Monthly Archives: August 2008

What is China’s Post-Olympic Future?

Now that the 2008 Summer Olympics have ended, we all know that China has received plenty of criticism and accolades before and during the Olympic games. Rather than rehashing that chronology, I want to focus on the question of where does China go from here? The Christian Science Monitor offers some interesting observations:

The striking success of the Olympics – burnishing China’s prestige as the world admired its sporting prowess, organizational skills, and dramatically modern urban landscapes – could encourage profound changes in the country, say a range of Chinese and foreign analysts. . . .

One profound change that a number of China-watchers predict, in light of the international respect China has earned: that its leaders and people will trust the rest of the world more readily, and tone down an often aggrieved nationalism. . . .

For more than a hundred years, China’s leaders have set themselves the goal of recovering international respect after humiliation at the hands of Europe and the United States in the 19th century. For more than half a century the ruling Communist party has made “standing up to the world” a key plank in its platform. . . .

If China’s leaders decide that their management of the Olympics has earned the country respect, that “offers an opportunity for the Chinese state and the Chinese people to ditch the nationalist narrative of their identity based on shame and humiliation,” says Professor Shambaugh. “Hopefully they can throw all their aggrieved nationalist baggage away and move on like a normal country.”

It is certainly true that ever since the communists came to power, China has had a “chip on its shoulder+ in terms of proving to the rest of the world that they could overcome their “sick man of Asia” image and instead, use their own brand of communism to once again propel China into the rank of international superpower.

Along the way, one of the tactics used by the Chinese has been an intense and often fierce sense of nationalism — reacting defensively to any perceived slight against their country’s image or policies.

As I’ve written about before, perhaps the most recent and prominent example of this nationalism inside the U.S. was the backlash of Chinese students against “anti-Chinese” media portrayals regarding the Olympic torch relay and pro-Tibet demonstrations.

But now that many people from around the world have seen a brighter and more positive side of China, does it mean that the Chinese can let their defenses down somewhat and capitalize on their “softer” image? We’ll have to wait to see how China handles the issues and criticisms that still exist against it, such as human rights and individual freedoms, environmental conservation, and consumer product safety.

Despite their Olympics success, these criticisms will continue to come China’s way, so the ultimate test will be whether China reverts to reacting defensively and nationalistically — or whether they can build on their newfound confidence and status and react in a more gracious and balanced way.

I sincerely hope that it will be the latter — China has many positives going for it now, and it would be a shame if it squanders this newly-earned goodwill by going back to the same authoritarian ways.

Professional Women’s Golf: English Only

I presume that most of you have heard about various campaigns aimed at making English the official language of the U.S., or a particular state, or some other entity or institution. In recent decades, such campaigns have had some successes. But as ESPN reports, the latest high-profile attempt at instituting English as the official language comes from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA):

Players were told by LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens that by the end of 2009, all players who have been on the tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills or face a membership suspension. A written explanation of the policy was not given to players, according to the report. . . .

Every Korean player who spoke with Golfweek about the meeting came away with the understanding she would lose her tour card if she failed the test rather than face suspension, according to the report. But Korean players who spoke about the policy supported the tour’s position, though some, including Se Ri Pak, felt fines would be better than suspensions. . . .

Players must be able to conduct interviews and give acceptance speeches without the help of a translator, [an LPGA official] said, according to the report. Galloway said the policy takes effect immediately, but that players’ English proficiency would not be measured until the end of 2009, according to the report. The LPGA’s membership includes 121 international players from 26 countries; 45 are South Koreans.

Those who follow professional women’s golf should know that in recent years, a large number of South Korean and Korean American players have become quite prominent and successful. For example, 14 of the top 24 LPGA money earners so far in the 2008 season are Asian or Asian American.

Based on the disproportionate presence and success of these Asian players, the question becomes, is the LPGA singling them out with this new “English only” rule? Is this the 21st century version of the Foreign Miner’s Tax that was levied only at Chinese immigrants back in the 1800s once they became “too successful?”

The ESPN article seems to suggest that many, perhaps even most, of these Asian and Asian American LPGA players do not object to the rule, presumably because they agree with the LPGA’s stated rationale that it is to attract more corporate sponsors who would be more apt to support the sport if its best players are able to converse in English on television.

