My name is William D. Frazier, and I am the author of “Black American Entrepreneur in China:
Connecting Industry and Cultural Differences.” During the summers of 2000 and 2001–as an Urban Studies graduate student at Savannah State University–I left the United States to travel via a study abroad program to Beijing and Shanghai, China. The study abroad program in China was such an eye-opening experience in urban planning and economic development that it encouraged me to relocate to Shanghai in 2002 in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Urban Planning at Tongji University. While living in Shanghai, I was also instrumental in developing the American Football league there as the Defensive Coordinator of the China Sea Dragons. Both my passion for travel and American Football have pushed me to where I am now– a sports official with the China National Football League (CNFL), formally known as the American Football League China (AFLC).
Even though previous summer study abroad programs gave me a glimpse of the Chinese lifestyle, I didn’t recognize the importance of identifying or connecting Black business owners with commercial and trade-in service opportunities and their Chinese counterparts until recently. Honestly, I was too busy looking at tall buildings and witnessing a new era of economic development. However, during my academic studies in Shanghai between 2002-2005, I noticed that no Black American, expat business community existed to mentor Black, US-based small and medium-sized enterprises that wanted to trade with China. Also in these early years, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, WeChat, LinkedIn, etc. did not exist and thus did not distract me from my efforts to adjust to the city. I was able to focus on my experiences and easily adjust to my life of studying, working, and living in Shanghai. Because of these academic experiences and the fact that social media did not exist, I recognized more about myself and the need to advocate for Black America’s engagement in business opportunities with China.
Therefore, I became more open about living in China, and over time witnessed its gradual economic development model come into fruition. In 2005, I became the co-founder and global business developer for Shanghai-America Direct Import & Export Co. Ltd. I have spent numerous years living in Shanghai, as well as studying and working on business-related activities. Thus, I have noticed some Black American business owners lack a pathway to direct commercial and trade-in service opportunities within the Mainland Chinese private sector. When I attend trade shows about commerce and trade-in service in China, there are no Black Americans. I am usually the only Black American business owner at these Southeast Asian business forums, which can feel overwhelming and bothersome. The lack of exposure to Black American voices is easily recognizable within the Mainland Chinese business community and is unfavorable to US-China relations. Collaborative business opportunities between Black America and Chinese private industries can yield a much needed cultural understanding between the two countries. Without a doubt, it helps to have become a part of NABEA’s integral role in bringing attention to this lack of exposure to Black voices, and bringing these voices to the forefront of US-China social, cultural, economic, and political institutions.
William D. Frazier
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