L’affaire de Jeremey Lin shows that racism is well-ingrained into the American psyche. Why can’t we talk about about Lin without talking about his racial heritage? (Lin, after all, is an American: he was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Palo Alto. He is not comparable to Yao Ming at all.)
Ugly racism is all over the way we talk about Lin. Lin went to Harvard (a school that does not offer athletic scholarships) and he is smart – so in this narrow way, Lin fits a certain racial stereotype; which makes us all the more stunned when it turns out that he his a competent basketball player. We have a different stereotype that we prefer for NBA players: we expect our professional athletes to be big and not particularly articulate.
It gets worse and worse – after the loss to the Hornets, ESPN couldn’t stop racist punning about the “Chink in the Armor”:
How could anyone possibly think that this was funny? Why are certain racial epithets “humorous” and others offensive? Why can we not simply revel in the talents of a spectacular athlete?