China New Year gala show sparks new racism controversy with blackface performance | Inquirer News
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China New Year gala show sparks new racism controversy with blackface performance

/ 04:14 PM February 12, 2021

Liu Yuting controls the screen while watching the Lunar New Year gala after having dinner with her family at a Haidilao hotpot restaurant, in Beijing, China February 11, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

BEIJING — China’s state broadcaster has come under fire once more for a performance featuring dancers made up to look African during its annual gala show to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

During CCTV’s four-hour show which typically draws hundreds of millions of viewers, performers appeared on stage wearing outfits that approximated African clothing and had darkened their skin with make-up.

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“The New Year Gala director team is just stupid and vicious,” said one of a number of users who took to Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, to criticize the skit.

“Is there any difference between Chinese people doing blackface and white people slanting their eyes to make fun of Asians?”

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The gala sparked similar controversy in 2018 over a skit featuring actress Lou Naiming. She appeared on stage in colorful garb, her face and arms colored brown, carrying a fruit basket on her head and accompanied by someone costumed as a monkey.

Organizations and advocates for Africans in China also lambasted the show, which aired Thursday evening.

“While supporters of the practice allege that blackface centers on empathy & realism, it’s difficult to disassociate it from a long history of minstrelsy & fixation on problematic caricatures,” Black China Caucus, an activist group, said on Twitter.

“Next year, we hope organizers decide to end this practice & hire some of thousands of Black people living in many parts of China.”

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Friday, a public holiday. A representative for CCTV could not be reached for comment.

The show, which this year focused on celebrating Chinese medical workers and the country’s space program, has been a television staple since it was first broadcast in 1983.

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TAGS: Black China Caucus, blackface, China, Chinese new year
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