Joseph An | Not another column about Jeremy Lin
Honest-to-God | There’s an Asian, Harvard educated NBA star on the rise
February 15, 2012, 9:03 pm · Updated February 19, 2012, 10:44 pm·
The Asian-Harvard combination is one we’re all quite familiar with. The Asian-NBA combo, however, is not. Asian, Harvard and NBA? That’s just Linsanity!
If you’re anything like this writer, perhaps you’ve already jumped on the bandwagon that is the hype over Jeremy Lin — New York Knicks’ sensational undrafted point-guard who ascended to take the world of professional sports by storm in just a matter of days.
Maybe it’s his ethnicity or perhaps it’s his undergraduate degree from Harvard. Some may say it’s his humility and unabashed profession of his faith on the court. Still, it might just be that he’s talented. Really talented.
By now, you’ve probably heard or read that Jeremy Lin “breaks so many stereotypes” enough times to make you think that this column will be about just that.
Well, go on. Roll your eyes, because it is.
I understand — it’s easy to get jaded by the inundation of the same spiel from the media. You may be thinking, “not another article on Jeremy Lin and his race!”
But, dear reader, this is worth celebrating, it’s worth talking about! And sometimes, you just get lucky and happen to be assigned your biweekly column following one of the juiciest weeks in professional sports. So bear with me while I fill my word count and attempt to make something of this hullabaloo.
But seriously, let’s talk about Jeremy Lin.
When he broke into the scene about a week and a half ago, it was the start of a new era for the Asian community. Right now, Jeremy Lin carries the hope of not only Taiwanese Americans, but also of all Asian Americans. Whether they are Korean or Chinese or Japanese or Vietnamese doesn’t seem to matter. What matters to the Asian population is that Lin is one of us.
There are a couple of things that can be said about this.
First, if there’s one thing that Jeremy Lin’s fame hasn’t helped us depart from, it’s the blurring of the various ethnic identities within the Asian American label.
Don’t get me wrong. I am beyond excited that an Asian American Harvard graduate has somehow managed to steal the thunder from some of NBA’s biggest names during last week’s games.
But when I see mocking “kowtows” coming from the stands whenever Lin scores or spectators in Asian face masks with slit eyes, it makes me realize that Lin’s break into the world of NBA is but a small step towards dismantling stereotypes about Asian people.
Second, Lin represents a burgeoning sub-group in America: the Asian American Christian population. Lin’s outspokenness about God (à la Tim Tebow) and his time at Harvard as a Bible study leader has made him a Messiah of sorts for the Asian American Christian population.
But I’m sure Lin would attribute his success to something more than his ethnicity. After all, he is more than just a coincidence and he’s certainly more than just an Asian American.
In an interview with CNN, Lin said his time at Harvard was tough and that he “struggled a lot trying to find out how much time [he] had for everything and taking road trips.”
“Well, you know, I just try to be who my parents raised me to be and me being a Christian, I just try to work hard in everything I do,” he said.
We cannot overlook the multifaceted hardships that Lin went through as a student at Harvard and as an aspiring basketball player. To do so is to devalue the very combination of factors that helped him achieve what he has today.
Lin’s oddity in the NBA is not simply that he’s Asian. He stands out for unwaveringly adhering to and celebrating his upbringing throughout his rise to fame. Through his hard work, Lin has created a platform for himself through which he can inspire others to do the same.
Joseph An is a College freshman from Vancouver, Canada. His email address is email@example.com. Honest-to-God appears every other Thursday.