There’s a lot of thoughts in this one, so it might cover a lot of topics and read a bit frantic. There are also a lot of issues tied into my topic of choice, so understand that I likely won’t touch on all of them. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t considered them. Forewarned is forearmed.
F**k post racial America and anyone who tells you that they don’t see race, they just see people. ‘Miss me with that,‘ as they say. Honestly, I’m not trying to hear it. I think it’s become a cop out for people to avoid the reality of a longstanding social construct. Race isn’t real, but it’s effects very much are. From overt barriers and legislation that limited the rights and opportunities of marginalized groups (read: Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Gays, Lesbians, Transgender, Women…anyone not a white man) to covert bigotry that is pervasive among politics and daily life today I simply do not believe you can not see race. In 2012, “urban” has become codeword for Black/of color, “ghetto” has become code word for Black/of color. All people have done is remove legislature and switched to overt speech. I’m not some conspiracy theorist who thinks the world if full of racists and bigots, but I know my experience is not everyone’s. Critical thinking seems to be at an all time low and if you think shit is sweet because you live in progressive New York City or a comparable environment, you haven’t stepped outside your bubble. Seeing race is the first step in making a difference towards the everlasting struggle for racial/ethnic equality. It’s not Black and White, it includes a lot more groups than these two (see previous aside) and if any one group is faced with inequality, we’re all at a detriment. Let’s get uncomfortable and talk openly and honestly. Then we’ll make actual headway.
So what does this have to do with Jeremy Lin? Jeremy Lin isn’t a caped crusader for Asians and Asian-Americans everywhere. Maybe he is in the eyes of those communities, but so far he hasn’t made it his agenda to use the NBA as a platform for racial/ethnic equality. This is perfectly fine. He’s one man playing one sport and racial/ethnic relations is a huge topic for any one person to attempt to shoulder. However Jeremy Lin does bring up the topic of whiteness, otherness and this facade of post-racial America. As stated in an article I linked to in a previous post,
But to strip Jeremy Lin of his status as the Great Yellow Hope not only seems dishonest and lazy, it also deprives the community he represents — willfully or not — of the unabashed joy of seeing one of its own succeed in the most improbable arena.
Simply put, in my opinion you can’t take Jeremy Lin out of his context. His story is amazing for a lot of reasons, all of which do not concern race/ethnicity. However, race/ethnicity is definitely one of the stories. Leaders come in many shapes, sizes and forms and by simply serving as an positive role model, emblematic person and defying stereotypes at every turn Jeremy Lin serves as a positive representation of the community he represents. Don’t take that away from him because you drank the post-racial kool aid. On the other hand, don’t force that role onto him either. I can only somewhat identify with the otherness that one writer expressed of his Asian-American background. A feeling of being trapped between blackness and whiteness. I feel like culture is fluid and groups glean aspects off one another’s cultures all the time. This is especially true within urban (meaning city, not black) environments.
So, what does all of that have to do with ethnic sensitivity? I previously posted a portion of First Take (an ESPN program) in which Stephen A Smith discussed ethnic sensitivity and forgiveness. I feel as though he raised some very good points. We live in a society that could benefit from a greater sense of forgiveness. A chink in the armor? Very short sighted on ESPN’s part. You simply can’t use that word any more than you can use Uncle Tom and not expect backlash. However, Stephen A advocates teaching one another instead of instant crucification. I think this is very key as he raises a point people don’t stop to consider- we don’t always know what we do. It’s our instant move to call for someone’s head (likely meaning their job) when a comment is made, but we never stop to teach one another. Who does this benefit? A man/woman loses their job and source of income, the statement was still made and the offender is just as ignorant of their transgression as before being out a job. When do we stop to impart any sort of lesson, to actually benefit the person. We want retribution but we place
little no emphasis on reform. I’m saying all of this to say that if we want to see real progress for all groups we should turn the need for instant gratification down, the forgiveness up and the inclination to teach significantly up.