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Controversy with the Spaniards

August 13th, 2008
by John

If you hadn’t heard, there is a big controversy going on about a photograph of each member of the Spanish basketball team pulling their eyes back to make them “slanted.” When I first heard about it, I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire and really wanted to think about if I should post it on this site.

But this morning when it became the top story presented on Yahoo’s home page, I felt I had to bring it up.

I won’t post the photo here, but you can check it out here along with an article.

Another article about it is here.

So what do you think?

31 Responses to “Controversy with the Spaniards”

  1. George Says:

    I think Team Spain is absolutely full of CRAP if they thought this is funny. And I will NOT feel sorry if they can’t make it out of China alive.

  2. Wilson Says:

    I heard the Spanish team called the USA Dream Team full of N****S!!!
    Hope the USA Dream Team kick their asses!!!

  3. Wilson Says:

    It’s disrespectful to Chines people!!!
    It’s like calling a Black guy N-word!!!

  4. CC Li Says:

    I’d say all asian countries push for Madrid not to get the Olympics in 2012

  5. George Says:

    I’m Chinese and honestly, I am not offended by this. The Spanairds are good guys. Pau Gasol is one of the nice guys of the NBA, as is Calderon. They hold no hostility towards the Chinese and I highly doubt they meant to offend anyone with their goofy pose.

  6. Joe Smith Says:

    Extremely slanted eyes is an ugly characterization of Chinese people. It’s the equivalent of putting fake hair all over your arms and face in order to exaggerate how hairy Indian people are if the Olympics were being held there.

  7. George Says:

    This is the original George posting the first post in this thread. The last “George” is a disgrace to Asians. Please disregard his childish post. Thank you.

  8. karamazov Says:

    In the US, there is a long history the stereotype “slant eyes”, associated with anyone of east Asian origin. To depict Chinese people this way by the Spaniards is basically racist. I am sure the Spaniards don’t think they are racist, in fact, most racist people don’t think or know they are racist. We have to be tough on this one, so its not perpetuated any further.

    John: I’d like to hear about your thoughts on this one, since you are an Asian American, who grew up in Houston. I wonder if you’ve ever been a victim of racism?

    Definitely have been. I was called every Asian racist name in the book, but it tapered off as I got out of high school and went to college where people were more mature, went to a university where there were more Asians, and you were judged more on your personality and accomplishments rather than your appearance. — John

  9. AirChina23 Says:

    I agree with John. I went through school in Oklahoma and Indiana, the two places where you don’t see much Asians compared to bigger cities. And I was not immune to the Asian insults, whether intended or not. But as I aged and so did my peers, and I do not expect to be insulted by people of my age and older. So while I truly do not believe that the Spanish players are racists, I still think this was an ignorant gesture and they should apologize.

    Here is what I wanted to ask John. I think we both watched the Spain-China game on TV, but I did not hear any boos at all. The Chinese fans were making noises at the foul line and that was about it. There was a time when a Spanish player (Garbajosa) fell down hard on the floor, the Chinese fans all applauded when he was helped up and went to the locker room. I do not get the media when they said the Chinese fans booed viciously.

    And I did not see any Chinese media covering the story until right now. Given the fact that there are only 115 comments on the story, it was probably only posted within an hour. And a brief sampling of those comments reveal the reactions of the Chinese public, 1/3 said they understand the actions of Spain, 1/3 said the media is blowing it out of proportions and urging everyone to stop being so sensitive, and the rest said team Spain needs to be crucified or something to that extent.

    Obviously the Chinese public had just heard about the incident until now, so the media was completely bogus when they said the fans booed them viciously.

    I would agree with you. I don’t think the Chinese were booing because of the controversy. I think the reporters who said that were irresponsible. Kind of reminds me of that idiot writer for the Washington Times who said Houston fans booed Yao after he got hurt. If they did boo (which I don’t think they did), how in the hell did they know what they were thinking? Do these reporters have ESP? As we’ve seen this year, 2008 has been the year that true journalism died. — John.

  10. AirChina23 Says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if the NBA is going to do anything, and more interestingly, if Li Ning is going to do anything. After all, Li Ning had just received huge free publicity with him lighting the cauldron.

  11. DWC Says:

    i too went thru what john and airchina went thru growin up. pau and the rest of the guys might be good guys. i dont’ know them so they might be bad guys too. whether they are racist or not, what they did was ignorant and immature. we’ve all known shaq to be immature, but this comes from a whole team and not an individual. wasn’t pau in the league when shaq got crucified??

    i dunno what spanish stereotypes are……but if the chinese team all decided to make big lips before they played the US team, that would be an equivalent of what the spanish team did.

    i found out about the controversy after watchin the game. it pisses me even more now that china couldnt’ hold onto the lead. i hope we play spain again and beat them in the medal round.

  12. Esteban From CA Says:

    Yes, it was intentional, but I don’t believe the spaniards understood that this would eventually get published online.

    It was dumb and it should never have been taken in the first place.

