A Chink in the Armor – You Lin Some, Dim Sum You Lose

Jeremy LinI’m not the best person to really write about this…

My formative childhood years were spent in Columbia, South Carolina. When I was in elementary school, I was the only one of my kind in my classes. And kids made it known that I was different. I grew up wanting nothing more than big, blue eyes and blonde hair.
Subtle racism has followed me all my life. As a teenager, a grown man came up to me and asked if I could see okay compared to everyone else and walked away. It took me a second to realize he was referring to my eyes.
I’ve played the “Where are you from?” game with many folks because saying “I’m from the States” isn’t a satisfactory answer enough.

I’ve been called Gook. Chink. Jap.
I’ve had people leave messages on our answering machine with “ching chao chang ting chong” because our answering machine message was in Korean.
I’ve been told to go back to my country. Learn English (annoying enough, sometimes by people who I speak English better than).
I’ve had people, whom I don’t know, how much they hate Chinese and Commies.

And because of this, I went through a long period of my teenage life holding a grudge against white folks. I went through this intense Korean-pride stage where everything Korean was much preferred to anything American. I’ve been a bit racist myself. And as much as that phase is long gone from me, some remnants of that phase still remains.
I’m less tolerant of racial remarks made by white folks because they were the cause of most of my pain being an Asian growing up. I’m quick to call out insensitivity regarding race from white people, but snicker when it’s made by other ethnicities.

I’ve used the “I don’t speak English” card  to get out of so many things, so many times, it’s embarrassing.

With the rise of Jeremy Lin, I think there’s a bit of pride rising within all Asian-Americans. Jeremy Lin isn’t a Yao Ming who was brought from China. Jeremy Lin is from the States. He’s one of us, children of Immigrants. As much as I dislike the New York Knicks franchise, I want Jeremy Lin to succeed. I watch every hi-light. Try to catch all his games.

But with all the joy that comes with Jeremy Lin, also comes the painful memories of the past that many of us Asian Americans had to grow up with. And even though the stupid stereotypical and racist remarks have been a few, it’s enough to tarnish the overwhelming joy of Lin succeeding in the NBA.

Here are a few examples that I’m sure by now I’m beating a dead horse:
Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports:
Here’s another:

And another:
Here’s what I think was an awful mistake more than malicious intent which eventually led to the person losing his job. Yet not reprimand has been handed to Mr. Whitlock from Fox Sports, which I view as a bigger offense than ESPN’s mistake. “Chink in the armor” is a fair  sport’s cliche. It’s overused. It was just an oversight, I believe, that using that cliche with Jeremy Lin wasn’t going to be a great idea. Jason, on the other hand, was intentional and not even remotely funny. (Sadly, yes, if it was funny, I wouldn’t have been as annoyed.)
Outside of the Lin-sanity, here are some other examples:
A barista of Starbucks in GA decided to write this where the customers name goes for 2 Korean customers:
Or this from Papa Johns:
Or this from Chic-Fil-A of UC Irvine:
Or the horrible portrayal of an Asian-American in CBS’ 2 Broke Girls.
 

This is the time where I wish I was eloquent and a good writer to express my point.
But I’m not.

I can’t help feel a bit annoyed and/or angry when people can tweet or say ignorant stuff, and laugh it off. Then give a half-baked apology blaming everyone else, like your mom or Richard Pryor, but yourself (a la Mr. Whitlock).
And, no, it’s not really okay to point to a random Asian and start calling him Jeremy Lin.

As an SNL skit pointed out, we can’t use all the stereotypes of Asians to describe Lin-sanity and think that it’s funny and okay. (http://www.hulu.com/watch/331272/saturday-night-live-cold-opening-linsanity-postgame)

The good thing is, I guess, is that people are becoming more aware of racial insensitivity and as Bill Plaschke wrote, Jeremy Lin is holding a mirror up to America. 

But There’s no need to get angry. Or find ways to get even. 

The grace in all this… is that God made us to be different and unique. And those differences need to be celebrated. (I think that Jeremy Lin should be celebrated as a good point guard for the Knicks, and at the same time, for being Asian-American.)
But with differences brings fear.
If we let it, fear can be much louder and overpower love.
And if we retaliate, much like Ms. Hyun did with her awful, inexcusable, malicious, ignorant and racist tweets, we cause a further rift and maybe even confirm fears (or stereotypes).

No, instead, we know that love drives out fear.
So to truly bring reconciliation and education, we need to do it with love and grace for only love has the power to conquer all fear, ignorance

Just Respect Everyone Around You…

I was reading an article by Bill Simmons on Grantland, and in the All-Linsanity Mailbag, Simmons drop a bit of knowledge from a reliable source of his saying that Knicks Coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t even acknowledge Jeremy Lin or addressed him by name when Lin first joined the New York Knickerbockers.

