So I was chillin’ at Katsucon over the weekend admiring the cosplayers walking by and trying to figure out what a Home Stuck is when my good friend Dern turns to me with a face of anger that I hope his son will never witness and shows me this headline on his mobile phone:
So it’s been a few days since the headline ran. The web editor who posted it has been fired, and apparently the news anchor who used the phrase on television is facing a 30 day suspension. Both the editor and the news anchor have said that their use of the phrase was unintentional. And Jeremy Lin himself has decided to let bygones be bygones.
But I’m still pissed.
The Jeremy Lin story has be framed in such a way that it makes it almost impossible to ignore his ethnicity. It should be something along the lines of, “Unnoticed talent rises from obscurity” rather than “Oh, shit! Asian kid got game!” To me, his story speaks more to problems of the NBA hype machine, that if you’re not already a huge name, you’re virtually ignored. Here’s a guy who was benched for games fighting for one of the last spots on the team. Hell, the Nicks were considering dropping him. And now look, they can’t stop talking about him!
It’s an amazing Cinderella story.
But the bit that gets emphasized is that he’s Asian. Now, I think it’s awesome that he’s Asian American and he’s kicking so much ass. But I don’t need the sports media to remind me every time they write about him. You know how I know he’s Asian? I can see him in the photo that they run with every story! But the press can’t stop themselves. I could almost believe that ESPN’s use of the “Chink in the Armor” headline was unintentional if they never made a big deal out of Jeremy Lin’s ethnicity. But it’s been a big deal to them since the start. “Well shit on me, who knew Asians could play basketball?” We got arms and legs, right? OF COURSE WE CAN FUCKING PLAY BASKETBALL!
You can write a story about a baller who was virtually ignored until given a chance. You can write a story about an Asian American baller who was virtually ignored until given a chance. But as soon as you make his ethnicity a big deal, you don’t get to claim ignorance when you “Chink” out like that.