Thursday, January 21, 2010

A basketball league only for white American players?

Yep, some guy named Don "Moose" Lewis is starting up the All-American Basketball League, which is not exactly for all Americans. You can only play in if both your parents are Caucasian and American.  Don, of course, isn't racist (they never are) and doesn't actually have anything against black or foreign players, according to him. He just wants a league that is based on fundamentals rather than "street ball" as played by black Americans. To imagine how exciting such a league would be, envision the current NBA, then just take out anyone who is black or foreign-born. (Black Americans currently make up 71% of the league and European players make up 18%.) You are left with a bunch of solid but unremarkable players, of whom the likes of Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller would be the standouts. (Who? Exactly.)

Wow, that sounds really awesome, Don.

Those white hoods won't be good for anyone's shooting percentage though.

You can read an amusingly snarky take on it here. And a satirical one here.

It's a shame that the All-American Basketball League excludes foreign white players. Because it seems like something the Spanish national team (pictured) would really be into.

Of course, only last month a short, white and somewhat unathletic point guard named Kyle McAlarney raised the issue of race in the NBA, claiming that he was not drafted out of college because the NBA is biased towards black players. But he's still trying, pursuing that dream on behalf of all those members of his oppressed ethnic minority.

It's probably Barack Obama's fault. Everything else is.

Here's a fascinating article (particularly if you are a b-ball fan) at National Sports Review:
Kyle McAlarney - just another case of keeping the white man down.

Here's a bit of ESPN's story about McAlarney.

Of course, should he ever reach the NBA, McAlarney better get used to those flagrant fouls; he is gonna be one unpopular dude.


  1. Hmm, he's quite good-looking for such a stupid moron.

  2. "Because it seems like something the Spanish national team (pictured) would really be into."

    I try as much as I can to see things from another point of view as much as possible, to better understand where people are coming from and their different perspectives. But I'm having real trouble coming to terms with the fact that pulling one's eyes a la those Spanish basketball players just is not seen as being offensive here in Brazil (and apparently in Spain as well).

    I took great pleasure in alerting two of my English students to this particular phenomenon, where something seen as being completely innocent and innofensive in Brazil is interpreted in a totally different manner in pretty much all the Anglophone countries. This particular couple is rather cosmopolitan and interested in cultural differences, but despite being reasonably well travelled and having broad interests, they had absolutely no idea that pulling one's eyes back could be interpreted as offensive elsewhere; and just to shock them further I warned that they could even be jailed for doing such! I printed out for the following class a news piece I found online about the controversial Miley Cirus slanty eye episode, just to drive the point home and show I wasn't making it up. Shaking her head in disbelief, the woman said that her best friend growing up was "Japanese" (one of the 1.4 million Brazilians of Japanese descent) and that the idea that such could be meant to cause offence couldn't be further from anyone's mind.

    Now, I can imagine that pulling one's eyes back may not be seen as offensive in some cultures -- I can manage that -- but despite how much I try, I just can't conceive how one couldn't imagine it being offensive elsewhere, since to me it's offensive potential seems "obvious". But to all Brazilians I've come across and mentioned this phenomenon to, they are without exception at a loss to understand how and why on earth it could be seen as offensive. I in turn find their point of view incomprehensible, as (evidently) given my cultural formation and conditioning, doing such is "obviously" offensive with no mitigating factors whatsoever.

    To highlight how inoffensive it's considered here, see this blog post (link below), by an American girl who was here at the time, about ad in one of the major magazines here for one of the recent novelas. As an American, she couldn't help but notice it and begun a discussion about it. Interesting is one of the comments from a Brazilian of Asian descent, who says:

    "Well, for me, who is Brazilian and oriental, there is no way to think that something like this is racist. If some of you have ever seen this soap opera, you would know how harmless it is.
    I think that if someone wants to say anything about another country, this someone should at least to know the cultural differences between your own country and others. If you are an adult here, you now that there isn’t any kind of racism or prejudice in this kind of joke. We are in Brazil. There isn’t another place with so many different kinds of people living together like here."