Oh. I bet Mike knows Jeremy’s name now and acknowledges his presence on the team. After all, Jeremy Lin single handedly saved D’Antoni’s job.
I mean, I guess you can’t blame D’Antoni for thinking that Lin wouldn’t stay on the team much longer… or that D’Antoni himself wouldn’t be on the team much longer. But still… as my wife once quoted, “Be careful whose toes you step on today because they might be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.”

But, in reality, it’s rather easy to dismiss people that we don’t think we’ll need in our lives, or someone who is on a “lower level” than us.
Someone once told me that you see the true character of a person when you see how they treat someone they don’t need in their life.
And I agree with that sentiment. People aren’t supposed to be pawns in our lives. And no one’s better than anyone. As Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.” Or from a song, “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.”

We also shouldn’t treat people good today for the sole reason that we may need to kiss their ass tomorrow. That’s still using them as pawns in our lives.
But we should treat people with respect simply because we are all human beings.

And just because someone is the “least of these” doesn’t mean they should be ignored or stepped on. Jesus had special words of how the “least of these” should be treated…

Linsanity Effect

Believe yet? #Linsanity

So this morning at 7am, I decided to stop by my favorite Starbucks to pick up a grande americano with a little bit of steamed soy milk before I head into the office. Starbucks was fairly empty except for these four old white guys sitting around the big (handicap) table. As I’m walking towards the store, the four gentlemen stop their conversation and all four look at me through the window, one pointing at me.

Now. Let me just say, as a minority, it’s never a good, good feeling when a group of white folks stop what they’re doing and start staring at you. It’s even worse when one is pointing at you, because you know they’re looking at you.

So, I’m going through all the thoughts in my head of why these four old white guys are pointing and staring at me:
Nope. They don’t go to my church.
Are they from Hawaii? (I’m wearing my University of Hawaii sweater)
Wait. Do they go to church? No, I don’t think so….
Oh no… it’s going to be some stupid, borderline racist crap… I sure hope not..

I walk through the door, and one of them says, “Great game last night, Jeremy Lin.”
Dammit. I knew it.
I looked at them and said, “That’s a bit racist” as loud as I could so that the few people in the store could hear. And of course, it was accompanied by my warm and friendly smile.

Their comment didn’t bother me at all. In all honesty, I kinda was laughing. I got this crap when Yao Ming first entered the league, too.

The guys awkwardly laughed off my comment.
Later, one of the guys passed by me as I was waiting for my drink on the way to the restroom and he just gave me a friendly smile and a wink as if to say, “We were kidding.”
No hard feelings, at all. They’re old. Different era. Different generation. It could’ve been worse. I mean, they could’ve called me various things, like Charlie or whatever.

As I was leaving, I said, “You gentlemen have a great rest of the day.” And they all four, in unison said, “Thanks, you too.”
And now, I have a funny story to tell about how racist white folks are. I’m totally kidding.

I can’t help get excited about Jeremy Lin.
Of course, he makes it harder for ALL Asian kids now.
Harvard. NBA starting point guard. The pressure amongst Asian students have become greater.

He’s a far better story than Tim Tebow, in my opinion.
If you take away Tebow’s hype, what do you have really? A QB with below average stats. Lin is an actual proven baller. He has his stats to back it up, and now an NBA record.

I’m surprised that the evangelical Christians haven’t jumped on the Lin bandwagon as much as they did Tebow’s. Lin is a strong Christian, even thought (thinking?) about being a pastor. There could be various reasons of why Linsanity isn’t as widespread as Tebowmania.
1) NFL is much bigger than NBA.
2) Tebow is a ruggedly handsome dude.
3) Lin doesn’t name drop God as much as Tebow…
4)…or… I’m dumb. I haven’t been reading around as much, and maybe Linsanity has gotten as exciting and big as Tebowmania.

Either way, I have to admit that I’m more excited about Jeremy Lin than Tebow.
Years ago, my friend and I had this conversation about how we just want a decent Asian American NBA player, someone who’s not over 7 ft tall. Someone who can dribble, shoot, drive, etc.

And as much as I ragged on Tebow during the season, I think he’s a helluva guy and am sort of glad that Tebow and Lin get attention for their faith as much as their game.

Anyway, heads up for all of us Asian males. Get ready for the Lin comparisons.

…oh… and I should stay away from pick up games a little longer, because there’s going to be nothing but disappointment from failing to meet expectations now that Linsanity is all around us.