Friday, February 26, 2010

overlook the inherently racist nature of pool (aka, billiards)

THere's a lot to be said about racism in sports.

But then, how well do we understand that certain sports themselves are inherently racist?

Just kidding, since it's Friday.

Let's Open Thread, shall we?

Is there, for instance, anything more we should know about the whiteness of the Winter Olympics? Or of other sporting events/sports?

What's on your mind, sports related or not (but still, please, "whiteness" related)?

h/t for the Boomerang clip: Damon @ Black & Bougie


  1. I can't see the clip, but I'm pretty sure I know the exact scene. I was just thinking about that yesterday. That is pretty much my favorite movie scene of all time and so funny. Sometimes I feel like I go into the mode Martin's character does. Oh and the asparagus tips vs. asparagus spears scene with the waitress is pretty funny too.

  2. The Winter Olympics IS pretty white, for considerable reasons--

    -class and privilege in the United States and other Western nations. Starting from a young age, if a child is lucky enough to have a privileged background, s/he could afford private ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, or speed-skating lessons, with considerable support from the parent(s). Of course, it's NOT always true for Winter Olympian athlete in the U.S.A (see Mirai Nagasu, for instance, she comes from a working class background with an immigrant mother) but for the most part, it's true for most winter athletes.

    if you look at the Summer Olympics, it's actually much more egalitarian and more "equal." A lot of soccer, basketball, and track and field stars tend to come from poorer backgrounds because you don't really need private lessons in soccer, basketball, or track and field. These are "people's sports" (for lack of a better term) which can be played in open, public spaces.

    -geography -- most nations who are leading in the medal count in the Olympics tend to be White dominated-- Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, United States, Canada. But NOT all of these winning nations or winning athletes are white (like Apolo Ohno who is half Asian, half white). South Korea and Japan are doing very well in the Winter Olympics.

    Anything else I'm forgetting? What do you guys reckon?

  3. LOL!

    I can't remember the movie, but this reminds me a scene where someone analyzes the sizes of our coin currency (from the quarter down to the penny), the directions all the portraits face except Lincoln's, and how that's supposed to coincide with the country's feelings toward slavery. It was sort of eerie when I first took notice...

  4. I got to explain how Hurricane Katrina was an UNnatural disaster the other day in class. After that and all of the comments I've made in there questioning race and homosexuality, I'm pretty sure no one wants to go anywhere near making a comment without a REALLY good argument to back it up now. What's the old saying? "I'll read you, write you, skip a line and re-type you?" :P

    On a lighter note, the other night I went through Complex magazine's "50 Most Racist Movies (you didn't think were racist)" and of the 50 movies I've seen a whopping 18. Of the 18 I hated 12 of them, noticed the racism in some of those 12. A couple were so disturbing I actually made an excuse to leave since I didn't pick the movies anyway. I actually liked 6 of them and noticed the racism in a couple of them. But after reading the commentary on them - yeah... how'd I miss that? I guess I haven't watched since BEFORE I started bitching about stereotyping.

  5. D.I.M.A,

    When the US made their appearance at the opening ceremonies, I played the game "Find the Black People". I never got past 1. I think we do have some Asian olympians, tho.

    What about Latin@s? Anybody know if there were any on the U.S. team?

  6. Angel H,

    there is an a African American gold medalist in this Olympics, Shani Davis, for speed-skating.

    There is a half African-American, half Chinese ice skater from AUSTRALIA (her dad was born in Bangladesh, but of Chinese descent), her name is Cheltzie Lee. She was the gold medalist in the Australian Championship this year.

  7. Angel--

    oh, as for Latino/Latina Olympians for the U.S team, I don't know of any...

  8. Choice of sports is possibly 'white'. Indonesia didn't win a single Olympic medal until they recognized badminton as an official Olympic sport in 1992(?). Part of it is because as a developing nation you just don't have enough resources to invest into athlete training for any sport. But it probably also means that badminton wasn't all that popular in the West, hence it wasn't recognized earlier.

    Aren't most of the sports on offer invented in the West in its current form? And I'm guessing they're globally popular perhaps because colonialism introduced the sports to former colonies? The new additions that are recognizably un-white are stuff like Judo and Taekwondo, and their introduction to Olympics seem to coincide with when Japan and Korea became known as 'developed', at least according to wiki.

    And the countries which tend to rank high are usually the developed ones (and we know why they're developed) with the exception of China which has a tendency to want to show that they can compete with the West. But I wonder if they also correlate to the country's military might.

  9. I can think of six black Winter Olympians in Vancouver off hand (only one African American): Shani Davis (USA-speed skating), Jerome Iginla (CAN-hockey), and Johnny Oduya (SWE-hockey), Robin Szolkowy (GER-pairs figure skating-Bronze Medal), Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur (FRA-pairs figure skating-first all black pairs team at the Olympics).

  10. Oh, I thought of one Latino American Olympian at Vancouver: Ben Agosto (USA-ice dance-4th in 2010, Silver Medal in 2006).

