By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
Being a basketball star hasn’t protected Jeremy Lin from being harassed and bullied because of his race.
“I’ve been called a ch*nk my whole life,” said the Beijing Duck. “‘That’s that Chinese import.’ ‘That’s that Asian kid.’ ‘Go back to China’…that’s what the opposing fan groups would say,” said Lin talking about playing in a sport without a whole lot of Asian Americans.
Now in his 11th season in professional basketball, 10 in the NBA and one in the CBA in China, he still struggles with a constant tension.
“It’s not an industry where there are few Asian Americans. It’s an industry where there are no Asian Americans,” said Lin.
He recalls wanting to run away from the whole Linsanity phenomenon, a stretch of games with the New York Knicks in 2012 when he would lead his team to victory. Lin scored 109 points in his first four games as a starter, grabbing the attention of fans and the media.
That same year, an ESPN headline about Lin which used the antiquated phrase “chink in the armor” blew up, causing the editor who wrote the headline to be fired.
“That whole situation, I didn’t really flinch,” he said.
“What really really messed up with me was what’s been happening recently (referring to the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans). The one thing that I learned, when this stuff happened, it’s like a fork in the road for every Asian American and every person that’s targeted. How will you respond? I’m not condoning being targeted or being bullied. It creates a fork in the road for person that has been targeted.
“You can harvest a lot of bitterness and hate. You can go down that path . I have gone down that path at times in my life. That first path is adding hate on more hate. What that did to me, The joke is on me. Because I allowed that to turn me into something I didn’t want to be.
“If they’re ignorantly hating me, its probably because they themselves are hurting. If someone is really secure and they understand, I don’t think there’s that need to cut someone down. Put yourself in that person’s shoes to understand they’re really going through something else and they don’t know how to process that emotion. . Even that pause to catch yourself can be the difference between what you do and how you act going forward. “
Lin talked about his faith in God and the support of his family as the foundations in his life. When he wanted to quit basketball in the past, its his family that talked him out of it. He said they reminded him what’s important and pushed him back toward his faith in God.
“Those things are so valuable,” he said. “Going through conflicts and coming out of that conflict. To me a lot of those conflicts are stepping stones. Through a conversation you are able to see each other and respect each other in new ways.
“Never let somebody tell you who you are or who you aren’t, Lin said. “Anybody who’s experienced bullying, that bully doesn’t know anything about you. Eventually I tuned out the voices of the people that weren’t in my life .”
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