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“…I see racism in stores being sold as cream, on television as
movies and in church as baptismal name and many other places
we all know but refuse to acknowledge. The labours of our heroes
past have already gone in vain because our mentality has been
colonized…I hope that either the world accepts us or we accept
According to Western State centre (2012), during the reformation of the 16th and 17th century,
one of the key questions among religious hierarchy was whether blacks and Indians had souls
and were humans. This was at the time when Europeans were freshly exposed to Africans and
people from North and South America. The question brought a division between the catholic and
the protestant. However, the catholic was the first to come up with an answer. The catholic
agreed that Blacks had souls and therefore it became an offence in most Catholic colonies to kill
a slave without reason, (Western State Centre dismantling racism project 2012). Due to the
importance and necessity of slavery, religious was used to justify slavery and racism as people of
color were classified as pagans and soulless. The conversion of a large number of people of color
to Christianity and the eventual decline in importance and power of religion and religious
leaders, the need arises to employ a new way to promote racism so as to justify slavery. This
eventually led to the employment of biological, zoological geographical and botanical theories to
promote and justify slavery and by implication, racism.
Europe in the 19th century became developed in sciences and social sciences like never before.
It was during this period that Darwin (1859) published ―The Origin of Species‖, where he
analyzed and explained the evolution process of man (as cited in Western State center
dismantling racism project 2012). Although, it is widely believed that Darwin theory itself
wasn‘t racial but philosophers and social scientist used it to promote, enhance and justify racism.
It was later called Social Darwinism. JC Prichard (1838) during his lecture on the ―Extinction of
Human Race‖ was reported to have said the savage race couldn‘t be saved because it was the law
of nature for only the fittest to survive (as cited in Western State Center dismantling racism
project 2012). His point was made clearer by W. Winwood Reade (1864) and I quote;
“England and France will rule Africa; Africans will dig the ditches and water the desert. It
will be hard work and the Africans will probably become extinct. We must learn to look at the
result with composure…law of nature that the weak must be devoured by the strong
(Cited in Western State Centre dismantling racism project 2012).
This strongly, but sadly points to how Africans were seen. Africans were dying of diseases,
poverty but mostly hardship and hard labor not to mention slavery imposed on them by the white
men and all they could do was to justify it by the law of nature (survival of the fittest).
Fredrick Farrar (1866), as cited in Western State Centre dismantling racism project (2012)
during his lecture on ―Aptitude of Race‖, divided race into 3:
1. Savage (All Africans and people of color)
2. Semi-Civilized (Chinese)
3. Civilized (Europe, Aryans, ETC)
When the survival of the fittest theory could not really totally justify racism, it was time to forge
another theory. A famous English anatomist, Robert Knox (1850) went way further to prove that
people of color were intellectually inferior. It was later discovered that his argument was based
on an experiment he conducted on the autopsy of only but one man of color (as cited in Western
State Center dismantling reason project 2012). This time, it was based on intelligence. This
theory in conjunction with other theories brought about the Eugenics –an effect to breed better
humans by encouraging the reproduction of people with good genes and discouraging those with
bad genes from reproducing. They were said to fight to keep racial, ethnic and regional groups
separated. This was the true story behind the Holocaust perpetrated by Adolf Hitler in Nazis
Germany, not to mention the United States which was said to have about 20,000 students
focused on the Eugenics in 1928 (western state centre 2012).
When the concept of intellectual inferiority could no longer hold water, a new theory had to be
developed. The third world which at first was a harmless term for all the non-aligned (mostly
African) countries during the cold war between first world (NATO) led by USA and second
world (Warsaw Pact) led by USSR became associated with the (underdeveloped) developing
countries of Africa. Third world lost it initial meaning and became synonymous with Africa
pointing to the underdevelopment, wars, poverty and crime many believe is an unbeatable part of
the black continent. Third world which was Africa, was synonymous with poverty,
backwardness crime and war and most countries claimed to be sending huge amounts of money
to Africa as aids and over exaggerating and over publicizing wars, crime and poverty in Africa
which triggers hatred among the citizens of those countries who believe their government is not
doing enough for them but sending it to Africa.
Over the years, mainly the 16th, 17th and 18th century, people used different terms such as
Caucasoid, or white for Europeans, Mongoloid, or yellow for Asians and Negroid, or black for
Africans for geographical segregation (western state centre 2012). Eventually, Negroid was
employed and become more popular than the others. More recently, the term African is used to
refer to any person of color. In other words, all persons of color are racially believed to be from
Africa, this is the practice in china.
