For too long, Asians have had a reputation as being meek, smart, well disciplined and bad at sports. Look at Jeremy Lin. Despite playing at an elite level and leading his high school and college teams to championships, he was overlooked by the NBA. Maybe the instructors saw Kyle and his blue-eyed, blonde-haired friend and assumed that my son would be the weaker swimmer. I’m sure they never heard of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Park Tae-hwan, who is the Michael Phelps of Korea.
There was a little boy sitting nervously on his bicycle as my dad talked to him. The boy had called my father a chink, and my father was calmly explaining that it wasn’t a nice thing to say, and that his parents would be disappointed to hear him say that to an adult. (Who’re we kidding? We all know that this kid probably learned to be a racist at home. But my father was giving him the benefit of the doubt.)
“People who say Lin is an opportunist expected him to be a meek, quiet Asian man who wouldn’t cause waves,” says Jae-Ha Kim, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. “This discussion about what he’s worth is insulting. Clearly these teams aren’t offering him this money out of the goodness of their hearts. And for what it’s worth, I’m a Bulls fan — I’ll just miss seeing Spike Lee go nuts over Lin.”
When my Op-Ed piece on Jeremy Lin ran in the Chicago Tribune, a lot of people wrote in to comment about their own experiences growing up. More than a few questioned the veracity of my experiences. Here are just some of the comments that the Tribune published.
Jeremy Lin is riding a well-deserved wave of goodwill and adulation. After being undrafted and waived by not one, but two, NBA teams last year–the 23-year-old point guard for the New York Knicks has become the sport’s latest sensation. And Asian Americans are loving it. Each time Lin shows off his skills on the basketball court or does an on-air interview where—surprise!–he has no accent, he helps Asian Americans get one step closer to being accepted as “real” Americans.