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Is making a slitty-eyed gesture racist?

Is making a slitty-eyed gesture racist?

Spanish basketball team pictured with slitty-eyed gesture

To recap, the Spanish basketball team pose for a pre-Olympic-Games advert making slit-eyed gestures in one of Spain’s major newspapers. Freelance Madrid-based journalist Sid Lowe points this out in the Guardian, spreading the story everywhere else with predictable outrage in English-speaking media.

To which the Spanish wonder what the fuss is about. The Spanish-language paper El Mundo debates whether the advert was racist, and accuses the British press of trying to smear Spain’s good name. One Spanish basketballer apologises, saying “It’s wrong to interpret it as racist.”, while the head coach says “I don’t think it was offensive”.

Now, brilliantly, the original journalist who filed the report has filed a piece defending himself against accusations that he had a hidden agenda, pointing out that he never said it was racist. Of course, if you see someone carrying an umbrella, you don’t wonder if it’s raining or not.

Oh, and here’s the Spanish tennis team making a similar gesture. Interestingly, a random sampling of Chinese people in Beijing suggests they aren’t that bothered – but then they don’t have the history of racial harassment.

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