Once upon a time, an American whom I met for the first time asked me, “What’s the weather like in China?” Honestly, I appreciated his effort to try to strike a conversation with this Chinese woman in front of him, who obviously posed as an uncharted territory in his social landscape. I wasn’t offended at all, but still, I couldn’t help but said, “Well, China is a bit bigger than DeKalb County, you see.” Then I shrugged, raised the tip of one eyebrow, and curved the corners of my lips downward, an expression that said “Hey, I appreciate your curiosity, but I really can’t help you on this one man.” (And I was aware that neither my sarcasm nor my exaggerated gesture necessarily shouted “Chinese!”)
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Americans who don’t know much about my country or culture. Unlike some others, I don’t think there is an absolute moral obligation for Americans to understand Chinese culture or Chinese people. In fact, there are plenty of Chinese who don’t know much about America, except for what they saw on American movies and reality TV, oh, and from the very “selective” news coverage on Chinese national television. But for those who are interested in knowing more about China, I often feel sad. Pervasive as media are today, I find it difficult to get a picture of China that’s a little more than caricature. Unfortunately, American or Chinese mainstream media are very often quite inadequate or even misleading (although maybe in different directions). As someone who stands in a space between America and China, I often find myself caught in the crossfires of under-representation and misrepresentation of China and Chinese people from American and Chinese media. And I don’t like it a bit.
Now, I’m not going to pose myself as an expert on China just because I’m a Chinese national, nor will I speak for the Chinese people. That argument is as sound as Glenn Beck, or anybody for that matter, speaking for “Americans.” My only intent for this blog is to show Americans some “other” pictures of China, pictures with messy details, discordant colors, and inconsistent perspectives, pictures that are not seen by most Americans. This blog will be dedicated to topics Chinese people are talking about in social media, alternative news websites, or online communities, topics that reveal what they love, fear, despise, aspire, and more. I hope you’ll enjoy them, despite or because of their messiness.