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Ignorance is No Excuse

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    by Kevin Alexander Gray

    Jeremy Lin may be an ethnic novelty, but there’s nothing new or fresh about the way some folks have reacted to his displays of skill. “One can never underestimate the capacity of people to be ignorant or stupid.”

     

    Ignorance is No Excuse

    by Kevin Alexander Gray

    Imagine the outrage if a black athlete was referred to as a “nigger in the woodpile.”

    I’m a basketball fan.

    I root for the Chicago Bulls, NY Knicks and Houston Rockets. In that order.

    The only time I don’t pull for the Knicks or Rockets is when they play the Bulls.

    Yet like many, I too have a touch of Jeremy “Lin-sanity.”

    I like Knicks' guard. I’m impressed by his game - except the turnovers and his waiting just a tad to late to dish it off in the paint. Hopefully, teammate Carmelo Anthony will help make him a better player.

    Even so, what I like most about the young athlete is his humility, graciousness and patience with ignorance.

    Facing bigotry isn’t a new thing for the first American-born player of Taiwanese descent in the NBA. While playing at Harvard, during a game against Georgetown in Washington, a spectator yelled “Sweet-and-sour pork!” from the stands.

    One would hope that attitudes and behavior would change at the professional level.

    Then again, one can never underestimate the capacity of people to be ignorant or stupid.  Even among grown ups, the educated and those others one expects to know better – the worse often comes out.

    During a game against Georgetown in Washington, a spectator yelled “Sweet-and-sour pork!” from the stands.”

    In one interview Lin spoke of watching Michael Jordan on TV as a kid and then running outside to his backyard goal to try to duplicate MJ’s shot. Yet having a black hero isn’t enough to satisfy some.  Boxer Floyd Mayweather tweeted: “…Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”

    Some of the bigotry even perplexes Lin: “People say things like ‘he’s deceptively quick’ or ‘he’s quicker than he looks.’ What does that mean?” Maybe the answer can be found in Knicks’ fan and movie director Spike Lee’s tweets describing Lin as: Jeremy “Kung Fu Hustle” Lin, Jeremy “Crouching Tiger” Lin & Jeremy “Hidden Dragon” Lin.

    After a stellar performance from Lin, Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock took to his Twitter to congratulate Lin. “Jeremy Lin is legit!” he tweeted. Then he followed with a penis joke: “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple of inches of pain tonight.”

    There was also the Madison Square Garden Network airing a spectator-made poster depicting Lin’s face above a fortune cookie with the slogan “The Knicks Good Fortune.”

    On the Nick and Artie show which runs weekday nights on Cumulus Media’s San Francisco station KNBR 1050, one host urged listeners to call in with the most racist joke about Lin they could think of. He offered a “joke” about “Lin having to do teammate Carmelo Anthony’s laundry as an example of what he was looking for.”

    ESPN editor Anthony Federico was fired and anchor Max Bretos (whose wife is Asian) suspended for 30 days when they led a story with the headline — “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets.”

    One host urged listeners to call in with the most racist joke about Lin they could think of.”

    Some suggest that “Frederico is 28 years old. Could his ignorance be generational? …50-somethings know that chink is a racial epithet for Asians, we heard it growing up. Would a 20-something know this?” Perhaps the “consequence of this offense should have been sensitivity training and a second chance?”

    Federico said he understands why he was fired. “ESPN did what they had to do.” He said he has used the phrase “at least 100 times” in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story.

    A gracious Lin, gave Federico and Bretos a pass: “They've apologized, and so from my end, I don't care anymore. You have to learn to forgive, and I don't even think that was intentional.”

    Yet the ESPN staffers weren’t the only ones to use the term and Lin in the same sentence. Knicks radio voice Spero Dedes did it too.

    On his final call of the Knicks’ loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Dedes said “For the first time in what has been a remarkable two-week run, Jeremy Lin shows a chink in the armor. The Knicks’ seven-game winning streak ends against the Hornets as they fall for the first time since February the 3rd.”