I can’t speak for how these Asian and Asian American women golfers honestly feel about this new rule, but I can speak for myself in saying that it sounds discriminatory to me. Before I talk specifically about how this applies to the LPGA, I want to first relate it to the larger “Official English” efforts throughout American society.

I want to make it clear that I support LPGA players and all immigrants to the U.S. in general learning English and trying to integrate into the “mainstream.” I do not support immigrants — Asian or otherwise — isolating themselves into their own ethnic enclaves and not making any effort to assimilate to some degree into American society.

At the same time, we need to remember that the overwhelming majority of immigrants already know that for them to achieve meaningful mobility in American society, they need to learn English. With that in mind, English is already the de facto official language of the U.S.

Campaigns to mandate English as the official language only serve to cause more divisions, resentment on both sides, and will actually hurt immigrants’ attempts to learn English because they eliminate much-needed bilingual programs and resources, leading immigrants to give up on their efforts to learn English.

As applied to the LPGA, the fact that so many players from Asia are participating and doing well in their sport suggests to me that golf’s popularity is spreading all around the world and is becoming less U.S.-centric. This actually corresponds to the larger trends of globalization, as the world becomes more interconnected and American society becomes more culturally diverse.

With that in mind, I see the LPGA’s “English Only” mandate as a reactionary effort to keep the sport as “American” (i.e. White) as possible. Instead of embracing golf’s growing global appeal and perhaps attract more international sponsors, the LPGA apparently wants to stick its head in the sand and pretend that it’s 1958, rather than 2008.

My guess is that most if not all Asian LPGA players are trying to learn as much English as possible, just like the overwhelming majority of immigrants to the U.S. in general. But mandating that they do so is basically an ethnocentric slap in their face.

It also stands in opposition to what’s going on in the rest of the world and American society, as many Americans rush to learn languages such as Chinese. To me, it’s an example of a White-dominated institution desperately clinging to their old identity in the face of change all around them.

“Racism is the Only Reason McCain Might Beat Him”

Over at Slate, Jacob Weisberg, raises some important points about the racial implications of Senator Obama’s campaign, especially why he might lose and what the impact might be. The latter question is one rarely discussed in the mass media so far.

Weisberg reiterates a point we have made with social science data on whites’ racist thinking on this site before:

To some white voters (14 percent in the CBS/New York Times poll), Obama is someone who, as president, would favor blacks over whites. Or he is an “elitist” who cannot understand ordinary (read: white) people because he isn’t one of them.

Then he discusses overt white-racist stuff that gets very little critical attention in the media or from politicians:

In May, Pat Buchanan, who writes books about the European-Americans losing control of their country, ranted on MSNBC in defense of white West Virginians voting on the basis of racial solidarity. The No. 1 best-seller in America, Obama Nation by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D., leeringly notes that Obama’s white mother always preferred that her “mate” be “a man of color.” John McCain has yet to get around to denouncing this vile book.

Why don’t these pundits get the critical attention they deserve. Clearly, the media’s own racism seems to handicap them in an honest and critical examination of the racist ideas of such pundits.

In my view, in this country now we need to end this sweeping racism under the rug. We need a huge and candid public discussion of white racism, its great and continuing toxic reality, and of our need for anti-racist action on a large scale. And we need that large scale organizing for that anti-racist action now if we are to see a Black man as president.

Weisberg closes with some rather insightful discussion of the positive effects of an Obama victory, but then asks out loud about the impacts of his losing:

If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to. In this event, the world’s judgment will be severe and inescapable: The United States had its day but, in the end, couldn’t put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race.

I am inclined to agree with all but the “crazy irrationality” part. Systemic racism is about material inequality, white power and privilege, and a strong white racial framing to protect white interests, now over nearly four centuries, and not about some wild-racist irrationality.

What do you think of Weisberg’s comments?

The post “Racism is the Only Reason McCain Might Beat Him” appeared first on racismreview.com.

