Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | race
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Marion Barry is the elected councilman for Washington DC's 8th Ward, but he's more commonly referred to in the District as "Mayor for Life." That's because the man seemingly has nine lives, politically speaking. He's now embroiled in a controversy over anti-Asian remarks he made a couple of months ago, but an attempt to mend fences with a community meeting today...

Pretty powerful stuff. Matthew Shimura, a 9th grader from Honolulu, Hawaii won the Grand Prize for his documentary, "The Constitution and the Camps," in C-SPAN's annual StudentCam competition. The Grand Prize winner (announced March 7) received a $5,000 award and $1,000 for his teacher to buy video equipment for his school. (Coincidentally, he attends the Punahou in Oahu, where Barack...

Last year it was Alexandra Wallace, a UCLA student, who posted an amazingly racist rant on YouTube about all the Asians at her school. The video went viral, led to a bunch of satires by Asian Americans, and she got blasted for her insensitivity. She subsequently apologized for the video, then dropped out of school. Now, the 2012 sequel to Alexandra...

Jeremy Lin I'm about Lin-ed out -- hopefully when the Knicks get back on the court after the All-Star break they'll win some, they'll lose some and Lin will settle into being a team leader without all the crazy hype swirling around him. But one of the coolest side-effects of his sudden rise to fame -- let's call it the Jeremy Lin effect -- has been a very public discussion of complex racial issues, the type of conversations in the media and in bars and livingrooms and offices and classrooms across the country that haven't been uttered since... Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Only this time, there's the added element of racial issues involving Asians and Asian Americans. It's been fantastic, although at times it's been frustrating too, because when seemingly benign slights are pointed out, the anti-P.C. police strike out and tell us to stop being so sensitive and get a sense of humor. Yes, it's true that one reason these stupid missteps are made is because of the novelty of having an Asian American in the NBA spotlight. But seriously, would Ben & Jerry's come out with a custom-flavored ice cream based on an ethnic stereotype for a sudden star who's African American, or Latino? Watermelon? Taco-flavor? I hope one message that has been made clear in the past few weeks is that it's not OK to treat Asians with different standards. Racism is racism. And there's no such thing as a "good" stereotype, either -- stereotypes limit people, even if they're what would be considered commendable values such as hard-working, or smart. One sports anchor on an Asian American media email list pointed out that unconsciously or not, a majority of reports he tracked just happened to point out Lin's "smart" basketball skills. And Lin himself asked in an interview what it means when the media describe him as "deceptively quick" or "deceptively athletic." He knows the unspoken part of the comments is "...for an Asian." So when I was asked at the last minute to give a tribute to Gordon Hirabayashi, a pioneering Japanese American civil rights leader who passed away recently, I used it as an opportunity to extend the dialogue about race and opened my tribute with Lin. The occasion was Day of Remembrance, when Japanese Americans commemorate the Feb. 19, 1942 signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which led to the incarceration of over 110,000 people of Japanese descent in American concentration camps during World War II. The Mile Hi chapter of the JACL holds an annual event to mark the date, with speakers and a presentation about the history of Japanese American internment. This year's like the last several, was held at the University of Denver's law school. Hirabayashi was one of four Japanese Americans who fought the order to the Supreme Court (and lost, although they were cleared decades later). He died on Jan. 2 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. I knew about Gordon but not his full biography. So when I learned I had to pull together a speech in a few minutes, I pulled out my smartphone and did some quick research online and jotted down notes. While I was at it, I checked the NBA scores to see how the Knicks were doing against the Dallas Mavericks.

Racist headline used by ESPN after Jeremy Lin and Knicks' 2/17 loss to Hornets Sigh. I knew it couldn't last. Not only did the Knicks finally lose one, but ESPN managed to end its love affair with Lin with a helluva Dear Jeremy kissoff. ESPN last night posted a game story on some mobile editions with the headline "Chink In The Armor" (really) at 2:30 am ET, which was changed after 3 am to "All Good Things..." ESPN posted an apology this morning, by Kevin Ota, Director of Communications, Digital Media ESPN Communications, who ironically is Asian American and having a crappy weekend:
Last night, ESPN.com’s mobile web site posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 am ET. The headline was removed at 3:05 am ET. We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.
The network's Rob King also tweeted a response that linked to the apology:
There's no defense for the indefensible. All we can offer are our apologies, sincere though incalculably inadequate.
I don't think this is over yet. There's no way any producer -- even the most inexperienced, underpaid, ignorant, young overnight employee -- could not know about the racist meaning of the word "chink." The headline, placed beneath an image of Lin, was a deliberate use of a racial -- and racist -- epithet. I hope some serious actions are taken by the network to both punish the person who used the word in this context, and to prevent it from happening again. Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time the word "chink" was used on ESPN ... to describe Jeremy Lin. Here's an ESPN anchor (no, it's not Walt Frazier; ignore the title beneath him) saying "chink in the armor" in a reference to how Lin can improve his game: (ESPN posted this 11-second video apology today, three days after the incident and only after the use of the word in the headline provoked outrage across the Internet.)

I've been adding updates to the bottom of my previous post on Jeremy Lin, but there's simply too much still flying across the Internet radar, and that post is already too long. So I thought I'd comment separately about the issue of Asian American identity and our embrace of the Jeremy Lin phenomenon. As I write this, the New York Knicks...

UPDATES BELOW, INCLUDING OTHER REACTIONS, MORE LINSANITY, FUNNY STUFF, JIN RAPPING ON LIN, AND JASON WHITLOCK AND FLOYD MAYWEATHER'S TWEETS Asian Americans have slowly become visible in American professional sports -- player by player, sport by sport. Some sports were conquered early. Most people know stars from the ice skating world such as Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Ohno or Michelle Kwan --...