my slanted eyes are beautiful

Update:  Miley Cyrus [Hannah Montana] is still very young.  No need to slam her for her slanted eyes photos but we should slam the slanted eyes gestures.  Why?  Because we don’t want 50 million teens around the world to think that slanting your eyes is affectionate.  Nothing is more scary that a Hannah Montana with 16,000 fans slitting their eyes.  Right?


I’ve received several emails this past week asking why I was making such a big deal in an earlier post of the photos of the Spanish Men’s AND Women’s Olympic Basketball Teams.  I suppose we have to agree to disagree.

I’m in no position to judge any of the individuals or players involved as racists.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and I certainly do in this situation; Truthfully, I also really like Pau Gasol and Jose Calderon as NBA players…I intend to draft both of them for my fantasy basketball teams in the upcoming season.  But having said that, I have no problems with calling the ACT racist.  While the intent may have been to demonstrate an “affectionate gesture,” let’s make this very clear: slitting or slanting your eyes is NOT an affectionate gesture.  You don’t mock physical appearance because you think it’s affectionate.

For example, when was the last time you saw someone do this as an “affectionate gesture?”

Slitting or slitting your eyes has been used historically in the past and present as a way to mock, offend, and degrade Asians locally and globally.  And if we don’t make a big deal of this and other instances, it will continue to not only occur but be perceived by some as acceptable.

Not only will it be the basketball teams that will do this, but before you know it, others might start doing it too because folks aren’t making a big deal about it…and thus, giving off the impression that it’s acceptable to perpetuate such “affectionate” racist stereotypes. 

Let me think.  Hmm.  Like…you know…the Spanish women’s tennis team! [Update – or how about the Argentina Women’s Soccer Team!]

The latest photo to emerge shows Spanish women tennis players pulling the pose, apparently in anticipation of their Federation Cup match against China in April.

Pictures of the Spanish men’s and women’s basketball teams making the gesture, a crude impersonation of Chinese people, were published in adverts in Spanish newspapers earlier this week…

The photo is still visible on the official website of the Spanish Tennis Federation, where it was spotted. The original is captioned “Estamos preparados para China”, which translates as “We are prepared for China”.

Now, let’s be clear.  Labeling all Spanish people as racists is the most idiotic and nonsensical response and judgment a person can make.  And as I shared above, I can’t speak directly and authoritatively to the individuals involved.  I’m not about to call any player, official, or photographer a RACIST but I have no hesitation whatsoever to call these gestures racist–even if they say their intent was otherwise. 

So, let’s not mince words or stutter to defend the actions.  They hurt, offend, and degrade all who are created with beautiful Asian eyes – just as God intended.  I don’t want to boast here so perhaps, I should boast in my Creator.  God made my eyes beautiful.  Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.


I encourage each of you to be convicted and enboldened to speak up against any and all forms of prejudice.  I was reminded again that this stuff doesn’t just happen with “other” folks across the world, but it happens regularly in our neighborhoods [h/t Joseph]:

Before going home from work, I read Eugene Cho’s blog and saw his post on this article. I laughed at first, mostly due to the pure ludicrousness of the situation.

Then, I was just shocked.

*At the end my bus ride, I got off at my stop and starting walking home. A young teenager on a skateboard rode by, took one look at me, and with two fingers pulled back the skin by his eyes, imitating the familiar taunt I used to receive as a child, and laughed. As he rolled on, he took about four more looks back at me and repeated the gesture, each time smiling.

I just stared at him in shock, not really knowing what to do. Then I was a bit angry. Then, I was just sad.

*Just last night, my friend got caught up in the middle of a fight that had started out as a result of an argument about race that escalated. He may have been targeted because of his ethnicity, as he stepped in trying to protect a friend, who was outnumbered. He has the swollen eye and a few face contusions to show for it.

136 Replies to “my slanted eyes are beautiful”

  1. one of my fondest memories about my cousin mike: when we were kids, he told us the story of how he was taunted on the playground by kids who pulled back their eyes. he didn’t shrink back, he just pulled his eyes wide open — not unlike your demonstration — and laughed it all off.

  2. I’m not defending racism by any means. But I don’t think this incident can be defined as racism. And, according to news reports, neither to do the folks in China. They’ve seen it as no big deal. Perhaps we should take lessons from the [alleged] offended and not make mountains out of molehills. Would I have done that if I were on the Spanish basketball team? It never would have crossed my mind. They shouldn’t have done it not because it’s racist (again, I don’t think it is) but because it was stupid. And stupidity is something up with which I will not put.

    1. I think the reason the people in China may not have been offended is because non-Chinese kids used this gesture to make fun of children with slanted eyes.

      Most kids in China are Chinese and in China, they are okay with each other and don’t use this gesture, Due to this, they don’t even know what this gesture is used for or means.

      They may not even know it’s offensive and think it’s a weird gesture because this is a gesture made in America. Different cultures may not know the same slangs, sayings and gestures we use like we don’t know there’s.

      They have people in China with slanted eyes. They call them Phoenix eyes, I loved slanted eyes because they were so beautiful,

      I began thinking East Asians were the most beautiful race in the world as a child. Phoenix eyes is the most fitting name for such a beautiful eye shape.

      I never pulled back my eyes, though. I thought I had Phoenix eyes, but I didn’t, at least, I think I didn’t I can’t remember.

    1. Oh shut it with the god , why does god have anything to do with this? Eyes are slanted because that’s how some people’s genes make them. It’s genetics that make it that way not god.

  3. @Gregory: the question is not whether the Chinese embassy thinks it’s hurtful. This symbol is clearly hurtful to many people who’ve had it used against them in an act of disrespect. And one of the hardest things about racism is that it fundamentally comes down to individuals. No Asian person will ever have the authority to tell the Spanish to go ahead and make slanty eyes.

    @eugene: Thanks again for saying clearly what needs to be said and doing it with both grace and sexiness.

  4. The longer I live in the mainland, the more I realize how fortunate I am having grown up in Hawaii where being Asian-American is pretty much the norm (about 40 percent, 20 percent hapa, 30 percent white…2006 census).

    Of course that’s not to say that Hawaii is free from racism. At some schools, the last day of the school year was known as “kill haole day” – “haole” being the Hawaiian word for white person. And there was a subtle (sometimes not so) hierarchy based on what kind of Asian-American you were. And then there’s always the fact that as non-native Hawaiians, we’re basically living on stolen lands.