Asian American Athletes Wrap-Up

Now that the Olympics have concluded, I just wanted to add my sincere congratulations to some of the Asian American athletes and coaches who achieved success in the games. They include:

  • Brian Clay: Gold medal in the decathlon. He is half African American and half Japanese American and was raised in Hawai’i
  • Jenny Lang Ping: coach of the U.S. women’s indoor volleyball team who won the silver medal
  • Liang Chow: coach of Shawn Johnson (women’s gymnastics), who won the gold medal in the balance beam and silver in the individual all-around, team competition, and floor exercise
  • Raj Bhavsar and Kai Wen (Kevin) Tan: male gymnasts who helped the U.S. team win the bronze medal in the team competition

There were other Asian American athletes who competed but did not medal and I also wanted to send my congratulations and thanks to them as well for representing their country and for competing at the highest level of their sports. In addition to the Olympics, another Asian American athlete also made the news recently:

Ultimately, they are all American athletes and should be recognized as such. Nonetheless, as Asian Americans, they also serve as role models and sources of pride for many of us as well.

China Rethinking Its ‘Gold Rush’

One of the stated goals of the Chinese Olympic team for these summer games was to surpass the U.S. and capture the most total medals of the games. Barring that, China wanted to at least win the most gold medals. As many have described, this strategy involved focusing on relatively unknown sports that offered many medals, such as canoeing, kayaking, and shooting.

The thinking is that accomplishing this feat would supposedly elevate China above the U.S. in terms of sporting image and status. And we already know how important image is to China. So far, it looks like China’s strategy is working, since they have a sizable lead over the U.S. in gold medals with just two days remaining in the games.

But is this “gold rush” ultimately the best strategy for China? As Time magazine reports, more Chinese are now questioning this rationale and rethinking China’s obsession with the image of winning:

By midweek—even as Chinese athletes drew nearer to their golden goal—domestic media appeared to be counseling modesty. . . . The article argued that gold medals aren’t everything—but that it was OK to expect athletes to win gold so long as they aren’t unduly pressured.

The Global Times added a further cautionary note by quoting Beijing University of Physical Education professor Ren Hai: “Although China’s got a lot of medals, it cannot be counted as a sports power yet.” . . .

Another message from propaganda-meisters is that Chinese athletes aren’t automatons. The Oriental Morning Post, based in Liu’s hometown of Shanghai, compared Liu to the not-quite-invincible Greek hero Achilles and counseled Chinese fans to be more tolerant—and mindful that sports stars are human beings, too. . . .

[Says Chen Gang, Communist secretary in Beijing,] “Gold medals aren’t the most important thing for us in Chaoyang. The most important thing is how much people enjoy the Games—and I mean all people, including our many foreign visitors.” . . .

If China’s gauge of success shifts more toward the enjoyment of the people–and away from the diktat of the state—that would be a welcome new gold standard indeed.

The article focuses more on Chinese authorities wanting its citizens to treat its athletes more like human beings than disposable robots whose only purpose is to bring more medals to China. But the undercurrent here is how China’s obsession with winning the most gold medals affects its larger international image.

On the one hand, it would be easy for Americans to say to China, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” The U.S. is still the recognized “alpha dog” in terms of international athletics so our position at the top is not likely to change any time soon, even if China ends up with more gold medals, or even more total medals.

It would sort of be like for Whites (Americans, European, or otherwise) to say to Asians/Asian Americans, “Hey, don’t take things too seriously — our slanted-eye gesture was meant as a sign of affection. We didn’t mean to reinforce and perpetuate a long-standing racist gesture.”

But for a country like China that is still politically, economically, and culturally developing and still coming to grips with its newly developed status and power, it means a lot to say that they’ve surpassed the most dominant country in the world in such a public way. In the larger “sports” of international superpower games, it is just one battle to win, but image-wise, it would be significant for China.

Having said that, the reality is that there are differences in status when it comes to international athletics — a gold medal in kayaking or shooting does not carry the same cachet as one in swimming, basketball, or track. And many will privately and publicly smirk at China for their strategy of focusing on relatively obscure sports that offer many medals instead of competing with the “big dogs” in “real” sports.

Where do I stand in this debate? Again, at the risk of satisfying no one, I say, let China focus on getting the most gold medals in these games for now. For a nation on the rise, it would be a much-needed psychological boost and would be well worth the smirks that it may get from other countries.

But four years later when we all meet again in London for the next Summer Olympics, if China still wants to be considered a legitimate sports power like the U.S., it needs to “step up its game” and compete head-to-head with the U.S. in sports that have more reward in terms of status and prestige.

In other words, if China wants to proclaim that it has “arrived,” it needs to show up dressed for the part.

