Browncast Episodes 121 & 122: Desi-Rae, heterodox Jamaican American, and Anthony, a black American in China

14 Comments

Two new BP Podcast episodes are up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify,  and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

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First, we talked to Desi-Rae, a Jamaican American woman who has some heterodox views. Her views on race in Jamaica and the United States, relationships, and the fallout from being so vocal. I apologize that my mic was very low on this episode.

Next, I talk to Anthony, a black American who worked in China. We talk about Chinese perceptions of blackness, his daughter, who is half-Chinese, and the prospects for the China-USA relationship.

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14 Replies to “Browncast Episodes 121 & 122: Desi-Rae, heterodox Jamaican American, and Anthony, a black American in China”

  1. Is Anthony the one and the same Collin Spears who answers occasionally on Quora? His posts there are quite detailed, interesting guy!

  2. I thought Anthoy’s description of more overt race driven remarks and less legal protections in China, but also less deep seated hostility against black people was spot on.

    Also I don’t know much about this topic, but the Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims sounds atrocious.

    Makes even the excesses of Hindutva in India seem downright milquetoast by comparison.

    To be honest, even sounds worse than Pakistan’s treatment of Hindus.

  3. Anthony here…

    The treatment of Uyghurs is horrific.
    They even have forced home stays where they force Uyghurs (and ethnic Kazakhs) to accept strange Han men (rumor is they are ex-cons) to stay at Uyghur homes to “civilize them” and “report on their un-Chinese habits”.

    This sound like a bad totalitarian nightmare, worse than the Soviet Union, more like a bad dytopian novel. Foreign Policy did a write up on it (no firewalls URL) – https://archive.vn/GJXE8

    As I told Razib, ”
    I also wish I would have given my best analogy for Xinjiang. Imagine that to solved the Irish Troubles, the British government put 1/5-1/4 of Catholic Irish in concentration camps to get the ‘Irish’ out of them and make them into proper civilized “Englishmen once and for all”.

    Remember the Chinese government admits most of these people are not “criminals”, they have not been tried in a court (not that it would matter, the judges belong to the CCP). No they are being put in these camps simply because they don’t act Han enough and that is seen as a threat to Chinese national security.

    1. Anthony,

      Do you think the outcome of this will really be the Uighurs letting go of their culture? This kind of oppression has historically led to the opposite effect, they would be even more determined to preserve their culture but in private.

      China’s life expectancy is over 75 now, many of the men and women in labour camps today who are in their 20’s will live well past 2070, as for the children of some of the detained, they’d live into the 2100s. Eventually, the stories will come out, what will the world reaction be then? Do the Chinese plan to keep them in concentration camps over the next 50 years, will they remain an authoritarian state that long?

      1. Ronen:

        Well often what happens in these situations, those who refuse to assimilate publicly get executed, exiled, or die in prison. I’m not just talking about in China, but generally, because you are right, you can’t just stamp out culture in those that have it, but I think the CCP believes you can stop it from being transmitted to the next generation.

        There are literally 1 billion Han, whereas in Xinjiang there are 12 million Uyghurs and 2 million Kazakhs. China has slowly but steadily been moving Han people to Xinjiang for decades. Today Han are about 40% of the population.

        I believe strongly the government wants to make it like Inner Mongolia, which currently is less than 20% Mongol. When you are such a small population you are far easier to control.

        The stories have already come out and China seems to not care so much. They just lie and say “that isn’t so, these are work programs…” No one is going to stop trading with China. ChIna is too big to fail, as it is too key to too many nations supply chains, and the fear of losing out on the Chinese market is too big. Wu Tang Clan said it best “Cash Rules Everything Around Me”.

        You have Arab states, Iran, and even Turkey ignore this issue. Some of these nations will have mass protests if a Jewish Israeli passes gas in Palestinian territory, but China trying to annihilate Muslims? Crickets. They are all in debt to China for infrastructure.

        I think it is possible to annihilate an ethnic group culturally, especially if you take their kids and raise them as Han. If you can flip enough Uyghur people, then you can have them report on and police each other, and you don’t even need Han people to do it. I’m not sure this will be successful, mainly because Uyghurs usually look physically different from Han (not Kazakhs), so complete genetic assimilation seems unlikely, but cultural annihilation? I’m not hopeful for the Uyghurs and Kazakhs.

  4. Razib: What is the age range of Desi-Rae? Maybe it is my bias, but whenever I hear people taking libertarianism seriously they are usually young, and usually white males. In this case I feel she is young, not just by how she sound. I’m not making a value judgement, just curious.

  5. islamist allies of China better be careful. debt traps and encroachment will lead to same thing in their lands like Uighurs

  6. Anthony, adored your perspective and would love to hear more from you on a variety of different topics. Can I ask you questions here?

    Desi-Rae,

    Loved your podcast and enjoy listening to your views. A question if I might:

    You are very attractive by:
    —hair
    —appearance
    —voice
    —accent
    —self confidence / character
    —sophistication
    —sweetness

    You likely have a better experience in America than the large majority of American woman and men across all ethinicities. Do you think this might explain why you have not suffered from bigotry (at least from non woke people) inside the USA?

    Another question:

    Jamaicans in the USA earn $52,669 per capita per year compared to the $47,663 per capita earned per year by English Americans:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_United_States_by_household_income#By_ancestry
    What accounts for this Jamaican outperformance?

    Third question: (applies to Anthony too)

    How would you improve the US education system?

  7. Anthony,

    How would you improve the US K-12 education system? What can the US education system customize based on observation of the Chinese primary education system?

