Hosting an Olympic Games is a highly sought after honor. The host country has the opportunity to house the world’s best athletes, attract foreigners and share their national pride. National pride is most explicitly shown in the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
Nathan Kalman-Lamb’s article, “A Portrait of This Country Whiteness, Indigeneity, Multiculturalism and the Vancouver Opening Ceremonies” assess the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Opening Ceremony by closely examining the faults in the multicultural society that Canada calls themselves and how these faults subtly translate and appear in the opening. Published two years after the games in 2012 in TOPIA Kalaman-Lamb criticizes Vancouver’s openings portrayal of a multicultural society by claiming that at “these ceremonies, [are a] much more explicit notion of racial privilege” (7). By contrasting white people’s power in Canada to Indigenous people, and people of color it becomes more evident that Canada is facing a racial inequality problem that is covered by the facade of multiculturalism. Kalman-Lamb is so successful in his argument because he analyzes the perspective of the oppressed, oppressor and takes into account many academic scholars points of view regarding general multiculturalism, racism and white supremacy. Despite multiculturalisms attempts to be respectful to all cultures within the Canadian borders, Canadian multiculturalism is completely disrupted by the overall goal to enhance and maintain whites power in Canada. The fear of losing power and goal to gain and maintain power for whites is subtly hidden underneath the visual beauty of the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
Beginning his article with respect towards hosting the games an opportunity and a “crucial moment of nation-building and representation for the Canadian nation” Kalman-Lamb seems to be filled with a sense of hope (5). This hope at the beginning of the ceremony for Canada to successfully show their multiculturalism is quickly lost when Kalman-Lamb critiques the ceremony and compares the representation of indigenous people to the representation of white people. The beginning of the ceremony is dominated by indigenous people and the end is dominated by whites. This disappearance of natives as the ceremony progressives, as well as the speeches Indigenous make in the beginning saying “we welcome you” makes negatives seem like people of the past (17). This heightens the current importance of whites and the future and possible growth of whites power while further belittling and adding to the idea of a vanishing Indigenous race.
This article makes me question the role of olympics as a whole.I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics and definitely think they are a really awesome way to being together nations, people and the world. But, now I can now more clearly see how so many problems arise along with the good qualities of the Games. I think it is extremely important to criticizes theses events and I agree with most of what Kalman-Lamb says, but I can’t help but wonder, how much is too much? Kalman-Lamb brings up hockey and winter sports stating that by celebrating hockey, this celebration “ also becomes a celebration of white culture in Canada” (14). I agree that the celebration of hokey is a celebration of whites but then I wonder: is it possible to celebrate anything without putting down another?
Kalman-Lamb, Nathan. “‘A Portrait of This Country’: Whiteness, Indigeneity, Multiculturalism and the Vancouver Opening Ceremonies.” TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Multicultural Studies, no. 27, 2012, pp. 5-27, https://topia.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/topia/article/view/35266/32918. Accessed 6 March 2018.