Archive for the ‘Black in China’ Category

Day 1 of the Hostage Situation…

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Or if I wanted to water down the reality, I’d label it “Day 1 of Final Exam Week.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 4.37.24 PMToday, is my 一对一课考试 (one-one-one class test). 我的一对一考试关于中非关系的意义方面。(My one-on-one test is in regards to the significance of the China-Africa relationship.)

Since midterms, I’ve focused my one-on-one study on learning vocabulary specific to and how to speak formerly about the China-Africa relationship.  I’ve already turned in my 2, 500 character essay on the significance of the relationship.

My hand was ready to fall off by the end of this!

My hand was ready to fall off by the end of this!

(Again, thank YOU Eddie Murphy for getting me through that!) Every single time, I watch Delirious… I spend some minutes just laughing at what the man is wearing! HAHA!!! eddie-murphy-delirious-80s-outfit As I said Monday night when it was 11 PM and I was still writing: “We all know what we need individually to survive in times of struggle. I need Eddie Murphy.” *NEEDED* him badly!

Tonight, I give a verbal report, in Mandarin, before the firing squad – I mean…a panel of teachers – for my final exam.

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6 PM is when I give my report!

I *do* feel less nervous than I was during midterms when I had to do it on the China-U.S. relationship.

Even so, the struggle will be real. O_o

 

Tomorrow, I have my Chinese newspaper and Chinese Conversation class final exams! On Friday, I have my one-on-two final exam!

And on top of the other things that I must get done before Friday?
The word of the week is:

200_s
U
PDATE:
Gave my report, reviewed it flawlessly with my teacher beforehand…Then three minutes into a smooth report, the director of the program walks in like…随便!

The strug.

The strug. 继续奋斗。。。


Wait, WHAT!?: “White on the Outside…but in My Heart, I am Black”

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014 11: 50 PM

Tonight,  羽莎 [Yu(3) sha(1)] , my roommate, says to me, “I have another American friend! He always says “it’s all good in the hood, yo!” *she added hand movements, pointing in the air in a way that I’ve noticed common to Chinese people when they imitate rappers***

eGhzMGZ5MTI=_o_the-raised-eyebrow-look

The People’s Eyebrow had NOTHING on how high my eyebrow went up, I’m sure…

My eyebrow hit the skies in shock. She came out of nowhere with this!

Then…she symbolized someone giving someone else “dap” (a handshake). She said that when he would see her, he’d give her dap.

I just stared and nodded slowly. 我明白你。。。 [“I understand you…”]

Then….she threw up some gang signs.

My jaw dropped…and then I started laughing in disbelief!

I said, 真的吗!? [“Really?!”] to give my mind time to recover from the shock!
…and to figure out how I was going to respond to that.

She was grinning and laughing at my laughter and my repeated “真的吗?”s.

I finally recovered – a bit- and said, “你的朋友是美国人马?” [“Is your friend American?”] …even though…I really wanted to ask if this guy was black, but I was not about to confirm stereotypes by assuming he was black – at least NOT to her face. O_O I decided to just ask questions and wait for her to say it.

Nothing could prepare me for what came next.

他是美国人。他是白人 可是。。。”He is American. He is white, but…”

My eyebrows hit the skies again….and I bit back a 什么?!?[”WHAT!?”] response, thinking “he’s white?”

Then I heard the rest…

。。。可是他告诉我他的心是黑人“ [“…but he told me in his heart he is black.”] *she says with the BIGGEST grin on her face and laughing*

I stood there blinking stupidly…. And then I laughed! Unnaturally loud…partly because this was HILARIOUS, partly because I was in shock, partly because she was genuinely amused, partly because I couldn’t believe I never figured out how to say “What the hell!?” all this time I’ve been in and out of China.

…but the shock didn’t end there…I asked her…. 你说他是白人马? 。。。。为什么他告诉你他的心是黑人? [“You said he’s white?….why did he tell you that his heart is black?”]