The History of the First Suburban Chinatown

Whether you’re Asian American or not, I presume that you have heard of, and have probably visited, at least one Chinatown around the U.S. As history shows us, such Chinatowns were created largely out of necessity by Chinese immigrants who, in many cases, were restricted in terms of where they could live and what kinds of jobs they could have.

All of these “traditional” Chinatowns and other Asian enclaves are located in central urban areas in cities like San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and others. Through the years, they’ve seen their ups and downs but since the influx of some 20 million Asian immigrants after the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act, many Chinatowns have grown, expanded, and flourished.

In fact, particularly in southern California and New York City, the arrival of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean immigrants was so large that the original urban Chinatowns had no more room for them. Also, many of these newer Asian immigrants were more affluent and didn’t want to settled for the crowded and noisy residences in these older urban enclaves and instead, wanted to “cash in” on their middle class status and live in the suburbs.

With this in mind, beginning in the early 1980s, the first suburban Chinatowns emerged in Monterey Park (San Gabriel Valley), CA and Flushing (Queens), NY. Professor Susie Ling of Pasadena City College has just written a very interesting and informative history of Asians in the San Gabriel Valley, which dates back even earlier than the 1965 Immigration Act and how the first suburban Chinatown in the country developed there. Here are some excerpts:

According to the 1990 census, Monterey Park had a majority 56 percent Asian population. Inevitably, White flight took place and more Mandarin Chinese - followed by populations of other Asians - started to migrate to the other suburban communities of San Gabriel Valley including Alhambra, San Gabriel, Rosemead, etc.

After some initial resistance, public libraries and schools began to embrace multilingualism and multiculturalism. Alhambra High School established Mandarin into their foreign language curriculum. Alhambra Rotary is very ethnically diverse and supports myriad community activities. Since 1991, the City of Alhambra and the City of San Gabriel have jointly sponsored a Lunar New Year parade. . . .

Of course there are problems in the San Gabriel Valley. Development has led to congestion. Unemployment, homelessness, and drug abuse are real. There are Asian gangs, Latino gangs, and even mixed gangs. There have been racial squabbles at each of the local high schools. Asians are underrepresented in certain professions and overrepresented in certain industries.

But for the young generation of San Gabriel residents, diversity is norm. As happily as they embrace new technologies, they accept social change and think it is normal. Multilingual, multiracial, and multicultural, they are comfortable in diversity and they expect diversity. The Asian American youth do not know that they are “supposed to” major in engineering and not in sports.

They would not understand why they would want to or “should” date someone of their own ethnic background, as many of their uncles and aunties have mixed marriages. With cultural tolerance is a great celebration of other forms of diversity, from disability, to sexual orientation, to lifestyle. These kids are the Asian American generation that owns the San Gabriel Valley.

Having studied cities like Monterey Park in graduate school, I am fascinated by how its development into the country’s first suburban Chinatown represents a very complex, sometimes volatile, but always fascinating mix of globalization, demographic change, ethnic succession, and cultural pluralism. For those who’d like to learn more about it, I recommend The Politics of Diversity: Immigration, Resistance, and Change in Monterey Park, California. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

As I’ve written about before, these kinds of suburban Chinatowns and other Asian ethnic enclaves are, more than likely, going to become more numerous and bigger as (1) The Asian American population continues to grow significantly and (2) urban Asian enclaves such as Chinatown are slowly becoming gentrified as urban developers and city planners continue to attract residents — especially affluent ones — back to central urban areas.

Nonetheless, while it’s always nice to see more of these types of suburban enclaves that are focal points of diversity and racial/ethnic pluralism, you can only make history once and that is Monterey Park’s/the San Gabriel Valley’s distinction: the first truly suburban Chinatown in the U.S.

Miscellaneous Links #4

Here are some more links out that have come my way relating to Asians or Asian Americans. As always, links to other sites are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of their contents:

  • Campaign Site of Sue Chan, who is running for Fremont City Council (CA). Her website is www.suechanforfremont.com and her campaign features over 100 video endorsements of every day Fremont community members showing their support for Sue.
  • Concert by Far*East Movement. Because there are so few venues for APAs to perform, FM is creating that space by teaming up with Wong Fu and a bunch of other artists for this concert in September. Site is www.internationalsecretagents.com.
  • Blog Action Day 2008. One of the fundamental principles of blogging is to participate in a social community with others. With that in mind, I would like to encourage those of you who also blog to join me and participate in Blog Action Day 2008.