  5. Gregory,

    I dare you to head down to Compton , CA and yell “Hello to my fellow N….rs”. If you survive that outing, and you decided to take a self defence class so you head to a kung fu class in chinatown. As soon as you walk in, you pull your eyes back and yell “Hello to my little brown ORIENTAL brothers”… will see the same reaction.

    You, as a person of anglo decent, may never truely undestand the hurt, anguish, and sadness a lot of minorities do feel. Do not dismiss this issue as “trying to make a mountain out of molehill”. Olympic is not just an event in China but it is a gloabl event with global audience that celebrates the diversity through sporting event…hope to inspire younger generations while uniting all colors of people together, regardless of their race / gender / sexual preference / age.

    now, if you would excuse me….i got to go out to the street and yell “blue-eyed patio monkeys” to those who i think are trailer trashes

  6. much respect to you Eugene for having the guts to call out what needs be.

    I agree the gesture is racist. I agree that it is really hurtful, demeaning and historically loaded and therefore a big deal.

    I guess my faith is limited though. I feel like I have to accept that the kind of ignorance/indifference/meanness that the gesture implies, as a fact of this world. People for whatever reason, how they were (or were not) parented, thier own experience with “others”, media, historical narratives… will think they are better, more honorable, and more deserving than othere because of race. This can be subconsicous or calculated in my experience.

    What I struggle with in seeing big deals like this picture, is the backdrop of genocide, severe economic disparity based on race, American prisons/immigration policy, the fact that women are multiple times more likely to be raped if born Native American, the landscape of tragic race relations seem endless to me.

    I was taught to pick my battles. Forgive. Forget what can be. And fight for what cannot be.

    maybe I’ve compromised. for sure I’m broke down.

    do you think that things like the slant eyed pictures are so connected to the more violent crimes around race that we must treat them all with conviction?

  7. Speak out Eugene! I was at a Barnes and Noble last night and picked up the book “What White People Like” The store clerk, an African-American woman looked down in embarrassment. Wherever racism pops up, it needs to be called out and flagged.

  8. hey P. Eugene-

    I totally think you were right to speak out on it. Of course there’s going to be debate and offense that you would “go there”, because it’s an issue of personal opinion and because what is or isn’t racist is always a flashpoint for debate. I recently spoke out against something I felt was inappropriate and being “laughed off” and of course I got angry flak for taking it too seriously/intoning people were ignorant/whatever. In both cases– yours and mine– I think invisible privilege (or niavte) issues were at play.

    No-one likes to get caught out saying or doing something inappropraite or downright hateful. And no-one likes to add fuel to the situation by calling it out… it’s not like “oh, yay, now I get to pick a fight”. But our obligation is to go there, to call it out. If someone– white, asian, black, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, our generation/our grandparents’ generation, whatever– sees something hateful or potentially hateful occur, it’s our perogative to speak out. If speaking out makes others a bit uncomfortable, well, fine. Good.

    With the issue at hand, I think it’s pretty apparent that it’s a derogatory gesture. That’s my view, from a position of white privilege (…. “so it must be pretty bad”). So if you, as an Asian-American, look at it and see something that’s offensive, thank you for speaking out and confirming that, and raising that awareness.

  9. @ Gregory – you’re missing the point entirely, my man.

    Obviously you have not felt the hot shame and frustration at having a kid half your age ridicule you with ethnic gestures. To say that this was not an act of racism is to dismiss what asians have felt for generations living in America. Not to offend but I don’t know if you’re in a position first-hand to understand what is / is not racism as experienced by an ethnic person?

    @ E: Who was the last quote by? Sigh. It seems

    even adults
    are not immune to dipshit kids acting this way.

  10. Pretty astonishing the way people are trying to cover up a blatant act of racism via ignorance if they were not being intentional with full knowledge of blah blah.

    It’s absolutely comical. The Spain team’s cover-up has got to be a joke to make sense. Brand awareness, cultural awareness play a large part of any int’l organization which includes the national Spanish b-ball & tennis team clearly participating in a global event that is the Olympics… in China no less!

    LOLLLLLLOL it makes them look like cave dwellers. Where have you guys been living life?

  11. It’s almost as bad as if the Olympics were held in South Africa, for example, having these players holding bananas in their hands, but not quite as bad as them walking on all fours knucles included.

    It’s just silly stupid. LOOLL

  12. great post Eugene – hopefully our Spanish neighbors have gotten the message that this was at least offensive to many Asian people in the world, if not racist. And, you know, it is a racist gesture. For those of you who don’t think it’s racist, 1) Are you sure you’re qualified to make that assessment? 2) At what point would their behavior cross over into being racist? Did they need to speak in some caricatured way? What gesture would they make that would be racist? When people say, “you’re overreacting and being to PC” I think, why do you consider it a better world where people can make such gestures without negative feedback? Maybe we need to raise our standards regarding how we treat others a bit.

  13. Hello, Eugene,

    Another great post. I get what you’re saying & you say it very well. Like I’ve written in other comments to you before, my daughter is Chinese & it’s been quite an experience in the depth & breadth of racism, both subtle & overt, that she has experienced.

  14. I may be alone on this one, but I feel like the entire world would be a better place if we all woke up, owned up to the fact that we are all racists (or racially prejudiced, if you prefer) and repented of the ways we contribute to the problem–be it fear, hatred, ignorance, or silence.

    I say this because we are all guilty of this behavior in our hearts. It doesn’t have to be on the front page of the news to be real.

    Just something to think about: the above incident is my story, which occured in a South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. The other story about my friend, who happens to be white, occured in Echo Park (in L.A.) where he was jumped on by residents, who may have been acting out of their anger about the recent gentrification of the area.

    We’re all guilty. I’ll admit it–it’s a daily battle for me to fight the racism in my heart.

  15. PE,
    Thank you for this post. I am of mostly Swedish and German decent, which translates to being as white as Wonder Bread. That being said, I find, much to my shame, that I either don’t notice these types of behaviors or, if I do, I shake my head and walk away. Thank you for challenging us all, no matter the color of our skin, to be aware of racism and ignorance and to stand up.

