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The Reappearance of Blackface on China’s Most Popular New Year’s TV Program Sparks Angry Debate

Ethnically-Chinese wearing blackface to depict Africans in this year's CCTV Spring Festival Gala TV show.

The use of blackface for the second time in just three years to depict Africans on CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala program broadcast last Thursday, provoked a heated debate on social media networks around the world over the weekend. The program is one of China’s most popular television shows, watched by a reported billion people. 

Outside of China, the conversations on Twitter, Facebook, and the new social audio platform Clubhouse focused largely on the sense of disappointment and anger that this happened again. The sense among many of those engaged in the discussions was that the producers did not listen to the complaints after the first such incident in 2018. Coming less than a year after widespread instances of anti-Black discrimination in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, this latest episode of cultural insensitivity is seen as representing a trend of anti-Black, anti-African discrimination in China.

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