The sexualization of Blackness in China: Race, counter-images, and hypervisibility



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Encounters between Black women and citizens of China are marred by physical assaults, sexualization, and exoticism—masked as curiosity—and carried out physically through excessive photos and touching of their skin and hair. This study examines the hypervisibility and invisibility of Black women in China using iconographic tracking to examine how image events of Black women move and mean throughout China. An analysis of 100 descriptions of encounters between Black women and Chinese citizens recorded via social media platforms and web-based blogs. Black women in China experience hypervisibility in society and the media, but invisibility in research and laws for their protections, which can generate psychological distress. They respond in the following ways: (1) Did Nothing (includes counter-images as an automatic action but not reactive response); (2) Acceptance, (3) Embrace the ‘Celebrity’, (4) Outward Expressions of Annoyance, (4) Laughed them off, and (5) Set Boundaries. Although Chinese citizens and Black women do not always recognize hypersexualized encounters as assault, I aim to give language to the phenomena.



Language, Rhetoric and Composition, Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Women's Studies