They Love Black Culture, Not Black People: A Strange Reality In Hong Kong.
I’ve been to Hong Kong once. It was for work, but there was enough time if you were really motivated to explore the city and the surrounding areas (aka shop).
Between exploring the malls that seemed to form entire cities underground, I would venture off to look for more familiar things like nail shops, and sneaker shops.
Naturally, I ventured out on my own with my curiosity and naiveté in tow.
I grabbed a few cards at different nail salons, thinking I’d come back another time for a nail date.
Once I turned down the block of one of the sneaker shops, it was like the temperature changed. Biggie was blasting, there was some graffiti on the building walls in the distance, and my sense memory was saying “Welcome Home”!
With a deep breath, taking it all in - I walked in.
“Hello!” - I said, not hiding the fact I was in a great mood. It was weird. People stared at me, watched me - almost to the point of examination, just short of prodding. Suddenly I was slammed back into the reality that I was not home. This was Hong Kong (Island).
It felt like I landed in an alternate universe. Everything was familiar, but suddenly I was the alien in the room. Being the obvious foreigner, a feeling I reveled in moments before entering the shop, felt like the loneliest feeling ever.
Honestly, if they were just rude that might have felt better. After all, I am from pre-gentrified Brooklyn, NY.
Now, don’t get me wrong - it could’ve been many things. I was one of few women there, the only American, the only black person. People could have been responding to so many things… or not.
I will say it was the first time I came face to face with the way hip hop culture is exported, and it was the first time it felt like it didn’t belong to me.
the strangest thing is I often feel like that in new york these days. Go figure.