A Chinese Version of African-American History


A play about the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr. has been produced in China, with an all-Chinese cast, except for some Black gospel singers.

A Chinese man played the role of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is where I insert a joke about cheap immigrant labor displacing African-Americans in the US workforce, but since the play took place in China…I’ll skip it. And, given the economic situation for African-Americans…it just wouldn’t be funny.

China has long since been a flagrant abuser of human rights and free-speech in its own country and has turned a blind eye to the social turmoil and genocide taking place in countries like the Sudan, with whom China is their most prominent trading partner. China is also making major inroads into most African countries (colonization) seeking to become Africa’s number one trading partner and exploiter of the vast wealth of minerals (and cheap labor) the continent has to offer.

Now it seems that the Chinese government has determined the Civil Rights Movement and MLK to be safe for the Chinese people. Which says to me the Civil Right’s Movement is thoroughly dead and its political legacy no longer a viable and effective form of social and political protest, especially in more modern and global times. We need a more radical movement; one with less focus on peaceful protest and non-violence. The oppressors are just not afraid of us!

— To the producers’ surprise, the play’s themes of civil rights and religion did not trigger any government censorship The play’s director, Wu Xiaojiang, says that young Chinese minds are increasingly open to these sensitive topics. “As China makes gradual progress in politics,” he says, “I think people will get a clearer understanding of this play’s message. They won’t simply reject it because they think it differs from China’s ideology. We may even find things worth borrowing for our own social advancement.”

On the other hand, I hope China does borrow some elements of the Civil Rights Movement and the teachings of Dr. King. One thing that did happen during this time was the humanizing of Black people, and if China is to colonize Africa, and if China is to further govern its own people, seeing them as fully human is crucial.