Does China have a colour bar at the Olympics?

Nsenga Burton

It seems that the days of socially conscious athletes like Muhammad Ali are over. Why haven't these sports people protested at the Beijing Olympics? Whether they want to drink at the bars or not. These high paid commercial smiling Negro boys haven't even threatened to boycott playing in at the Games in China so that the issue of the colour bar I have uncovered could be addressed on an international level.

These are sad days, where the hell are real Black men, men like Malcolm? What do Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Jason Kidd have in common? They are the starting five of the 2008 Olympic Men's Basketball team and none of them will be admitted to any bars in Beijing because they are black. No, this is not fiction - it is fact as reported by the South China Morning Post. Beijing authorities have forbidden bar owners to serve Black people during the 2008 Olympics. (Yes, this is true.)

How hypocritical is it that the host of the largest international sports competition in the free world would ban an entire group of people based on race? This blanket discrimination is couched in the idea of  "controlling" Beijing's problem with prostitution and drugs, which is primarily driven by Mongolians. Somehow, this policy smacks of impropriety, pun intended, and underscores China's continuous policies of discrimination.

You would think with the global embarrassment over the mistreatment of Tibetan Monks, faulty consumer products, and the suppression of information about deadly diseases, that China would have figured out by now that the systematic exclusion of an entire group of people, many of whom have histories of horrendous discrimination in their home countries, would not reflect well on the mainland.

Further, I was not aware that blacks owned drug trafficking and prostitution worldwide. Amsterdam anyone? Let's get this straight. Black people can participate in the games, add money to the economy in  "permitted" spaces like hotels, lodges and restaurants, but they cannot go to a bar, which may be located in a hotel, lodge or restaurant.

This is outrageous. Would the world stand still if in 2008 the United States was banning entire populations of people based on perceived ideas about race? Pretending to control drug trafficking while controlling the movement of Back folks is out of control. To define an entire race of people as drug dealers and prostitutes is unacceptable. I guess this is what you get when an international committee overlooks a country that has transgressed human rights without recourse.

The world community needs to unite against this injustice and demand that China allow all Olympic participants, athletes and visitors alike, equal access to all venues.

*Dr. Nsenga Burton is assistant professor in critical studies in film at the University of Southern California and specialises in African America culture.