  3. @ Soda and Candy: Good-looks in combination with little brains is not an uncommon phenomenon. Exhibit A: Jessica Simpson.

    @ Peter: Thanks for the link, it's interesting to see.
    I wasn't suggesting the Spanish basketballers are hardened racists by any means. I can understand that in some countries the "slanty-eye" thing wouldn't be offensive. It is offensive primarily in places like the US and Australia, where it was frequently used as a form of racist bullying. Taken out of that context, it is not obvious - similar to the blackface thing, in a way - yet in both cases, it doesn't take a lot of brain matter to figure out that it could easily have offensive connotations.
    I'd be curious as to what Japanese Brazilians think about the ad you've linked to.

  4. It's probably Barack Obama's fault. Everything else is.

    Actually, it is Obama's fault. Now with the black president, many people seem to think that it's impossible there's one single racist in America left. So many of them feel more comfortable with stupidities such as "all-American, but only white" team. Same goes for segregated proms, for example.

  5. "I'd be curious as to what Japanese Brazilians think about the ad you've linked to."

    Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of "japas" live in Sao Paulo, there being few here in Rio. One of my housemates' friends is of half-Japanese descent, and I related in one of my earlier comments how my friend, not remembering which apartment he lived in, pulled back her eyes, saying he was half-Japanese, to describe him to the "porteiro" (door person) in order for him to let us in. The innocence with which Brazilians treat the matter would seem to indicate that the "japas" would treat it in the same way and would not "know" to treat it as something "offensive".

    Dr Takeyuki Tsuda is the associate director of Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego. An American of Japanese descent himself, he has done quite a bit of anthropological research on the Brazilians of Japanese descent. Below is a link to his book, hosted on Google Books, some of which I read a number of years ago. The relevant passages start on p.58, from the chapter entitled, "Primordial Ethnicity: Racial Visibility and the Essentialization of a Japanese Ethnic Identity".

  6. Following on from the above comment, the only example where I've had the opportunity to view the reaction to such a reference to one's eyes by somebody with at least some Japanese descent, came with the son of a friend relatively recently. Seeing this 14-year-old with his father at work (I give the father English lessons in exchange for him giving me Portuguese lessons), while we were leaving and waiting for the lift, a colleague of the father, beaming and pleased at the sight of the son, evidently a family friend, remarked in excitement at how much the boy had grown, etc. The son smiled uncomfortably as children are wont to do at such dotting from adults, especially since they find it difficult to "see" how fast they appear to have "grown" to the adults.

    Anyway, the next thing for this colleague to say, beaming in delight at the sight of this child, was that he has his mother's eyes.

    At first I thought he meant it in the sense one often hears it -- that one is apparently able to recognise a physical characteristic shared by the parents, even if the child is newborn, as if the roundness of an iris can bear more resemblance to one or the other parent.

    But no, what he was referring to was the "Japanese" eyes this child clearly had, even though it was only his grandfather that was Japanese. The father laughed and agreed wholeheartedly with the observation. The child maintained the fixed grin that wanted this unwanted attention to go away.

    It was obvious from everybody's behavior that making reference to the shape of the child's eyes was completely neutral and harmless and nobody could even begin to imagine how it could ever cause any offence.

    Thinking of this matter, imagine the little child who, running around, falls over and scrapes his knee. He notices red fluid emanating from where he scraped his knee and, neving having seen such, stares it with mouth agape in wonder and astonishment. Slowly, he turns his head seeking out one of his parent for help and guidance on how he should interpret and react to this new event in his life.

    How that parent reacts will determine how that child will thereafter react to future occurrences of blood from scraped knees and elbows. If the parent shrieks in alarm, then the signal as to how to interpret this event will have been given and the child will commense to wail inconsolably. If the parent reacts in a calm, unalarmed manner, then the child is likely to think little of the event and, after having the cut cleaned and a Band-Aid applied, will no doubt promptly resume running around with his friend, not having "known" to treat the matter as a traumatic event.

    I think Brazilians of Japanese descent, because of the cultural context they have grown in, don't "know" to treat such things as "offensive". If they lived in a country like the US, they'd no doubt know to "wail inconsolably" at such things.