A New Frontier For Civil Rights?

By Nsenga Burton
Updated: August 12, 2008

OlympicsATLANTA — 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 last July 18th. Beijing authorities have forbidden bar owners to serve blacks during the 2008 Olympics.

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 black 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.

As China prepares to take the world’s stage in celebration of athletes all over the world, and by extension their people, it is tragic that they have decided to add blanket discrimination to the many offerings during this year’s Olympic games.

Perhaps our expectations of China are too high? It is kind of ridiculous to have the expectation of moving freely in a country that does not allow its citizens to move freely. Complicated countries have complicated practices.

The fact that Beijing is being allowed to ban all Blacks from any place or event, without rebuke or scorn, is maddening. Will the world stand by while China further institutionalizes another human rights debacle?