S3 E15: “Green Book” and “Black Panther” in China, why storytelling matters

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This is a very special episode and the second of our 3-part conversation about Black Lives Matter. Longtime listeners of Loud Murmurs know that we have talked about “Black Panther” and “Green Book” when they first came out—about white savior complex in “Green Book” and the significance of Black futurism in “Black Panther.”

But we want to bring back the two movies that are familiar to our listeners, and use them as an opportunity to have a conversation about race and racism in China, with the help of our guests.

In this episode, Izzy and Diaodiao invited Esham and Joshua to join us. Esham (Twitter: @eshammacauley) is a first-gen African immigrant raised in the U.S. but has roots in West Africa, the Middle East, and Scandinavia. Joshua (Instagram: @joshytaughtyou) grew up on the south side of Chicago and currently works at a tech company in Shenzhen. Both of them have studied in China.

In this episode, they talk candidly about racist encounters they’ve had being Black men in China and how they make sense of Hollywood’s reckoning with its decades of racism as part of the ongoing BLM movement in the U.S.

A common argument is that “racism doesn’t exist in China because most Chinese people have never met a Black person.” In reality, hundreds of thousands of Black people currently live and work in China. Their experience decidedly differs from that of white expats. One doesn’t have to look so hard to find blatantly racist and hateful speech on Weibo today. Sooner or later, we need to have a tough conversation about anti-Black racism in China.

In this episode:

  • What do our guests think about “Green Book” and “Black Panther” and their different reception in China?
  • What similarities did Joshua find between “The Wandering Earth” and “Black Panther”?
  • How has “respectability politics'' shaped our two guests' lives growing up? What does “respectability politics” look like in China?
  • What is their experience with racism in China and can we categorize those encounters as “innocent ignorance”?
  • Why are American movies and TV shows we grew up watching in China so white?
  • The importance of letting people tell their own stories about racism.

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