  16. There are too many people who are getting caught up on the semantics of defining ‘racism.’ Listen up! I don’t care what your definition of racism is or not. What happened was simply wrong and I’m f**k’n tired of people taking these issues pertaining to Asians as “lesser than” issues in comparison to other stuff.

  17. I stumbled upon your blog on the WordPress page. I just want to say thank you for such a well-written response. As an Asian, I’m really surprised by why people would argue that it’s not offensive or that it’s not wrong. It’s a no-brainer but I guess ignorance is bliss for some.

  18. awesome… actually was going to do the same here at my work.. having all the white guys do the slit eyes and me doing the wide eyes you are doing…

  19. hey eugene,
    thanks for making a big deal about this and reiterating why it’s important to, especially since we tend to shy away from doing so as Asians. I know for myself, I’ve gotten to the point where it’s tiring to point things out when it feels like perceptions will never change, and I will always be made to feel like an outsider in this country. i really needed to hear that God created me with beautiful Asian eyes… so thank you for the reminder.

  20. Time-slip, if you will, back to the 1950-1960’s. The boss (of course, male) walks into the office, and pats his female secretary’s rear end. He says, ” I like them round and plump.” Now, someone from the 21st century tells this boss that he has done and said an awful thing, and he is being downright sexist.

    His response: “I was giving my secretary a friendly greeting. It was just harmless fun. It is absurd for anyone to make a big thing of it. How could women possibly take offense at this? I’ll have you know that I am friends with many women!”

    Dear stupid Spaniards, don’ t you think it’s about time you learned that it is offensive when the people you direct your words and actions think it’s offensive. The one dishing it out has no say in whether people should be offended or not.

    Join us. We have already moved into the 21st century. Hope you can catch up.

  21. I disagree. Asians do have slanted eyes after all.
    I think the people are only trying to say, “Hey, we’re going to China”.
    There is certainly no racist meaning behind this. It sounds like insecurity of sorts. If I were playing a game like charades and the word was “Chinese”, you can bet your ass I’d make the gesture. It’s also totally possible I could fall in love and marry a Chinese woman, or find a Chinese friend whom I’d take a bullet for..but I’m a racist because I made my eyes look Chinese??

  22. My mother always taught me that it is not only what you mean when you say or do something, but how it will affect the other person. So while these people may not have been racist at all, what they did had the effect of promoting racism and prejudice at an event that is supposed to celebrate a diverse world. And as we learn to be better brothers and sisters to the people around us, we would do well to think about how our “innocent” thoughtless deeds can cause significant hurt to others.

    And Don’s comment about the Swedes up above-isn’t that also racist? Or is it funny because it is aimed at a white group? I don’t think so (and I’m not even Swedish).

  23. Awesome post Eugene… I haven’t seen a better post making us aware of what goes around us…

    Also as a Christian, I personally have looked down upon people from other race or even religion… Which is an absolute crap…

    Only to have realized that we ALL came from Adam and Eve… And it was only the SUN (Also the SON 🙂 ) that transformed us into what we are…

  24. Your slanted eyes may be beautiful, but my girlfriend’s slanted eyes blow yours away. 🙂

    Look at the tennis team shot. I’m sure the guy in the checked shirt knows it’s wrong, but doesn’t want to be ostracized by the group. Notice his fingers are up there, but he isn’t changing anything with them. Perhaps he reads your blog! Keep it up!

    You are right about the racism appearing everywhere around us. When I was in college in Seattle I had a Chinese girlfriend (Born and raised in Bellevue, so completely American, but both parents came from China through Taiwan after the war and were nationalized.) Walking down the street enjoying her company one day, our bubble was interrupted by a pair of ladies walking the other way. One let out a hoarse and threatening whisper like a Disney witch, “Watch out. She’ll knife you in the back.” I could only imagine it was the stereotype of soldiers in Nam getting knifed by their “lovers” (a rare, but sensationalized happening.) My girlfriend wanted to know what was said and why. She couldn’t believe someone that mean was walking amongst us and I could only comfort her as she cried on my shoulder. I wish we all were so innocent that these events made us cry; a much preferable reaction than under-carpet-sweeping.

    Oh, I loved your wide-eyed-caucasian-mocking face. I might have to print that out and put it up at work.

  25. Amen, Pastor E. Thanks for “going there”. My own personal “slit eye” story – way back as an elementary school student, I saw down to have my school photo taken. The photographer (an older white man) scowled and barked at me, “Hey, open your eyes.”

    My angry response as I yelled back at him… “MY EYES ARE OPEN!”

    Can you say I-G-N-O-R-A-N-T?

    “I were playing a game like charades and the word was “Chinese”, you can bet your ass I’d make the gesture. It’s also totally possible I could fall in love and marry a Chinese woman, or find a Chinese friend whom I’d take a bullet for..but I’m a racist because I made my eyes look Chinese??”

    Only if you don’t think it’s racist if in your hypothetical game of charades that I represent white folks by making the motions of cracking a whip or represent Jews by squishing my nose out so it appears big.

  26. Racism and stereotypes are painful and hurtful no matter who the target is. I agree with you, Eugene, that we need to speak up when things happen, and we need to listen to people’s stories and tell our own as well. No one will know the consequences of these behaviours otherwise and there won’t be opportunities for change. Thank you for taking the risk of sharing your heart and experience here. It is a conversation that needs to continue.

  27. My wife is from Spain and this incident is very disheartening to her. She is also Philippino on her father’s side so she has the eyes of an Asian and this affects her both ways. She is very proud to be a Spaniard and when something like this happens it really bothers her. I feel bad for Asians that travel to Spain and feel uncomfortable with this and I also feel bad for the Spaniards that have to live with stigmata that they are prejudice or racists against Asians. The incident affects people on both sides.

