This story produced with contributions from Views from the Edge
Hopefully this is the end of a controversy that took on a life of its own.
Former Brooklyn Nets player Kenyon Martin has apologized for his critical comments directed at Jeremy Lin who Martin accused of “cultural appropriation” and “wanting to be Black” after the Asian American player sported dreadlocks.
“I made a statement. Wording probably was bad,” said Martin in a video published by TMZ Sports. “Saying he was trying to be Black. Wasn’t my intention to be racist or anything like that. No I thought he was hilarious. I thought it was nothing more than us getting a laugh and joke out of it and people took it the next level.”
Lin is not afraid to express his feelings and that leaves him vulnerable to criticism. He’s also not afraid to sport his hair style, from spiked mohawk to Chinese pigtail to, right now, wearing his hair in dreads.
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“Actually I (am) legit grateful (for) you sharing it (to be honest). At the end of the day, I appreciate that I have dreads and you have Chinese tattoos (because) I think its a sign of respect. And I think as minorities, the more that we appreciate each other’s cultures, the more we influence mainstream society. Thanks for everything you did for the Nets and hoops … had your poster up on my wall growing up.”
The Player’s Tribune. It was more than just about his hair. It was about cultural appropriation, racism and being true to himself. He wrote:
“I’ll be honest: At first I didn’t see the connection between my own hair and cultural appropriation. Growing up, I’d only ever picked from one or two hairstyles that were popular among my friends and family at the time. But as an Asian American, I do know something about cultural appropriation. I know what it feels like when people get my culture wrong. I know how much it bothers me when Hollywood relegates Asian people to token sidekicks, or worse, when it takes Asian stories and tells them without Asian people. I know how it feels when people don’t take the time to understand the people and history behind my culture. I’ve felt how hurtful it is when people reduce us to stereotypes of Bruce Lee or ‘shrimp fried rice.’ It’s easy to brush some of these things off as ‘jokes,’ but eventually they add up. And the full effect of them can make you feel like you’re worth less than others, and that your voice matters less than others.
“The conversations I had weren’t always very comfortable, and at times I know I didn’t say the right things.,” Lin continued. “But I’m glad I had them — because I know as an Asian American how rare it is for people to ask me about my heritage beyond a surface level.
“To listen to the real concerns of someone from a different background — and not just their everyday, superficial experiences — that’s pretty uncomfortable,” he said. “Taking the time and energy to ask about the things we don’t know may be messy — but we don’t really have a choice. We can’t let our divisions get worse.”
“If I ruffled Jeremy Lin’s feathers or if I made him feel any way, I apologize, bro. I’m a grown man. When I’m wrong. I can admit I’m wrong,” Martin concluded.
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