  11. interesting article from a Desi American who's rooting for darker skinned (or non-white) athletes:

    I feel the same way...

  12. @Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist!

    I live in Vancouver and I've seen SOME partiality in the media coverage of the Olympics on Canadian news stations (CTV). For one, when one of the first men's speedskating medal races was on (forget which distance) there was minimal coverage of the Korean male who won silver. Among the top three were: a white American*, the Korean, and a Russian. I watched the event live and when the final race was over and the results were decided, the camera footage which lasted for about 3 minutes only showed the Korean skater once. This was big news for me because during the races, the commentators mentioned that the Korean skater was racing in part for his country, and in part for Asian skaters to show that they/we are just as capable as anyone else. Being Chinese myself I found it interesting that the camera and commentating focused predominately on the Russian and the American* and minimally on the Korean.

    * Don't remember if this skater was American, but I remember he was white.

  13. Off the top of my head for 'non-white' athletes on team Canada there are:

    Shelley-Ann Brown, who just won silver in two-women bobsled!
    Lascelles Brown is on the men's bobsled team.

    Figure skater, Patrick Chan.

    There are a couple of First Nation athletes on the snowboarding team.

    As that's just off the top of my head and I'm pretty sure there would be more to add to it.

    And I would like to say, Kim Yu-na's skate last night was EPIC!

    But yeah, otherwise a "white person's" game ... for now.

  14. Here's what's bugging me: NBC's all "Lindsey Vonn" and "Apolo Ohno" all the time. I'd never even heard of Shani Davis until he won a medal, and even then, he's not in any of the montages, and I'm not seeing many interviews or any other coverage of him. What the hell is up with that?

  15. Not that i doubt or believe that there is a racist aspect to the winter olympics, in all fairness a non-white person did win a gold medal in figure skating.

    for whatever that is worth.

  16. I think one of the more interesting things about 'diversity' in the US Olympic teams is that a lot of times, it is not home-grown.

    They buy Olympians, or offer excellent athletes a chance at training in the top gyms, top facilities, with the top coaches, and amazing endorsement deals etc so those individuals will compete for the US instead of their home country.

    But as DIMA pointed out, it's a lot about geography and money too. Norway, CN, Russia, China will have a lot of Winter athletes simply because they have the facilities, and hell, it snows there!

    I mean tropical countries are often pretty poor, they are not going to focus on building ice rinks and luge tracts.

    The Olympics always have me conflicted. I did not want to watch the Summer ones because of the whole, China being a horrible place kinda thing, but at the same time, you get sucked into the nationalism and the fervor of the sports. I don't ever watch sports except for the Olympics.

    A lot of the commentary is quite racial, I am often surprised to see. But that can also be attributed to how, if a Russian commenter is talking about a Russian athlete, they are going to speak favorably for them and not for those silly Americans, Chinese, Norwegians, etc.

    Also, coverage ends up focusing on the one or two golden boys and girls, as someone mentioned earlier.


  17. Jillian--

    yeah that's weird how they ignored Shani Davis.

    I'd never heard of Lindsay Vonn before the Olympics, but everyone knows who Apolo Ohno, being that:

    -this is his 3rd Olympics
    -he won Season 4 on Dancing with the Stars
    -he's hot

    but he didn't win a gold in the 2010 Olympics-- yet. There's still one more race to go tonight, maybe he'll win a gold. But yeah, that's just lame how they ignored Shani Davis, who won a GOLD!!!

  18. it is what it is when it comes to winter olympics, but if you check the wiki for this one you'll find that places like Jamaica (in the crazy ski cross and bobsled), Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Algeria, Bermuda, Argentina, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Peru, Mexico, Chile, Columbia, Pakistan, Lebanon, just to name a few non-traditional winter olympic countries sent athletes.

    this isn't easy, as places like my country, Canada, struggle to fund athletes and train them, so it's even harder for countries that don't even have a type of weather that would allow for basic training.

    it's expensive and it takes time (for countries to develop their athletes), hell, the i.o.c. is threatening to dead womens hockey because canada and the u.s. dominate, not taking into account that it will take years for countries to cultivate the talent among the young girls even in those countries that have been in the winter olympics from jump, as it's still relatively new. hopefully we'll see more ethipions competing in the cross country events like this year for years to come.

    on another note, the omission of the Asian community in the opening ceremonies and the bs spin job about their respect for First Nations, never-mind their choices for the torch carriers, is typical and not much of a surprise to me. the great white north indeed

  19. @ Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist!

    Those are very good points. In the interviews with family members between events is where we can see the "Class and Privilege".

    Curling may be the only sport where "Class and Privilege" isn't a factor. It involves sliding a stone and sweeping fast, that my friend has minority written all over it.

  20. @7thangel brings up a good point. There has been a lot of toes stepped on in the name of the 2010 Olympics that have been relatively glossed over including REAL First Nations relations issues, huge oppression of Vancouver's homeless, and even laughable designated "Freedom Zones" where protesters are in theory supposed to go to protest.

