UPDATE 12/22/09:

CNN has posted a new article and video on Lou Jing, “TV Talent Show Exposes China’s Race Issue”:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/12/21/china.race/index.html

UPDATE 11/17/09 to original post on 10/1/09:

A newer article appeared in an Australian newspaper with an updated interview with Lou Jing. She says,  that she “was shocked by the thousands of web postings that followed, most of them negative and many of them expressing racist views.

“I couldn’t help crying. I felt hurt. I never meant to offend anyone,” she said.”

Read the full article here:

“Oriental Angel” triggers China race row

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Sharon found this fascinating article about a mixed race contestant in an American Idol-esque TV show in Shanghai. Besides being mixed race, the catch is that the contestant, Lou Jing, was not mixed with white, but mixed with brown. Here’s some excerpts from the TIME article. -JCD

Lou Jing

Lou Jing

Can a Mixed-Race Contestant Become a Chinese Idol?

…But there is one thing that distinguishes this 20-year-old from her peers, something that has made her the unwitting focus of an intense public debate about what exactly it means to be Chinese: the color of her skin. Born to a Chinese mother and an African-American father whom she has never met, the theater student rocketed into the public consciousness last month when she took part in an American Idol-esque TV show, Go! Oriental Angel.

The marketing gurus for the series could hardly have dreamed of a better promotional gimmick when they started to investigate the backgrounds of the dozens of pop-star wannabes to root out the competitors’ mushy stories of triumph over adversity that are a well-worn staple of the genre. Here was a tale guaranteed to attract eyeballs: a girl of mixed race, brought up by a single Chinese mother, struggling to gain acceptance in a deeply conservative, some would say racist, society.

The strategy worked — perhaps too well. In August, Lou’s appearance on the show not only boosted viewer numbers but also sparked an intense nationwide debate about the essential meaning of being Chinese. Over the past month on Internet chat rooms, where modern China’s sensitive issues are thrashed out by netizens long before they reach the heavily censored mainstream media, Lou’s ethnicity has been the subject of a relentless barrage of criticism, some of it crudely racist. Many think she should not have been allowed to compete on a Chinese show, or at least not selected to represent Shanghai in the national competition. She doesn’t have fair skin, which is one of the most important factors for Chinese beauty. What’s more, her mother and her biological father were never married; morally, the argument goes, this kind of behavior shouldn’t be publicized, so she shouldn’t have been put on TV as a young “idol.”

…As for Lou, she found the whole experience more than a little disturbing. She did well in the show, ranking in the top 30 contestants before she was eliminated. Now she’s back to her normal life as a college junior — with a little new insight into her home. “Through this competition, it’s really scary to find out how the color of my skin can cause such a big controversy.”

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