…I feel compelled to mention how disappointed I am that “foreign” girls are always white girls…. I live in China, and I’m quite attracted to Chinese guys, but my dark skin and less than European features seems to mean that I’m destined to be forever alone. It’s quite sad that no one’s aware of this growing problem, the plight of the forever forsaken non-white girl…. There are many of us out here, and every once in a while, we’d like some love, too.
After reading these words, I immediately thought of Chenyin Pan. He and I struck up a conversation this past summer at the Shanghai reading for Rachel DeWoskin’s latest book, and he happened to mention he once dated some non-white women as a university student in the US. In previous e-mails, he even mentioned the striking words of a Korean friend (who wrote them with respect to dating non-white women): “The world is getting smaller and we should try new things.”
Well, Chenyin definitely has, and I’m really thrilled he agreed to share. While I normally don’t run Double Happiness columns consecutively, I wanted to put this one out there as soon as I could — if nothing else, to give some non-white women out there a little love. 🙂
Before I went to the States to study, my Canadian supervisor told me that his days at the University of Toronto were “a hell of a good time,” and he was sure I would have fun with “some ‘Bama gals.” So going to study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was more like a pilgrimage to the Promised Land. Since I had no luck with Chinese girls, getting a white American girl seemed seemed like a good idea. But that idea changed when I came to Alabama, and started noticing that there were a lot of great women out there who weren’t white, or even American.
The first girl I hit on was this dark-skinned Pakistani international student about to finish her medical studies. We met at a crossroad on campus while waiting for the traffic. She turned to me and smiled warmly, as if she had fully adopted the Southern hospitality. I smiled back and said, “I’m wondering if we can cross now, there’s no car coming.” She grinned — I guess she probably thought that was the dumbest line she ever heard. Still, I invited her to grab a cup of coffee with me in a café nearby anyway, and she said yes. Two days later, we went out for “a cup of coffee” again, and that was the last time I saw her. She flew out to Ghana the very next day to work for the Red Cross there.
It was hardly the kind of romance I expected. Yet, I found her look fascinating — the long curly hair, those big eyes, her dark complexion. Most importantly, she was the first one in a long time that I could have real conversations with.
Then I met this black girl who I’ll call Shelly, in this African American Identity class I audited. I was shocked to realize just how attractive some of the black girls in the class were. As a matter of fact, I didn’t notice Shelly at all at the beginning. But I came to know her when I bumped into her at her workplace — the school cafeteria. She worked as a cashier there and one late afternoon, I brought my tray in front of her and was about to pay.
“Hey! You are that Asian guy in my class!” she exclaimed. I confirmed that guy was me, and used the opportunity to take a good look at her. She was just beautiful. So, the following day after class, I asked her if she’d like to go that evening to see the school play, A Streetcar Named Desire. She said “yes,” so here came our first date.
Shelly and I dated for about six weeks before we parted. We mostly talked about schoolwork and our own stories. At the end of our relationship, Shelly came less and less frequently to class and, on the few occasions we met, she talked less and less to me. I never figured out what went wrong, but I did realize her behavior signalled she was through with me. But how can I blame her? I used to nag her all the time about Jack Kerouac’s book On the Road — how many girls would really find it interesting, since it’s just a hippie guy’s misogynistic fascination with “strong women.” I recommended the 1979 film version of the musical Hair to her, but I think she never watched it.
After returning to Shanghai, I’ve dated a few European girls, but no black girls. On the two or three occasions where I saw some beautiful black girls, I’ve always tried to go up to them and talk with them — but this hasn’t led to any dates yet. So many Chinese guys just don’t give black girls a chance, which made me wonder if I would have better luck dating them. When I mentioned this to one of my American friends, he said, “yes sir, you would have more luck. And who knows? Once you go black, you never go back.”
I wouldn’t deny that it’s hard to find couples of black girls and Asian guys. But some Asian guys, like me, would love to date black girls. So black ladies, if you give me a chance, you never know — a new version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner might be in the making.
Chenyin Pan is a Shanghai-based writer who studied English literature at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and hopes to continue his interest in the humanities in a master’s-level program in history at a European university.
How did you meet? Why do you love him/her (or Chinese men/Western women)? How two different people “complete each other” in unexpected ways? We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.