Friday, August 1, 2008

Animated discussions

On skin color

Waking up, I find myself in front of a small hotel Liu Jia had reserved for three o’clock a few meters away from the train station so that we could shower and prepare our long journey by train. I shower and since I’m really hungry dad asks Yang Dong and Liu Jia to have dinner with me while he stays in the hotel to recharge all the batteries, phones, computers and cameras, like he does every night. During dinner we talk with the waitress. She has tanned skin like the Ouigour; I ask her if she is one and she answers that she’s from Sichuan. So I ask Liu Jia if all the women from Sichuan are tanned, and she answers: “No, they’re beautiful”. Since I don’t understand the link between “dark skinned” and “ugly”, I ask her what she means by that. She tells me that for her, the white skinned are beautiful and not the dark skinned. Since I’m more tanned than she is, it comes across as a racist insult and I tell her angrily that in France, the price is high for a comment like that. Then, to justify herself she says that I didn’t understand her, that in China one prefers to be white and go out with a tanned man because that means he works hard. If we read between the lines, it means the same thing, but I pretend to accept what she says. I still tell her that if she says that in France she’ll have to pay a lot of money and without understanding the message, she thanks me.

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