  13. Tommy Says:

    I went to a high school that has more blacks than any other race. In order for me to survive, I had a choice. Stick around with nerdy Asians and get picked on, or stick around with Asian gangstas and be feared. I never regret my decision. Anyone that ever pulled the slanty eyes gesture or said any racist Asian slurs on us, we’re ready to rumble and throw down! We were the most feared Asian groups in the whole school, not even the teachers want to be on our bad side.

  14. Oudam Says:

    The sentiment among the Spaniards has been “What’s the big deal?” Whether or not they intended to be racist, the photo offended many people, especially Asian American. The appropriate response would be to apologize. As for the Chinese themselves, they seem not to be offended by the insult. This is understandable because unlike Asian Americans, they have not been exposed to a lot of racist insults in their lives.

    In fact, Frank Zhang of Li Ning even went as far as to call the act “humorous” and “cute”. I personally find this very disturbing but what can you do?

    “Frank Zhang, Li Ning’s director of government and public affairs, played down the incident.

    “We don’t think this is an insulting gesture to the Chinese,” Zhang said. “In fact, the gesture shows that the Spanish team is so humorous, relaxing and cute. They sat around a dragon pattern, which we think showed respect to the Chinese.

    “Li Ning Ltd. will not change any business plans with the Spanish team because of this,” Zhang added. “People should focus on great Olympic Games instead of something else.”

    That Frank Zhang guy is an idiot. Cute? Humorous? Not change business plans? He can say that about his own country’s reaction, but he has to be a total nimrod to not know about the racism that people with Asian blood have had around the world. He just alienated any Asian-American from buying their product in this country if they ever decided to sell their product in the U.S. Let’s remember what he said if they ever try to expand sales in America. — John

  15. Oudam Says:

    I should add that this incidence carries implications about Spain’s bid to hold the Olympics in Madrid in 2016. Spanish fans have been known to display racist antics at games, like showing up with black-painted faces to mock opposing black players.

    The Spanish people, like their basketball players, see nothing wrong with the act and continue to insist that it’s not offensive, even if it offended many people.

    If China doesn’t believe that the photo is offensive, I wonder how they’ll react in the 2016 Olympics in Madrid where hostile fans will show up wearing buck teeth and painted faces depicting East Asian physical stereotypes. The hateful atmosphere may embolden judges and referees to become biased against China and East Asians, too.

  16. George#2 Says:

    Why am I a disgrace to Asians? This is hardly worth the effort to attack the Spaniards. Yes, it may have been a lapse in their judgment, but its not hostile.

    If you want to see hostile, just check CNN.com and SI.com and read all the garbage they’ve been posting about China and our athletes. The Western media facets are nothing more than vile sore losers who cant stand the thought of Chinese Gymnasts standing above the US on the podium.

  17. Wendy Says:

    I went to school in germany, and as a kid, I got involved in several playground fights because my classmates were teasing me as ‘slatch eye’ in an insulting way.

    That said, I think the Spaniards didn´t want to insult – they were just ignorant to what could insult other people, which is bad enough in our global world. Ignorance is not an excuse, especially in the olympics.

    I do see some similarities with Shaq´s cing cang cong incident in Yaos rookie year – the people getting upset were chinese living overseas, while the chinese back in china didn´t really understand what the fuss was all about, as we can see from Yaos reaction a that time.

    I think that as oversea asians we are more sensible to this kind of stuff because we can relate to the racist treatment that we went trough, while the people back in asia didn´t experience insults similar to Shaq´s words or the Spaniards photo – that explains the absence of uproar in china over this incident. The Spaniards should make a sincere apologize, everybody should learn from it, and we should move on. That´s my opinion.

    BTW, I´m asian but not chinese, living in europe.

  18. Sandy Kho Says:

    If such an act was committed by a bunch of juvenile it can be expected. If it were committed by a group of KKK it is understandable. Committed by a team representing their nation in a World sport such as Basketball is inexcusable. Further compounding to the hurt is by refusing to provide an unconditional apology, instead finding excuses.

    I am a Taiwanese Australian and find Team Spain Basketball most disrespectful. Conducting in such an offensive manner whilst enjoying the hospitality of the host country bring shame to their nation.

    Education is the key to reducing these occurrences. These sort of behaviours were always in the past seen as acceptable in many countries, in large part due to the dismal status of Chinese countries. With the continual rapid rise of countries with predominantly Chinese, these behaviours will gradually decrease. The speed of change will however relay largely on continual vigilant vocal opposition from us all.

  19. Jake Says:

    Yeah, like others have mentioned, overseas-Asians will definitely find this offensive because most of us have experienced this type of racism while the native-Asians won’t.

    But what most native-Asians don’t get is that the “slant eye gesture” is usually accompanied by other taunting and it’s done over and over as we were growing up.

    Of course I don’t really blame the native-Asians, because it’s not their fault.

    What’s interesting is that both America and England immediately saw this as racist, whereas I assume some other Euro nations might not have.

