On Wednesday, Feb. 28th and the last day of Black History Month, a crowd gathered at the Bookworm in Beijing to listen to and engage with a panel of 6 speakers on the topic: The Black Experience in China. This was what we hope will be the first of many collaborations with Africa 2.0!
For those of us who have been in China for a while, it’s no secret that being black is eye-catching here. Indeed, current data shows that the majority of Americans who study abroad are female white college students from the Northeast (iie.org). That being said, the experience of being black in China is complex and multi-faceted in its implications, and while conversations of complicated racial issues are being had in the U.S., they are harder to find in China. Furthermore, we must also consider that a large percentage of black people in China are members of the black diaspora. Currently, China is the second most popular study abroad destination for African students, and over the last five years, the Chinese government has granted 40,349 scholarships to African students (with 30,000 more planned to be disbursed in the next three years).
If we want to further mutual understanding we must strive to elevate black voices, and create a fuller picture of this complexity for Chinese; black people come from all over the world and can identify as American, African, Caribbean, European, etc. Creating spaces for black students, scholars, young professionals and community leaders to have dialogue on these topics are essential.
With a panel of interesting and talented speakers, the rousing discussion covering the history, representation in media, and challenges black people in China face, the event lasted well over three hours. See the panelist information and photos from the event below:
About the Panelists:
Aaliyah Bilal is a fiction/ non-fiction writer based in Shanghai. Previously she was a recipient of the Shansi Memorial Fellowship at Yunnan University where she conducted research among the Hui ethnic minority group. A graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, she is completing a book based on her experience as an African-American woman living in Asia.
Bright Eric Ohene is a Ghanaian from Akweapem Mampong, and born in Aveme Beme, Volta Region, Ghana, West Africa. He is the CEO of 49-57 Company Limited, Director of MY HOPE AFRICA. Eric started as a Biomedical Scientist after graduating from University of Ghana (Legon), Accra, Ghana. He is medical consultant (cardiothoracic surgeon). He is currently completing a PhD and fellowship program in the Department of Integrated Cardiovascular Medicine, Beijing Anzhen Hospital, CMU.
Eric is an active member of United Nations Peace Forum, former West Africa Universities Students’ Chairman of International Youth Fellowship (IYF), member of the United Nations Development (UNDP) and first black member of Chinese Volunteers Association. He won the outstanding Foreign Personality Award 2013 (Liaoning province). Eric is a conference speaker, songwriter (over 300 songs) and visiting medical scholar Ventspils, Valmiera, Paul Stradins Hospitals in Latvia and other hospitals in Baltic regions. Eric believes in making the world better through self improvement.
Areystophenes M. De Sadier IV (“Areys”) is an Economics, Politics and Law Instructor at The Affiliated High School of Peking University. Areys has lived in China for 7 years. Having grown tired of the corporate and mundane life, Areys moved to a town of 1.5 million people in 2011 where he was the only foreigner in town and the first black person many in the town had ever seen. Having enjoyed that positive experience, he decided to move again and finally made Beijing his new home. He is a fan of globalization and the freedom it brings.
Freda L. Humber arrived in China a little over 3.5 years ago ‘on a wing and a prayer’ to teach and try to make a difference in the lives of children near and far. In 2014, she worked for Dreamaker Drama Academy- Teacher- Lead teacher of two Sites, Beijing BISS International School Expressive Arts Teacher and Executive Member of Black Women Beijing with the mission to inspire, educate and motivate black women in Beijing.
She was born on the north side of Houston, US to two loving parents. She holds a BFA, MBA, and MEd. She has often been told she was born to perform but thinks her gift is to teach, inspire, and educate.She taught school in for 6 years in one of the lowest economic areas in the 5th largest school district in the United States. She was also in the United States military 21.5 years AF reserves Activated after 9-11. MSgt- Security Forces.
Nayyir Shareef is a US native and one half of the co-founding forces behind Beijing-born Edutainment brand BLK GEN, the city known Creative Events Planning & Consultancy Group utilizing the arts to spread enriching awareness of the displaced, disadvantaged and misrepresented African-Diaspora.
With a professional background in the fields of Marketing & Finance, and a life long desire to affect positive change within his community, Nayyir along with BLK GEN co-founder, Leroy Adams established BLK GEN in January of 2016 set off with one mission, to enrich to empower. Along the way, BLK GEN has caught the attention of notable China media houses City Weekend Beijing, & The Beijinger among several other offshoots.
Leroy Adams is a US native, is one the co-founders of BLK GEN, a creative Edutainment brand founded in Beijing, China. As one to always search out opportunities for community engagement and impact Leroy, along with his friend created BLK GEN with the mission to enrich and inspire the community. With a love for culture, community and interest in international development Leroy worked with the Peace Corps, a U.S. organizations that specializes in grassroots development, where he headed several projects aimed at improving educational infrastructure and providing better health practices. Leroy is an avid reader and lover of people and hopes to continue to be a positive influence in the communities he lives.
The length, variety, and enthusiasm of questions from the guests was met with equal passion by the panelists, and the sheer wealth of knowledge in the room was astounding! We heard a variety of experiences positive, negative and everything in between. It was a fascinating and stimulating discussion that we hope to replicate in the near future. Don’t miss our next collaboration with Africa 2.o! See some photo highlights from the discussion below:
Thank you to all of the guests who came out and brought insightful questions and energy to the discussion. Special thanks to The Bookworm who was a wonderful and welcoming event host as always, and of course the amazing Africa 2.0 for their spectacular work arranging the speakers and the event plan. It was a very fun and constructive night and we hope to host a similar event again soon.
About Africa 2.0
Founded in 2010 around the belief that with a unifying vision and a focused “coalition of the willing”, Africans can accelerate the development of their continent. Africa 2.0 is a Pan-African Civil Society Organization made up of a community of emerging and established African leaders who share a collective vision for Africa and a commitment to finding and implementing sustainable solutions that will drive forward the transformation of the continent