Double Happiness: Once You Go Black, You Never Go Back

When I published a story several weeks ago for Double Happiness, one comment caught my attention:

…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.

13 Replies to “Double Happiness: Once You Go Black, You Never Go Back”

  1. “So many Chinese guys just don’t give black girls a chance, which made me wonder if I would have better luck dating them. ”

    Some Asian men complain that white women dont give them a chance…yep, hierarchy showing up here.

    “Since I had no luck with Chinese girls, getting a white American girl seemed seemed like a good idea.”

    Perhaps not in Alabama, among the most racist states in the country. In the previous post we talked discrimination. If [State] is bad, you need to try and live in Alabama or Tennessee. I still insist that the dead rat on Melanie Gao’s walkway in Nashville was left by someone who dont like interracial couples. Interestingly after that blogging she has dropped off the face of the earth at least as far as blogging is concerned. Perhaps having a tough time finding a job in a tough economy and she has no time or perhpas they dont want to give her the job after they find out that her husband is Chinese…that is the South for you!

    Pakistani girl, you could get into trouble if you visit Pakistan unless she comes from a middle class family with an open mind (honor killing is common there), but getting a black girl, who knows! Actually I dont see black women raising too much hell about AWBM couples…and at one point in the late 1990s they were the fastest growing interracial couples in the US…dont know what the situation is now! However, rarely ever see a BWAM couple…perhaps once in my life!

  2. I am sure there are Chinese men out that who are interested in non-white foreigners too, as Chenyin’s post attests. I am sure the commentator will find one herself if she keeps on looking. Jo of Life Behind The Wall blog has succeeded and her story should be an inspiration. Love is a very strange thing. Just when you least expect, you might just find it. So girl, don’t despair!

  3. Thanks, Jocelyn:
    It is always very interesting to read about interracial happy endings. I did notice that interracial mostly refers to Asian man/white woman (AMWW) relationships. Good thing there are several blogs calling the attention to the black woman in relationships with Asians (AMBW). Sadly, it is very rare to find anything about Latinas. That’s the reason that motivated me to start my own blog for Latinas. There’s still a lot to share, but this it is a social reality that will continue to grow and bloom into a future generation of beautiful interracial persons.
    You are more than welcomed to visit my blog:, and share any AMLW story, too.

  4. I think Chinese men are slowly but surely being open about their interest in black women. I have some Chinese guy friends here in Jinan who have told me multiple times that they are attracted to black women but either don’t have the opportunity to talk to one or they are too shy and don’t think black women like Chinese men. This past summer, while I was in Shanghai, I met my boyfriend. He was the one who approached me. There were some other Chinese guys who approached me before him and their courage and boldness really shocked me. A few months ago while we were on a date, we were surrounded by a group of about 6 teenagers who wanted to take pictures with us. It was really funny because they kept shouting “beautiful couple!” They were so nice, it almost brought a tear to my eye.

  5. Well.. you knew I had to speak up on this one… didnt you ..(smile) … Yes I am Black american woman married to a Chinese man… living in China.. (most of you know me) and I want to say … bravo for this article. And Yes… more and more Chinese men are interested in women that are non-white…. Nowadays… when Chinese men ask me to hook them up… I ask them… does she have to be white.. they say.. skin color doesnt matter… just a good heart.. Things are a changin’ people… and I like to think i helped. By posting my husband and I’s face all over the place. hehehe. The issue is just they need to see more types of women. When they have only been exposed to one or two types of women.. it is easy to see why they havent dating any in the past. Thank you so much for this post.. and I will be submitting my little love story… soon… Im sharing this all over the internet .. Jocelyn….!!!!

  6. Makes me wonder if there are any blogs that talk about Jewish female and Chinese or Asian male relationships. That would be something to read. I’d do one but I’m not in a relationship right now 🙁 and only experience I’ve had is with a Korean guy who wants to be an Episcopal Minister. Up until the end, religion barely played out in our relationship, although I guess cultural stories of our relationship are pretty fascinating.

  7. “Pakistani girl, you could get into trouble if you visit Pakistan unless she comes from a middle class family with an open mind (honor killing is common there)”.

