FanDuel - WFBC

August 14, 2008

Spanish Racism Toward China?: In anticipation for the Olympics in Beijing, the Spanish basketball team took a picture for an advertisement a courier company had carried in a major Spanish newspaper. In the picture, all the players pulled the sides of their eyes, making the well known "slant eyed" look that mocks Asians' most recognizable feature.

posted by BornIcon to olympics at 11:57 AM - 21 comments

While the ad is surprising, the thing I mostly find surprising is the complete shock by those involved that anyone would be offended by this. How could so many people be so tone deaf?

posted by bperk at 03:12 PM on August 14

Ridiculous. I have an Asian gf and she says it's funny. It's offensive only to people who look for things to offend them.

posted by tifosinyc at 06:31 PM on August 14

I agree with this article from yahoo to which I will paste the link in the bottom of my comment since those handy dandy HTML buttons seem to have left us. If the American team had done this there would be a tremendous outcry. So why the double standard?

sports.yahoo.com (nifty)

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:45 PM on August 14

There has been a tremendous outcry - even down here. Also the 'reaction' from the Spanish Olympic Committee has been dreadful.

Pretending it isn't offensive (because, despite finding Chinese people who are too polite to say so, it still is) won't make the issue go away - much the same as the Spanish Football association tried to pretend Luis Aragones's comments about Thierry Henry were not offensive, or that racist chanting is acceptable in football stadiums. The business with Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona last year also suggests Spanish sport has a problem.

posted by owlhouse at 08:53 PM on August 14

Yes, it may have been a mocking jesture. However, if the Chinese have the true historical pride they claim, why can they not use this otherwise? I find it hard to believe that NA or Western European Anglo-Saxons (of which I am not pure, but claim heritage) would have taken offense to the Chinese team making a "round eye" photo of the same nature. Biologically it is a fact that their occipital bone structure design is different than those of non-Asain decent. Although I do not and would not even begin to condone belittling anyone on the basis of their ethnic or political background, there is an amount of give and take in worldwide jests. If Chinese individuals want to be offended, they should watch the atrocities in Darfur or Tibet (oh yeah, they can't). That is offensive to most of the world, not just China.

Your turn...rip me for having an opinion...

posted by knowsalittle at 01:18 AM on August 15

Sorry, incunclusive postings.

posted by knowsalittle at 02:45 AM on August 15

So why the double standard?

Because Americans know better than to be racist or judge people based on their country of origin or ethnicity - unlike the Spanish, who basically have the mental capacity of small children.

See what I did there?

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:23 AM on August 15

Yes, it may have been a mocking jesture. However, if the Chinese have the true historical pride they claim, why can they not use this otherwise? I find it hard to believe that NA or Western European Anglo-Saxons (of which I am not pure, but claim heritage) would have taken offense to the Chinese team making a "round eye" photo of the same nature.

A few things - first, it was definitely a mocking gesture. Second, how do you think China could use this? Show it to elementary school kids with a caption that everyone wishes to be Chinese? Finally, mocking and exaggerating Asian eyes has been a pretty nasty part of Western culture for a long time now. I don't recall any mocking of white folks for their round eyes.

posted by bperk at 06:40 AM on August 15

Thank you bperk for making my point without intention. How about having all of the Chinese medalists (of which there is obviously going to be one of the top two in the world) pose with the same stupid gesture, with the caption, "With our eyes like this, we can only see gold, silver, and bronze". To quote 'That 70's show'...SUPERBURN. Do you have any imagination?

posted by knowsalittle at 07:31 AM on August 15

Yes, because playing along with the mocking of your appearance is always hysterical.

posted by bperk at 07:45 AM on August 15

Ridiculous. I have an Asian gf and she says it's funny. It's offensive only to people who look for things to offend them.

So because your asian girlfriend isn't offended, all Asians shouldn't be? Com'on now, this was a total lack of respect for all asians, not just the chinese. This was a done to mock the asian community and there's nothing humorous about it. The Spain team has shown that they have no class (my mother's family is from Spain) and should be embarrassed. It's ok though because the Redeem Team will shut them all up.

posted by BornIcon at 07:52 AM on August 15

Yes, because playing along with the mocking of your appearance is always hysterical.

If you allow it to be so, it is. Didn't you get it?.....mockery only hurts if you allow it to do so. Taking back that which was mocked is power.

posted by knowsalittle at 08:05 AM on August 15

Yeah, some good old-fashioned coonin is always the answer. If you want to give people a bye when they do something offensive, then have at it. I choose not to put the onus on those who are mocked to turn it and themselves into a joke.

posted by bperk at 08:14 AM on August 15

How 'bout if they painted their faces black?

Good Lord, the whole world would be down on them!

posted by Lemonbayer at 03:38 PM on August 15

Well, unless they did it to prove a satirical point about Hollywood actors. If they did it for that reason, they'd likely be hailed.

