I haven’t been single in a long time, so I’m not used to such a forward greeting. While I was walking down the street unmolested before, I was now the center of attention.
She obviously meant it to be a compliment, and I took it as such. Then, the journalist in me wanted to interview her about her “sweet dark” comment: But then I figured she probably didn’t start talking to me to initiate a cultural exchange. “Have a good night,” I said and continued on my way, laughing to myself that being black in China had so far led me to get tagged with a name that sounds like a 1970s porn star: “Sweet Dark Goes to China: Putting the ‘Shag’ in ‘Shanghai.’” The next day, the moment I’d been told about finally came to be: I got mobbed by curious passers-by. I was about to cross the street to the riverside promenade when a group of guys approached me; one held up his phone and said, “Picture? It was as if I was the target of a Chinese flash mob.
Maybe the locals had seen him as the fearsome Marsellus Wallace in “Pulp Fiction” and decided not to mess with him.
Dating black men tips
I should also embrace the opportunity to learn something myself.
I plan to do just that on every future trip, whether I’m “the only one around” or not.
Everyone was friendly, and the whole experience was remarkably pleasant.
Maybe if I had to deal with it every minute of every day, I’d be going all Kanye West on them. Because now, my impressions of a country, a city and its people are no longer informed by any articles I’d read, rumors I’d heard or experiences shared by friends. An admittedly incomplete experience, yes, but it’s still my own.
The first thing that struck me was how before I’d even opened my mouth to speak, everyone I met — from the driver who picked me up at the airport to the people I rode in hotel elevators with — seemed to immediately peg me as an American.
Perhaps they don’t get many Africans, European blacks or black Latinos there, so “American” was the default.I did, however, get some attention from the young women who hung out around the streets surrounding my hotel.As I walked by, these ladies — sometimes in pairs and sometimes alone — would go to great lengths to get my attention. But on one occasion, a pretty 20-something stepped in front of me and said in halting English, “You’re a sweet dark.” That one stopped me in my tracks. Soon, other people on the street — men and women, young and old — joined in to snap pictures with me.The issue came up when I told my mother about my upcoming trip.“Be sure to wear a mask,” she told me, obviously having heard about China’s notorious air pollution problems.But spending 20 minutes as paparazzi bait was a blast. And I learned that, yes, being black in China can draw attention to yourself.