    Honor Killing in Pakistan mostly occured in the countryside.Same as China where female infanticide is common in rural areas.I am Malaysian of Pakistani/Malay heritage.I must said I never heard any honor killings among the pakistani and indian communities in Malaysia even when the women choose someone outside of their ethnic group(or their faith).I do know a pakistani woman married to a malaysian chinese(he had to convert to islam of course).I also know an arab woman from Syria married to a half chinese-half malay man.

    I do feel attracted to chinese men,although I prefer those who are born muslim.Fortunately here in beijing,it’s quite easy to find those hui muslim men who (from my experience)seem more open toward dark skinned girls than the Han majority.

  8. When I saw the title of this post, I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Love the title. My biggest concern is that there is an underlying assumption that Black women are in last place when it comes to Asian men considering them for relationships? In many other post on various wbsites that I have looked at, it seems that Asian men are protrayed as least desirable when it comes to a relationship due to stereotypes? I like to think that when it comes down to it, Asian men, Black women are just people. The phenomena of Asian men and Black women is nothing new. I have come across information that there has been a history of intermarriage between Chinese men, Native American, Black American, Latina women, Jewish women, Russian women..and the list goes on. I am encouraged to see that Asian men are willing to date outside of their culture, but I honestly hope that this will be a new beginning, that who you love or are attracted to, should not be dictated by race alone.

  9. “I am encouraged to see that Asian men are willing to date outside of their culture, but I honestly hope that this will be a new beginning, that who you love or are attracted to, should not be dictated by race alone.”

    I coldn’t agree more. My husband and I are by far not the only interracial coupling in my family tree (I am very mixed myself). One of my uncles married a beauitful black woman and have beautiful kids together. When you see them, you can feel the love and mutual respect. They are simply a couple who love each other. That’s the bottom line.

  10. I wish I could give you names, but I shouldn’t. I have 4 Blasian baby second cousins (baby as in less than 10 years old). 3 of them is with an Asian dad. The other one has a French father of African heritage.

    The one in France is living with his mom, and is very close to my family. When I see him, I only speak Cantonese. It’s hard to explain, but like if you’re related by blood and since he is that young, sometimes, you don’t even notice his racial background.

    The other 3 cousins with the Asian dad has the usual story. The parents of the Asian dad wouldn’t accept the relationship, but when they found out he already had kids and was officially married, they just took it as it is. I know it’s risky, but sometimes having kids can loosen some of those interracial family tensions.

    I also have a family friend from HK, whom I known for like ever, and married an Indian- Malaysian woman. They have 3 very cute young Chindian kids. Same story, the parents of the HK guy couldn’t really accept, but it didn’t take too long for them to just take it as it is.

  11. Wow, I was not expecting to see my words featured so prominently for people to discuss.

    While it’s still very much the case for many Chinese that “whiter is better” in terms of aesthetics, things are certainly making a change. I went to a bar with a friend of mine a couple nights ago and we were the only two foreigners there. I ran into a (gorgeous, apollonian) Chinese guy who complimented me on looks and got my number. [This was doubly surprising because he didn’t even ask me if I understood Chinese first.] While walking around the downtown, I’ll get the occasional cat calls and marriage proposals that my white friends alone used to get. My coworkers sometimes comment that I should produce some 混血儿 (children of mixed blood), and I’m thinking that may one day be possible.

    Though I may never have the same pick of the litter than my white female friends seem to have, it may actually come to pass one day that find myself dating a man from the country I’ve spent so much of my life admiring. At this point it sounds like a fairy tale, but I’m keeping my hopes high. Of course, there’s the additional hurdle of appealing to parents and relatives, but I’ll take it step by step. As I hear so often here in China, 慢慢来, or, it’ll come with time.

  12. I have to agree with Jo (Lifebehindthewall) and Jocelyn! I loved this article! I am also a black woman living in China with a Chinese boyfriend. We live in Hangzhou and this city is so romantic. We take all opportunities to stroll around the city together. The reason I love him so much is because he approached me first, never walk without holding my hands or showering me with kisses even in public….it NEVER matters to him that a bus load of people are staring open-mouthed at us, or that people stop to take pictures of us at West Lake. He is NOT ashamed of me…and most importantly, he fell in love with my heart and not my color.

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