Tag Archives: slurs

Ignorance is no excuse for slurring Jeremy Lin | By Kevin Alexander Gray

I’m a basketball fan. 

I root for the Chicago Bulls, NY Knicks and Houston Rockets.  In that order.

The only time I don’t pull for the Knicks or Rockets is when they play the Bulls.

Jeremy Lin ~ NY Knick Point Guard

Yet like many, I’m in Jeremy Lin’s corner.

I like Knicks’ guard. I like his game – except the turnovers and his waiting just a tad to late to dish it off in the paint.  Hopefully, he’ll become a better player.

Even so, what I like most about the young athlete is his patience with ignorance.

Facing bigotry isn’t a new thing for the American-born player of Taiwanese descent in the NBA. While playing at Harvard, during a game against Georgetown in Washington, a spectator yelled “Sweet-and-sour pork!” from the stands.  He’s been called “chink” more than once during his college days.

One would hope that attitudes and behavior would change at the professional level.

Then again, one can never underestimate the capacity of  people to be ignorant or stupid. 

In one interview Lin spoke of watching Michael Jordan on TV as a kid and then running outside to his backyard goal to try to duplicate MJ’s shot.  Yet having a black hero isn’t enough to satisfy some.  Boxer Floyd Mayweather tweeted:  “…Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”

Some of the bigotry even perplexes Lin:  “People say things like ‘he’s deceptively quick’ or ‘he’s quicker than he looks.’  What does that mean?”  Maybe the answer can be found in  Knicks’ fan and movie director Spike Lee’s tweets describing Lin as:  Jeremy “Kung Fu Hustle” Lin, Jeremy “Crouching Tiger” Lin & Jeremy “Hidden Dragon” Lin.

After a stellar performance from Lin, Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock took to his Twitter to congratulate Lin. “Jeremy Lin is legit!” he tweeted.  Then he followed with a penis joke: “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple of inches of pain tonight.” 

There was also the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Network airing a spectator-made poster depicting Lin’s face above a fortune cookie with the slogan “The Knicks Good Fortune.

On the Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange show which runs weekday nights on Cumulus Media’s San Francisco station KNBR 1050, one host urged listeners to call in with the most racist joke about Lin they could think of. He offered a “joke” about “Lin having to do teammate Carmelo Anthony’s laundry as an example of what he was looking for.”

ESPN editor Anthony Federico was fired and anchor Max Bretos (whose wife is Asian) suspended for 30 days when they led a story with the headline — “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets.”

Some suggest that “Frederico is 28 years old. Could his ignorance be generational? …50-somethings know that chink is a racial epithet for Asians, we heard it growing up. Would a 20-something know this?”  Perhaps the “consequence of this offense should have been sensitivity training and a second chance?”

Federico said he understands why he was fired. “ESPN did what they had to do.” He said he has used the phrase “at least 100 times” in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story.

A gracious Lin, gave Federico and Bretos a pass: “They’ve apologized, and so from my end, I don’t care anymore.  You have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think that was intentional.”

Yet the ESPN staffers weren’t the only ones to use the term and Lin in the same sentence. Knicks radio voice Spero Dedes did it too.

On his final call of the Knicks’ loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Dedes said “For the first time in what has been a remarkable two-week run, Jeremy Lin shows a chink in the armor. The Knicks’ seven-game winning streak ends against the Hornets as they fall for the first time since February the 3rd.”

Doubtless, “chink in the armor” is a common phrase.  It means there’s a dent in the armor caused by an imperfection borne in the forging process or a by a sword fight. The chink is the weakest point in the shield.

Chink is also as well-known a slur as “gook.” Some believe it derived from the sound the hammer made when the Chinese workers of the 1800’s, often enslaved and exploited, struck the iron or steel spikes into the railway ties. Others say it is simply a shortened version of Chinese.

California Rep. Judy Chu (D) slammed the ESPN headline, saying she did not believe using the phrase was an innocent mistake: “…if he [Federico] 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.”

Some people just can’t seem to get their minds around an Asian-American basketball player who’s got game.

Back in 1997 when a young Tiger Woods was burning up the PGA, FrankFuzzy” Zoeller referred to Woods as “that little boy” and urged him “not to order fried chicken or collard greens for the Champions Dinner next year.”  People could not get their minds around an black golfer who could play the game.

Even so, imagine the outrage if a black athlete was referred to as a “nigger in the woodpile” which – in racist parlance and “the mind’s eye” is analogous to the ESPN headline. What if someone ran a headline: “Special Olympics athlete retarded in efforts to win gold medal”? 

Lin has faced a barrage of mindless ignorance.   In a court of law, pleading ignorance is no excuse.  A good parent will tell their child the same.  They would also add – ignorance in curable. No matter how embedded.  That’s the victory.

