Guest blog: Why can’t people accept that Asians CAN swim?

Today, I have a guest blogger, Ben Lu, who talks about media coverage around Chinese swimmer, Ye Shiwen’s phenomenal swims. Ben Lu is a cultural entrepreneur, loves technology, is into content making and marketing. Apart from English, he also speaks Mandarin and Cantonese. Ben is a former colleague and a friend. I have been following Ben’s frustration with media coverage around Ms. Ye’s win on Facebook. I invited him to blog about it and Ben, very kindly, agreed. You can connect with Ben on Twitter.

Ben Lu.
Photo: Courtesy, Ben Lu

By: Ben Lu

I like the Olympics for all its drama, and pomp. But most importantly, to see the athletes compete – regardless of the nation they represent.

But the furor around Ye Shiwen’s first gold win really turned my stomach and boy, what an eye-opener.

Assuming she didn’t take drugs to get this level of performance, what she has done is truly eye popping. But the instant doubt from an experienced host at BBC, a reporter with Daily Telegraph and from commentators on The New York Times and Guardian (liberal papers) websites, what comes across is that most folks just assumed she did.

John Leonard, a coach called Ms. Ye’s performance, “disturbing”, which I found truly disturbing. It’s okay to ask questions. On winning, she is tested for drugs anyways, albeit quietly in the background. I am cool with that and think that should be done.

But it’s not okay to question her success in such a disrespectful manner. It just makes you feel like “boy, this is becoming personal!” I bet you, many Asian folks, like me, feel violated and wronged.

This level and intensity of outcry just smells bad. It becomes something more than a simple reaction to a swimmer’s success, something more.

Coming from a person of Asian descent, you might say, I am biased for obvious reasons but a lot of the criticism is based on little or no knowledge. Not all people in China are corrupted officials and knock-off masters. The country is far from perfect and has its issues, but please don’t place your ignorance here and lash out at people who work hard and earn their successes, be that person Chinese or from some other nation. In this case, assuming Ms. Ye didn’t take drugs for her astounding performance, why can’t people accept that Asians CAN swim?

Not all of us have a victim mentality. But the reactions to some of the recent successes of Stephanie Rice, Michael Phelps were so different from those of Ms. Ye that you can’t help but think this is a case of sour grapes.

Don’t use the journalistic fifth estate cover to behave so badly. If Ms. Ye was born in Canada, or the USA or Great Britain, I’ll bet you anything the reaction will be more respectful, even if there was a doubt in the backdrop.

I am not crying racism, but this just looks like a lot of folks in the developed world can’t reconcile with the fact that other countries can re-develop, as well, or even better. (I use the word ‘re-develop’ as ancient civilizations like India or China or Iran or Roman Empire have been at the top in the past and are just reviving.)

To sum up, this reaction to Ms. Ye’s success comes across as disrespectful, unprincipled and reactionary.

A rather unbecoming moment for some of the media outlets.

The last time I checked, the law says, “innocent until proven guilty”. You can test Ms. Ye for doping but keep your disrespectful opinion to yourself till it is proven otherwise.

And congrats to Ms. Ye’s for her second Gold win.

Follow Ben Lu on Twitter @yipenglu

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Categories: Canadian Identity, Racism

Tags: , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Loved the content !
    and i guess this comes off as a representative article for most of us . We Asian, And we can !

  2. Buddy, your friend posted a comment about this earlier. China has a documented history of cheating (need I say more than the cyber attacks on Canadian gov’t institutions or their proud history of health product quality control), so if the West felt that China would take to cheating in sports (and it is documented, and I can prove it), that’s not far of a stretch.

    You know what? While we’re at it, why don’t we look at ALL of the non-white gold medal winners from the past Olympic Games and see how many of them were criticized for being “freaks”?

    What’s that? The vast majority of non-white athletes were not criticized or called cheats?

    Ergo, your argument fails. Stop crying “racist”. It’s annoying. As a minority in Canada, I can tell you it annoys me when Punjabi folk, like me, cry “racist” and ask for special treatment.

    I think you’re merely looking for validation from the general public, and at worst, you’re trying to make a name for yourself in the blogging world. Looking at the feedback of comments on this blog, it’s not working.

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