It didn’t take long before the puns turned to racism. For me, the beginning was the borderline New York Post back page “Amasian.” But early Saturday morning, it was the brazen “Chink in the armor” headline from ESPN that so angered the masses.
ESPN has since fired the headline writer and has suspended an anchor for using the same slur on a telecast.
I knew it would come to this. I just didn’t think it would be ESPN.
Since the moment Jeremy Lin started lighting up the Garden and the eyes of respective fans around the world, there’s been an endless stream of puns put forth to play off both Lin’s name and heritage. As if “Linsanity” wasn’t enough, you’ve got “Linvincible,” the “all he does is lin” chants and many more. It’s added to what has been a remarkable story about a point guard that was one step away from being out of the NBA. But it’s also added a layer of racism around the coverage of the most popular professional Asian-American basketball player ever.
What’s more, the blatant racism has re-opened what I would like to call ever-fresh wounds. Lames excuses like this one, delivered as a comment on Jim Romenesko’s site, continue a perpetual sense of “gray area” when in fact headlines like “Chink in the armor” are clearly racist:
“I’ve used “chink in the armor” many times — and never thought of it as racist. People need to get over it.”
Because a phrase like “chink in the armor” can stand alone means nothing to me. The fact that it was used in conjunction with a story about an Asian-American man, when it clearly wasn’t necessary, is all the evidence I need to throw out the race card.
What pisses me off, and I’m pretty sure every other person of color in this great country, is the idiots that try to excuse away what is obvious and offensive. It’s why the wounds are ever-fresh. Not only are the folks who use these tactics are saying forgive the offender, but they are also diminishing what others are legitimately calling out as racist, thus continuing the cycle of offensiveness.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen this become the tactic of choice for racists — particularly on comment boards. They see the bigotry of some as a chance to defend, downplay and delegitimize the concerns of others. It’s no surprise that they’ve capitalized on moments like these. But it’s heartening to know that wherever intelligent conversation takes place, this kind of hackneyed racism is shot down immediately. It’s just unfortunate that it has to sully a great story in Lin, who as a classic underdog with an exceptional background deserves the attention and popularity he is getting.
My hope is that organizations like the New York Post, ESPN and others, take into account the responsibility they have to handle Lin’s story with care, particularly in regards to racism. There will always be some that excuse away their behavior, whether it was born of ignorance or hate. But news organizations like these are smarter than that and they do know better.