1.1.1 Race and Racism have existed throughout history. In the article; A History: The
Construction of Race and Racism, David and Moira (2012) claimed that ―race is a false
classification of people that is not based on any (real) accurate biological or scientific truth.
According to Benjamin Isaac (2003), Racism is ―an attitude towards individuals and groups of
peoples which posits a direct and linear connection between physical and mental qualities. It
therefore attributes to those individuals and groups of peoples collective traits, physical, mental
and moral, which are constant and unalterable by human will, because they are caused by
hereditary factors or external influences, such as climate or geography‖. Hart and James (2008)
on the other hand, believe racism is characterized by explicitly racist attitudes regarding the
inferiority of blacks or other minorities and overt tendencies to engage in unambiguously
discriminatory behavior.
Various forms of racism had been proffered by several authors, however those provided by
Sandra Hinson, Richard Healey and Nathaniel Weisenberg (2011) at the Grassroots Policy
Project, highlighted but a few, which are; Interpersonal, Internalized, Institutional and Structural.
But the forms given by Adam R. Pearson, John F. Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner (2009) seem
to be the most comprehensive for the purpose of this study. These are Dominative and Aversive
racism as identified by Kovel cited by Adam R. Pearson, John F. Dovidio and Samuel L.
Gaertner et al. But most importantly, unconscious racism by Hart Blanton and James Jaccard
(2008) is the most relevant for this study (see western state center 2012, Charlotte Reading 2013
for more history of race and racism)
1.1.2 Unconscious Racism is the presence of racial behavior or tendency but the absences of
conscious knowledge. According to National Association of Social Worker (2007), there are
three types of subtle racism, they are; Symbolic, Aversive and Unconscious Racism, but to some
scholars, aversive and unconscious racism are the same. To get a full understanding of
unconscious racism, one has to know what it means to be unconscious. Hart Blanton and James
Jaccard (2008) elaborated 3 categories of unconscious with relations to racism. To paint a good
picture, we have to borrow their definitions, they are as follow;
Unknown Effect: The first working definition of unconscious refers to individuals‘ lack of
awareness of the effects of their own actions on other people, social institutions, and so on.
When unconscious racism is framed in these terms, it draws attention to the unwitting ways in
which one‘s own actions promote racial disparities. Such unconscious racism has been described
in sociological theories that refer to institutional racism.
Unknown Causes: Another way in which people may lack conscious access to their racist
leanings is that they may fail to perceive the factors that cause them to exhibit racial preferences.
People are unconscious racists in this sense if they are unable to gain subjective access to the
determinants of their own actions. A large literature on impression formation offers empirical
support for this perspective. Psychologists have shown, for instance, that a shove given by one
person to another might appear aggressive when the person doing the shoving is black, but that it
might seem playful when the person doing the shoving is white by Duncan (1976) cited by Hart
and James (2008) et al.
Inaccessible Attitudes: Although it is feasible to argue that people lack knowledge of both the
causes and the consequences of their actions, this set of observations alone does not provide a
basis for claiming that people possess racist attitudes that escape subjective awareness. What is
the evidence for this third type of unconscious racism—ignorance about the presence of racist
attitude (as propounded by Hart Blanton and James Jaccard (2008).
1.1.3 CHINA, traditionally called Zhongguo in Chinese mandarin, is the largest country in Asia
(the largest continent), and has the largest population in the world. It is believe to cover nearly
the entire East Asia landmass, approximately one-fourteenth of the land area of the world and
about one-fifth of humanity is of Chinese nationality Encyclopedia Britannica (2012). China is
bordered by about 16 countries; Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Pakistan, etc.
