This is a photo of an American basketball player, on some sort of tour in Hunan province last month, tossing money out the window to a crowd of excited Chinese middle schoolers. As one of the commentors to this story reminds us, this behavior is better known to connoisseurs of American black people culture as "makin' it rain".
Don't get me wrong, I love making it rain as much as the next guy (ask anyone). I also enjoy sipping on gin and juice, brushing dirt off my shoulders, and ghost-riding the whip. Rain-making, however, is something that I firmly believe should be performed only in the privacy of one's own.... nation. In all seriousness, such a gratuitous display of wealth by a foreigner can only serve to reinforce the stereotypes that really grind the gears of expats like myself on a daily basis.
Essentially, I'm talking about the stereotype that foreigners are rich and eager to share it with everyone. Granted, not everyone I know treats me like a flimsy piñata bursting with money, but the idea is prevalent enough to get a palpable sensation as I walk down the street. Beggars beg harder as I approach, people cross the street to try to sell me watches... last week I actually had a cell-phone vendor try to show me the more expensive model because "your salary must be pretty high, eh?" It's not.
Also unfortunate is the fact that the man in the photo is black. To my understanding, black people have it kind of rough in China*. Sure, everyone loves the NBA, but up-close, many Chinese people that I've met (even some of the more liberal ones) can't seem to shake the idea that black people are crazier, closer to monkeys than the rest of us. The guy in the photo above isn't really going to help with that.
* I've got tons of these kinds of stories, but just as an example: A few months ago I met a black expat in Guangzhou who lives together with his Chinese wife. Sometimes when the couple returns home late at night, the security guards at the apartment will attempt to prevent the woman from entering the gates, because (are you ready for this?) they don't allow prostitutes on the premises. This guy has had to leave his wife standing at the gates while he runs inside to get the marriage certificate to show the guards to prove that this woman is not a whore. On multiple occasions, so the story goes. Ouch! Granted, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the large African population in Guangzhou really does account for a substantial percentage of prostitution revenue, but seriously, is it so hard to imagine that a local woman might actually sleep with a black man without monetary compensation?