Chink in the Chain Webster’s Dictionary defines success as the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors, or, successful performance or achievement. On February 4th 2012 Jeremy Lin made his NBA debut against the New Jersey Nets. Twelve minutes into the game, the non-starter Guard entered the game to make his debut as a New York Knick. To everyone’s surprise Lin came off the bench cold to put up big numbers against the Nets that would both change the pace of the game and give birth a new sensation in the NBA.
In his debut game, Lin put up twenty-five points, seven assists, and two steals which was a team high in all three categories (NBA. com). Lin’s initial success was foreshadowing to what was soon to come. According to Webster’s Dictionary’s definition, Lin’s twenty-five point achievement in his first performance as a Knick can be deemed successful. Over the next three games of his career, Lin’s success continued. In his first four NBA starts he had achieved a 27. 3-point per game average proving him to be an elite NBA player (NBA. om). Not only was his point per game average impressive it was also a new NBA record, surpassing players such as Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan, who are largely considered to be two of the best players to play the game. Along with Lin’s success in the NBA came a lot of attention in the media, a growth in Asian-American attendance at Knick games, and increase talk around the league. Jeremy Lin’s success in his initial performances as a Knick sparked a media hit, on Television, in Newspapers, and on the Internet as well.
One of the most popular expressions about Lin’s success was “Linsanity”, which is a combination of the player’s last name, Lin, and the word insanity to describe the players up and coming success. Not all of the postings and expressions in the media were as warmhearted as the trending “Linsanity”. Lin’s attention in the media quickly shifted from his success as a player to attention towards his Chinese heritage. For example, The New York Post, a very highly respected new paper in the Northeast released an article titled “Amasian! , which was not perceived to be offensive or racist by many peoples, because Asian is not by any means an offence term. As time progressed so did the offensive news articles and names given to the successful athlete. Lin was deemed ‘Super-Lintendo’ and ‘The Yellow Mamba’. Super-Lintendo was in reference to Super Nintendo, and Chinese manufactured video game, while The Yellow Mamba is a spin on Kobe Byrant, and African American NBA player’s nickname. The Yellow Mamba was given to Lin because of his success in the NBA comparable to Bryant’s and his Chinese skin often associated with a yellowish hue.
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As Lin’s success in the NBA continued his attention in the media and Chinese association grew. February 18th 2012 at 2:30 am ET, Anthony Federico posted his article titled “A Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks In Streak-Snapping Loss to Hornets” on ESPN. com. Shortly after the article was posted, at 3:05 am the article was removed from the website. Though the article was only online for a brief thirty-five minutes, the article was viewed by many, received a lot of attention and was exceedingly controversial.
Shortly after its publish, many different new sources and individuals debated whether the article was racist or not. In addition to removing the article from the website, ESPN decided to suspend the articles publisher, Anthony Federico for a thirty day work period and then later that month fire him. ESPN received a great deal of negative attention and many people both agreed and disagreed with Federico’s article being deemed racist. Fererico’s article received a significantly more attention than New York Post’s article “Amasian! because ‘Chink’ is a often considered to be an offensive term to Chinese-Americans. Federico’s article went under great scrutiny from members of the Chinese American Community. U. S Representative and Chinese-American, Judy Chu was appalled by ESPN. com’s article. “ I think the use of the term is appalling and offensive,” said Judy Chu to MSNBC, one of the world’s most successful new networks. The word ‘Chink’ is a very offensive word to the Chinese-American community.
Chink is a negative ethnic slur towards Chinese people and other Asian Americans because they are commonly assumed to be Chinese because of their appearance and the large Chinese population. “The ‘c’ word is for Asian Americans like the ‘n’ word is for African Americans,” Said Chu. Judy was highly offended by the Federico’s use of the ‘c’ word. To compare the Chinese slur chink, to the African slur nigger, a word that is perceived to be highly racist and has been taken out of American Literature n some schools, gives a good sense of how offensive it really is. The slur nigger is the most offensive word you could ever call an African American person and is frowned upon due to its negative association dating back to times of slavery in America. If Chu is able to associate chink in the same regard as nigger, it is obvious that its use is highly offensive to Chinese-Americans, because the word nigger is not something that is said in the media, on radio or on basic television because of its so highly offensive.
Judy Chu speaks passionately about the vulgar word chink because it’s hateful and is used to so similarly to the word nigger. “While no one would claim that racism against black people is no longer a problem in America, it is unthinkable that any news network or even half-brained TV presenter would use racial slurs against a black player equivalent to the Asian ones that have been used against Lin,” stated Hadley Freeman in “The Guardian” a well-respected Newspaper in London.