China has 33 administrative unit directly under the central government; 22 provinces, 5
autonomous regions, 4 municipalities (Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin) and 2 special
administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau) Encyclopedia Britannica (2012). China is home
to 55 ethnic groups. Han Chinese make up 91.55% of the population and the majority of the
remaining 8.41% are visually indistinguishable from their Han countrymen, so it is correct to say
China is more homogenous than heterogeneous. For thousands of years, Chinese people speak in
hundreds different dialects but use only one written system, Han Character (汉字), which makes
the written communication and culture inheritance possible. The separation of the written and
spoken forms of the Chinese language provides a tie that holds the Chinese people together while
gives a space for different expressions in daily lives. A white foreigner is likely to be called a
laowai, meaning “old foreigner” while a Black foreigner (Person of color) is likely to be called
heiren, meaning black person. It is a known fact that all persons of color in China are roughly
classified as Africans; a continent believe to be very poor, uncivilized, backward and full of all
sorts of crimes and most importantly a charity case for Chinese government which leads to
resentment and or denigration and unfriendliness on the parts of the Chinese. Most Chinese
people seem to inherit negative emotional reactions to persons of color from their culture or as
we mostly read, from their early contact with the west but many do not realize it because their
conscious belief conflict with them thereby making it difficult for them to recognize their racist
tendency. The racial tendency of the Chinese people is most time classified as ignorance and
sometime rudeness anything but racism. It is believed that the Chinese are not racism but
unexposed to persons of color and some blame it on the west. Racism is said to be transferred to
China from the west through their literatures or media reports or movies. The question now
remains that, if racism was transferred to China from the West as we all claim, why then do we
still say the Chinese are not racist but ignorant? Perhaps, by ignorant we mean unconscious
My stay in China for almost a year gave me a clear picture and good understanding of
unconscious racism. The Chinese people are the best example of unconscious racism because
they are racist not because they want to be nor would they admit it in the open but because they
unconsciously exhibit racial tendency unconsciously. I met people who claimed they hate racism
and racist and claimed it was bad for any human to be treated the way racist treat people of color
but carelessly say they cannot marry a person of color or unconsciously say blacks is ugly. Little
wonder why most reports claim the Chinese are not racist; this is because they are unaware of
their own racial tendency because it is buried deep down in their subconscious mind and can
only be exhibited unconsciously. It is worthy of note to say that the Dominative form of racism;
the blunt type of racism, have been done away with as people are becoming civilized and
exposed in this globalized world of ours. However, the subtle type of racism; the symbolic,
aversive and unconscious type of racism still exist and it is even more harmful and dangerous
than the former because only the people experiencing it knows what they are going through, the
racist and perhaps those around them may not know.
On the website, Marketus Presswood (2013) posted “A Minority in the
Middle Kingdom: My Experience Being Black in China”. I quote; “The Chinese media tends to
focus more on the generosity of the Chinese government towards Africa-a sore point among the
Chinese who feel their government is no doing enough for the Chinese themselves- and not on
the valuable natural resources gained or access to lucrative growth market for cheap Chinese
goods. Traditional standards for beauty in China have also shaped perceptions of black
foreigners in the country. In China, “whiteness” is seen as highly desirable traits for women….”
There is a saying in china that a beautiful girl is white, tall and slim; by implication, an ugly girl
is black….
According to a CNN report (2012), titled “Tinted Prejudice in China”, Gabrielle Jaff claimed that
reports of racism in china date back to the 60s when Africans where first welcomed into China to
study. It recorded that in 1988, a group of 300 mobs broke into an African student dormitory at
Nanjing University and destroyed their belongings while chanting “down with the black devils”.
Although the case is slightly different now as there are many Africans schooling and living in
china, however, in the report, Barry Sautman a professor of social sciences at the Hong Kong
University of Science and Technology who specializes in the issue of race in China, claimed that
even in cities where there are lots of black people, most Chinese still have little or no contact
with them and rather allowing the media to shape their ideas about blacks. He went further to say
the media is not helping as they paint Africa as a “House of Horror, with a huge number of
people dying from diseases, wars and extremely high crime rate” CNN (2012).
Racism always create problems for the countries where they occur, likewise, Unconscious
racism, it has had largely negative effects on China‘s relations with people of color but it mostly
psychologically and mentally affect people of color (especially Africans). Racism seems to be a
major challenge in China‘s effort to develop and the presence of unconscious racism has
worsened the already threatening social situation of the country, this is because most Chinese
believe they are not racist while in fact, they harbor unconscious racism. This is supported by
Marketus (2013) claim that it is difficult to get a job as a person of color in China, and the
undying love of the Chinese for whiteness, makes those with dark skin feel insecure and inferior
or unaccepted. It is therefore important to prove the presence of unconscious racism in China and
the extent of the impact of Unconscious Racism on China‘s relations with people of color, and
select from the plethora of suggested solutions to the situation by various observers, the most
effective strategy to be employed by the Chinese government, people of color and indeed the
international community in countering the manifestation of unconscious racism consciously.
The aim of this study is to examine the impact of Unconscious racism on persons of color
(mostly Africans) and on the relationship between Africans and Chinese. This is with the view to
suggest measures towards improving the views of different people in the study area.
The objectives of this study therefore, are;
1. To examine Unconscious racism and it manifestation
2. To establish the presence of unconscious racism in China
3. To identify the most effective conscious tactic(s) to be employed by the
Chinese government, people of color and the international community as a
whole, in tackling unconscious racism.