    Doubtless, “chink in the armor” is a common phrase. It means there's a dent in the armor caused by an imperfection borne in the forging process or a by a sword fight. The chink is the weakest point in the shield.

    The word was used since the 1880s to demean Chinese Americans.”

    Chink is also a well-known slur. It derives from the sound the hammer made when the Chinese workers of the 1800’s, often enslaved and exploited, struck the iron or steel spikes into the railway ties.

    California Rep. Judy Chu (D) slammed the ESPN headline, saying she did not believe using the phrase was an innocent mistake: “…if he [Federico] was using it all those times, that is extremely sad. The word was used since the 1880s to demean Chinese Americans and to deprive them of rights, and it is used on playgrounds specifically to humiliate and to offend Asian Americans. So I don’t know where he’s been all this time.”

    Some people just can't seem to get their minds around an Asian-American basketball player who's got game.

    Back in 1997 when a young Tiger Woods was burning up the PGA, Frank “FuzzyZoeller referred to Woods as “that little boy” and urged him “not to order fried chicken or collard greens for the Champions Dinner next year.” People could not get their minds around an black golfer who could play the game.

    Even so, imagine the outrage if a black athlete was referred to as a “nigger in the woodpile” which – in racist parlance and “the mind’s eye” is analogous to the ESPN headline. What if someone ran a headline: “Special Olympics athlete retarded in efforts to win gold medal."

    Lin is facing a barrage of mindless ignorance. In a court of law, pleading ignorance is no excuse. A good parent will tell their child the same. They would also add – ignorance in curable.

    Kevin Alexander Gray is an activist and writer based in Columbia, South Carolina.

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    My Comment's Not So Much on Lin-Sanity...

    Only time will tell if this current hype around Jeremy Lin turns out to be more than just a 'Shooting Star'. In say 5 more years we'll see if he ranks up w some of the all time great guards IE: Alan Iverson, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, etc. I have no ill will for Lin - my position is simply let's wait & see- time will tell.

     

    But what I really want to sound off about [Here is about as an appropriate place @ BAR as I can find] is 2 proven all-time greats in their sport who still can't seem to get NO DAMN Proper Respect from so many of their so-called fellow {white} Americans- Namely the Williams Sisters! Last month there was a big phony hyped-up flap about Serena, going into the Australian Open, commenting that she's not enjoying tennis as much as before. Out of the wood-work pops the 'Usual Suspects' Williams haters- spouting Hate-HER-Aide against Serena [actually they've targeted entire Williams family- even Momma Williams- who to my knowledge has NeVer Said or done anything to to deserve disparaging tirades {regardless if you don't prefer her bleached blonde hair], Making statements like 'Serena needs to be grateful about how much tennis has done for her- other-wise she [& Venus] would have just been home-girl(s) in Compton w a whole bunch of kids [Just how the hell would these Hater-Her-Aiders even know that?! - Note Jan 12 Article- 'Serena & the Hate(rs)' @ http://www.seeingblack.com/article_1001.shtml ]. But this is reflective of & been persistent for Venus' & Serena's entire careers - Thus this kind of CRAP can't be dismissed as inelegant 'slips of the lip'- ala the current Jeremy Lin flaps. What if the Williams had accomplished all that they have & had similar body builds -BUT- instead were from an upper-middle class White Back-ground?!! - IMO: Not only would they [including Poppa & Momma Williams] NOT have to had endured so much Hate-HER-Aide through out their storied careers, but would be considered National Treasures [including Poppa Williams]! When Poppa Williams said that his girls would save US women's tennis he was called arrogant! - Turns out he was right- but not just US women's tennis but US tennis period! In fact Venus & Serena have been the best thing for US tennis since Pete Sampras & Andre' Agassi!