Freeman compares the Chinese racism to be equivalent to using racism towards black people, where she says that no one would ever think to you use a racist word towards black people because it is so out-casted or restricted, especially in the media. The phrase “Chink in the Armor” is a reference to a chink, or crack in medieval armor, which would lead to vulnerability and potential injury. Today, this expression is used to describe a weak spot in an object or even a weak member of a group or a team.
Anthony Federico used the expression “Chink in the Armor” in one of his article’s titles to describe Jeremy Lin’s multiple turnovers in The New York Knicks loss to the New Orleans hours before the article publication. Federico used the expression the correct way being that Lin performed poorly in the game leading to a loss for the Knicks; thus, making a Lin a weak link or Chink in the Armor for the team. “ …Had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” Said Anthony Federico. In his claim given to Politico. om, a popular Internet news source, Federico claims that he was not intentionally racist towards Lin. Federico said that the use of the expression “Chink in the Armor, had nothing to with Lin being Chinese, and that wasn’t used to be interpreted as pun, or sneaky way to include racism towards Lin and Chinese peoples. ” (Freeman 1) Federico’s defense in The Guardian gives his claim that he simply used the expression correctly and did not intentionally use the word chink in its popular meaning describing Chinese people.
He believes that the reason why the article’s titles receive so much negative attention was not because of his wrong action, being that he used the phrase the way that it is intended to be used, but because individuals and the media misinterpreted his intentions and accused him of racist intentions. Lin’s success has been turned into many different puns in the media like his nickname ‘Super Lintendo’, where the pun is very blunt, but Federico’s use of the word chink in his own opinion was strictly used to in its obvious expression and a reflection of Lin’s performance in the night before and did not pertain to his ethnicity.
Federico went on to apologize to Lin in his statement; “I’m so sorry that I offended people. I’m so sorry if I offended Jeremy. ”(Freeman 1) In Federico’s apology he is saying that he is sorry for offending both the Asian American community and Jeremy, and that his remarks were accidently racist, because he did not mean for his title to be interpreted to be racist. Federico claims that his article’s title containing the expression “chink in the chain”, was not using the word in a negative manner.
He also claimed that if the title was in fact racist that it was strictly because of poor word choice and therefore accidental. Federico’s past use of the word does not support his claim that he did not use the word with an ethnic connotation. “Federico told the Daily News he had used the phrase hundreds of times in headlines over the year,” taken from an article written by Mackenzie Weigner on Politico. com, a well respected online news source. Federico has used word chink in his publications hundreds of times in his career.
Because he has used the word so many times throughout his career he is very aware of its negative and racist denotation. By claiming that he has used the word hundreds of times, Federico should have known the potential risk of publishing an article containing the word chink when talking about a Chinese American. “And if he was using it all those times, that is extremely sad. The word was used since the 1880s to demean Chinese Americans and to deprive them of rights, and it is used on playgrounds specifically to humiliate and to offend Asian Americans. So I don’t know where he’s been all this time. (Weigner 1) Judy Chu is disgusted by the fact that Federico has used the word so many times over the course of his career and not sees a problem with it. Chu finds it to be sad that Federico has used the word so many times in his career as a journalist and still cannot grasp the hateful meaning the word takes towards Chinese Americans. Judy the goes on to give a history of the word chink and how it has been used all along to intentionally be offensive towards Asians and more specifically Chinese Americans. Racism is something that Jeremy Lin has experienced his entire lifetime as a collegiate basketball player.
During his time at Harvard University, Lin was a successful basketball player and often the members of the opposing team’s student fan section often chanted racist remarks as he played. For example, when Lin played University of Connecticut the fans chanted “wonton soup” as he took his foul shots. When asked about the publication on ESPN. com Lin said, “Have to learn to forgive and I don’t even think that was intentional. Or hopefully not. ” (Weigner 1) Federico had apologized to Lin about the incident, and Lin was very quick to accept the apology, forgive him and move on.
Lin states that he thinks that Federico’s article could have potentially been unintentionally racist as Federico claims. In the end of Lin’s statement he says “Or hopefully not” meaning that if the article was intended to be seen as punny, by slipping in the word Chink while talking about him, he would have found it to be offensive. Racism has been surrounded by racism for a long time and has learned to put it past him and focus on what was important to him, his successful basketball career. Following Lin’s impressive and record-breaking start in the NBA came a large amount of media about both his accomplishments and his Chinese heritage.
Many of the publications during this times period were warm-hearted and highlighted Lin’s numbers and quick climb to the rank of an elite NBA player, while unfortunately many other publications keened in on Lin’s race and at times were demeaning. Federico’s article received an excess of attention and proved to be controversial as it was highly debated. Though Federico claimed that his article was not intentionally racist, many people were offended, particularly Asian Americans and as a result Federico was highly scrutinized.
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