Chinese media is back in the spotlight after an Asian actress appeared in blackface with her buttocks padded during a comedy routine on China’s biggest Lunar New Year TV show.
According to the BBC, the skit, expectedly, drew backlash across the globe, given that the annual state media show is wildly popular and can have up to 800 million viewers.
The sketch started with a group of African dancers in tribal attire, as well as people dressed as zebras, giraffes, lions and other animals. The skit then starts where a young black woman—who is actually played by a black actor —asks a Chinese man to pose as her husband to meet her mother. The actress who played her mother, however, appeared to be an Asian woman, also decked out in a traditional outfit, with a large fake butt and blackface makeup. She carried a fruit plate on her head and was followed by another actor dressed as a monkey, carrying a basket on his back.
The sketch was part of the four-hour CCTV New Year Gala, which is believed to be the most watched program in the world. The sketch was apparently meant to praise the relationship between Africa and China, noting how much Africans benefit from Chinese investment, and how grateful Africans are.
At one point the “mother” actor commented on how much she loves China, according to the BBC.
This is not the first time China has come under fire for racial insensitivity or racism.
About two years ago, a commercial for Qiaobi laundry detergent drew backlash and criticism after the ad for the brand showed a black man being “washed” and turned into a light-skinned Asian man.
There was also a case last year where makers of the country’s most popular chat app apologized after software translated the words “black foreigner” to the word “nigger.”
And let’s not forget the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, which had to take down a section of its “This Is Africa” exhibit, which included side-by-side photographs of black people and animals showing similar expressions.
At the end of the day, anti-blackness and racism are still a worldwide issue, and China is (still and once again) showing that it has a lot of work to do.