Amid the improbable rise of an NBA superstar, Jeremy Lin managed to accomplish one more awesome achievement: He exposed America as a nation where racism is still very much a rampant part of our lives.
On Friday night, the NY Knicks lost a game. It was received with a tremendous amount of hype because of Jeremy Lin, odd considering the Knicks did a whole lot of losing before his arrival. The crush of the media demanded that new and inventive headlines be formed to capture a reader that had seen it all.
Then this came from ESPN, via Twitter feed of Slam Magazine's Myles Brown. The headline reads:
Chink in the Armor
This comes on the heels of a tweet from Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock, who chimed in on a February 10th game against the Lakers (h/t Yahoo! Sports). The reference is to Jeremy Lin and reaches for the lowest hanging of comedic fruit.
Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.
Is it really all that hard not to be racist? Racism, for those not brought up to speed on the subject, is defined by Merriam-Webster, "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."
We shouldn't have to have such things defined for us. Racism is better described by the feeling you get when you hear its ugly voice. It hits you in the stomach and forces you back a couple of steps, demanding you to think, "Damn, that was racist."
This isn't even the first time ESPN used the obvious racist and wildly unimaginative headline. Deadspin reported on the network using the same headline at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The head spins from the knowledge that, in 2012, people can still spout off in amazingly insensitive ways. Not that any of this is confined to the sports world, a microcosm we normally dare not breach.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra authorized a Super Bowl ad that has since gone on to fan flames of racism in the political world. If you haven't seen it, watch the spot that could have been made in the 1940s.
Speaking of the 1940s, we are not that many generations removed from Japanese-American Internment, or Jim Crow Laws or a 1967 Supreme Court decision that actually had to decide for our ignorant country that interracial marriage was just fine.
We hate to say it or even think it, but racism is just as a part of the American backbone as apple pie. It makes sense that a nation founded by a melting pot would get all the good of what that means interspersed with the bad.
It took Jeremy Lin's magnificent rise to remind us that this sort of thing is still very much a part of us. It may not always show itself in a national headline, but it's there, circling the inner subconscious of the national identity.
We as a nation tend to do this often. We go to our warm blanket of racism when we don't fully understand or comprehend a story.
Jeremy Lin was an NBA D-Leaguer that started playing like Steve Nash, and the Internet was flooded with thoughts on how it was possible. Twitter is abuzz with all walks of life opining on this amazing story.
We continue to bury it as an Asian story or about an Asian-American that is making good on hard work. Even that pigeonholes this remarkable man and his rise to prominence.
Jeremy Lin was born in August 23, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. He went to Palo Alto high school, where he dominated. After hard work, he went to Harvard, where he struggled to get a consistent look. His struggles continued and were magnified at the next level, but he never quit and kept pushing to see his dream through.
Look just past the color to the meat of the story. I suggest you do, because you will notice something that might just make you smile. We are missing a really fantastic American story.