Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympics: Pleasure & Pain

I've had Olympics fever for the last several nights. Ever since it started, I've been up until 2:30 in the morning gobbling up every moment, from Phelps' golds to the men's gymnastics surprise to the women's gymnastics meltdown. I *love* the Olympics - I always feel so inspired and happy to watch the culmination of so many years of hard work, determination, and perserverance. I feel like it is a time when we can celebrate each other's achievements. I am just as elated to see an American athlete achieve their dreams as any other nation's athletes. After all, people are people and we all want the same things for ourselves, our families, and our children.

So that's why the photo of the Spanish basketball team slanting their eyes in an advertisement hurt me so much. I even commented publicly on a blog about it. This is what I wrote:

"When I saw the photograph of the Spanish basketball team slanting their eyes, I felt extremely hurt and saddened. As a Chinese-American growing up in Georgia and in Pennsylvania, I remember painful moments during childhood when classmates tormented me with this very gesture. They pulled at the corners of their eyes and said, "Me Chinese, me play joke, me put pee pee in your Coke!" I always went right to the bathroom to cry secretly in the stalls, and would do so again later at night before going to sleep. I remember feeling different, less worthy, less good-looking, and certainly like I did not belong. I fully understand and credit that the players were not attempting to offend, insult, or injure, but as we all know, what we think we are saying or intending does not always reflect what others are receiving. The Olympics is supposed to build bridges between cultures and nations, not tear them down. This gesture highlights differences between the Caucasian and Asian races, rather than trying to unify us as a human race."