  28. I am an overseas chinese who has lived in several countries including South America and have come to know first hand the attitudes of people from many spanish countries, so let’s drop all pretenses and call black black and white white. I will start by pointing out that latin people are no better or worse than any other people and not all latinos are racists; nevertheless, to all the latinos who argue what is the big deal, this is only an affectionate gesture, I say to you, if you are a racist at least have the courage and backbone to admit it, don’t be a coward and argue that it is a sign of affection; if that is a sign of affection so is someone flipping his middle finger to you! I have lived amongst you, I know your cultures and I know what is in your hearts. You make these slanty-eyed gestures only to insult and express your derogatory attitude and disrespect to the chinese people and other asians. How do you explain the observation that the 3 teams that have made slanty-eyes gestures are all spanish speaking? is this a mere coincidence or is this a pattern in spanish cultures in general? Are Gasol, Calderon, and the entire Spanish men’s and women’sbasketbal teams as well as the argentinian women’s soccer team just individual cretinos y cretinas malcriadas or do they reflect the general ugly racist attitudes that all spaniards find difficult to hide? Is it a coincidence that the spaniards and the argentinians share the same culture and have the same racist attitudes? remember when you wear your countries jerseys, your actions will be interpreted as reflecting the attitudes of your entire people. If you have something stupid to say or some obnoxious action to show the world, have the common sense to do it as an individual and not as a representative of your nation or the world will conclude that you come from a nation of retarded narcissistic and superficial cretins who have no respect for people who look different than you.
    By the way, I fail to see anything special about the looks of those people making the gestures, they are hardly any beauty queens, in fact one of the argentinian girls should do a DNA check for asian genes, all in all I only see lots of stupidity and a definite lack of proper upbringing; Que desgracia a sus familias!

    posted by Chinese and Proud

  29. jonias, yes you are a racist.

    Because you don’t understand that millions of people have been berated with “slant eyes” for a very long time. And you just admitted you would do the same. Good move. Real smart. The very fact that you would do the same means you are ignorant and ignorance translates into racism. And wow. How noble of you. You would marry Chinese. That just tells me you have an asian fetish. And you would take a bullet. OK, name one (Chinese) you would do that for now and I’ll take u @ your word.

    If this is how you feel, next time man up and link your url instead of hiding behind anonymity.

  30. As a round eye, I’m offended!

    I have a couple of Spanish friends living in China and both were horrified by this.

    After living in Europe, the US and Asia for so many years I have say, Europe is way behind on this kind of stuff. As sophisticated and charming as we like to think our European friends are, in terms of racism, I think they are behind the US now…..and the US is still a mess!

    What appalls me most about the photo of the Spaniards is how many people handled this image before it was published: the photographer, the editor, designers, ad execs, publishers. Hundreds of people, most I’d like to assume are fairly ‘well’ educated, and not one person said ‘hang on, this is wrong’.

  31. Thanks for a thoughtful reflection…as a person who has been struggling with the notion of Asian beauty, your affirmation of “beautiful slanted eyes” is very encouraging. When I was in college, I was tempted to get the “eye-lid” surgery to lessen the Asian-ness of my very slanted eyes, but I was well-guided by my husband (who was my bf at the time) not to do so. He said my Asian eyes were beautiful and I’ve been trying to believe him ever since. Anyways, the entire blog was really well done. Thanks for sharing.

  32. It’s nice to see the distinction being made between the person and the act. There are too many folks either asking “what’s the big deal?” or attributing/assuming/judging too much about the hearts and minds of the perpetrators.

    Or responding with their own personal display of hatred/ignorance/racism.

  33. EUGENE. What mockery are u talking about? The slanting of the eyes wasn’t mockery until u said it was.

    Seriously now, no real chinese has been offended by such gesture coz there is nothing wrong and it doesn’t hurt to see people act and look like chinese. In fact, the chinese should be glad that the olympic teams are trying to “fit-in” with the host country.

    Do u think it would make a big difference if a chinese was there posing with them and having fun in the pic? Would u still think they are racists? Or would u think the chinese is a traitor?

    The ones who are getting offended by such gesture is a chinese (or other race who has chinky eyes) that is ashamed of his/her appearance and race! So all u chinese out there, be proud and show your chinky eyes!

  34. I can’t believe my eyes.

    ChikitaChina, did u just say

    “(or other race who has chinky eyes) that is ashamed of his/her appearance and race! So all u chinese out there, be proud and show your chinky eyes!”

    You have officially made the dumbest comment for the day.

  35. excuse me chikitachina while i go throw up. no “real” chinese has been offended? there are quite a few “real” chinese on this little blog post alone that are offended — i among them.

    go take a walk around your local chinatown/ international district and tell the people there to “be proud and show your chinky eyes.” let us know how often you get slugged in the face.

  36. the first time i saw the photos, i thought “are you KIDDING ME???” the fact that anyone could think ‘it’s not a big deal’ and ‘it’s not offensive’ is a sad reminder of how ignorant people can be when racism doesn’t affect them. oh, and spain? the country that throws bananas onto the soccer fields when african teams come to play?

    racism in europe is a crazy, crazy thing.

  37. I can’t speak for the team who made the gesture, but I doubt they expected to get the outrage that they got. I just find that hard to believe. I’m not defending them; I just don’t know why someone would be this hurtful.

    I realize that something that is this hurtful is not a joke. I am studying humor as a hobby, and if you intend to hurt others, then you are not funny. Your an ass.

    Therefore, I would not do anything like this. I know that it is wrong. I find that often when people are trying to be funny, they are really lazy to go with the most obvious joke. If they reached a little harder, there might be more funny there.

    On the other hand, if you give too much of a rise, then that is what some people are looking for. I don’t know why. There are people that have such a double standard. They can hurt you b/c “it’s a joke” by their imaginary rules. If you find their buttons and push them, you will piss them off. Then it’s not funny anymore by there imaginary rules.

    So I appreciate you educating people about this. I’m just saying make sure your response is measures so that you are not so easily trolled. Once they know your button, they’ll push it over and over and over again like a rat pressing on a cocaine dispenser.

  38. What’s all the hype about? The slanting of the eyes are just a way of trying to “fit in” with the olympic games host. In truth and in fact, chinese eyes are one of the best looking eyes in the world.. I see no racism involved.. Only the people who are truly racist are the ones who are making a big fuss about these pics..

    Here in my country we do that often, and we love the chinese so much especially their girls.. coz they have the prettiest and captivating eyes! But not u Eugene u suck bigtime for making a big mess out of this thing!

  39. Eugene — I’m sorry for pushing this off-topic, but I think you might have found the cover quote for your next book: “But not u Eugene u suck bigtime.” Does the “u Eugene u” part count as a form of alliteration? Make sure you copy that quote before deletion 🙂

    Ugh. Seriously, though, this kind of willful, stubborn ignorance only serves to demonstrate your point further.

