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8.21.2008

bits from beijing


British swimmer Steve Parry is a former Olympian who won a bronze medal in the 200m butterfly at the Athens games. He never even came close to achieving what Michael Phelps has done in the pool. However, in the above video, he gets a tiny taste of what it might be like to be Michael Phelps... because these Chinese tourists, despite Parry's clear disclaimers, are under the mistaken impression that he is the actual Michael Phelps. Tall white dude with a swimmer's build? Must be Phelps. Eh, you know. They all look alike.

Here's a great piece from the Huffington Post by Deanna Lee, talking about her powerful experience arriving in Beijing for the Olympic Games, and the swell of pride she has felt as a Chinese American watching the international competition unfold: A Chinese American at the Olympics (or, an American Chinese?)

Meanwhile, the controversy over the Spanish basketball team's racist slant-eye photo seems to have died down a bit, after receiving a great deal of attention last week. But did people in China even care? Were they offended at all by the gesture? Did they even know what it means? Here's a story on Chinese reaction (or lack thereof) to the photo: Spain's snafu angers few Chinese natives.

Still, stateside, a lot of people are angry: A mockery of Olympic ideals. The fact of the matter is, an insult like this will probably resonate most with folks like me, who have lived in North America and have had to deal with slant-eye jokes and ching chong chants from day one. It's just a simple, ugly fact of growing up Asian in America: you're going to deal with racist fools.