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Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympics and Race

Maybe I'm just looking for it, but I see race all over the Olympics this year. The biggest story has been the Spanish basketball team's photo of them slanting their eyes like they're east Asian. Sure, it was stupid and insensitive. I still don't get what the "joke" was supposed to be--a five-year-old saying, "Look at me, I'm Chinese!"? Interesting that the American b-ballers, all of them, I think, black (or biracial, i.e., Jason Kidd, if you prefer)(guess they forgot the token white this year--anyone remember the Duke All-American who carried the spit bowls for the original Dream Team?)anyway, they felt they were held to a higher standard (dress code, behavior, etc.) than their fellow NBAers from Europe. What do you all think?

Then there is Jeremy Wariner, the defending 400 meter champ whose appearance is white (though vaguely non-Anglo-Saxon ethnic) and whose talk and manner makes me think this is a guy who grew up with street cred among nonwhites, and might even be more comfortable around them than among whites. Call him track and field's Eminem.

Finally, the ever-troubling aspect of black-majority African countries of South Africa and Zimbabwe being representing primarily by minority whites. Gotta be the effects of power and money and access, no? I read that the South African field hockey team had some controversy as to whether the government was enforcing a quota of "coloreds" on the team. Affirmative Action backlash in sports: as if! If opportunities and training facilities were leveled, the "coloreds" would outnumber the pasty faces by a mile, IMHO.

And Zimbabwe owes all its medals so far to a white female swimmer. The pictures of her acclaim among Zimbabwe's blacks after her '04 win were heartening, I gotta admit, given that country's racial climate.

I find myself scanning the medal standings by country. Yeah, I'm kinda curious about the U.S.-China thing, and where Russia, Germany, U.K., etc. stand, but I really delight in seeing 2/3rd's world countries like India, Indonesia, Kenya, Algeria, Mexico, and others in Latin America have a little success. Too little, unfortunately. And I'm always amazed that Cuba, even without Soviet support for 20 years now, still wins far more medals than any other non-English-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere, including countries with much, much, more people. How do they do that?

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