Eye-opening, awakening, unprecedented and inconceivable are some of the words that come to mind when we think of 2020. This period has been a time riddled with uncertainties, highs and lows. In spite of it all though it has given us time to do a lot of reflection on our life and the world that we live in. It was revealed to us in 2020 that as humans we have an indomitable spirit. We may bend, sometimes even break a little but we pick up those pieces, right ourselves and move on.
We started January with a profound quote in mind by Kwame Nkrumah “We face neither East nor West; we face FORWARD.”
Throughout this year we’ve remained true to that quote, shedding light on issues both in China and the diaspora but we’ve also used those issues to develop ways to become better as a people. Without trying to downplay the issues faced in 2020, we must also recognise the opportunities too – especially as we end this unparalleled year.
In February, in celebration of Black History Month USA we highlighted some of the leaders and visionaries who have paved the way for us. Through their work we now have a voice. A voice that many within our community were able to use during the lockdown in China. This inspired artists to create songs, poems, beautiful works of art all in the spirit of togetherness. One message that spoke to us was from LaVana Colebrooke of FANGiMATION who wisely reminded everyone to “Keep your head up and don’t be discouraged. Keep your spirits up and fight on!”
In March, anti-foreigner sentiment was at an all-time high as businesses refused to allow foreigners to enter their place of establishment. Foreigners all over China were finding themselves shunned and scorned due to the virus but for us as Black people, this was sadly nothing new.
In April, our community were incensed by talks of testing vaccines in Africa followed by an even harsher treatment much closer to home where Africans and people of African descent living in Guangzhou underwent mass testing for the virus. Additionally, some were evicted from their houses without any good reason, forcing them to sleep on the street and rely on donations for food. Perhaps the only positive to come from these incidents was the immense rallying of support and unity that followed – we saw donations flood in and a renewed sense of community across the board. As a platform we made it our mission to document these events factually, breaking this news to the rest of the world in a hope that we’d bring about its end. The events of Guangzhou will undoubtedly go down in history.
In May, in association with Kente and Silk we hosted “Facing neither East nor West”, a conversation with HE Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao and Bajan-Jamaican filmmakers, a well-needed discussion on unity across the African and diasporic community.
In June we focused on mental health in the midst of all the chaos around. This was in collaboration with Black Women Beijing through an online discussion on Black Lives Matter.
July continued along the same trajectory where we co-hosted an Instagram live discussing Black Lives Matter with Hip Hop legends MC Tingbudong and Bohan Phoenix. Kente and Silk also hosted the 3rd annual Africa week, with us co-hosting a film screening of the official Year of Return movie, Joseph.
In August we took a much-needed break to reflect, retool and reemerge as a new and improved Black Livity China.
September saw Beijing-based media personality Lloyd Randall nominated as one of the world’s most influential people of African Descent, alongside a host of renowned Black in China figures. On the other hand, we covered the news that former North Carolina star Ty Lawson was banned from playing in China for remarks about Chinese women.
October was an exciting month for us. Beijing Foreign Studies University announced that they would be offering a degree programme in Ethiopia’s widely spoken language Amharic. We also hosted an event with the Young China Watchers team discussing Africa-China relations in motion. This was one of our 2 events for the month of October with the second being a hands-on workshop with experienced entrepreneurs in China, focusing on how to do business in China.
November was all about collaboration as we sought ways to take our stories one step further. Our co-manager took to National Ethiopian airwaves to spread the BLC word and our our cofounder featured on Kings College and Young China Watchers annual conference.
In December, we listened to your feedback and launched the Black Livity China podcast – the first of many – to continue our mission of documenting and demystifying African and Afro-diasporic experiences both in China and in relation to China!
At Black Livity China you are all at the core of what we do. Below you’ll find some of the highlights and successes shared with us by some of those in our community.
- Daryl Antwan, Xiamen
“It goes without saying that this year has been deeply challenging for the Pan Afrikan community in Xiamen, as it has been for everyone. However, through community we have been supporting each other, knowingly or unknowingly, in the spirit of Ubuntu. One of the cornerstone’s of our community over the years is coming together for those in serious need of assistance. One of the more amazing campaigns this year was for a young African family who needed 10s of thousands of yuan to quickly transport them and their young children from China to a neighboring country. This effort grew so large that we gained assistance from the larger international community in Xiamen, as well as, donors from international locations. The family were able to meet their goal, and are safe. Despite the challenges, still we have made great strides and met solid aims.
Here are some highlights from outstanding members in our community.
Duane Lawrence, California, USA
· Works as a Senior Designer with the multinational shoe brand ANTA.
· He specializes in creating unique shoes for professional sports players. Duane’s tireless effort has resulted in the successful completion of the next generation of famed basketball player, Gordan Howard’s shoe, the GH2.