    And like Oudam mentioned, Spain has a history of racism, like being in blackface to insult opposing black players.

    This kinda of stuff should definitely be brought up in their Olympics bid.

  20. Patrick Says:

    at first, asians get made fun of in elementary school by the respective ethnic majority of that territory. they do nothing. then, those same asians get made fun of in high school. they do nothing. now, at the world’s center stage, they get made fun of in their own territory, where they have all the power they will ever have to take proper measures. they do nothing.
    what makes you think the world will ever change how badly they treat asians all around the world? the world doesn’t respect asians as a people. i wonder what it is that makes them look down on asians. is it the fact that asians continually kiss the ***** of those who portray us as less than humans, or is it because that’s all we think of ourselves? (i’m seriously unsure as to the answer to this question.)

  21. Oudam Says:

    I think it’s one thing to lack sensitivity because one had not been exposed to racial taunting by others, but to hail the Spaniards’ childish antics “cute” and “humorous,” as Mr. Frank Zhang of Li Ning Ltd. had is like pouring salt on a wound.

    It appears that Mr. Zhang was at least aware that overseas East Asians are offended by the act and went out of his way to defend it even as Pau Gasol himself admitted that he did not find the pose funny.

    As for Gasol and Calderon, they both played in NBA cities with large Asian populations, so I find it hard to believe they were innocently unaware of the potential harm of the pose as they claimed.

    Since we don’t buy Li Ning products, Asian Americans could petition the NBA to discipline Gasol and Calderon for their acts, if only to send a message to Spain that such antics are incompatible with the spirits of the Olympics.

    I completely agree with you. But the disciplining of Gasol and Calderon probably wouldn’t fly because it wasn’t illegal, there were others involved, and they weren’t in an NBA uniform or even on U.S. soil when the photo was taken. Maybe the NBA should provide racial sensitivity orientation classes to foreign athletes as part of their rookie orientation where they learn about exhibiting good behavior no matter where their travels may take them. — John

  22. NewPhoto Says:

    Amazing, now that I see a second photo and more people doing it. I think it was their intent to offend Asians. They fear Asian were going to have a notch higher than them in anything so what they do is make something to keep them lower and make them feel good about themselves and Asian feel ashamed to be themselves.

    They do this usually when they go against CHINA, something fishy

    Look at this photo it is ridiculous.

  23. Ken Chau Says:

    Everyone that’s offended, just take a dump on the Spain flag. The urinate on it. Make sure you post it on youtube, and just say it’s a joke cause it’s very cute!


    Not that’s funny! I love it. — John

  24. Ken Chau Says:

    Thank you, John. I’ve already burnt a Spain flag and then urinate on it. I video recorded it too. I’m going to post it on youtube as soon as I figure out how to. I’m not good with computers.

  25. Oudam Says:

    While I wouldn’t describe the pose as “vicious” or “hateful,” I think it reflects an arrogant and condescending attitude many Spaniards harbor toward east Asians and other ethnic groups. Spanish fans have been known to show up at sporting events with black-faces to mock the opposing black players.

    That the photo was allowed to be taken at all–never mind that it was published by Spanish newspapers– shows just how much regard Spaniards have for the sensitivities of others. Their defiant response and attack on the media (for making a fuss about the pose) call into question the Spanish people’s readiness to host the 2016 Olympics.

  26. Human Says:

    When I look at that picture I think that the Spanish team is telling the Spanish people: “Get ready, guys! We’re going to China!”.
    Seriously, they didn’t mean anything bad. They already apologized. Just stop this controversy, because it’s not worth it. The Spanish guys are really good kids. They never wanted to offend anyone. Just accept the apology and stop this.

  27. Oudam Says:


    Your response is inappropriate. If some European or Asian team were to pose in monkey suits before heading out for competition in Africa, it would be inexcusable, and the Africans would have every right to protest it. Why should Asians drop the matter? Because we’re passive and we’re supposed to put up with this kind of crap?

  28. tp Says:

    well, u know how them “wetbacks” are, they’re just ignorance and jealous of chinese people…….

  29. tp Says:

    remember that all “wetbacks” dont care what type of asian you are, if you’re look asian, they’ll called u “Chino”, see how ignorance …………

  30. Human Says:

    Te problem, Oudam, is that in Spain that gesture isn’t used to mock the Chinese. There’s even a childsong where the gesture is used to teach equality, to show that the Chinese and the Spanish aren’t that different. In the Spanish culture, that’s a gesture that shows respect and equality. Hence the misunderstanding.
    If the gesture is used in the USA and in the UK to mock the Chinese, that’s their problem. But not in Spain.
    By the way, I’ve seen a lot of pictures of some Chinese people in Beijin doing the same gesture to show that they aren’t offended by it. Even the athletes said the gesture isn’t insulting for them.
    It’s a problem of cultures, that’s all.

  31. tp Says:

    u need to have a reality check “human” .

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