  40. Guys, I didn’t miss the point. I got the point loud and clear. I disagree with the point. The photograph depicted stupid, but not necessarily racist, behavior. And yes, as a matter of fact, I have been referred to with racial slurs by folks from different races. Don’t assume that just because I’m white that I don’t know what racism is, that I’ve never seen it, or that I’ve never experienced it. It never bothers me because it doesn’t mean anything when it happens.

    The astounding incident in which an ignorant Dallas city councilman demanded an apology after another councilman used the term “black hole” to refer to the city’s court system’s paperwork deficiencies demonstrates that we’re all far too easily offended. Making too much of meaningless incidents like this photograph, like crying “wolf,” greatly reduces the importance of calling out real racism when it occurs.

  41. avid listener, first time caller

    As an Asian American who has spent considerable amount of time working and residing in Europe, I must say that Europeans (generally speaking) are less sensitive to the stereotypical and racist gestures and comments…

    Perhaps it has to do with the region’s colonial history or the existence and adherence to the class structures whereby racial (and other) minorities often finds themselves near the bottom of…

    But then again, even worse acts or comments of blatant racism are aplenty right here at home…there just are not enough cameras to capture them all

    The Spanish men’s b-ball team just happened to have been on the other side of the camera for an int’l publication/advertisement but then again, their acts were deliberate and consensual. from the players on down

  42. @Joseph: thanks for stopping by. i didn’t initially link your blog as i didn’t want to divert unwanted traffic.

    @jonias: you certainly have the right to disagree. but i’m telling you right now, i WILL NEVER play charades with you. sorry. never.

    @chikitachina: umm. never mind.

    @JUST SAYIN: your comment would have been funnier had you written, “two wongs don’t make a right” – since it’s been said before.

    @gregory pittman: i’m sorry that this doesn’t qualify on your “real racism” register. again, while it may not have been the intent to be racist, doing that with your eyes and saying ‘ching-chong’ are two of most offensive things you can do to many asians around the world. why you can’t take our word for it over “media reports in china” is beyond me. amazing.

  43. I don’t think its funny at all. If your picture was put up next to the picture of the spaniards there
    is no difference. You’re both doing the same thing.

  44. I am Chinese and I take offense. To me, these pictures do not say “hey, I’m going to China”. Does going to China magically transform your eyes into slants?

    But what makes me really upset is the way this situation has been handled. The pictures are one thing, but I’m even more offended by everyone saying that I shouldn’t be offended. Brushing this off as not a big deal (because we love the Chinese!) and ignoring what we say does not change how we feel. Is it not racist because it pokes fun at Asians? Is it not racist enough? Is it not racist because Asian Person X isn’t offended?

    Whether or not their intent was merely a joke, a compliment or racism, several people have been hurt by it. Telling us that we are overreacting just makes it worse. We see this as derogatory…even if you don’t.

  45. eugene,

    thanks for posting this and having the courage to call these hurtful and racist acts for what they are. it’s unfortunate that some people bring up tenuous excuses and convoluted defenses for them. let us pray that such ignorance and pride, and the effects of such, is minimized, as an immigrant who has lived in the US for nearly 20 years, i can still remember many race-related incidents (like this and much worse) that have scarred me and my family to this day. that being said, there have been many kind and noble people of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds who i consider as mentors, friends, and heroes. it’s too bad that some of the negative commentators on this post will never experience what it is like to be in that company. but life’s too short to pay much heed to these fools and their cockamamie ideas anyway.

  46. hey there, i really think we are doing the rght thing by highlightin to the world that these pictures are, objectionable because it is racist.

    i think the next time i see a spaniard, i should be tempted to open my eyes as wide as possible or call out “cretinas/cretino”.

  47. @eD: please don’t do that. there’s no need to tempt people or calling people names. my hope was to simply ask people to acknowledge the voice of many asians that slitting their eyes is extremely offensive and racist.

    i have couple friends in spain and i know that there are many who acknowledge the offensive nature of those photos.

    my thoughts and condolensces are with the families and friends that are mourning the loss of their loves ones in the tragic plane crash.

  48. @eD: agreed (w/what E jus said…). Eugene is really right.. “two wongs don’t make a right”

    Greg; I’m sorry my friend but your response shows that indeed you still don’t get it. (can I say that as a brother?) For u to say that racism doesn’t bother you is quite an easy thing to do because you come from a place of privilege. Sure there are racist minorities as well. But the fact of the matter is laughing off reverse-racism is probably a heck of a lot easier for you than it is for minorities. Because we get it constantly at work, on the playground, at school, in society, at the supermarket, at the mall, at the Olympics – you get the point, right?

    Sure we shouldn’t be easily offended, after all if you can’t take it, don’t dish it is what they say, right? But it’s more than reacting to every politically-incorrect term out there, it’s about highlighting the fact that in our society today it is so easy to step on/over the chinaman, or the negro, or even the hispanic.

    Mind u folks, this aint a slam against the Spanish, but against societies that accept such behavior as “normative”.

  49. Thanks for the great series of posts about the Olympic photos, Eugene. This is my first visit to your blog, but I’ll definitely be back.

    I am the daughter of a Chinese dad and an Irish-American mom. Once, at about the age of 2, I was in a grocery store with my mom when a middle-aged man saw me sitting in the cart, pointed, and said to his wife, “Hey, come look at this pug-nosed kid!” My mom was getting ready to claw his eyes out when I yelled, “I not pug nose!”

    If a two-year-old knows better, and is having to put up with racist crap from old men in the grocery store, and people still don’t get the basic concept of apologizing for hurting someone, then this stuff still needs to be talked about in a public forum.

  50. Thanks for blogging on this. I know the Spanish team was just acting in ignorance (“we were making an affectionate gesture!” ????!!), but people need to understand why that ignorance was offensive. Every Asian at least here in America has experienced someone doing this to them to degrade them. We all have plenty of childhood memories of kids taunting us with it along with the obnoxious rhyme that goes along with it. Just because we don’t whine about it on a regular basis, people need to know that it hurts.

