Linsanity: Asian-Americans rejoice as Jeremy Lin breaks stereotypes

Jeremy Lin fans | photo from

The article below is written by Jesse Washington and is posted on the Huffington Post website. It talks about Jeremy Lin, the Asian-American who was overlooked by three teams before he got his chance on the court. And boy, did he show everyone! Linsanity has spread throughout America and the world, as Jeremy Lin, son to two Taiwanese immigrants, continues to beat the best-of-the-best on the court.

The article below discusses how Lin has broken the Asian-American stereotypes of being weak and little. He has shown that Asians can compete and be good at it!

He has showed everyone that hard work and talent can go a long ways.

Now, we should not just focus on his Asian-ness and how shocked people are that an Asian-American can play basketball with the best. He worked for what he has. He has talent and is a team player, which has contributed to his success.

But I must say, Jeremy Lin represents (us) Asians well 🙂

Jeremy Lin, Knicks, Guard, Smashing Stereotypes As Asian-Americans Rejoice

By JESSE WASHINGTON   02/17/12 06:02 AM ET  AP

— They know what it feels like to be overlooked. People assume they are weak, servile, out of place. So when these Asian-Americans watch Jeremy Lin slash and shoot his way through the NBA’s finest, it’s almost as if they are on the basketball court with the California-born point guard who has set the zeitgeist on fire.

Asian-Americans have rallied around other athletes – Michael Chang, Hideo Nomo, Yao Ming, Michelle Wie, Ichiro Suzuki. Tiger Woods was embraced for his Thai side. But Lin has a new and different appeal.

As the child of Taiwanese immigrants, Lin is quintessentially Asian-American. He was ignored instead of hyped. He emerged from the end of the bench to hoist the sinking New York Knicks to win after improbable win. A few hints of racism have scratched the edges of his growing fame, but Lin continues to put up unprecedented numbers and capture the imagination of mainstream America.

In a mere half-dozen games, Lin became that rarest of Asian-Americans: a widely regarded hero.

“There’s a certain validation to this,” said Phil Yu, founder of the influential blog Angry Asian Man, which tracks and discusses Asian issues.

“Asian-Americans are still seen as foreigners in this country,” Yu said. “Seeing Jeremy Lin accepted and celebrated in this American sport, it makes us more American, and it makes other people see us as more American.”

The moment that resonates most with Yu is not Lin’s game-winning 3-pointer against the Raptors with less than a second to play. It’s not Lin’s 38 points to beat the Lakers after Kobe Bryant said he didn’t know who Lin was. It’s not Lin’s crossover leading to a soaring dunk against the Wizards, even though the play victimized John Wall, the top draft pick the year Lin went unselected.

Instead, Yu cherishes seeing a picture of two white fans wearing Lin’s No. 17 Knicks jersey.

“There is no comparison to anything else I’ve ever seen,” Yu said. “I can’t describe how I’m feeling.” Watching Lin’s highlights, “I got a little bit choked up, honestly.”

Ren Hsieh had a different reaction as Lin was torching the Lakers: He shouted loud enough to wake the baby in the other room. “It was the improbability of it all,” he said.

“I’ve never seen it happen …” NBA analyst Tim Legler said on ESPN. “A guy that had three different teams look at him and not see what we’re seeing now?”

The reason is obvious to Hsieh, who played high school basketball in Houston and now runs a league and foundation promoting Asian-American athletics.

“No one would outwardly say (Lin was passed over) because he’s Asian, but every Asian-American athlete knows that feeling of being overlooked,” he said. “I certainly felt it when I was playing.”

“You get a look in people’s eyes, they just don’t get excited to see you. They don’t say, `Oh man, I gotta have this kid on my team.’ Every Asian-American athlete has always had to really bust their butt to get a chance to play at a high level.”

Hsieh remembers the skepticism when the China-born Yao entered the NBA. One commentator, retired NBA legend Charles Barkley, promised to kiss his co-host’s posterior if Yao scored 19 points in a game.

