Surely by now you've heard of Jeremy Lin -- the NBA player on the New York Knicks who's currently taking the sports world by storm. As an Asian and graduate of Harvard University, Lin's had his share of stereotypes to defy in the NBA. But most fans have been blown away by his performance and are supportive -- all except Jason Whitlock, an African American sportswriter for Foxsports.com, who took it upon himself to tweet an extremely offensive "joke" about Lin. After Lin put up an amazing 38 points against the Lakers on Friday, Whitlock tweeted:
"Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight."
The fact that Whitlock put this out there on Twitter makes my head spin, for more than one reason.
So I'm Asian American, and I've heard my fair share of hilarious Asian jokes. Part of the reason why it's fun being a minority is all the jokes you can make about yourself at your race's expense. Still, call it hypocrisy or a catch-22, but if I hear an Asian joke told by someone who isn't Asian, or by someone to whom I'm not very close, my defensiveness automatically goes up. I don't go around making jokes about white people or black people or Indian people in public, even if I am a minority, and I expect the same respect. Really -- it's common sense unless you're an asshole.
And that makes Whitlock's joke gross and tasteless. Don't put a joke like this out there on a public forum, likely to offend an entire group of people. It's also a disgusting stereotype about how Lin is seen as less of a man, something Asian men have been fighting against for quite a long time. If that's not racism, I'm not sure what is.
There's an added layer to all this because Jason himself is African American -- but I think if a white sports reporter were to say this about a minority, he'd most likely be reviewed or fined or fired. Instead he came out with a half-assed apology where he said:
I ... gave in to another part of my personality -- my immature, sophomoric, comedic nature. It's been with me since birth, a gift from my mother and honed as a child listening to my godmother's Richard Pryor albums. I still want to be a standup comedian. The couple-inches-of-pain tweet overshadowed my sincere celebration of Lin’s performance and the irony that the stereotype applies to pot-bellied, overweight male sports writers, too.
His excuse is because he always wanted to be a stand-up comedian? Imagine if a white writer tried that line of reasoning after making a comment like this about someone who's black -- we need to stop with the double standards! He's a journalist, not a comedian (Richard Pryor, a comedian, definitely has more leeway, the comparison is futile). I'll be very disappointed if this is the only "punishment" Whitlock faces, and I believe it says so much about how Asians in general are treated by the media. Thanks for raining on our Asian NBA parade, Whitlock.
What do you think of Jason Whitlock's comments? Should something more happen to him?
Image via DvYang/Wikimedia