  51. After reading this It hurts me to see how hateful people can be in this world, everyone says we have came such a long way, but I now racism is still very prevalent. I found it that most of these people have a very narrow view about the world that do this kind of stuff. It hurts though to see sports teams doing such gestures, and I find it indeed offensive.

  52. @びっくり: “When I was in college in Seattle I had a Chinese girlfriend (Born and raised in Bellevue,”

    You know, it kind of sounds like your girlfriend was Chinese American.

  53. Wayne, your use of the term “reverse racism” actually proves you must not get it either. There is no such thing as “reverse racism.” There is simply racism. And to say that reverse racism isn’t as bad as “real” racism smells of the same ignorance of which you have accused me.

  54. Greg — Instead of trying to insist that you are right and everyone else is wrong (Your comment: “I got the point loud and clear. I disagree with the point.”) you would benefit from taking time to actually listen to what the Asian and Asian American (and other) people here are saying. Even if you don’t define what the Spanish basketball team did as “real racism” the effect on our communities and in our personal lives is racist. And no matter what their intent (“affectionate” or otherwise), the reality is that racist incidents like this are commonplace for many Asian American people today.

    In a sense, you made Wayne’s point for him in one of your previous comments. You claim above, “It (racism) never bothers me because it doesn’t mean anything when it happens” — which is exactly what we mean when we talk about privilege and power. You can blow off racist or prejudicial comments because you live in a place of privilege. I’m not claiming a conspiracy, and you might not be rich or powerful, but it is extremely different for you to hear racist commentary as a white man than it is for a person of color to hear it. Again, I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be hurtful or insulting to you, but you can brush it aside more easily as “meaningless” because you’re not constantly being defined as “other” by our culture.

    I understand that you might feel attacked or misunderstood, but it is wrong of you to assume that your opinion here is right and we should all agree with you. In this matter of understanding how Asian or Asian American people feel about what the Spanish basketball team did, you are clearly wrong.

  55. gar, ask Wayne what “real” racism is. He’s the one who made the distinction.

    Daniel, I’m not excusing racism. I’m saying it only has as much power as you give it. And you have given the Spanish basketball team much more power than they ever intended to exercise.

    Have we forgotten about forgiveness? As a believer, you are bound to forgive whether you’re offended or not. In fact, according to scripture, we have no right to be offended at anything or claim rights to anything. That seems to have been lost in this discussion.

  56. Gregory: thanks for hanging in there with the dialogue.


    I can’t speak on behalf of others. I have no anger whatsoever at the PEOPLE involved? Gasol? Calderon? Photographers? C’mon. It’s not worth my heart to be angry at these individuals. Also, the ‘forgiveness’ line is not applicable here. Secondly, if it was…I’d be careful with it because it falls in line with the classic thread where you put the onus away from the perpetrator. Dont’ be surprised if you receive some more tough love for that comment.

    I’m not angry at people here. I’m angry at the ACT and frustrated that people are unable to see the ACT as not only stupid but racist, offensive, and degrading.


  57. Greg — You say, “I’m saying it (racism) only has as much power as you give it.” That’s incredibly easy for you to say and shows that, despite your previous claims, you still don’t get it.

    Even if someone says or does something racist to you, you can go home at the end of the day knowing (perhaps subconsciously) that your view of the world is still dominant and normative in our culture. For many Asian Americans, though, we have been told in the past — and are being told today — that we don’t belong, that we are less than those around us, etc. simply on the basis of how our faces appear. And, more often than not, the stupidity starts with things like pulling back the eyes and saying, “ching chong” etc.

    And, as far as your biblical exegesis on forgiveness and offense goes, I’ve never heard the claim, “we have no right to be offended at anything or claim rights to anything” — so if a wife is being physically abused by her husband she should just be quiet and take it, because she has no right to being offended? Or, if we see children being sold into slavery around the world, we shouldn’t be outraged? Give me a break.

    I would argue that your definition of forgiveness is simply excusing or ignoring when you’ve been wronged. Further, I would say that the point that Scripture makes isn’t simple “forgiveness” as you’ve defined it, but reconciliation. And that requires recognition from the one who committed the offense in the first place, which clearly members of the Spanish basketball team have not demonstrated (it was affectionate?).

  58. Wayne, your understanding of forgiveness is sadly (and sinfully?!) different from what Jesus Christ demonstrated on the cross. If he had understood forgiveness as you do, neither of us would be a part of His kingdom today.

  59. Greg — I’m guessing that you’re addressing me, Daniel, and not Wayne. And I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you understand that we’re actually different people, despite the fact that we’re both Asian American.

    You’ve made it abundantly clear that you feel you’re right and, basically, everyone else is wrong. And, as I said before, I get that you might feel personally attacked and so you’re resorting to name-calling. Like Eugene, I don’t feel any personal ill-will towards the Spanish basketball team or to you, despite your condescending tone.

    If you want to talk Bible here, go back and look up how many times God rebukes His people for their stubborn refusal to recognize where they’ve gone wrong. You should check yourself before going around and accusing others of “sad and sinful” behavior.

    If I understand what you’re saying about Christ and forgiveness (which is starting to get off-topic again; sorry, Eugene!), then Jesus forgives everyone, regardless of their repentant or unrepentant hearts. So, not only are the two of us part of His kingdom today — so is basically everyone. If that’s not what you’re saying, then I think you’re contradicting yourself. I’m not offering commentary either way about what you believe; just trying to follow your logic.

    In any case, I think you’d have a pretty hard time convincing me that reconciliation is not Christ’s main objective.

  60. Sorry bro, don’t mean to be smart-alecky… just playin

    If I came across (somewhere very far above – I’m not gonna hunt) offensive; you must forgive me my brother. It was not my intention to slander. If I did so, I retract it.

    I think the point we are trying to raise is that the Christian awareness must transcend issues of forgiveness to issues of justice as well. We can forgive the act but what do we do when it continues? Jesus’ answer was 7 X 70. Amen to that. But in that statement in no way does he excuse the perpetrator.

    All we are doing is calling it like we see it. Today it’s the Spanish basketball team, tomorrow it’s the kids @ Denny’s, tomorrow it’s the people on the corner. (all of which happened to me very recently).

