Why Black People Are Learning Chinese

Repost from the Root:

When Zuri Patterson, a second-grader, entered her new classroom the first day of school, butterflies traveled the length of her stomach right before she made formal introductions to her new classmates.

“We say Ni Hao [pronounced “nee-how”], which means “hello” in Chinese,” said the 7-year-old attending the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, a Mandarin-immersion school in the northeast quadrant of the nation’s capital.

The second-grader’s mother, Qwanda Patterson, an international traveler, told The Root, “We plan to take her to China on her 10th birthday. When I travel to Europe or Africa, everyone speaks at least two languages. Why can’t we?”

In today’s economic climate, in which black

unemployment is in the double digits, one way to give the next generation of black graduates a competitive edge is to think outside one’s borders — more globally — and learn Mandarin Chinese. Today’s black graduates aren’t competing only with their white American counterparts anymore. The landscape has changed radically in a relatively short span of time. Black graduates must now compete with their cohorts from places like China.

The past few decades have made Zuri’s first day of school a familiar scene across the nation for many students of color living in urban areas like the District of Columbia, where black students make up about half of the children enrolled in the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School.
Read more at The Root

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