Sunday, February 19, 2012

Profiled: Race, Gender, and Age

On Friday night, ESPN mobile had a headline that offended many people. Frankly, it shocked me that a large company like ABC did not havethe proper checks to keep it from being broadcast over the Internet. It read, “Chink In The Armor,” referring to the Knicks loss to the Hornets. Sure, this could have been an innocent joke that came with no racially malicious intent, but it clearly was not thought through and showed how much race is still part of the Jeremy Lin insanity. Maybe we have been fooling ourselves with the clever puns and cute lines like “Crouching Tiger Hidden Point Guard.” When is it okay to make a joke, and when do you cross the line from funny to racist?

For the longest time, Asian Americans have been the “model minority.” We gained this title because we fall in line and follow the rules. We play in the system and don’t speak up or make a fuss about much. I am proud of how generations before my own have handled themselves and have made a better future for the generations that followed. But if we don’t stand up for ourselves, we can only blame ourselves when we are taken advantage of. Respect and rights are gained and usually not freely given. America gained our Bill of Rights through war; Martin Luther King Jr. gained equality through protest and active voices.

Last night in a Jeremy Lin interview special, he freely acknowledged that he felt he was overlooked because of his race, yet so many people try to pretend that it wasn’t the case. When was the last North California high school player of the year not given a D1 scholarship? My guess is none before or after Jeremy Lin. I am not here to condemn those who overlooked a man because he was Asian, but we need to realize that we do this everyday in so many ways. Americans are racist, myself included. As a diverse society, we have made efforts to give equal opportunities to all. Nevertheless, until we admit that we as a society are still struggling with racism, we will never make forward progress. Hollywood has made it an accepted behavior to profile. The Asian character is a number-cruncher, the black guy is athletic or loud and animated, and the girl is in need of saving. I am not saying it is wrong, but what takes place in movies is not the same as real life. It is not okay to say “those people,” “them,” or “they always.” Assumptions really do make an ass out of u and me.

Asian athletes are not the only people who face thesehurdles. African Americans have had to overcome barriers in every industry:music, business, politics, sports, and the list goes on. Even Caucasian Americansface challenges in places such as certain genres of music and positions insports. It is much more common than we want to admit.

Eminem - A great example of a man who overcame many race-based challenges to get where he is today. I am sure Eminem was told by many that he should quit. I am sure many record labels shied away from signing him because of his race. There were plenty of doubts of his marketability and popularity -- would people just see him as another “Vanilla Ice”?

Michael Vick - Sadly even today, people still question the idea of a black quarterback, which usually links with discussion of a dual-threat quarterback. I am guilty of not being a fan. I fear the risk of my team’s quarterback being injured. But when are we just going to admit that the success rate of a dual-threat quarterback is the same as a premier pocket-passing prospect out of college? We fear change and are still having a hard time going against what has historically worked.

President Obama- For the longest time, I believed that there would never be a non-white President. I am sure there were many people over the years in Obama’s career who doubted he would get to where he is. In the same way, I wonder what it will take before our nation treats female candidates the same way as their male counterparts.

Ken Chenualt - Another African-American and the CEO of American Express, which ironically serves a customer base comprised largely of 50+-year old Caucasian males. An unconventional choice based on the company’s target demographic, but it just goes to show that when you are able to look past what is historically the norm, you might find the man best-suited for the job.

J.K. Rowling - Although this is not an American example, it pains me to think that a publishing company would tell a woman to use her initials because the public would respond better if they did not know she was a female author. Most of us have mothers who are amazing storytellers, but clearly that was never enough evidence to change this sexist way of thinking.

Lance Armstrong – Told that he was too old to compete in the Tour De France even when he was still winning titles. Because of that narrow-minded belief, to this day people are still trying to prove that Lance took drugs and refuse to credit the long hours he spent alone on his bike.

So wake up America, let us not forget the things we want the world to believe about who we are. We are a country that treats everyone as individuals and views people with an open mind without preconceived judgments. This is what our nation is about. This is why I never want to leave this great country. Ask yourself if you are overlooking someone by his or her appearance, and maybe the answer to your needs are right there inside your own network sitting on that imaginary bench. Like the musical “Avenue Q” claims, “Everyone’s a little bit racist sometimes.” The question is not if we are racist, sexist, or ageist, but rather, what are we going to do about it?


Well I guess it turned out people were right about Lance Armstrong, but all the other examples still stand lol

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...