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3 African-Americans keep hope alive for Chinese Dream

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

11-24-2016 16:20 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CNTV Panview Commentator and Editor

The Chinese Dream beckons for people all over the world. Foreigners, even those with humble backgrounds, can move to China and through hard work, a win-win attitude and ambitious nature, could enjoy career and family success.

Such lofty ideals are not for the soft-hearted, but those willing to make sacrifices can rise above and capture ‘China Gold.’

The Daily Mail, most widely-read newspaper in the United Kingdom, published an uplifting story about three African-American men who moved to China and have embarked on remarkable professional careers here.

China’s emerging superstars - Douglass Fearon, Mekael Turner and Shane Oliff - come from diverse backgrounds but they feel happy and comfortable in the world’s second-largest economy.

Although all the trio had confirmed incidents of racism in the country, they say the Chinese have gotten more progressive and are welcoming them into their hearts.

From banker to rapper

Before arriving in China a few months after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 37-years old Fearon was rolling in big bucks as a high-flying banker in Wall Street. He was born and raised in Queens.

“My pockets were full but my soul was empty,” he told the Daily Mail. “I made a lot of money but I had nothing to show for it. I just knew that there was more.”

He intended to make a brief stopover to China in 2008, but he stayed for “opportunity after opportunity, after opportunity.” He owes his success to the Chinese seeing him as having great potential as an entertainer.

He’s now an actor, starring in a TV series produced in Shanghai, club DJ, model and international business broker. He’s fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, and sings rap songs in those languages for Chinese audiences.

Ping pong diplomat

Oliff, 25, from Atlanta, Georgia had a simple goal when coming to China: He wanted to upgrade his ping pong skills. He began working as an English teacher for children three years ago.

“China is number one in ping pong,” he said. “I figured I would come here so I could have the chance to increase my playing level, my skill and I would be able to compete on a more competitive field.”

Ping pong remains very popular in China. When walking the streets in Chinese cities, you can find outdoor ping pong tables where players face off against each other.


Turner is another rapper, who has hosted Chinese TV shows. He’s got a loud personality, but in his former life in the USA, he was a computer programmer.

He came to China 13 years ago as an English teacher by day and avid student of Mandarin and Cantonese at night. As his language skills improved, he studied poetry.

“I figured for any language, usually the best speakers or the best users of that language are poets.”

He’s utilized his poetic expertise to write poetry and convert them into rap songs.

He added, “What I wanted was to try another side of my personality. I did the computing part, which is the super logical, math side. I wanted to try the arts side, the more expressive side.”

Turner has also played a few roles in film, typecast as an action character. He appears in the ‘Chinese Salesman,’ with Steven Seagal and Mike Tyson. He plays Seagal’s bodyguard.

He noted the Chinese working in the film industry were reluctant to cast him in roles, but when they knew he was fluent in Chinese and a good actor, they would say, “I think we like the black guy.”

Getting a groove on in China

China’s economic and diplomatic rise in recent decades has transformed the nation into a land of opportunity for many foreigners.

The China Dream is alive and real in the hearts of the three African-Americans, who have made enormous sacricfices to achieve success here. And it was well worth the effort for them and so many others who pursued similar paths.




( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



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