    Something worth mentioning about these Winter Olympics is how Women's ski jumping was disallowed because in 2006 the IOC deemed it "underdeveloped" while allowing the also underdeveloped women's ski cross.

  21. I've said it before to you and I'll say it again. It's a damn shame that there has been no coverage of the latest scandal at UCSD on here. It has been blowing up locally, and has even gotten national headlines.

    Today a noose was hung in the library. The shit is fucking real.

    Watch the entire series, but this one in particular has a lot going on.

  22. I'm no apologist for NBC, but Shani Davis may have flown under the radar by his own choice. He doesn't like the media much, and especially before competitions, seems to be very keep-to-himself.

    However, Assistant Sports Psychologist Stephen Colbert didn't let him get away with that:

    And once the competition was over, he gave a fun interview with Mr. Colbert:

  23. I did not want to watch the Summer ones because of the whole, China being a horrible place kinda thing

    A "horrible" place? Says who? Western media? Do you still think it?

  24. To be fair Argentina and Chile do have snow, but their winter season is during july, august and september. Which makes it hard for them to follow the regular winter sports international schedule. This plus the fact that practicing winter sports is expensive makes it hard for them to have high profile athletes.
    And just to clarify Latinos/Hispanics is not a race it's a culture. Latinos/hispanics are of many races and can be black, asian, white, indigenous, middle eastern, and of mixed heritages.

  25. His analysis of pool comes from the book " The Isis Papers" By Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.

    It is one of the greatest books about racism of all time.

  26. GC,

    I'm sure you were making a general statement, but although I "know" Latino/Hispanic is not a race, I decided to refrain from saying so after encountering several people who put down "Hispanic" as their race when asked. Since some people say that's their race, I feel like using the "formal" meaning is disrespectful to their right to self-identify (I don't think any of the people I've known are real eager to identify as "White").

  27. Since folks are listing people of color who are competing in the Winter Olympics, don't forget Elana Meyers from the US women's bobsled team. She and Erin Pac just won the bronze medal, see

  28. Ever notice in the US when people are being described for their abilities, black people are more likely to be described as "beasts" or full of "raw power" and "unnatural talent" whereas the description of many white athletes is that "they worked hard to get where they are", they're "intellectual and that puts them ahead of the game"?

  29. "Curling may be the only sport where "Class and Privilege" isn't a factor. It involves sliding a stone and sweeping fast, that my friend has minority written all over it"

    Not in my experience. The closest curling club to me is almost an hour away by car (and probably completely inaccesible if you rely on public transport). Member dues each year range from $300-1000 depending on age and ability, because the season is long (six months) and ice maintenance is expensive. I joined for a half season (had to drop out to gestate a baby), and it was very VERY white and very middle/high class. Out of all the various leagues, I only ever saw one other POC, and plenty of members drove BMWs and the like.

    And I do live in an area where black folks are the majority, but the curling club was a white haven.

    All that being said, it is a hell of a fun sport!

  30. ...about the Winter Olympics, I would like to generalize and comment about all sports as a whole because I do enjoy watching them. I've noticed many many times how the sports commentators/analyst will always point out the athleticism and strength of (for example) Serena and Venus Williams and whomever their opponets are they will comment on the opponent's intelligence for the game or how they play a smart game. That always rubs me the wrong way and I really wish they would stop saying those sorts of things.

  31. I used to love the Olympics, but my interest has waned each year since they went biennial. I haven't watched a single Olympic event this year; especially with the whole First Nations exploitation theme, I'm just off the whole thing.

    But for the open thread:
    I understand Ghana had a (one-man) ski team this year. I'm definitely sensitive/biased,* but... am I the only one who notices (and is driven nuts by) the white fascination for black athletes competing in the winter Games? I'm sorry, but it just never comes out right. It always goes way beyond "hey, isn't that interesting" into the realm of "omg, isn't it absurd!?!!" I always get this sense that they're like, Omigod, black people in the snow! SNOW BUNNIES!! Next they'll be playing hockey and swimming and shit! See, it's ridiculous, cuz they're black!

    It's fucking embarrassing, but they don't even know/care enough to be embarrassed. You know how many white people I've met who'd never seen the beach until I took them to it? LOTS!!!

    *For the record, I'm biased because I'm Jamaican. I don't think I'll ever get over that bobsled team thing. Especially since America hasn't really gotten over it either.

  32. @any mouse,
    Can you believe I live in California— in a UC town, no less!— and I didn't hear about the UCSD mess until last night?? I simply don't understand. And you know what else? It made me cry. This exact same crap has been going on for years, but this time, it got to me. You just can't build a wall thick enough.

  33. karinova

    Yeah. I don't know why, but this specific incident, though of course things like it have happened before, is just really hard to take. Maybe do you think it is because it hits so close to home (I'm from Northern California but go to school at UCLA)?

  34. On the topic of racism and the Olympics, I'm surprised no one else has mentioned (unless I missed it) the Russian team's ice dancing costumes.


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