我们一起看 The Wire. 我不知道 。。。* she threw up the gang signs and pointed around to symbolize rap music *** 可是我们一起 看 The Wire wire-poster然后我看 *pointing around and throwing up the gang signs* * 他告诉我那个意思”

(We watched The Wire. I didn’t know…. * she threw up the gang signs and pointed around to symbolized rap music* saying “It’s all good in the hood!” but we watched it together, then he told me the meaning of the show)

I blinked…Goodness! I wish someone had taken photos of my expressions.

I kept thinking “What the hell!?” in my mind but I felt like it was a GOOD thing that I didn’t know how to say that in Chinese.

I wasn’t angry though…I was just…shocked and amused ALL at the same time! Goodness!!! I could NOT stop laughing… haha. That maniacal laughter when you don’t know what else to do BUT laugh.

I explained to her that not all black people speak that way…and that I would love to meet her friend. In my head I was thinking… “Yes, I would sure love to meet this guy indeed…” Hahaha!!! I was AMUSED at the idea of an introduction…and I could tell him in Chinese that I’ve heard SO much about him…and if I could borrow his seasons of The Wire. HAH!!!!

She said he’s already gone back to the U.S.

“Of course he has….” To be honest, I felt a bit deflated at that news! I was ready to make fun of him a bit, hahaha!!!

BUT can we talk about the REAL issue here!?

Her introduction to black people was The Wire… no…not a good way to INTRODUCE. That show was AMAZING…but not sure if someone who thinks that he is black in his heart can explain to her….wisely…what she was looking at. Yes. That’s a nice way to articulate that bit… -_- O_O!!!

I met Yulia….just last Thursday… but I can tell that we are going to get along EXTREMELY well. …ESPECIALLY after she told me that Marvel and DC are extremely popular in China and that she loves Batman.

I was like “WHAT!?” We excitedly talked about our similar interests in DeathNote and some other Japanese shows and manga. We talked about Collagewhat was popular in the US and in China. We are going to see Guardians of the Galaxy in Chinese soon! We decided that we would go comic book shopping together.

Did I already say that I loved this girl?!

What I do know…is I am going to be sure she doesn’t have a certain view of black people.

I can’t stop laughing in disbelief…The WIRE!?!? He started her off with The Wire. …and the person starting her off is white, from OREGON, teaching her how to say “It’s all good in the hood, yo!”, how to throw up gang signs, and saying that he may be white on the outside but in his heart, he is black??!?

Stop the madness. Goodness!

Her curiosity is so intense though…I’m going to cleanse her of the nonsense.

*face in palm*

The Wire!? Really???

The Wire!? Really???


Inventing All Sorts of Excuses: “Cultural Differences” and Letting the Lesson – Finally – Marinate

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014 8:11 P.M.

Cultural Differences.

…. must be one of the most overused phrases to excuse bad behavior.

All these random things about what is so different between this foreigner and this native person are used to try and smooth over what is clearly complete nonsense.

It is always important to be mindful of the cultural differences that may factor into the decisions that people make. Yet, those factors shouldn’t prevent you from standing up for yourself when you do not like what is taking place…particularly if it already has and can become even more of an inconvenience.

This is not my first rodeo facing this sort of thing abroad…but even so, there is definitely something I am learning about myself that hasn’t really marinated until that specific thing was called attention to earlier today – by someone who doesn’t even know me at all, at that.

I tend to explain my perspective over and over again.…as though the other person doesn’t understand. But they do. I allow myself to be distracted by the fifty reasons a person might be giving for why they did something and waste my time responding to each one. I recognize the excuses but I have a habit of automatically starting to explain my side with more detail…as if the detail even matters. It takes me a while, after I’ve wasted my breath, to finally reaffirm what I already knew to myself (likely because I don’t feel like talking to the person anymore): “This person knows that they did something wrong. This person is trying to get out of getting into trouble by changing your mind.”

I do know myself and I do know this is a problem that I need to change.

Now. Not later. Right now.