    YET- When Venus & Serena wore braids, their beads were a problem. A Russian cutie named Anna Kornukova was hyped over them even though, if I'm not mistaken, Kornukova was never even ranked in the top 50! Then when another Russian cutie named Maria Sharapova- who could actually play some tennis- hit the scene she definitely got hyped over the Williams Sisters [Note- I'm not talking about EU fans But US Fans]. When Sharapova screams on court it's called being intense & even sexy- when Venus & Serena does it - It's disgusting.

    Since the Williams Sisters Era the women's number one ranking has become a Damn JOKE! When has the number one men's player ever been some guy who has never won a major?! - When BeFore the Williams Sisters Era had that ever happened in women's tennis?! Yet since the advent of Venus & Serena it's happened in women's tennis 3Xs - w Caroline Wozniacki being ranked number 1 for nearly a YEAR & a half - yet still ain't won a major – after 6 chances!

    About Serena's tirade at the US Open- Not to make excuses -but- first of all was the foot-fault call even legit??? We know that - That line judge LIED that Serena threatened to 'Kill Her' which caused Serena to forfeit the match! 2nd of all in the same US open Rodger Federer literally cursed the head court judge out, though didn't yell it out in an tirade. And If I'm not mistaken so did Andy Roderick at the same US Open - In fact Roderick cursed out head line judges 3Xs at different majors in recent yrs [NOTE At-least some of those times  Roderick's coach was Jimmy Connors - who had a notorious rep for doing exactly the same thing - only surpassed by John McEnroe]. How many critics blasted Federer or even Roderick for poor sportsmanship behavior??? How many heavy fines w threat of disqualifications from majors have been levied against Roderick- like what happened to Serena - who, unlike Roderick, Had NO prior Track Record for such Out-Bursts??? 

    And about all this Hate-HER-Aide about Venus & Serena's looks- first of all they are NOT Ugly - they are FINE & Shapely Black Women! 2nd- How many times have you heard someone call former number 1 women's player from the Czech Republic, Martina Navratilova, ugly & manly looking??? Has anyone ever called former number 1 from Belgium, Justine Henin, un-attractive? Of course not because after it's all said & done it's about Tennis Ability & Accomplishments- It AIN'T a Beauty Contest! And w 13 singles majors titles for Serena & 7 for Venus, plus 12 doubles majors titles for them together & Olympic Gold - IMO that says all that needs to be said! Instead of spewing so much Williams Sisters 'Hate-HER-Aide' they need to be trying to figure out what hell is US tennis going to do when Venus & Serena retires!!!

    As Expected

    I expected these slurs.

    I am a long suffering Knicks fan.  Mr. Jeremy Lin may be the last missing piece for the Knicks to win the Championship.   

    In my neighborhood some 'haters' have nicknamed him "Bruce Lee."  In fact, one guy claimed Lin's people bombed Pearl Harbor.  When I reminded him that Jeremy Lin is Taiwanese, he shouted, "Same thing!" 

    Oh well, say what they want, we Knick Fans are glad he's on our team.

    Go Knicks!!!

    Actually, No

    The term ch--k is racist in itself, but the phrase "chink in the armor" is not.  That term, on its own, means "Weak spot or vulnerability in an otherwise protected system."  It does not mean "Man of Asian Descent Clad in Battle Gear."

    What the ESPN writer tried to do (and failed in spectacular fashion) was to make a NY Daily News-style Headline complete with a Pun or "Ironic" turn of phrase.  This is why the term was not deployed until the Knicks lost a game with Jeremy Lin at the helm.  The writers and announcers believe themselves to be clever or witty or hip when they make headlines like this.

    Now, while the phrase "Chink in the Armor" is not racist on its own, the use by ESPN and others in describing Jeremy Lin (or any Asian person for that matter) makes it bigoted because it deploys the word ch--k as a well-known and well-worn stereotype and dresses it up in something different.

    That's why this phrase is different from n----r in the woodpile; because there is no phrase or venue where n-----r is (or can be) used as something other than a slur.

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