    Basically, it’s a collective effort by the blogging community (also known as the blogosphere) to get bring attention to an important social issue by having as many people as possible blog about it in a single day. Last year, the issue was the environment. This year’s issue is poverty and the day of action is Wed. October 15.

    Poverty is an issue that affects and cuts across all nations, all racial/ethnic groups, genders, and political ideologies. I hope you’ll join me in participating in Blog Action Day 2008 by registering your blog at their site.

Playing the Caucasian Card

In her “The Last Word” column at Newsweek this week Anna Quindlen gave us a new and useful concept to describe what many whites do—the “Caucasian card” (H/T Jose Cobas). When African Americans object to racist framing, antiblack commentary, or antiblack practices, whites accuse them of “playing the race card.” This is a white-framed, whitewashed phrase designed to deflect objections to everyday racism. It was doubtless invented by whites for that purpose. (Can anyone tell me its first use?) (photo: kevinthoule)

Quindlen cites the way that African Americans carry a heavy load of racial hostility and discrimination on their shoulders:

When one of the white guys blows an account, the office line is that he’s a loser. But when a black guy does it, it means that they—that’s the all-purpose “they,” sometimes used interchangeably with “those people”—don’t seem to be able to close the deal.

This burden of everyday racism makes a black person’s life quite different from that of a white person. Somehow most whites assume their lives are the same. They assert that blacks have equal opportunities compared to whites–in education, employment, housing or health care.

She later notes that Senator McCain justifiably likes to cite his long trials in a Viet Cong prison with it torture of a physical and psychological kind for five years. That, he and his supporters plausibly assert, “builds character.” But they forget or intentionally ignore the huge burden of contending with white hostility and discrimination that black men and women face (as well as other Americans of color). They face it for lifetimes, for far more than five years. This heavy burden often involves physical and psychological torture of its own kind. This should be fully recognized by the white media and voters, but is not.

Quindlen then comments on the McCain campaign’s reaction to Senator Obama’s recent and reasonable commentary on being viewed by many (whites) as not looking like other presidents on U.S. money and as being portrayed by McCain supporters and others as somehow foreign and “other.”

The man is black. His candidacy is indivisible from that fact, given the history and pathology of this country.… The suggestion of [his doing] something untoward was pandering to stereotypes and fear. Senator McCain was playing the Caucasian card.

She nails it this time. Whites invented the racist system of this country and have maintained that system, with great white privileges, since the 1600s. They have “played the white card” in every era. They played it in the abolitionist era of the 1850s-1860s, and they played it in the civil rights era of the 1950s-1960s. With no sense of irony, privileged whites (coming from what one blogger bobbosphere calls the “deal”) still play that white card today when they regularly accuse African Americans who critique the racist system and try to bring it down as “playing the race card” and being unfair to our “really democratic” system.

The post Playing the Caucasian Card appeared first on racismreview.com.

Online Survey: Asian Americans and Anxiety

Below is an announcement from a reader asking for my help in publicizing research she is doing on Asian Americans and social anxiety. For your participation, you’ll be entered into a lottery to win a $60 gift card.

But even if you don’t win, as I’ve said before, surveys like this are great ways for us as Asian Americans to do our part to address the history of our community being systematically excluded from research like this. Take a few minutes of your time and help end the silence and help make our voices heard:

I am conducting research for my dissertation examining how culture and ethnicity may affect social anxiety, in particular with different Asian-American groups.

I am seeking Asian-American adults (18 years and older) to fill out a short series of questionnaires online (please go to www.ResearchStudy1.blogspot.com to be directed to the survey) . Asian-Americans without social anxiety, or those who are not sure, are also needed for this study for comparison purposes.

There has been little research done on how various factors affect Asian-American mental health. This study hopes to contribute to the field of understanding Asian-Americans, and lead to effective treatments in Asian-American mental health.

It should take less than 35 minutes and participants will be entered into a lottery for a $60 gift certificate from one of these store of your choice (Target, Amazon.com, Sephora, Best Buy).

All adults (18 years and older) are very welcome to participate! Please pass this on to anyone that would be interested. Strict confidentiality is maintained. If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact the principal investigator of this study at SocialAnxietyandEthnicity@gmail.com .

