Oy. The incident with Humberto Quintero making his eyes look slanted behind Bruce Chen, a Chinese Panamanian pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, leaves me feeling super-conflicted. A lot of fans got upset by the gesture, angered by his "friendly racism." Those who complained said Quintero should have used better judgment, and some even called him "racially insensitive."
However, it seems Bruce took it all in stride and laughed about it on Twitter later. The storm seems to have died before it even began.
Regardless of the fact people used to do this in jest to me back in elementary school, I wasn't offended at all by this, as it seems that Quintero and Chen are good friends. It was pretty dumb of Quintero to do it on national TV, but nothing to rake him over the coals for. But there is one thing that still makes me feel incredibly guilty when it comes to situations like these.
I can only imagine that if this were any other group, if Quintero were making fun of an African American/Hispanic/homosexual teammate during a live interview, people would be demanding his suspension and a written apology would be coming out later today. That's why, even though I don't feel angry at all about the gesture, I do feel a little guilty for being so "meh" about it. Sometimes I get frustrated when Asians stay silent and let really insulting issues slide, more so than other groups -- but this one is way too minor to rally around.
Granted, you can argue that these other minority groups faced far more persecution and discrimination than Asians -- but that doesn't make it any more right or wrong. A racist gesture is a racist gesture.
I'm kind of hoping that we can make an example of Chen's reaction to all of this, by not creating a media storm (which he definitely could have). But that doesn't mean I still don't wish that people would get used to Asians playing in professional sports, that we do actually speak English without accents, that we're more than science and math nerds, and that we can make fun of each other from time to time as long as there are no feelings of hatred or resentment behind it.
Like Chen said on Twitter: "I am proud to be of asian descent and I love the way my eyes look! I think it makes me look sexy. I am not offended by Quinteros actions" and "Humberto is my friend and he was pointing out one of my best attributes, my eyes! #proudtobeofasiandescent." Well, Chen has made a new fan out of me by taking the high road. I just hope Quintero keeps his "friendly racism" for the locker room. Doing it on live TV doesn't make him a racist, it just makes him look like a moron.
Here's more on the matter:
Do you think Chen should have been more angry about this? Do you think people would have reacted differently if he weren't Asian?
Image via Fox4KC