    Is it enough for us Christians to say “forgive and forget” or are we becoming increasingly aware of the deep problem of racism underlying simple “affectionate”, “naive” comments? I really don’t think we’re blowing it out of proportion; we are not looking at a mouse through a telescope, we are looking at an elephant under a microscope, if you catch my drift. Sure we’re taking the bait, and getting all riled up, but that doesn’t change the fact that racism is still a sleeping behemoth.

  61. Greg, your statement that “In fact, according to scripture, we have no right to be offended at anything or claim rights to anything” is woefully skewed. I take offense to your conclusion. While it is true that we are called to forgive, it doesn’t mean that we cannot be hurt or offended by others’ actions or words. By your logic, we should not resist bullies. Even in the situation where we don’t claim rights for our immediate selves, we are responsible for protecting the rights of others – in this case, our fellow Asian brothers and sisters. Your statement and thoughts so far on this blog have been irresponsible, spurious, and utterly insensitive. And in this case, this is NOT your call, since you don’t have “slanty eyes” like some of us do. Don’t hide behind “scripture” to justify your lack of understanding of the situation.

  62. Further, Greg, in many ways, your statements are more hurtful than the actions of the Spanish athletes. As a brother in Christ, I am deeply angered, saddened, and hurt by what you’ve written so far.

  63. I saw Amistad earlier this summer for the second time as I served as a Small Group Facilitator on the Justice Journey, an event that works hard at challenging involvement in Racial Reconciliation by the Christian Community. I usually end up feeling embarrassed and ashamed of the perpetrators of the Slave Trade in that film that come from Spain and Portugal, due to my own lineage. Now I am feeling the same as I read about the Racist gesture by the Spanish and Argentinean Olympic Competitors. However, I do have to say that this is yet another reason why I am enjoying watching the Spanish basketball team lose to the American team at the moment…

  64. You’re right, Daniel, my last comment was to you, not Wayne. I apologize. I was reading the thread on my phone. Just to correct an assumption here, I’m not feeling like I’m being attacked. So no worries there. We disagree, but no one has done so in a way that has made me feel like I’m being attacked. I’m grateful for that.

    But Daniel, your description of forgiveness makes forgiveness conditional on your offender’s apology. And that isn’t what Scripture teaches. Christ forgave you and me *before* we repented. If He had waited until after we repented, He never would have saved us (because we never would repent on our own). No, I absolutely do not believe everyone has been or will be forgiven. I’m not a universalist by any stretch of the imagination. Those who have been forgiven have been forgiven through His actions, not their own. We love Him because He *first* loved us.

    Not wanting to be fall prey to misquoting Scripture, I attempted to find the passage to which I referred earlier (no right to claim rights). I’ve studied a passage that points to that end, but I can’t find it at the moment. Although, it does seem to be a logical conclusion if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. However, I did find this passage in Proverbs. “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” Because it appears we’ve reached an impasse, I’ll remove myself from the conversation. I’m not doing it because I’m afraid of the dialogue, but because we seem to be going in circles. We’ve chased several rabbits, and I think they each of them escaped.

  65. Greg – I don’t want to engage in a flame war with you, but I do have to respond to your comment. Your arrogance and condescending attitude are pretty astonishing.

  66. Gaius, I have no intention of engaging in a flame war, either. But, unless you have something substantive to say (you haven’t so far), it might be best to stay out of it altogether. I haven’t attempted to be arrogant during this exchange and, having read back over my responses, don’t think anyone who is objective can say I have been. You’re absolutely free to disagree with my arguments. But just because you disagree with me doesn’t mean I’m arrogant and condescending. Your saying so actually betrays a lack of conviction in your own opinions.

    Peace to all. I’ll stop bothering you now. (I mean this time. I promise.)

  67. Greg, I’ll let the readers decide then on what your tone has been. I respectfully disagree with your assertions. You’re pretty inflammatory though, but I won’t take the bait this time. I’ll let God judge you for that as well, since you seem to think you’re good friends with him.

    Eugene, out of respect for you and in the interests of having better things to do, I’ll keep quiet. Thanks again for speaking truth.

  68. One more thing Greg (apologies, Eugene), I do know my convictions. I served inner-city Asian communities as law enforcement. Don’t presume to know what I believe, seen, and experienced.

  69. Euge – mate im a Korean-Aussie living in Sydney and can’t agree with you more here..
    good stuff dude – i shall be visiting your blog more often and with greater interest moving forward.. 😀

  70. You’ve heard of the fearsome team from Spain:
    They persevered for Gold in vain.
    Poised with confidence, unrestrained,
    Their eyes betrayed the heart they feign.

    “Friendly and harmless, simple and plain.
    You read into it; it’s all in your brain.”
    Such words of comfort they hope have regained
    The misplaced trust ever more to attain.

    Good humor they claimed they wish to retain,
    But it all came under fire and rain.
    In centuries passed, their glory has waned,
    In clueless oblivion they choose to remain.

    Shell-struck people of Asian terrain
    Witness again the white man’s refrain.
    Branded “sub-human”, they once were detained
    In the confines of their master’s domain.

    So goes the story of the team from Spain:
    They persevere for support in vain.
    Poised with resolve, but now restrained,
    Their shame foreshadows all that they feign.

    I am your slant-eye, but this I maintain:
    My blood is as red as that in your vein.
    My insides are torn, my emotions drained,
    To hear you proclaim there’s no one in pain.

    …by Slant-eyed Asian…

  71. gregory/gaius: let’s go ahead and call this conversation. you guys can take it offline and continue but there doesn’t seem to be anything fruitful with the latest comments.

    gregory: you and i disagree. it’s very simple and that’s ok. i’ll just have to trust that you are made of great courage [and action] when you encounter real racism. more power to you. peace.

  72. The Bible tells us to be angry but don’t sin. However, serious disciples of Jesus don’t have rights like most people. Because mature servants know that we fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places. People talked about Jesus all the way to the cross even as He hanged dying for those same people. It might sound strange but nigger no longer affects me adversely any more. I can joyfully pray for them and ask my father in heaven to forgive them. Almond shaped eyes, though predominant in Asians can be admired and enjoyed in all “races”. But, so can unpointed and pointed noses and straight and/or kinky hair. God is so amazing that if we concentrate on God instead of distractions what could bother us doesn’t . Blessings to you and your family Pastor Cho… worry about nothing and pray about everything,

    brother Bernell

    I invite you to visit me sometimes at

  73. My humble opinion:

    1.Yes, racism is racism, whoever does it. I used to encounter a different kinds of racism when I used to live in Asia. The difference was in Asia, if you were a Chinese-Malay descent (at least where I lived), you were disliked because of the stereotype that you were of a higher socio-economic class. In the US, the conotation is that ‘colored’ means you’re of a lower class.