Direct link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=2_2fS9j_2fPdPQmwAeLRwMYetA_3d_3d

Spain Basketball Team’s Racist Gesture

Several Asian American bloggers (thanks to AngryAsianMan for first pointing it out) and now, major news organizations such as ABC News and the New York Times, have been covering this emerging controversy: Spain’s Olympic basketball team making a racist, anti-Asian gesture before the start of the games:

Mangled bus that flipped, killing 15 Vietnamese American © Herald Democrat/Associated Press

A pre-Olympics “slant-eye” pose by the Spanish men’s basketball team could leave the gold medal contenders with a black eye as they compete in Beijing. . . .It’s a racially pejorative pose not often associated with goodwill in the United States and many other countries, where a similar gesture is more likely to be seen on a school playground than coming from Olympic statesman.

“It’s something that I haven’t seen since I was a kid,” said Sarah Smith, a spokesman for the Organization of Chinese Americans in Washington, D.C. “I can’t speak for what is considered funny in Spain. I don’t know if it has the same impact that it would here. It’s clearly racist, and not even in a jovial way.” . . .

This is not Spain’s first racial controversy involving sport. In 2004, FIFA, the world ruling body in soccer, fined the Spanish Football Federation nearly $90,000 after Spanish fans showered black English players with racist chants during a “friendly” match in Madrid.

The governing body for Formula One auto racing announced in April an anti-racism campaign after British driver Lewis Hamilton, who is black, was racially taunted by racing fans in Madrid. A group, wearing dark makeup on their faces, wore shirts that read “Hamilton’s Family.”

As any Asian American will tell you, this “chink eye” gesture is deeply hurtful and offensive to us. Many of us have experienced the pain and humiliation associated with this racist gesture throughout our entire lives, whether it’s in the playground of our elementary school, or as we walk down the street even as adults. For Asian Americans, it is the visual equivalent of being called a “nigger.”

With that in mind, as the ABC News article mentions, this is not the first time that Spain has been in the news for making racially offensive gestures. While I cannot make a blanket generalization about the racial sentiment of the Spanish people in general, I can say that combined with the previous soccer and Formula One/Lewis Hamilton episodes, this “chink eye” incident does not reflect well on the country.

At the same time, for the sake of argument, I can accept that in this specific circumstance, Spain’s basketball team did not intend this “gesture” to be ridiculing or offensive to the Chinese or Asians in general. For now, I am willing to accept that they were not aware of the cultural meaning of this gesture for Asians and Asian Americans.

But unfortunately, this “lack of awareness” is at the heart of the problem and in fact, forms the basis for much of the racism that Asians and Asian Americans encounter on an everyday basis. In other words, most non-Asians (most of whom are admittedly White) don’t purposely intend to be racist when make jokes or casual comments about Asians.

But when they do so based on their ignorance of Asians and Asian Americans, they only reinforce and perpetuate their racial privileges as Whites. In other words, because Whites are the demographic and cultural majority in the U.S. (and in Europe), they have the privilege of not having to think about their racial superiority — it’s a given, based on their country’s history.

That privilege also gives them the “right” to not have to worry about saying or doing offensive things about other racial groups because basically, who cares about Asians? That is, their racial privilege gives them a larger “comfort zone” to say and do things that they think are funny or harmless but ultimately, minorities find very offensive.

Even if most Whites don’t have this consciously or even unconsciously in their minds when it comes to Asians, this climate of racial ignorance is a reality and functions to “protect” and “insulate” Whites — whether or not they’re even aware of it — at the expense of people of color.

Of course, many Whites will respond by basically saying that even if the Spanish basketball team meant it as a joke, Asians should just shrug it off, that it was harmless and that we Asians should just lighten up and not take things so seriously.

The problem with that argument is that it ignores the larger historical and cultural context. What we need to recognize is that there are fundamental institutional power differences inherent in situations in which Whites denigrate minorities.

Each time an incident like that happens, it reinforces the notion of White supremacy — that Whites can say and do whatever they want toward anybody at any time without facing any negative repercussions.

Ultimately, suggesting to us that we should just “get over it” only serves as another clear illustration of White privilege — of those with in an institutionally superior position telling those below them what to do and what they should think.

Within this larger sociological context, the Spanish basketball team’s gesture, unfortunately, is really nothing new.