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Politics

Racism against Asians should not be tolerated

Esther J. Cepeda on

CHICAGO -- If you think there's no one on the planet who doesn't understand that yanking up the corners of your eyes is offensive to people of Asian descent, well, you're absolutely wrong.

The most recent examples come from one of the most diverse and integrated corners of society -- professional sports. The first, in late October, occurred during the World Series, when the Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel, who is from Cuba, made the offending gesture, and appeared to utter the word "chinito" at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, whose mother is Japanese.

Hispanics on social media denounced the open racism that's widely accepted in Latin American countries. But those sentiments apparently didn't reach Edwin Cardona, a midfielder for the Colombian national soccer team who, in early November, made the same gesture at Choi Chul-soon, a player on the South Korean national team.

Both Gurriel and Cardona immediately apologized, expressing their regret, but their missteps are only the latest in a long line of high-profile people mostly getting a pass when they made racist comments or gestures regarding Asians.

When basketball star Jeremy Lin, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, played for the New York Knicks, sports media reacted to the 2012 "Lin-sanity" with headlines like "Chink in the armor" and others referencing fortune cookies and diminutive genitals.

Lin recently told his Brooklyn Nets teammate Randy Foye, on Foye's podcast, "Outside Shot w/ Randy Foye," that such disrespectful incidents paled in comparison to what he experienced in college, when he heard racist slurs from fans, opposing players and even another team's coach.

 

"So, when I got to the NBA," Lin said. "I thought this is going to be way worse. But it is way better. Everybody is way more under control." Think about it: Having his manhood mocked in news headlines was better than the abuse he endured while playing for Harvard.

This may be because it's a constant insult if you're an Asian male. This past January, Eddie Huang, the restaurateur and author of the memoir "Fresh Off the Boat," which inspired the ABC television show of the same name, said as much after comedian Steve Harvey did a bit implying that a black woman would never date an Asian man.

"Every Asian-American man knows what the dominant culture has to say about us," Huang wrote in a New York Times op-ed. "We count good, we bow well, we are technologically proficient, we're naturally subordinate, our male anatomy is the size of a thumb drive and we could never in a thousand millenniums be a threat to steal your girl."

Again, such messages don't break through. Last year, at the Academy Awards ceremony, Chris Rock paraded a trio of Asian children out on stage as pretend PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants and made a tasteless "model minority" joke at their expense.

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