Announcer describes NBA player Jianlian Yi as “the Chinaman”


Really? Unfortunately, yeah. Sure, maybe the guy was just describing Yi’s nationality, like calling a player “the Russian,” But you would never call the Russian player “the Russkie” (I’m pretty sure Russkie is still a pejorative in the post-Cold war era).

If he wanted to describe the nationality of Yi Jianlian of the New Jersey Nets, a veteran of the Chinese Basketball Association and the Chinese Olympic Team, was to say that he’s …. “Chinese.” Duh.

So I’ll chalk this one to ignorance, not racism. You’d think national sportscasters would be educated enough — and yes, sensitive enough — to know better than to use an outdated racist epithet to describe a player.

What was he thinking? He wasn’t.

(From Hyphen Blog and other AAPI bloggers)

UPDATE Nov. 4: FanHouse.com called out the racist word, the Turner Sports Network, which ran the original broadcast and manages the NBA.com website, yanked the video from the website and said the sportscaster, Rick Kamla, “was not aware of the connotations of the word, and meant nothing malicious or offensive by it.”

A no-apology apology. I translate it as, “If you took offense, that’s your problem because I didn’t mean any offense. But I’m sorry you were offended.”

The FanHouse story also points out past instances of “Chinaman” being used, and has a slideshow of other sportscaster flubs.

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3 Responses to Announcer describes NBA player Jianlian Yi as “the Chinaman”

  1. You’re awfully gracious, Gil. I’d chalk it up to racism.

  2. warren says:

    I saw this and the sad part is if you look at the comments, a lot of younger chinese do not view this as an insult or racist, as for the younger white folks they all think it’s okay because they are chinese men therefore chinaman or man from china as they explained.

  3. Gil Asakawa says:

    That’s an interesting point, Warren: If people are no longer offended by something that used to be considered racist, is it acceptable now?

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