    2. My friends and I always tell racist jokes to each other..however, we’ve been friends for over many years and jokes told by good friends are different than same gestures made by strangers.

    3. All Asians are rich and have wide screen TV…why? Because they have slanted eyes *pull eyelights sideways* (that joke always kills..ok bad joke).

    4. For those people who called me yellow…I disagree. I’m GTD..Golden Tan and Delicious (NO you cannot use that without my permission)

  74. My youngest daughter was born in Korea and was adopted into our family. One of her “friends” (formerly her best friend) has been making slant eyes at her. This makes me mad and sad that someone would do this to my precious child. Although I don’t want to encourage violence, I would not mind if my daughter to smack the Sh$$ out of this girl the next time she does it, and if my daughter did this, I would not punish her in the least other than to congratulate her on the judicious use of physical force. Any other ideas short of violence on how to deal with this would be appreciated?

  75. Emmette, perhaps it would be better to start by explaining to her friend that her actions are hurtful and offensive. Failing any change after that, it might be good to part company with a ‘friend’ who wants to hurt others. I think in this case, violence will beget violence.

  76. Thanks for the reply. A teacher at her school caught this incident and made sure that her friend realized that this is a form of bullying and is not tolerated at school or otherwise. It is the teacher who informed us of this issue. You are certainly right on the use violence, but I also wanted my daughter to know she can stand up for herself and does not have to just accept it. I have also encouraged her to put this friendship on ice, which I agree is probably the best course.

  77. Hi Eugene,

    I was confused about something and came across your post, so I thought I will ask you and try to get answer. A group of our freinds were playing Pictionary tonight and we got a phrase “bull in a china shop”. We couldn’t decipher it within the time limit and didnt score anything. But afterwards we were discussing how we could draw something which symbolizes China. We thought about the national flag but not everyone thought they would be quick enough to recognise it and I made a comment that we can draw a face with slant eyes. I made the comment and felt that it didnt sound right. I came back home and pondered if I was a racist to make that remark. I have always thought myself as liberal but after today I had to wonder. I didnt make the remark as an insult but just as a fact. Am I racist??

  78. Only when you make it an issue does it become an issue. The Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Bugs Bunny all knew that the surest way to repudiate hate is to mock it; blowing it off works just as well.

  79. thanks for the post p. eugene.
    it actually reminded me of growing up and having those same motions gestured at me.
    even as an adult and traveling to countries with few asians, those same gestures are leveled at me (and quite frequently!). i once wondered how they had learned such motions if they hadn’t encountered a person of asian descent before myself.. and then i realized, it’s the impact of racism ingrained in our media that teaches them that it’s okay to act in such a way.

  80. Thank you for being a strong voice that does not allow this kind of behavior to continue. It’s very scary how children are easily impacted by the media and society. I get scared imagining what my kids will endure, as your already have on the playground. I can’t even imagine what that conversation will be like with our kids… I will probably cry because we fight so hard for equity and so many years have passed and this still exists….I was just sharing those stories with my staff the other day during a training. Thanks for using your gift of blogging to share your fight.

  81. Growing up as a Filipino-American in a midwest town, I received a lot of teasing as a kid. Now, as an adult with an 8 year old, I pray that she doesn’t have to go through the torment that I did.

    I still remember the feeling of wishing I wasn’t Asian and asking my mom why I had to be different from everyone else. As I grew older I learned to take pride in our culture, I participated in the Fil-Am events and I teach Filipino Martial Arts. I’m always telling my kid to be proud for who she is.

    Seems like the more things the change the more they stay the same.

  82. this is silly. it’s playful really, she’s not mocking in a bad way. To mock doesn’t always mean you’re being rude or trying to hurt them, to make fun of something or someone isn’t always rude or to be rude. to “make fun” is exactly that, to have fun and I find it interesting that some eyes are slanted and some aren’t, neither one is “right” neither one is “wrong” it’s just interesting, why are people so stuffy that they have to try to find reasons to be offended all the time instead of having fun in life and laughing and thinking about how neat and weird it is that we all have different looks?

    I think it most certainly can be affectionate, ever heard of people shaving their heads in respect for their friends or loved ones who have to because of cancer? It’s affectionate, not being rude or mean.

  83. This post reminds me of a question I have often thought about: is anti-racism a cultural value? Growing up in the U.S. we learn that race and culture are things we must be sensitive towards. But then we judge people from other cultures by our own standards of what is racist.

  84. I don’t want to dismiss your personal experiences, but I personally think that it’s sad that it’s become fashionable to find everything racially offensive. I grew up in a small mountain town in Germany, close to the French and Swiss borders. Even to this day, only very few non-Germans live in this region, and I must have been as nine or ten when I first saw an East Asian person in real life. I may have seen East Asian people on telly before, but seeing one in real was simply fascinating. I was not even aware that humans can look so different! The person in question was a South Korean kid who went to my school (classmate of mine), and his eyes were basically just two tilde-shaped slits like piggy bank openings. For us (my other classmates and me) it was simply fascinating that such a shape can come about naturally, and I remember all of us asking him if he was able to see normally and asking him to squint for us which was funny because when he did, his eyes’ shape barely changed. And we did also use our fingers to pull our own eyes into slits to see what it feels like. I even remember doing it at home, looking at the mirror, and being envious of my classmate because I thought that that eye shape made me look especially good. We were a bunch of ten-year-old children and had certainly not been inculcated racism agains East Asians (being there none in our town, there’s no reason why), so I am convinced that this is pretty normal behaviour that arises from curiosity. I am a grown-up woman now. While the fascination hasn’t gone away, I stopped doing the slit-eye gesture during my early teens because the initial curiosity simply wore out. Nobody had to tell me you don’t do that because it might be offensive. It’s just common sense. So what I’m intending to say is, sometimes fascination and curiosity may lead people to do funny gestures. Just don’t take everything personally and be offended by things not meant to be offensive.

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