“Coming Black to Asia” is the seventh chapter in Walt Goodridge’s captivating travel expose, Jamaican in China, and focuses on some of the fears and misconceptions of Black men traveling to the Far East. Like the rest of the book, it is a compelling read, and I certainly would recommend it to other Black men that are interested in traveling to China. The question remains, however, whether the findings of the good Mr. Goodridge are indeed true.
There seems to be a rift in the Black male expat community when it comes to life in East Asia. There are those of us that say that countries like Japan, China, and South Korea are highly racist, White-worshiping, and stringently anti-Black. On the other hand, there are those that may have gotten a taste of püh, or read a book talking about how the original dynasties in China were Black, and believe that we are well-received and treated even better than White guys in these countries. Mr. Goodridge leans more towards the latter party, in contrast to personalities such as Loser Laowai. Which side is correct?
Let us examine some of the points and claims made by Mr. Goodridge, keeping in mind that his travels in this book took place between 2009 and 2012:
“When it comes to travel guides, make sure you know who’s talking!”
This advice is spot-on. Most travel guides and “pick up chicks in country X” guides are indeed written by and for Whites. It is not their job, nor is it in their better interests to mention any positive interactions that Black men may have. We must also keep in mind that many of them want to maintain their “playground” and want to see Black men continue to exist as failures. In other words, as Sun Tzu’s Art of War advises, they want to demoralize us to the point that they win by default when we do not show up. The numerous tales from White guys going on about how Asians hate Black people may indeed be propaganda to keep us, their eternal enemies, out of the Game.
It is quite funny that Mr. Goodridge mentions HappierAbroad as a “great site” in this section of the book. Having lurked that forum before, HappierAbroad is filed with the very same types of White guys that would downplay the possibility of a Black man’s success in Asia, along with outright racists. I certainly wouldn’t advise that site, at least not in 2015 and beyond, to Black men that want anything beyond a little bit of objective information and knowledge about the mindsets of some of the other expats that you may encounter.
“You are perceived as the epitome of masculinity.”
We are indeed portrayed as athletic and hyper-masculine, but for the average Brotha that just wants to teach English and go to a few parties here and there, this might do more harm than good. We are seen as athletic, not capable of intelligence or elegance, which nets the lion’s share of money for Whites and other non-Blacks in teaching, modeling, entrepreneurship, and more. Occasionally, it might net us some fetish girls or girls that want to try something new, but as far as overall living, this image is not very helpful for the average Black man. If there is a way to capitalize off of it though, then we might as well.
“There is an intriguing fascination with ‘things Black’”
I would say that this was indeed true of Japan in the previous decade, but as of 2015, I have to disagree. Black-esque music is indeed popular, but Black faces are not presenting it much in popular Asian culture, and those that look like us are certainly not profiting from it. Also, with Obama leaving office in 2016 (and serving as the Black face to White Western hegemony), we cannot rely on him for the tiny bit of value that our image may have gained due to him holding the office. The heavyweight champion of the world at this time is not even Black. Looks like we dropped the ball, and its going to be on us to pick it up.
In some locales, Blacks do indeed have a bad reputation due to the behaviors of some, on top of the global media and disdain that others have towards us. This is something to be mindful of, and I am glad that Mr. Goodridge addressed this fact. We are not the only group that has put bad tastes in the mouths of locals, but other races, especially super-duper White guys, seem to get away with a whole lot more than we can. Have fun, but don’t do the dumb-dumb.
“It’s [the fascination that women have with Black men] not something anyone else will tell you unless you’re part of the affected group.”
There is probably truth to this statement and its supporting arguments. Mainstream society is not going to promote what love Black men do get in Asia, as rare as it may be. I disagree with Mr. Goodridge’s 50% claim; it is likely 1% at best that are fascinated with Blacks, and 10% that might entertain the idea of being with us. In terms of the Chinese population those numbers are huge though, if one can manage to find them.
“As more countries get pulled into the paradigm of corporate capitalism and consumerism, and as more corporations get a foot-hold in countries like China, it will be vitally important to control out own images.”
This is one of the most critical statements in this chapter, and perhaps in the entire book for Black men interested in going to Asia. This is where we dropped the ball, and why many of the positive experiences that Mr. Goodridge and others may have experienced seem to be few and far in between for Black travelers to China today. We’re in for a struggle here, but it is better late than never if we ever do get our act together.
“You are at a distinct advantage as a result of coming Black to Asia!”
This quotation will likely draw its context based upon the individual and their goals. Compared to other races, I would not say that a Black man has an advantage anywhere in Asia. However, compared to one denying themselves of the chance to give Asia a try, if that is what they so desire, then going to Asia certainly is advantageous. It is up to the individual to forge a path and carve out their niche. Loser Laowai comes to mind once again, as China certainly has given him a new lease on life based on his American Nightmare audiobook series. The call of adventure, business, and lovely women has caught my ear too, and despite the slings and arrows, and comparatively lowly position of the Black man, I am glad to be embarking on another trip to China, where at least I will be better than I was yesterday (hopefully).
I am not trying to sound negative, nor am I trying to deny any of the pleasures that Mr. Goodridge has written about. Other Black men that I know, as well as yours truly, have experienced much of the same, but there certainly were bad times too. His experiences are his, and ours are ours. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.
At the end of the day, the purpose of this post is not to deter Black men from going to Asia. At the time of this writing, I am planning on returning to Mainland China. I just want to shed light, or perhaps shade, upon the issue. I want Black men to realize that it isn’t going to be “all fun and bitches,” for most of us, like some people seem to believe or insinuate.
Maybe there is a secret world that I am completely unaware of, but last I checked, Black men faced challenges that other races do not have to face, and most of these challenges don’t go away after passing through customs in Asia.
I urge you to go to Asia if it is on your itinerary of life, but go knowing that you are in for a fight. Fight the good fight to the best of your ability. Fight to win.
If you are interested in reading Jamaican in China, you can purchase it on Amazon.
You can read more about the lessons in this book here.