I have to lay off the sarcasm - truth be told, I think it was a boneheaded move on the part of Team Spain and they deserve whatever shit they get for it. And my Asian wife agrees.

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:25 PM on August 15

Spaniard here. This was not meant to be an offensive gesture - there was no malice in the intent. In Spain, there is no large Asian population and so there are no racial tensions at work here, no Asian children mocked in elementary school with this gesture as occurs in the US. This why the team and most of Spain is surprised that this has bothered people in the Anglo world.

An interesting aspect of this controversy it that the photographers contracted by the team sponsor insisted that the players do the gesture (some of the players felt silly doing it), but as the team sponsor who was putting up the money for their campaign, they complied. Who was that team sponsor? A Chinese company.

The Chinese ambassador in Spain and other Chinese officials have communicated that the Chinese took it the way it was offered, as a friendly wink toward the host nation. And if you think about it why *would* the Chinese be offended by this gesture? Do you think they are embarrassed by the epicanthic folds of their eyes? Or do you think they should be?

Personally, I don't think the gesture is brilliant, but it is far from racist. However, I understand that in intensely multicultural nations like the US and GB there is a hyper-sensitivity to offending different races. For instance, there is a lot of negative history between the US and Asians from the exploited Chinese rail workers to the Japanese Internment camps during WWII to childhood taunts that create a context in which this would be a cruel gesture. However, this hyper-sensitivity often degenerates into mere political correctness. In this case, the Anglo world has to understand that there is no history of racial tension with Asians in most other countries. If you can accept this, it's easier to see why people in Spain simply cannot comprehend why this gesture would be considered racist.

Finally, it's ironic that the American Media sees itself as the arbiter of morality in other countries. Glass houses and all that. *cough* Iraq *cough* Mexican immigration *cough*

posted by sic at 04:50 AM on August 17

OK, once you preceive insult, you must just simply either brood, whine or silently accept it. No reply or attempt or 'take back' your honor nor deflect is in order. Hooray for the defeatists. (good old fashinoned coonin?) Yay for those insulted.

posted by knowsalittle at 06:51 AM on August 17

Not sure if I understood that last comment.

A perceived insult is not the same as a real insult. A real insult is intended, a perceived insult is a mistaken interpretation. In this case, I understand why Asians living in the Anglo world could misinterpret the gesture as an insult as they have probably had to put up with all kinds of racism in the countries where they live, including being mocked for looking "different". However, I'm hoping that by explaining the very different context in which this occurred, maybe those Asians who are offended will see that it was not meant to be mocking or insulting and that the Spanish don't think that epicanthic folds are in any way shameful. The Chinese (in China) don't either, apparently.

Anyway, that's the best I can do in explaining it.

ps) this new site layout is really hard to read.

posted by sic at 10:18 AM on August 17

However, this hyper-sensitivity often degenerates into mere political correctness.

And the offense caused by Spanish fans dressing black face for Lewis Hamilton was also hyper-sensitivity. At what point is it saying something about Spain instead of the U.S. or UK and our hypersensitivity. There are over 3 million Chinese Americans here. Why shouldn't the U.S. media respond to a gesture that offends so many Americans?

posted by bperk at 11:16 PM on August 17

There is racism in Spain, no doubt, and there is racism in the US, GB and everywhere else, no? There are skinheads all over Europe, but also in the United States. Isn't it unfair to judge an entire country by the actions of 4 assholes in black face calling Hamilton a "whore" (I just looked this incident up on Google) or by the actions of the Minute Men in Texas "guarding" the US border with Mexico. There are so many examples everywhere that it is depressing.

But the issue here is whether or not this particular gesture was intended to be racist, mocking, insulting etc. It was not, the reasons I feel this way are explained in my earlier post. Epicanthic folds are just not seen as an insult in Spain (or China) as they are in the US. What I meant in my earlier comment is that racial sensitivity degenerates into mere political correctness when blanket prohibitions are foisted upon people as opposed to trying to come to a real understanding of intent.

I hope this is received in the positive spirit in which it is offered, but perhaps the US media should focus on why some Asians in the US are made to feel ashamed of their epicanthic folds, or, to answer your question more directly, why Americans in general (not just Asian Americans) are offended by a gesture that is mostly seen as inoffensive outside of the Anglo world.

Anyway, the Spanish players were sorry to have offended, I just hope that Americans come to understand that they didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings.

posted by sic at 12:27 PM on August 18

Owlhouse,

You've just made the most moronic argument of your point.

Would it be fair to say that you would condone painting one's face black when visiting Africa for a sports tournament ?

We ethnic minorities living in Western nations have suffered too much from racial mockery. So please, think before you speak mate !

posted by firejoe8 at 06:47 AM on August 19

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