Jeremy Lin speaks out against racism toward Asian people, recalls experience on the court

28-year-old Brooklyn Net point guard Jeremy Lin | Reuters/Jeff Haynes

NBA G League guard and veteran basketball player Jeremy Lin is using his platform to highlight racism and discrimination against Asian Americans in the United States by revealing his own experiences on the court. 

As the number of violent attacks against Asians has spiked in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic, Lin, a Taiwanese American currently playing for the Golden State Warriors’ G League affiliate, revealed on social media the racism he has experienced even in his profession.

“Being a 9 year NBA veteran doesn't protect me from being called ‘coronavirus’ on the court,” Lin, a Christian, said. “Being a man of faith doesn't mean I don't fight for justice, for myself and for others.”

The former New York Knick, Brooklyn Net and Los Angeles Laker spent most of last year playing in China for the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese Basketball Association before returning to the U.S. to play with the Santa Cruz Warriors.

His post recounted several ways Asian Americans encounter racism, particularly children playing sports. 

“Something is changing in this generation of Asian Americans. We are tired of being told that we don’t experience racism, we are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble. We are tired of Asian American kids growing up and being asked where they’re REALLY from, of having our eyes mocked, of being objectified as exotic or being told we’re inherently unattractive,” he wrote.

“We are tired of the stereotypes in Hollywood affecting our psyche and limiting who we think we can be. We are tired of being invisible, of being mistaken for our colleague or told our struggles aren’t as real.”

The “Linsanity” star said that he wants “better” for his elders “who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make a life for themselves” in the U.S.

“I want better for my niece and nephew and future kids,” the 32-year-old added. “I want better for the next generation of Asian American athletes than to have to work so hard to just be ‘deceptively athletic.’”

From the beginning of the global pandemic in the U.S. to the end of 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate website reported that they received nearly 3,000 first-hand reports of anti-Asian hate across 50 states and Washington, DC.

The league is now investigating Lin’s claim that he was called “coronavirus” on the court.

The former Harvard University standout says he will not name the perpetrator but felt the need to say something to raise awareness about a long-existing issue. 

“This has been something that’s really blowing up or boiling up for a little bit for me,” Lin told CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday.

“I’ve seen since last year — around January — when everything started to happen, I’ve just seen the rise in a lot of these attacks and hate crimes,” he said. “I was removed for about five, six months. And then when I came back, it seemed like things in the U.S. had got even more hostile.”

In 2019, Lin became the first Asian American to win an NBA title while playing for the Toronto Raptors, but that has not kept him from being targeted multiple times with racist slurs during his basketball career.

Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr has since spoken out in support of Lin, calling his post “really powerful.”

“I applaud Jeremy for his words and echo his sentiments regarding racism against the Asian American community,” Kerr told reporters.

Lin also addressed former President Donald Trump’s referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.” Although he doesn't believe the former president spearheaded the attacks against Asian Americans, Lin believes such discourse doesn’t help.

“It definitely empowered or exacerbated an issue that was already there,” he told Lemon.

Lin concluded his interview by sharing his hope for America regarding all racism in the country.

“I think at the end of the day, what I would love to see is that people spend more time listening and hearing than judging and condemning,” he stated. “I would love to see cross-cultural solidarity. I would love to see people supporting anti-racism, not just in one people group, but across the board.” 

This month, activists in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area marched in response to attacks against Asian Americans. 

Recently, a black teenager was arrested for attacking an elderly Thai immigrant, Vicha Ratanapakdee, which left the man dead.

The attack was the latest in a string of violent attacks against Asian-Americans in and around San Francisco and prompted a national response. 

Both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., denounced these attacks, according to The Hill.

“As we celebrate the Lunar New Year, a source of joy, it’s also a source of pain for us at this time because of all of these incidents,” Pelosi said at a press conference.

Chu slammed Trump’s use of insensitive terms to describe the virus. 

“We warned that spreading xenophobia would put lives at risk. But our pleas and the guidance from experts were ignored. Donald Trump and Republicans doubled down on using slurs like ‘Wuhan virus,’ ‘China plague’ and ‘Kung flu,’” Chu said. “And that tactic succeeded in promoting the stigma that directed people’s anger at Asian Americans. What started as dirty looks and verbal assaults has escalated to physical attacks and violence against innocent Asian Americans.”

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