Did you know that Zangief's original name was Vodka Gorbalsky? Do you realize how horrifically stereotypical some of the early Street Fighter character designs were? You will once you watch episode one of Machinima's FighterPedia.
It's not Japan's fault that they don't have a lot of African, Indian, or Russian people hanging about to model characters after. The only reference they had back then was imported American television and movies, and we weren't particularly good at representing diversity in our entertainment at the time.
Hell, before I moved to Georgia when I was twelve or so I figured all the kids down here walked to school in suspenders, straw hats, and bare feet. Imagine my surprise when I got here and discovered that not everyone had bare feet.
Oh man, gotta go email Capcom, got a great idea for a new Street Fighter character.