Sunday, April 16, 2006

Asians Decry Adidas Shoe as a Misstep et al

Asians Decry Adidas Shoe as a Misstep - Washington Post

Adidas Signs 11-Year Deal With NBA - Washington Post

New Shoe Is a Racial Misstep - Washington Post

At first blush, a caricature of a Chinese face on a German shoe appears to be just stupidity piling upon itself, regardless of the artist’s heritage.

Now juxtapose this event with the announcement, days ago, that “Adidas Signs 11 Year Deal with NBA”, including the company selling NBA products in 2,000 stores in China. What is going on in Frankfurt?

Imagine an artistic rendering of a Little Black Sambo-like face on a shoe, presented to a market of nearly 40 million African-Americans. Adidas, with or without the NBA, would have to immediately close up shop in this country, losing hundreds of millions in the process.

While I admire the immigrant character of unperturbed focus and effort, I appreciate and support their public outrage to this racism – just as I support the voice of our Hispanic communities on immigration reform.

The NBA and their Players Association needs to be vocal on this, not only because of Houston super-star Yao Ming, or the 1.3 billion Chinese market, but because the shoe appears to be on their foot.

James C. Collier


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1 comment:

Joseph in Taiwan said...

Hi James, great blog. Do you read comments on old posts?

I'm an American living in the Chinese-speaking world, and I want to share something with you that I've learned while being here: most Chinese people are not very sensitive about race. I know the image of the Asian guy on the shoe looks bad from the eyes of an American, but not all cultures share our anxieties about racial characteristics.

For example, I was watching a nature show on cable tv the other day here in Taiwan. The Chinese-speaking hosts were observing a group of monkeys who have very long noses. The hosts unabashedly observed that these monkeys look like white people (lao3 wai4 is the phrase they used). There was no embarassment or malicious intent in this statement. When you're not neurotic about race, you can say things like this.

I wonder how much you know about the concept of race as it exists in other cultures, and whether or not this might inform the book that you're writing.

Best of luck.