Spain Strikes Again with Them Slanty Eyed Poses

August 14, 2008

In my sincere opinion, Spain has some serious, serious educational and cultural sensitivity issues.

Apparently, the embarrassing let-me-pull-back-my-eyelids-to-pay-respects-to-my-Asian-friend ad featuring the Spanish Olympic basketball team was quite popular, so much so that their 2008 Federation Cup Tennis Team also wanted to try it out and share the spotlight.

Well, here it is, courtesy of the Spanish Tennis Federation site and good old Gawker:

I think Gawker's onto something, "maybe Asia-mocking is actually a favorite pastime of all Spanish athletes." How pathetic.


Lisa Lee


Lisa Lee works in User Operations at Facebook, and has more than five years of nonprofit experience in marketing and communications for multicultural arts and cultural organizations.



That's strange. You would think the bad publicity that the Spanish basketball team pulled would have prompted some official of the Spanish Olympic team to say, "Hey guys ease up on the slanty-eye poses!" But now I feel like they're telling the rest of the world that they don't give a fuck. Well Spain should be prepared for the bull's horns up their you know whats. By the way I like how the guy in the back opted for the half punk rock half shaka hand sign- I definitely like that pose.
I see two explanations. First, pulling eyes back and pretend that you are Asian is an accepted gesture in Spain as an imitation of people whom they admire. Otherwise why would anyone with half a brain would think that exhibiting the physical characteristics commonly associated with certain race is a sign of friendship? Surely if the white Spanish atheletes paint their faces black and eat watermelons on MLK day, then they must have a strong love for the African American community. If that were true, then I am finally convinced that Indian Americans were overly sensitive when people tell them "dank you, come again" to their faces.Another explanation is that they use the same photographer as the Spanish basketball team, use the same agent / sponsor who like his or her idea very much.
The question is what do you do?, Are you gonna take a firm stance, or let it ride. There is another similaritie you fail to mention. Blacks Americans would not allow this to happen, they wouldve met this problem head on. I must give LISALEE creit for sparking a debate about his issue, but the Chinese already forgave the Spanish Basketball team for making such a racist gesture. If the Chinese are going to passify this situation with no reprecussions, then the messgae they are sending to the world is its ok to mock Asians, we will overlook it.
force, i left a comment in my post about the spanish olympics basketball team about some organizations that sent out a press release about this incident, i'll copy and paste it here as well. a few mainstream media has picked up this news, and i definitely see this as a great sign. at least something like this is making news, and at least all those news articles are on the side of "this is not ok."in regards to what african americans would've done should an incident similar to this were to happen, it's interesting that you mentioned that because i have a close friend who is black, who has said to me before that the well-the-africans-americans-would've-never-let-this-slide argument is really cliche. and that asian americans need to really articulate ourselves instead of saying "you wouldn't have done this to another minority group, so why us?" to some extent, i do agree with him. why exactly is the slanty-eyed pose offensive? i wish i could explain very clearly myself without letting emotions getting the better of's the press release:OCA & C-100 Find Spanish Olympics Basketball Team's Photo OffensiveWashington, DC & New York, NY – OCA and the Committee of 100, two national organizations serving the Asian Pacific American and Chinese American community, join forces to speak out against the Spanish men's Olympics basketball team's slanted eye photo."The photograph is offensive to people of Asian and Chinese descent. It was a poor decision for these professional athletes to make this historically denigrating gesture and it was a poorer decision for the team sponsor and the Spanish paper to put it in print," said OCA National President Ginny Gong. "And it is disturbing that neither the Olympic athletes nor their sponsors have adequately apologized for their decisions."Despite a worldwide uproar over the image, Spanish basketball player Jose' Manuel Calderon, who plays for the NBA's Toronto Raptors, stated that the photograph and the gesture were "something appropriate and that it would always be interpreted as somewhat loving.""Even if this image was produced without any ill will, its effects are still damaging," said C-100 Chairman General John L. Fugh (U.S. Army – Ret.). "It affects individuals of Chinese descent, as well as others of Asian descent who also have experienced the same mockery, and it also affects the relationships among communities and nations."George C. Wu, OCA's Deputy Director added: "as Asian Pacific Americans support the U.S. Olympic athletes, many of whom are Asian Pacific Americans, it is disturbing to OCA that Spain's basketball team would introduce such offensive and divisive imagery into the Olympics. Highly regarded NBA players like Pau Gasol and Calderon need to also understand that these gestures are often associated with bullying and taunting in schools and are harmful to the communities that support their teams."OCA and C-100 will continue to monitor both the actions of the participants in the Olympics and the media coverage of the Olympics to ensure that this type of imagery or rhetoric does not negatively impact race relations in the United States.