It’s a lesson that I keep noticing as a problem for me AFTER THE FACT…and it’s like, “No. Shirley. Just stop doing it because you already know you’re not supposed to be doing it. Just stop. That’s all. Save your damn breath!”

I know it won’t happen again… know why? Because my first round of making that mistake abroad…was way too much culture shock and so much at once. I remember what it did to me. I remember how I internalized it. While I eventually started making heads roll hard…took way too long, way too much pent up, “how dare …blah blah blah” before I started to handle my business.

This situation right now allows me to recognize what COULD have happened if someone else hadn’t said, “…uh why are you even doing that? Why are you even a, b, and c? Why? You had that conversation for an hour? Why.” This situation allows me to recognize the problem in the fact that I wasn’t able to call myself  out. On my own.

So. Ok.

That forces me to think about it all in a different way. Truly forces me…in a way that will ensure that this lesson MARINATES.

Time to handle my business and move on…so many other things to do than to put up with this nonsense for an extensive period of time.

I don’t have the time.

Going abroad, living in a different culture and wishing to respect it should never ever mean that you disrespect yourself in the process.

I bet it might have taken me a bit longer (another decade…let’s be real) to fully realize this bad habit if I hadn’t been faced with reasons to face it while in unfamiliar surroundings. Under these circumstances, I HAVE to think about what I do automatically that might be detrimental to me within unfamiliar confines. And I HAVE to think about the thoughts that I already have in terms of problem solving that will be extremely useful to me. What you learn while surrounded by the unfamiliar can definitely be a great help when things get really familiar again.

So… I suppose this is not only about other people making excuses to me. It is also about Shirley not making anymore excuses to herself.


哈如宾式:Big Breasts and Pizza

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014 10:30 AM

Yes, I know… Pizza in China? A first-generation American, Ghanaian woman…eating Italian food…in China. “What a small world, ” as a friend put it to me. haha! I must say…it is certainly worth discovering how Asian restaurants choose to flavor foods that are very popular at home…

What a small world, indeed! :-)

The family who runs this pizza place  (pic to the right) have been SO, SO warm to me the last two weeks. I love them! Their children are absolutely adorable too! The first time I talked to them, they family was excited to show me photos they’d taken of other foreigners who had come to their restaurant over the years. The husband joked with me that one of the German men really liked one of the Chinese female students and said she never knew though. “Poor guy,” is what he said. Haha! The first time that I went there, they were also so excited when they realized that I could speak Mandarin. Told me that most of the foreigners that come to their restaurant are unable to say much. (Small moments like these, you have to be proud of…it is the interactions with native Chinese that show you if your language is advancing or not. :-)!

The pizza restaurant!

The pizza restaurant!

SO…how do big breasts relate to pizza?

Well. They don’t, but they can. Haha!

I just got back from a pizza place… While I was waiting for my pizza, a Chinese woman walked by and just stared at me, observing me, while eating some sort of tofu soup thing. I glanced away but could still feel her eyes on me. She just stood there and continued to stare, so I glanced back and say “Hello!” in Chinese. Instantly,  the widest grin spread across her face. She scooped a big spoonful of this glob-like pudding stuff(She later told me it was some sort of Russian pudding) and offered it to me. I don’t share a spoon with anyone but my Mama so I politely but readily refused every single time she offered it. Haha!

My hello began a 30 minute conversation entirely in Chinese.  Throughout that 30 minute conversation, she kept giving …very extended ‘glances’ (aka blatant long stares)… at my chest. At first, I thought, “What is she looking at?” Several times, I gave quick glances at my sweater to see if I had a stain down the front of it or something….but there was nothing. As the conversation went on and she asked why I was in Harbin, why I felt Mandarin grammar was much harder than English grammar, she CONTINUED to just STARE at my chest. I began to feel a bit uncomfortable…got to a point where I was thinking, “What the hell does she keep looking at?” I always wanted to just ask her!