(Thanks to Karen, Judith, both Deborah(s), Jane, Karen and other facebook friends who contributed to the discussion on Lin | Note ~ Lin is not the first Asian-American to play professional basketball in the United States or the first Asian-American to play for the Knicks. In 1947, the Knickerbockers drafted Wataru (Wat) Misaka, a 5-foot-7, 150-pound — yes, 5-7, 150 pounds — point guard.)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Cultural Essays, Essays, racism, Sports, Uncategorized, white supremacy

“Paddy”

“Paddy” (often used with “Paddy wagon”) is a racial slur for an Irish person just as “Nigger” is for a black person or “Kike” is for a Jew or “Chink” for a Chinese person, etc.., It comes from the drunk wagons that used to take those who were publicly drunk to jail to “sleep it off”, and it is incorrectly and widely believed that most of these alcohol abusers were Irish immigrants or their descendants.”

It just so happen someone used the word “Paddy wagon” on”Live from the Land of Hope & Dreams with Dave Marsh” on Sirius radio on November 20th as we talked about OWS arrest.  The term “Paddy” was quickly exposed as racist.  Then on Monday (21 November) one of the young protesters unknowingly used the word saying he was ready to be arrested and taken away in the “Paddy wagon.”  Many of the people around me at the protest commented on the nature of the word and our feeling that the young protester didn’t fully know the origin or meaning of the term.

Immediately after the event I posted a definition of the term on facebook (21 Nov. 11).  Below is the discussion thread on the word.  I felt the discussion was one that warranted saving and sharing.

Kwame Zulu Shabazz & Stephanie McCarthy did most of the heavy lifting.

Read thru the thread and you might just learn something new. FYI about some of the people on the thread – Shabazz is a Harvard Ph.D now teaching at Winston-Salem State University. Ms. McCarthy lives in Paris, where she has resided since 2001; and lived in France since 1999. She teach English as applied to the Humanities in a university in Paris.

Pamela Willis Watters hmmm….I had no idea! Thanks, Kevin

Miriam Harris really interesting–thank you.

Maria Holt Wow! Learn something from your page everyday…

Kevin Gray Yeah, it just so happen someone brought it up on the Sirius show yesterday as we talked about OWS arrest and tonite one of the young protesters unknowingly used the word.

Frank Moliterno Interesting.

Maria Holt Oh that’s def not a good look…(referring to young man’s gaff)

Kevin Gray Just young.

Kwame Zulu Shabazz Bro. Kev. I did a quick check on the etymology of “paddy wagon,” and there is actually not a consensus on its meaning. And, according to the source I read, PW likely originates from the fact that many police officers who drove police wagons were Irish.

If accurate, then PW is not derogatory. The derogatory use comes later when African Americans begin to use “paddy” to describe all whites, regardless of ethnicity. But, again, we should be clear that “paddy wagon” and “paddy,’ seem to have two different connotations–one neutral and the other bad.

My other quibble, is that whatever its meaning you seem to imply that paddy and nigger are equivalents–that calling an Irish person paddy is just like calling a black person nigger. But the history of the relative treatment of Africans and Irish people don’t bear that out. kzs

Quoting source:

//”Irishman,” 1780, slang, from the pet form of the common Irish proper name Patrick (Ir. Padraig). It was in use in black slang by 1946 for any “white person.” Paddy wagon is 1930, perhaps so called because many police officers were Irish.//

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=paddy

Bob Shanbrom Good call, Kevin.

James Armand Chionsini Jr. WOP for Italians used to mean ‘without papers’

Kwame Zulu Shabazz And its not exactly clear to me that the African American use of the term “paddy” was, in every instance, derogatory. It seems to me that it was/is often simply a variant of “white.” kzs

Kevin Gray ‎@Bro Kwame- Absolutely! Efia (Nwangaza) mentioned another thing to me tonite when the young man used the term (and he was speaking about being ready to be taken away in the “Paddy wagon”). She offered that many slave catchers were Irish. Hadn’t checked into that one yet. But certainly the term “negro-round-up” which today is the neighborhood sweeps via profiling has its roots in the history of the term.

Kwame Zulu Shabazz Yessir, in fact, last year, I posted something on “paddy wagon” songs and the link to slave catchers. I will see if I can dig it up. kzs

Kevin Gray Well, now, white is white, and race trumps class under white supremacy, so in that respect a black using the word during the time when such slang was part of the everyday vernacular may have been “flipping it” – [“you may be white but you’re just a paddy” just as -“you may be white but you’re just a po’cracker” which plays the class card.

Kwame Zulu Shabazz Yeah the songs im thinking of were called “patty rollers” another name, as you note, for slave patrols. Not exactly sure if it has any connection with the Irish but will check it out to tomorrow cuz it getting late. im in my office and i gotta…umm…roll :O) Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under American Culture, American History, Friends & Comrades, Political Ideology, racism, white supremacy