Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Asian Men Can't Jump?

Oh yes they can! Did anybody else see this recent Time magazine article about Harvard basketball phenom, Jeremy Lin? Lin is Asian-American and currently Harvard's high scorer on the court. Not only is he being credited with putting Harvard's basketball team on the map, but his name is even being tossed around in NBA circles.

I love to see people playing against stereotype, especially when it makes national (and in this case international) news. I see it as one more fist crashing through the ceiling of stereotypes that keeps people trapped inside of their limiting identity boxes. But on the other hand, why is it newsworthy that an Asian kid is good at basketball? By virtue of the fact that Mr. Lin is making headlines for his athletic abilities, does that mean as a culture we've all gulped down the racist Kool-Aid? In other words, isn't Jeremy Lin only an interesting story because we all collectively believe that Asian people just aren't athletically inclined?

You could argue that historically there haven't been very many Asian players in the NBA, but that doesn't mean Asian people can't play basketball or don't play at professional levels in their own countries. It just means we, the American people, are unaware of what goes on in the world outside of our own backyards.

I'm not pointing fingers here because this is a societal issue. We're all guilty of buying into gross stereotypes about different ethnic groups. And I'm not even suggesting that Jeremy Lin shouldn't get written about for being a great ball player. I'm just trying to make people think a little bit. It's what I do people. It's what I do.

What do you think? Should we report on people when they act against stereotypes or does that just reinforce those stereotypes? Could Time have told this story and only focused on Lin's achievements without highlighting his ethnic background? I'm curious to hear your opinions.

I'm listening.

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