other countries) that will make you say “this can’t be real!?”
The video of the man pleading to the officials for access to food because he has a baby inside is heart wrenching.
I highlight this story because it focuses on true life experiences. Whether you are traveling or actually LIVE in a country, your skin color often precedes you.
Were you aware of what was happening in China? What do you make of this situation?