Are you kidding me?

So I’m reading the sports section over lunch when I see a story about Spain’s Olympic basketball team taking a photo…wait for it…pulling the outside corner of their eyelids upward.

Seriously?

I’ll try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ve never been to Spain so my understanding of Spanish culture is limited to that of my junior high and high school Spanish teacher’s attempts at teaching language and culture. They didn’t intend to offend, but that, according to Spain center Pau Gasol, “It was something like supposed to be funny or something…”

It is not like funny or something.

What do you all think? Is it funny? Offensive?

3 Comments

  1. Peggy E August 13, 2008

    Hmmm… it’s really interesting seeing this on a global level. It makes me ask the question if racism is culturally based. I definitely see how Chinese would not be offended, but Chinese Americans would. Chinese people rarely experience this kind of racism.

    Reply
  2. Kathy Khang August 14, 2008

    Can you expand on your comment about racism being culturally based? I’m curious as well, since only a few news reports have alluded to the Chinese (v. the Chinese or Asian Americans) being offended. It’s all very strange to watch – this country that has been so closed to the West desiring to put its best foot forward…if they actually saw the “news” reports shot at the food markets with non-Chinese gawking over fried scorpions would they understand that the attention isn’t meant as an affectionate or respectful gesture but really poking fun?

    Thanks, Peggy!

    Reply
  3. Peggy E August 15, 2008

    Most Chinese in China have never experienced racism since they are part of the majority culture. Their experience of race differs from Chinese Americans, where we have a history of being the minority. At some point we’ve seen the eye-pulling gestures, and we’ve been told to go back to where we came from. Those in China have never known this, so it’s not likely they would know this as racism.

    Minorities in China however, experience plenty of racism. It’s been interesting talking to Chinese in China about this because they deny the existence of racism in similar ways to the majority culture in America. Befriend someone in a minority group, and you get a very different story.

    I think in reading your post, I began considering racism on a global level since it seems to require a majority culture and a minority culture to experience such kinds of racism. When considering the world, who would be the majority, and who would be the minority?

    PS: I’m not sure Chinese would interpret the scorpions as poking fun since many Chinese would not try scorpions either. I get the feeling that scorpions on a stick has been used to draw tourists to a food booth, and few really eat it. I’m seen seahorses on a stick alongside the scorpions and all of my Chinese friends have said they’d never eat it. You’d have to have them gawking at foods more representative of Chinese culture, something a large majority identifies with, to be offensive.

    Reply

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