1. What is unconscious racism and how does it manifest?
2. What are the evidence that there is unconscious racism in China
3. What are the necessary strategies to be considered for discontinuing unconscious racism
in China?
Since the ascendance of Barrack Obama into the Whitehouse, several scholars and writers are of
the view that racism, in all its forms, have been finally laid to rest in the grave of history. My
experience in China as a person of color, introduce me to a different kind of racism; the
unconscious type. This type, I realize is more devastating and painful than the former; the
conscious type. Having experienced it first hand, I am determine to expose this unnoticed form
of racism and the devastating effect it has on those experiencing it as well as create awareness.
The essence of this study therefore, is to infer from the understanding of the concepts that racism
still exist especially in China in a subtle form, and to expose the evil of unconscious racism on
people of color (Africans) and suggest the most effective and efficient measures which ought to
be adopted by the internationally committee in its task of maintaining peace in the world by
putting an end to racism even in the subtle form, and the increasingly negative impact it has on
people of color(Africans).
This study focuses on Racism in China. The research will cover key areas in Africa-China
relations which include the economy, political and cultural sectors. However, the research will be
limited to the manifestation of unconscious racism in China in the 21st century.
The temporal scope of this study encompasses the Chinese relations with African and by
implication, people of color in the 21stcentury; it has therefore limited itself to the study of
unconscious racism experienced by People of Color (Africans in particular) in China. The spatial
scope includes the entire China, although much emphasis is placed on Hangzhou city, a city in
the Southeastern part of China. Hangzhou is the place where most of the research was carried
The main limitation of this study is the inability to gain access to many individuals, face to
face, who have been directly affected, or fallen victim of unconscious racism. This is because,
apart from the fact that unconscious racism is hard to be identify by the racist, which makes
unconscious racist unaware of their racial tendencies, it is nearly impossible to see people who
are willing to share their experiences-only for few close friends- because they think perhaps they
were only being too sensitive and emotional. Another limitation to this study is that, as
aforementioned, there are very little and conflicting data on various aspects of unconscious
racism such as the: actual meaning of unconscious racism, if unconscious racism is the same as
aversive racism or subconscious racism, if not what is the difference, and the best way by which
unconscious racism can be stopped.
1.7 Organization of Study
This project is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is the introduction, and contains
the background to the study, statement of problem, objective of study, research question and
hypothesis, scope and limitation, organization of study and definition of terms. The second
chapter is the literature review, and is made up of the conceptual clarifications and theoretical
frameworks. Chapter three is the research methodology, and includes the research design,
research population, sample and sampling technique, research instruments, validity and
reliability of instruments, methods of data collection, and data analysis technique. Chapter four is
the data analysis, and includes the analysis of primary data and all data collected, description of
research instruments used in the analysis and why each is used for the purpose it is used for,
summary of data analysis and the result achieved. Chapter five encompasses the summary of
findings, discussion, conclusion and recommendations.
1.8 Definition of Terms
It is important to briefly examine some terms peculiar to the proposed project. These
terms are: unconscious racism, aversive racism, Person of color, implicit measure, implicit
association test and subliminal priming, et cetera.
Unconscious Racism: Unconscious racism can refer to one‘s inability to perceive the racial
implications of one‘s action, perceive the causes of racially biased behavior, or subjectively note
one‘s own racist attitudes (Hart and James, 2008).
Aversive Racism: sympathize with victims of past injustice, support principles of racial equality,
and genuinely regard themselves as non-prejudiced, but at the same time possess conflicting,
often non-conscious, negative feelings and beliefs about Blacks that are rooted in basic
psychological processes that promote racial bias (Adam R. Pearson, John F. Dovidio and Samuel
L. Gaertner, 2009)
Person of color: is a term that was employed to make people stand and fight against racism
irrespective of their specific tribal, ethnic, regional and racial group (Roger and Bowman, et al).
In other words, it a term that bring people who are being oppressed because of the color of their
skin under one umbrella of unity irrespective of country or nationality.
Implicit measure: an indirect measure that does not require declarative knowledge of one‘s
standing on the construct being assessed (Hart and James, 2008).
Implicit association test (IAT): an experimental method designed to measure the strength of
associations linking social categories (e.g., blacks versus whites) to descriptive or evaluative
anchors (e.g., good versus bad) (Hart and James, 2008).
Subliminal priming: the process of activating a stimulus or concept outside of conscious
awareness (Hart and James, 2008).
Critical race theorists not only attempt to comprehend how society divides itself along racial
boundaries and hierarchies, but they also endeavor to revolutionize the status quo by centralizing
race and racism in their scholarship and activism (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001 as cited by Siok


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