Imagine a photography exhibit showcasing photos of Black people from Africa next to photos of wild animals. What if we told you that exhibit actually existed? It did, at the Hubei Provincial Museum in China. It was called “This Is Africa” and it included a picture of a young boy next to a chimp with both their mouths agape because, “art.”
Of course, considering the location, it’s not all that surprising. Remember that laundry detergent ad where an Asian woman pushed a Black man into a washing machine and he came out as a fair-skinned Chinese man? And on Thursday, WeChat, a popular social app in China, issued an apology after its software translated a word that commonly means “black foreigner” to the n-word.
“Casual” racism is a typical occurrence in China, but according to exhibit curator Wang Yuejun, comparisons between people and animals were meant to be a compliment.
“In Chinese proverbs, animals are always used for admiration,” Wang told The New York Times. He added that once he was aware that the pictures, taken by photographer Yu Huiping, “hurt the feelings of the African tribespeople,” the photos were removed to “show respect for our African friends’ opinions.”
Too little too late?
Check out footage from the exhibit below.