I predicted this shortly after the “Chink in the Armor” headline received national news. I knew there would come a point when you wouldn’t be able to make any jokes about Jeremy Lin without causing an uproar.
The Asian American Journalists Association now has a “DANGER ZONE” list of things you can’t say about Jeremy Lin.
“CHINK”: Pejorative; do not use in a context involving an Asian person on someone who is Asian American. Extreme care is needed if using the well-trod phrase “chink in the armor”; be mindful that the context does not involve Asia, Asians or Asian Americans. (The appearance of this phrase with regard to Lin led AAJA MediaWatch to issue statement to ESPN, which subsequently disciplined its employees.)
DRIVING: This is part of the sport of basketball, but resist the temptation to refer to an “Asian who knows how to drive.”
EYE SHAPE: This is irrelevant. Do not make such references if discussing Lin’s vision.
FOOD: Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? In the majority of news coverage, the answer will be no.
MARTIAL ARTS: You’re writing about a basketball player. Don’t conflate his skills with judo, karate, tae kwon do, etc. Do not refer to Lin as “Grasshopper” or similar names associated with martial-arts stereotypes.
“ME LOVE YOU LIN TIME”: Avoid. This is a lazy pun on the athlete’s name and alludes to the broken English of a Hollywood caricature from the 1980s.
“YELLOW MAMBA”: This nickname that some have used for Lin plays off the “Black Mamba” nickname used by NBA star Kobe Bryant. It should be avoided. Asian immigrants in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries were subjected to discriminatory treatment resulting from a fear of a “Yellow Peril” that was touted in the media, which led to legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Hopefully, this handy set of tips should help you avoid any unfortunate Jeremy Lin-related puns. Of course, if you have to be told to avoid any race-related metaphors, then you need more assistance than the AAJA’s list offers.
Some of this is common sense and some of it is stupid.
Chink is a derogatory term for a lot of Asian Americans and I can see how the “Yellow” Mamba could annoy some people, even though the context in not racial.
If I want to make fun of Asians and how they drive, I am going to do it, there isn’t anything racial about that. If I want to call Jeremy Lin, Shao-Lin because I am fan of Wu-Tang and Mortal Kombat I dare the AAJA to stop me.
As a black man in our society I understand what they are trying to stop, no one likes to be stereotype. If I walk into a nice store with a hoodie on, I don’t want people to just assume I am thug.
But, I do find it interesting how once an Asian-American is thrust in the spotlight stereotypes about him are being protected whereas for years stereotypical, prejudice and insensitive remarks about black athletes have been said by media and been ignored.
It is impossible to censor society or understand the context of what people are trying to say.
“Me Love You LIN Time”
Come on, people have been using variations of that joke for decades, no different than “White Men Can’t Jump”.
The reason why everyone is so ultra sensitive these days is because racism is no longer right in our face, it is bubbling under the surface. No one is just going to say something to face, but they might use veil terminology to get their prejudicial thoughts out.
But, you can not assume everyone that says something stupid, funny or insensitive is a racist. When Jason Whitlock made a joke about Jeremy Lin’s penis size, I didn’t think he was racist, I thought about how a man who hasn’t seen his penis in decades could make such a joke.
I am an adult, I don’t need a list of guidelines to tell me what I can or can not say.
Intelligent people know what line not to cross.
Just use you brain it is a tool.