"why exactly is the slanty-eyed pose offensive? i wish i could explain very clearly myself without letting emotions getting the better of me."The reason why Asian Americans find this offensive is that this specific gesture has in the USA (and perhaps the West as well) been meant as a sign of mockery, not "affection." This gesture comes out of a broader tradition of racist humor towards Asians in which physical attributes like "slanted" eyes are deemed strange, bizarre, and deserving of mockery. That's why it is offensive.The question is does this meaning and racist tradition apply to Spain? I would surmise that it does--though I'm sure some Spainards would mount the "culturalist defense" and insist that this gesture is actually one of (cough) cultural affection in Spain.As for what to do about this, I have a serious idea, but I think it's probably too confrontational for certain Asian Americans in that it doesn't involve a issueing another pro forma press release.How about launching a mini-media campaign (on the internet, for example) featuring a picture of a Big Middle Finger. Beneath this picture will be a caption reading: "Message to Spain. Here is our 'gesture of affection' to you."
sadly, exactly this sort of thing happens in the states all the time in exactly the same way: somebody white makes a comment or gesture that is racially offensive, there is a big controversy, and the culprits defend themselves by saying it was affectionate and humorous and some of their best friends are ... and everybody needs to get a sense of humor.we're used to it here, but not used to seeing it played out on an international stage in such a usually stately and dignified setting.
I'm non-white Spaniard. I've suffered with racism which is bad enough, the really annoying thing is to get Spanish to see how offensive many of their behaviors really are. They DON'T get it. They believe they are not racist because they never had Jim Crow laws or lynched anyone.I SERIOUSLY wish people would make an outcry outside of Spain. I still don't understand why the Chinese embassy in Madrid said they weren't offended. That's WHY they are doing it again. The Spanish really believe it's a conspiracy to blow this out of proportion to make them look bad.Protests outside of Spanish embassies would help. But it looks people will let this slide.
Boo Gasol next time he comes to play.
My opinion: the Chinese embassy in Madrid wasn't offended because they understand the Spanish people.Many Asians are upset about this but that's because they are assuming the worst rather than trying to understand the gesture from the cultural perspective of its maker. I'm half Asian and I've lived in Spain, and I'm not upset, because I wholeheartedly believe it was NOT meant to be offensive. I don't necessarily think it was the wisest move to repeat, but having lived among the Spanish people, and being of Asian descent myself, I'm fairly certain the intentions were perfectly fine. It's the interpretation that's been so negative.
kristan, even if it was NOT meant to be offensive, the fact is that it was.there's this quote that i heard somewhere, about how "good intentions pave the way to hell" or something along those lines. i am not saying that we're in hell, but it is purely because of the fact that these players wanted to do this so-called honoring of the east that they were ignorant in recognizing that the pull-back-your-eyes gesture has been anything but affectionate.where do we draw the line between intention and interpretation? if i believe that burning down someone's house is a gesture of my affection, and the result was interpreted as evil and harmful, then is it evil and harmful? i believe so, addition, 4 of the players have played basketball internationally and should know better. bottom line.
the reason it is not thought of as offensive in Spain is because those who are not spanish don't really matter. You can't offend a person who is not actually 'a person' can you? Would you worry about offending a dog if you pretended to pant? Nope. This is similar to some white Southerners at the start of the civil rights struggle. Many of them said 'our coloureds are happy with things the way they are. they don't want no civil rights.' and of course, the blacks in those areas were not in a position to voice an opposing point of view. I think protests at any event where either the b-ball players or any other Spanish diplomatic or international athletic are present is well in order.
alright let's round up people for the next laker game.
oh hell no.
WTF ?!