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US Diversity and the Olympics

I was going through some of the images from the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics in Beijing. I am always struck by how mono-ethnic all the other nation's  teams look compared to the US. The only European nation that was not mono-ethnic looking was Portugal, another reason why I love that place. Brazil was out is its multi-ethnic-racialness, but everyone else was looking pretty homogeneous.

One would think that the world would be different by now with all the globalization and immigration, especially around sports, which tends to be more open than politics. Since I don't have a TV, I will miss almost all of the Olympics, besides my indifference to everything except Track and Field, which as been tarnished by doping scandals.

The US gets a gold for diversity, now if only we can work on Congress.


Gong Szeto

true enough, but..(and you do need a tv for this..)

it is very nice to see diversity in countries (mono-ethnic or not) being represented together, in real-time, almost blurred together in the speed of the events themselves, in the jump cuts, in the replays, on the medal dais...that alone is such a powerful (re)connector to the fact that we are a collection of people of nations (the nations themselves are merely represented by flag logos). the olympics may not explicitly be about ethnic diversity, but perhaps moreso about political and national diversity, the common language here being athletics, barely if not anything else.

i find it pretty refreshing even in its abstraction and reduction, and even if it only lasts a few weeks and every four years.

i do, however, get a little annoyed at the american rah-rah bias of american coverage, but it's going to be that way in all respective countries. all different tribes, all cultures and nationalities with their big problems, so much SUBTEXT during these events!

good sports journalism will hopefully reveal many good personal stories of the athletes themselves, as this would also deepen the experience overall for all persons watching the olympics. i won't be so trite as to say that this event *transcends* politics and social problems, but there's an undeniable power to the moving image to shape perception and behavior.

i only wish i were there in person - i am certain that the overall experience would feel pretty broadly multi-culti. i just wonder if there's a way to express, not an anti-nationalism per se, but to walk around under a flag of all flags (the UN symbol doesn't work for me because of its connection to politics and war) to express pro-pan-cultures.

after the olympics are over, it will be business as usual, for certain. but, this is a nice kind of mind-opening and prejudice-suppressing breather. not a bad thing, especially if it is a consensual one on a global scale during the next few weeks.

lots of tragedy can still rear its ugly head during these high-profile events (munich), and that is part of it - the tension, the potential for something still to erupt, during what is a moment of peace among (most nations) fragile, tenuous, easily pierced.

some of the great subtle (and not so subtle) things you are missing not having a TV, is how the national anthem of the united states is being played during medal ceremony. to quote bonnie, "it's being played like a dirge. i feel like i am at a funeral." whether or not this is explicitly intentional, total projection, i sure noticed it, too.

tonight's high-point of many, was dana torres' performance in the women's swimming relay. she's 41 and broke a world record. ok, she's white. but she's still cool in my book. would it have played differently had she been of an ethnic minority? you betcha, but in my almost-colorblind book that's splitting hairs. her age alone says this shouldn't be possible. but it isn't about her age, is it? it's about our *perception* of her age. ultimately, our collective perceptions are wrong about so many, many things.

i am catching myself imagining joe-sixpack in bible belt jingo-assed US of A wondering about his/her observations, feelings, all these unpronounceable last names, all these accents, all these slitty eyes, all those anorexic dark-skinned bodies, what they feel when they see their red white and blue girls and boys get their butts kicked by them.

i catch myself doing this a lot.


i don't have a tv either, but i am so excited about the olympics, that i bought a small USB device to watch on my laptop.

love your insights.

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