Sumo suits, the plastic novelties that can transform a skinny sports fan into a comically unstable sphere for the delight of a stadium audience, are racist and dehumanizing instruments of oppression, according to the student government of Queen's University.Ellen Degeneres often has audience members dress up in those Japanese fat suits and cackles hysterically as they vie for prizes in the ungainly get-up. Better watch your back, Ellen, the "human rights" types are a-comin' for you, too.
They "appropriate an aspect of Japanese culture," turn a racial identity into a "costume," and "devalue an ancient and respected Japanese sport, which is rich in history and cultural tradition." They also "fail to capture the deeply embedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced."
The Alma Mater Society on Monday published a two-page apology letter, and cancelled a foodbank fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday, which was to feature two sumo suits. The letter scolds the student government's own executive for "marginalizing members of the Queen's community" and failing to "critically consider the racist meaning behind [the fundraiser.]"...
Update: From an online article about Sumo (my bolds):
Potential wrestlers come to the world of sumo as young as 13 and their training includes compulsory school education. Many recruits are from rural areas where people are said to be better accustomed to the physical hardships which sumo demands. Training is rough and included beating with sticks to drive home the fine points of wrestling (this is quickly becoming a thing of the past). In recent years, the level of physical abuse has eased, which, together with the popularity of the sport, has attracted larger numbers of youngsters to try out.
Those who are successful enter a stable of wrestlers which is owned and trained by a retired successful wrestler called anOyakata; there are around 30 stables. Junior wrestlers not only have to train and attend school, they must do the dirty work of the stable, including attending to the whims of the senior wrestlers who are constantly requiring massages, snacks or drinks. The organization and values of this sport are fundamentally feudal (and are often criticized for bringing forward into the modern age patterns of behavior which are outdated and undemocratic).That's what the p.c. crew at Queen's doesn't want anyone to laugh at--child abuse, feudalism and morbid obesity as a spectator sport? They're pulling our leg, right?
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