Fingers have been pointed at China in recent times by global media for what appears to be tone-deaf racism populated with cultural stereotypes in the country.
A few days ago, similar accusations were framed against the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, for a racist exhibit. Titled “This Is Africa”, the photography exhibition included displayed portraits of black Africans juxtaposed with images of wild animals. The photographs were taken by Yu Huiping, an award-winning photographer and vice-chairman of the Hubei Photographers Association, whose aim was to “give visitors a sense of ‘primitive life’ in Africa through the interplay of humans, animals and nature.”
The “offensive” section of the exhibit, which comprised a dozen photos from a total of 150 photographs exhibited, was captured in a video (above) by a Nigerian visitor, Edward Duke, who noticed the inappropriate flavour of the photographs. After his social media post gained traction and sparked outrage, Africans across the globe, including several living in China, started to speak against the exhibition.
Wang Yuejun, the museum curator, claimed that the comparison between people and animals is seen as a compliment in Chinese culture, and that the exhibition was, contrary to being discriminatory, trying to show the harmony between man and animal in Africa.
“In Chinese proverbs, animals are always used for admiration and compliment,” he told the The New York Times. Still, the pictures were promptly removed and replaced by the museum to show respect for people’s concerns. “To show our goodwill and sincerity, we have replaced the photos that our African friends find shocking,” Wang Yuejun told AFP.