American Racism–That Train Is Never Later

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A few days ago, I wrote about the Jeremy Lin sensation that was sweeping the nation, most notably New York City. That post received roughly 350 views in one day, easily making it my most viewed page thus far. Thankfully, it sparked conversation among my friends and co-workers. Most agreed with my sentiments, and one argued that my post had no point because “everything in America is racialized.” While I understood the argument (and agreed), I stressed that the language surrounding Jeremy Lin can be offensive, even if the intentions are good.

Enter ESPN.

The above picture is a screen shot of ESPN’s worldwide title page after the Knicks unfortunately lost to the New Orleans Hornets.

“Chink in the armor.”

Wait, What?

Really? You are just going to freely and thoughtlessly use the word “chink,” which has been used as a derogatory word towards Asians and Asian Americans for many years. Really? Was that the popular decision in the newsroom? You thought it was ok to let that title rock worldwide. Really?

Jeremy Lin’s poor performance last night did not necessitate such a racist, tasteless response.

Similarly, Jeremy Lin’s spectular play does not necessitate such racist, tasteless “support.”

A few years ago, Chris Rock, one of my favorite comedians, noticed that the patriotic language around the war progressively became more racist, progressing from F all these foreigners, to F the French, to F all these arabs, to F all these illegal aliens. As the language become more hostile and targeted, he waited for Blacks and Jews to enter the crosshairs. Because, he jokes, “That train [racism] is never late.”

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5 thoughts on “American Racism–That Train Is Never Later

  1. Unbelievable. In and of itself, using the phrase, “chink in the armor,” doesn’t connote anything overly racist, but given the context in which we’re speaking about Jeremy Lin, I agree with you that ESPN should DEFINITELY have used more discretion. But I have a question for you, Mr. Between The World And Me: as someone who has grappled with these issues of race and is aware of the way that -isms subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) influence how we see the world, are you more surprised at Lin’s success as an Asian-American, in a sport where their numbers are lacking, or as an Ivy League grad, in a sport where that conference gets NO respect?

    • Lil homie, I am more surprised that Lin came out of Harvard. The Ivy League conference gets no love athletically and here we have the NBA’s leading scorer (since he started playing) representing for the haves. Move Bill Bradley as the best Ivy League NBA product.

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