    Within China;

    How do Chinese view Indonesians? How do they view Vietnamese? Indians? Pakistanis? Iranians? Turks? Gulf Arabs? Latin Americans? Nigerians? North Africans?

    1. AnAn:

      I think the Chinese education system, at least the better primary schools in the big cities, can produce students with stronger fundamentals in various subjects, mainly because they have A LOT of homework and difficult tests. They also post student grades for everyone to see (to shame bad students). This is all to prepare to get into a secondary school that can track you for university, then for the university entrance exam, the Gaokao. 50% of Chinese students will never go to a university of any rating, no matter how hard they try. That is the way the system is designed. There are more people than resources, and more educated people than high paying jobs – stakes are high.

      Obviously I think it is well know that China and much of East Asia struggle when it comes to other areas of education, so it is not “all or nothing”, maybe there could be more of a balance on both side of the Pacific.

      Read more about that here: https://stanfordpress.typepad.com/blog/2015/11/flunking-out-in-china.html

      In regard to how Chinese see the various ethnic groups you mentioned. Most Chinese have not travelled abroad, China is not an immigrant nation, 50% of Chinese live in rural area where foreigners are not common, especially non-East Asian or white foreigners. So…the average Chinese…?

      Vietnamese – no opinion than the stereotype they may have about Southeast Asian non-Muslims…generally they are poor, darker skinned, may have pretty beaches, etc.

      Indians? Pakistanis? Iranians? Turks? Gulf Arabs? – I doubt most Chinese can differentiate if the Indian is a north Indian. They might have some stereotypes about India, but most Chinese think about India far less than the other way around. India is usually thought of as dirty, chaotic, and potentially dangerous, but also having a long history, and some cultural sophistication, and smart people – as compared to like…people in Africa.

      Chinese don’t compare themselves to India they compare themselves to the United States. Right now many probably think India is a trouble maker due to the border disputes and Pakistan are friends. Generally Chinese are skeptical or negative to outwardly religious people – especially Muslims – but they likely won’t show it to your face – especially not in a language they think you can understand. Generally many Chinese will see these nation as poor, dark skinned, potentially full of religious fanatics, or hostile to China.

      Latin Americans? – It depends on how the Latin American looks? If they look European they will be stereotyped as any white person, same for an Afro-Latino who is dark skinned being stereotyped as an African. The Mestizos, light skinned mulattoes, etc. I think most Chinese will not have a clue where they are from and might be indifferent or various curious about them. They might make wild assumptions, like “they are some type of Southeast Asian, Arab, Central Asian, etc”.

      Nigerians? – They are black Africans, so very dark, poor, in China as students, traders, illegal immigrants, dirty, or potentially criminals- generally not useful, more like “parasites”. Obviously though this depends on the Chinese person…

      North Africans – see comments above about Arabs and similar folks

      Historically Chinese tend to associate dark skin with being rural, poor, dirty, blue collar outdoor laborer…so…this stereotype gets extended out…unless they know otherwise. These opinions are not written in stone, Chinese don’t have strong innate hatred of foreigners. It is more a light form of xenophobia. Opinions can be changed on an individual basis with most folks.

      1. “Generally Chinese are skeptical or negative to outwardly religious people – especially Muslims – but they likely won’t show it to your face – especially not in a language they think you can understand.”

        Do you find most contemporary Chinese people to be pretty atheistic, completely disconnected from any religious tradition, or do many/most of them still maintain some sort of soft cultural/emotional attachment to Chinese folk religion, Buddhism, Taoism, etc?

        In all your time in China, how many Christians did you run into? What was the general perception of Christians/Christianity amongst non-Christian Chinese?

        1. I find most Chinese (everywhere) to be more superstitious than religious per se or more ritual focused for the sake of respect, than religiously devout, if that makes sense.

          I didn’t run into any known Christians in China. I ran into several Muslims, obviously ethnic minorities. Chinese generally do not discuss religion in China, unless specifically asked about it. So I may have met a Christian Chinese person but did not know. Christians are estimated to be about 40 million? Well there are literally 1 billion Han Chinese, so Christians only make up 4%…so unless actually looking for one, I doubt I would meet one.

  8. Anthony,

    Love your informative comment. We 100% agree with education for the bottom 50% of Chinese (maybe more like bottom 55% . . . I love data) and I have heard similar observations from many, including teachers.

    However, I think China’s education system is exceptionally good for the top 45%, albeit with a ton of customization I would add if I were dictator. I think the US education system for the top 1/3 of K-12 should heavily borrow from Chinese best practices.

    BTW, wrote this very boring piece on math education if you want something to read while falling asleep:
    https://www.brownpundits.com/2019/12/19/american-caste-b/

    The Brown Pundits would love to interview someone who can speak to the Chinese education system (for the top 45%) and what the US can learn from it. Do you have any suggestions?

    Separately, I think China needs to introduce far more vocational training for people who don’t do great on the Gaokao, and the HSEE? For example for children whose cognitive abilities are in the bottom 20% of the distribution.

    I also think China needs a work around for kids who have test taking anxiety. For example offer each Gaokao subject twice (the second time being two weeks after the first one.) This is a very incomplete remedy, but better than nothing. Soon AI will allow an unlimited number of Gaokao exams for students (where only their best score per subject counts. This would allow kids to sequentially study for and take each test seperately.

    I think China should also implement mass Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Accupuncture (all ancient Toaist sciences) aimed at improving physical health, mental health and intelligence for kids. Other modalities of exercise, stretching, breathing, music (brain sound therapy), and meditative activities too.

    I also think Chinese university admissions should heavily weight a student’s artistic and sports talent in admission alongside the Gaokao (I love standardized tests).

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