Lunar New Year: Chinese TV gala includes 'racist blackface' sketch | 2018-02-16

Lunar New Year: Chinese TV gala includes 'racist blackface' sketch

Sun Online Desk

16th February, 2018 02:35:57 printer

Lunar New Year: Chinese TV gala includes 'racist blackface' sketch



A skit on China's biggest Lunar New Year TV show has sparked widespread criticism and accusations of racism.


In a comedy routine celebrating Chinese-African ties an Asian actress appears in blackface and with exaggerated buttocks.


Using make-up to lampoon black people - a practice known as blackface - is seen by many as deeply offensive.


The annual state media variety show is hugely popular, and has up to 800 million viewers.


Some observers have pointed out that this sketch would not have been intended as offensive to Africans.


However, this is not the first time Chinese entertainment shows have caused controversy with their portrayals of other ethnicities.


The controversial sketch was part of the four-hour CCTV New Year Gala - also known as the Spring Festival Gala - which aired on Thursday night. By some estimates, the show is the most watched entertainment programme on earth.


The skit begins with a routine by a group of African dancers in "tribal" attire and people dressed up as zebras, giraffes, lions and antelopes. This is followed by a comedy skit where a young black woman asks a Chinese man to pose as her husband when meeting her mother.


While the young woman is played by a black actor, her mother appears to be an Asian actor in blackface make-up, donning a traditional outfit complete with huge fake buttocks.


She walks on stage carrying a fruit plate on her head and is accompanied by what is thought to be have been a black actor in a monkey suit, carrying a basket on his back.


The skit praises Chinese-African cooperation, showing how much Africans benefit from Chinese investment and how grateful they are to Beijing. At one stage, the character of the African mother exclaims how much she loves China.


China has over the past years stepped up investment into many African countries. The sketch was set around people working on the Nairobi-Mombasa railway project.


Europe's racist history


The notion of blackface being racist is linked to the history of minstrel shows in the US and Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries where white actors would paint their skin black for condescending portrayals of black people.


In China, the vast majority of people have no experience of interacting with black people and are less aware of Europe's and the US' history of slavery and racism, reports BBC.