Current Event: China, the Media & Black People

I’ve traveled to China on two separate occasions and credit it as one of the places that changed my life. It’s the one place I’ve ever been where I felt welcomed because I was a black man. But don’t let that fool you, I always kept in mind that the fetishization of my blackness was perpetuated from the same place that brought about the hatred of my “kind,” the years of slavery, and the subsequent systematic oppression that followed.

Questions of “can you dunk?” or “why aren’t you tall like the rest of them” or “you must like rap music, right?” came almost daily. During my first trip I was infuriated as I struggled to wrap my head around the idiocy of what I was being asked. My pride wouldn’t let me concede any innocence on the part of the people who were so fascinated with me being black, a fact that was often a burden back home.

As I planned my second trip, I made it my point to view it as an opportunity to represent the people who look like me in a positive light, while also getting to the bottom of where these ideas were coming from. What I found? The media, more particularly, Hollywood and the sporting world created a profile of the typical black man that was taken as fact by the secluded culture that is China.

Lost in the sauce of “artistic expression,” in regards to Hollywood, is the inappropriate use of stereotypes to sell a story or reach a target market. What this does is influence the thought process of a people who otherwise know no better, who therefore take them as fact.

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill address media after returning back to the United States.

Now, the unfortunate event that is the UCLA players’ shoplifting incident makes me cringe as the recurring storyline used by Hollywood is played out and reinforced right before our very eyes. These are kids, and they should be regarded as such. But dammit I’m worried about the repercussions of such an incident in a world where they are already unfairly matched to this profile.

The fault obviously lies on the shoulders of the players for the stupid act of theft in a foreign country, on a trip representing the United States and UCLA. However, the cards were already stacked against us by the doings of our own media. This is a case of stupidity validating ignorance. Now brace for impact.