Not only did he create GH2 but as a recording rap artist he also created an original rhyme for the Duane Howard shoe release party. Rumor has it that Duane is the first person to have designed a high-profile signature shoe and create the official song for the shoe. To check out the song search “Go Hard” on QQ music by Feezy/Gordon Hayward and Champagne Duane.
Mbuga Moses (Moxi), Kampala, Uganda
Moxi is an international professional bodybuilder. Having competed and won several Chinese national competitions since 2018.
· He worked for a local gym for over one year before branching off on his own.
· Earlier this year Moxi launched the elite wellness center Shredded Fitness in Xiamen. He now offers one-on-one and group fitness sessions.
Ashley Brown, Jamaica, and New York.
· She is currently a PhD student at Xiamen University, researching linguistics/education.
· Ashley has developed and will test run a curriculum that aims to help students to build linguistic capital— a great asset that is many times overlooked especially in lower income school districts.
· The beginner’s level (HSK3) is entirely music based with the majority of content presented through song.
· Her and her team’s goal is to encourage and facilitate foreign language learning in ALL our communities and guide our children to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities abroad.
· In addition to her amazing accomplishment Ashley is excited to announce the birth of her and her husband’s new baby girl Malaika Ohema!
· “It’s been a crazy and unpredictable year, but she has definitely been our greatest blessing!”
Darryl Antwan, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
· Darryl is the founder of Pan Afrikans of Xiamen (PAX) which took root in late 2016 with 5 to 6 other founding members from within our city.
· PAX’s main mission is support, empower, and educate each other about our differences and similarities, and to build allies across national and international communities.
· Darryl is also the owner and creator of Amoy Allure brand founded in 2017.
· Amoy Allure is wholesale and retail hair company birthed after 1 year of hair extension and wig research.
· The vision for Amoy Allure came out of the need for greater representation in the industry where African people are both the wearer and the buyer of hair. We aim to increase Black entrepreneurship in the industry, especially among Black women.
· This year Amoy Allure branched expanded its market by selling in DRC and Cape Verde. We are currently selling in the US, and Nigeria, and look forward to partnering with others who are interested in the market.
· Follow our Wechat Channel: Amoy_Allure or IG: @amoyallure
2. Tiiyah, AfroQueen’Secret
I live in Nanning city, Guangxi province and this year has been very hectic and difficult for all of us. In my city we have been locked for months and we couldn’t attend to any outside activity.. Graduation has been done online. The Black community is not that huge in my city so most of people know each other and we do support each other. One of our brother from Togo has been stabbed in May and spent a long time in the hospital, we visited him often to show support and that is how I met some more African people who had the same thoughts. In summer, life came back to normal and people got back to their activities, work, business, traveling etc.. But this year has also brought a very good opportunity for me, I created an Haircare Brand named AfroQueen’ Secret because I’m passionate about Afro hair and I got a great idea to organize a catwalk about Afro Hair. The goal is to show everybody that we, Black women are beautiful with our hair, we should wear it more and flaunt it more.. We must be proud of our roots, our culture and our legacy, thus why the theme of the Afro Hair Fashion Show is ‘My hair, My crown’. In African culture hair is very important and always share a message , back in the days an hair style would introduce the person before he or she spoke, people could recognize a king, a queen, a prince, a princess, a chief of clan, a virgin girl and more by the hair style they were wearing.. So, hair in African culture means a lot and there is a lot to say about it. With your hair they can ‘curse you, bewitch you or heal you’. So I want to let Black women to know that we have to be proud of ourselves, our skin color, our roots as well as our hair.. The catwalk show was supposed to happen in Nanning but I finally decided that it will be done virtually because some of the girls I chose to participate are in cities where they weren’t allowed to travel, so they can’t attend the event.
Finally I learned a lot this year and I’m very proud of myself, because I’m always challenging myself every single day and I do everything with passion. I believe that I am improving everyday and I encourage you all to do the same. Start small and try to get better with each day. I would also like to thank my team who have been working with me on this show as well as the participants from all over China.
To say alot happened in 2020 almost seems like an understatement because there was that and so much more. At Black Livity China we would like to thank you all for your unwavering support. Thank you for following, liking, questioning and starting difficult conversations. Thank you for using your voice even when it feels like it has no power. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, both the good and the bad. Thank you for trusting us.
We look forward to a healthy and safe 2021 with you all. Let us look forward to the future with great expectations and hope. We were made for this. We are deserving of this.
Compliments of the season from us here at BLC to you and yours.
Shauna Reeves is a Jamaican native currently living and teaching in China creating her own version of "eat, pray, love". A young woman with a curious mind as well as a passionate reader; this is Shauna's first foray into writing. The gift of gab and storytelling is one of those skills passed down from her dad, who used to regale the family with many lores.