Similar to most Chinese people, I do not have clear understanding of racism until I came to the States. Like most Asian countries, China is more of a homogeneous nation. More than 94 percents of the population, which is 1.2 billion, are Han Chinese. Officially recognized 55 minority ethnicities in China, however, we are all Yellow in a western general sense. So, since I start to make friends in kindergarten, I have had no idea of race and everyone just looks the same. In my sense at that moment, race is more like where you from, instead of what kind of person you are. Even if after I met foreigners from different countries, including whites and blacks, that thought still held. They are all similar to me, but from different places. So when I started to know the ideas of racism and racists, I just did not understand why people would think that way. And even when I asked my parents or teachers, they had no better understanding than me. But a visit to US during my sophomore year in high school gave me a lesson in what racism is.
I remember the first time I came to States, and I went to the Universal Studio at Los Angels. We are a group of students from my high school lead by our teachers and local guides. There is a show named Water World (related to the film Water World, and it is a good one). It is a pool front show and water will accidentally split to the audience. So I bought a rain coat from a nearby shop, from a African-American salesman in particular. With the coat on, I went to my seat. A white old lady sat next to me and asked me where I got the rain coat. With my poor English at that time, I simply said: “I brought it from a black in the shop over there” with my finger pointing the direction. I thought the sentence I constructed is pretty concise and understandable. However, while I was satisfying with this well-done small English conversation, the old lady just turned mad and started to lecture me. She was speaking so fast that I could hardly understand everything, especially with my poor English at that time. Clearly she is offended, that is what I thought, but I did not know why. The conversation ended with her words “You are such a racist.” I had nothing to response her, as I can hardly argue with someone in English. Then the show started, but I have no mood for that anymore. Later on, when we travel around, the local guides started to convince us that there are areas we should not visit and be cautious when interact with random African-American people. That was my first impression of racist thinking, indeed.
(I remember this is a photo about no hate can perfectly describe my situation at that moment, but I can not find it right now. I will post it when I see it.)
Who is the racist? I am the racist? How could I become a racist with no idea of racism? Recalling this story now, I somehow have a feeling that the old lady is more racist than me at that specific moment. But who knows? After years in States, I recognized that people are really serious about this problem and sometimes they are just over-sensitive about it. Is that a good thing? I do not think so. But is it is a thing you just need to be serous about? Maybe. I consider this seriousness is from the culture, as in other countries, the “Black” is only a color.