Then I began to just tune in to the uncomfortable feeling that I was feeling…she had been staring at my CHEST. O_O Once I accepted what she was staring at, I almost threw my arms opened wide and told her to just grab a handful and alleviate her curiosity. I remembered, in Taiwan, how women had been interested (and even asked) some of the students in my program about our chest sizes because they were not accustomed to see breasts that big… Haha!

At one point, I wondered if this woman was even going to blink. She KEPT staring at my chest for LONG periods of time. The periods of time got even longer.

Gotta love pizza in Asia... you get gloves! When this happened in Taiwan at a hamburger restaurant...I'd never been so amazed at something. Haha!

Gotta love pizza in Asia… you get gloves! When this happened in Taiwan at a hamburger restaurant…I’d never been so amazed at something. Haha!

She eventually asked me if I was female. Haha…this is not the first time I’ve been asked since I’ve been to China two months ago.  I am normally asked this when I wear jeans and a t-shirt. I told her that, “Yes, I am female.”  Haha! She asked about my hair and I told her that I cut my hair this way because I like it this way. I threw in a joke about how I can’t stand hot weather and this is the way for me to survive!

She then said my breasts were big. As my eyebrow began to rise…she signaled to my chest and made big round circle motions and told me they were very big, exaggerating her speech to indicate just how humongous she thought they were.

…and simply smiled in my face…while I stood there in silence, eyebrow all the way up my face, and STUNNED…not knowing what the hell to even say.

Well. How desperate was I to change the subject?
(…this is probably THE only time that I would call myself “黑人“ (black person) to anyone in China…because it doesn’t sit well with me when I am pointed at and called “黑人, 黑人”…BUT  I wanted to change that topic. Badly.)

So, I offered my hand to hers and started to compare skin tones. That was the only thing I could come up with. Nosey passerbys stared at us as I ended up having to convince her that I wasn’t black because I drank lots of coffee. Somewhere in there, I miscommunicated a message about the President and now she thinks I know him. More specifically…she thinks President Obama is my boyfriend.

#OliviaPope

#OliviaPope

Whatever. As long as the First Lady doesn’t hear about this. *cough*

I must admit… this exchange was entertaining. I an not going to forget this woman for a while. Before I left, I told her that I was excited to meet her. Haha! And I was! She helped me practice my speaking… If anything, she knows a lot about me. I know a lot about her too…though we spent most of the time discussing me. I promise we talked about other things aside fro my ….uh….apparently out of this world humongous set of breasts.

She was astoundingly curious about how I was American if my parents are from Ghana. I find that a lot of Chinese people believe that you are from where your parents are from so the concept of anything different is extremely strange to a good amount of them. It makes me want to talk to people about…what if  I was adopted…by a Canadian Father and a Puerto Rican Mother… how would that be thought of in people’s minds?

If anything, she learned a whole lot that night. I think I delivered a good experience to her. :-) She was especially impressed with my Chinese. Hell, I was too… I only used Pleco…3 times throughout our discussion. Otherwise, my ability to think fast enough to use words around a word that I may not understand in order to understand what is being said has significantly improved!

I have had many moments where I have interacted with curious Chinese people. In this case…a good amount of people in my location are used to foreigners…some are not. Haha!

As hilarious as this whole exchange is…I’m just proud of myself that I am getting out there and talking to people. Some may know that something like that is an incredibly big step for me.  It warmed my heart to have this family see me, a stranger, and after interacting with me for almost an hour tell me that I am family. It is the Chinese people that I need to be able to interact with, to understand, and to be understood by.  It is the Chinese that I need to be able to learn from in many ways that are not only essential to my career, but essential to my personal growth. :-)

Until next time!


Grateful.

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

It is truly a beautiful thing to be able to be in your twenties and to travel.

You’re only obligated to yourself, you’re living out your passions and creating new ones… the world is at your feet and you’re going to learn new things about yourself in the most unsuspecting ways.

It is absolutely beautiful what I am being exposed to here… so much culture, so many people from different walks of life and mindsets. So many endless possibilities if I open myself up to them!

I’m very grateful that I can live this out while being productive in terms of my future career goals at the same time.

Life is Good!

Life is Good!