White snow, brown rage: The racial case against the Winter Olympics.

White snow, brown rage: The racial case against the Winter Olympics.

White snow, brown rage: The racial case against the Winter Olympics.

Scenes from the Olympics.
Feb. 13 2010 7:23 AM

White Snow, Brown Rage

The racial case against the Winter Olympics.

(Continued from Page 1)

Like so many of us, Shiva fell in love with luge at a young age. He was only 16 when he took part in the 1998 Olympics, barely four months after his very first luge run. Shiva also competed in the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. It should come as no surprise that he was India's sole Winter Olympics representative both times.

This year was supposed to be different. The world has changed, and so has India. Once considered a pestilential backwater full of wild-eyed mystics, India is now seen as an IT powerhouse full of wild-eyed engineers. Engineering prowess, of course, is a requisite in the luge, a sport in which cold-weather scientists and athletes team up to conjure the sleds of the future. With his country behind him, it seemed, Shiva could steal the show and start a new era of brown-man dominance.


Alas, it was not to be. Shiva finished 25th out of 36 lugers, thanks entirely to the nonfunctioning "Indian Luge Association." You see, this so-called luge federation provided Shiva with virtually no financial assistance, forcing him to pay for luging essentials out of his own pocket. Rather than spend his hard-earned money on a high-tech, precision-engineered sled, Shiva blew more than $300 on a fancy, saffron-colored luge suit. He must have surmised that the lusty "ooohs" and "aaaahs" emitted by ladies swooning over his luge-suited frame would propel him at a velocity approaching the speed of light. Regrettably, that is not how the laws of physics operate.

Like Shiva, India has a maddening tendency to misplace priorities. You'd think the country would pony up for a world-class Olympic squad befitting its newfound status as an economic juggernaut. Instead, it seems that some New Delhi nerd decided to prioritize providing basic services to an impoverished population racked by the twin plagues of illiteracy and disease.

Disappointed yet again, I can't help but conclude that my hopes of adding a drop of Hershey's Syrup to the skim milk of the Winter Olympics were misplaced. Though chocolate milk is, as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin recently pointed out, a "delicious drink," the deck will always be stacked against the droplets among us. After all, I'm starting to realize, we brown folks hail from largely snowless, tropical climes. It's not fair, but it's the cold, hard truth.

So, I'm giving up on the Winter Olympics. Like a latter-day Marcus Garvey, I recommend that brown men abandon the white man's "winter games." Instead, we will master ancient Indian sports like kalaripayattu, kabbadi, and, who can forget, kho-kho. And all will be well.

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Reihan Salam is a columnist for Slate.