Aug 15, 2008

Oiga hombre, eso no está guay!

In Madrid a Chino is both a Chinese person and the corner grocery store. This rather shocked me at first but it's one of the many unPC things I've had to get used to. Immigrants are a recent phenomenon in this country and the Spanish notions of what is acceptable and PC are different from other countries who have lived with multi-cultures for longer.

So it comes as no great surprise to find out about this recent "wink" blunder. The Spanish Men's and Women's Olympic basketball teams used their fingers to make "slant eyes" in team photos for an ad in the Spanish Sports daily, Marca. Jose Manuel Calderon, a player, calls this pose a gesture of affection, a wink. His teammate, Pau Gasol told the Associated Press that "It was something that was supposed to be funny." Funny? An affectionate wink? Well, I don't think so and neither did the many bloggers and journalists who were offended by this type of affection.
"The sheer stupidity of the Spanish team photo does make me just shake my head," said one contributor to the LA Times' Lakers blog. "Being Asian and seeing this however, I do want to shake my fist."
“It’s as if they are taunting—like kids to each other in school—it’s a very childish advertisement,”said Vicki Shu Smolim, the head of New York's Organization for Chinese Americans. “It’s definitely not sending a message of sportsmanship, and is insensitive not only to the Chinese, but to all Asians.”
After widespread criticism raged in British and American media, Gasol offered a conditional, "if anyone feels offended by it" apology on behalf of his team for the slit-eyed gestures. But according to El Pais, apologetic reactions from Spain’s players and federation have been sparse, and its media has largely framed the issue as a bogus cross-cultural attack. The ad will stay put.

Obviously, the Spanish don't get it. They don't understand why this affectionate gesture is seen as inappropriate to the rest of the world. Of course, as far as racism goes, these photos are small potatoes. More outrageous is the racism in football. Like when Spanish football fans throw bananas onto the field and make ape noises whenever a black player (even on the Spanish team) touches the ball. Here's an excellent piece on YouTube that talks about European racism in football.

My Caucasian boyfriend says who cares, they (basketball team) just look like idiots and I suppose he's right. But because I am Asian, I'm compelled to stand up, shake my fist and say, "Oiga hombre, eso no está guay!" (listen man, that's not cool!) when I see this type of racial insensitivity.

Racist, affectionate or just plain idiotic? You tell me.

Photo courtesy of El Pais


Anonymous said...

Unbelievable how clueless some people are!! Thank you for your great blogs...I really enjoy them, Shehani. K

Shehani said...

Thanks for taking the time not only to read my blogs but to leave a comment. That means a lot to me :)

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