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Friday, October 12, 2007
 
Jason Chung on Yi Jianlian and Reverse Prejudice

Over on The Situationist, Jason Chung examines reverse prejudice in the context of Yi Jianlian playing in Milwaukee.

Here is an excerpt from his excellent piece:
* * *

In the Yi case, a negative attitude toward whites is being expressed — that is, that whites as a group would not or could not accept Yi as fully as an Asian community would or could.

But is that necessarily true? To begin with, there is little empirical evidence suggesting that ethnic communities would automatically support members of their own nationality or ethnic background in a sustained manner independent of their on-field success.

Since at least 1997, in a majority-white national population, African-American players comprise over two-thirds of the National Football League and NBA and a quick look at jersey sales in China reveals that Yao Ming, a genuine Chinese-born and bred NBA superstar, is only number six in overall sales – trailing five African-Americans. The assumption that ethnic communities will disproportionately support their own above all lacks conclusive empirical support.

Similarly, it is far from obvious that Asian players will be anything less than vaulted heroes among a team’s fans and followers - no matter the region. For example, Boston-area fans, Asian and non-Asian alike, have embraced Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima not due to their ethnicity but due to their exciting array of pitches and live arms. At least in the world of sports, racial biases are often dampened by primary desire to see athletic excellence. Racial-group associations, in other words, can be overshadowed by team associations. Uniforms often supplant other socially salient demarcations of group identity.
For the rest of the piece, click here.





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