Yao went on to score 19 or more points 268 times in his eight-year All-Star career, and Barkley kissed a donkey on national television.

Lin was similarly underestimated. He led his high school team to a state championship, but was ignored by every Division I college team except Harvard. He was cut by two NBA teams and could barely get on the floor in practice, until the injury-riddled Knicks handed him the ball almost in desperation. Now Lin owns an NBA record for most points in the first five games as a starter.

So when someone labels Lin “deceptively athletic” even though he has a typical point-guard build, or when his teammate Tyson Chandler says, perhaps jokingly, that he didn’t know the 6-foot-3 Lin could dunk, some see stereotypes afoot.

That was a point made by Knicks superfan Spike Lee. Brainstorming a slew of Lin nicknames, he gleefully tweeted, “Jeremy `Stop Asian Profile’ Lin.”

“The word athlete is really not associated with people of Asian descent,” said Helen Xia, author of “Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People.”

Xia said Asians were first viewed in America as “coolies,” laboring on railroads, laundry or in restaurants. Then they were a stealthy and diabolical wartime enemy, then rivals stealing American jobs with cheap labor. Today the labor stereotype has transferred to another arena, with Asians viewed as math-and-science robots toiling over books and computer screens.

Xia calls Lin’s rise in a game as athletic as basketball “stunning” and “a real turning point.”

Nobody deliberately excluded Lin because of his ethnicity, Xia said: “That’s not the point. . The pervasive and insidious nature of racism keeps us from seeing what’s right in front of us.”

Lin has declined to dwell on racial issues, but he did tweet that when he first joined the Knicks, “Every time I try to get into Madison Square Garden, the security guards ask me if I’m a trainer.”

There have been countless Asian-based puns, like the New York Post’s “Amasian” headline. The Knicks’ own TV network showed a graphic with Lin’s head popping out of a fortune cookie. Boxing champ Floyd Mayweather tweeted that Lin was getting attention just because he’s Asian. And Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock tweeted a cruelly racist remark about Lin’s manhood. (Whitlock later apologized.)

Whitlock’s tweet drew the most outrage. “Asian-American men in particular have faced a direct, in-your-face emasculation,” said Helen Gym of Asian Americans United in Philadelphia. Whitlock’s remark “has been said a million times. It’s a typical saying when you want to take somebody down.”

It didn’t work with Lin. Women were in the stands this week with “Be My Va-LIN-tine” signs. Websites were matchmaking Lin with women of all ethnicities. A YouTube video shows an Asian girl dumping her white boyfriend for an Asian man after watching Lin on the court.

“He’s giving Asian men some swag,” said Jeffrey Ng, founder and creative director of the Staple Design clothing and creative agency in New York City.

When Ng started selling hip-hop apparel 15 years ago, there were no Asian-Americans in his business. Meeting with clients, “I always felt this, like, why are you here? No matter how good my clothing was, I had to first answer the question of, why are you in this room?”

“Lin had to work twice as hard to overcome that first question of, `Why are you on this court?'”

Peter Kim, an actor in Los Angeles, said Lin’s success could open up more opportunities in his business, which puts few Asians in leading or romantic roles.

He recalled that when Lin beat the buzzer to give the Knicks the win against the Raptors, the crowd exploded – and the game was in Toronto, not New York.

“That alone should show how significant Jeremy Lin is to the Asian people,” Kim said. “He’s not just an athlete playing for a team. He’s playing for a whole culture and our representation to the rest of the world.”

About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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2 Responses to Linsanity: Asian-Americans rejoice as Jeremy Lin breaks stereotypes

  1. Pingback: ESPN Apologizes For Racist Headline | News Media Source-4UMF-4UrMediaFix-New Media Source

  2. Pingback: A Take on ESPN’s Deleted Headline Regarding Jeremy Lin | Sports, Sports, and more Sports

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