Since I just started this blog, I thought I should at least get more of my random thoughts up, so I'm posting a letter I sent to Dan Patrick at ESPN earlier this year during the whole Shaq controversy. I was getting tired of various sportscasters that were defending Shaq's fake Chinese imitation of Yao Ming and his weak apology. The worst was the Bill Walton, one of my least favorite sportscasters, was one of the few criticizing Shaq. Finally, my favorite sports personality, Dan Patrick, wrote a lame letter defending Shaq, so I had to respond.
Dear Mr. Patrick,
I have been a fan of yours for at least 12 years if not more. I have always thought of you in the highest regard as a journalist and sportscaster. For much of those years I religiously watched SportsCenter at least once a day. After reading your article "Crossing The Line", I can say that my accumulated respect towards you has taken a few steps backward.
Your defense of Shaq's comments seem to reflect your ignorance and insensitivity. Have you ever had people judge or assume traits about you because of the color of your skin or ethnicity? I bleed red, white, and blue... but have you ever had a woman ask you where are you from? "Chicago."
"No, I mean really."
"No, what country?"
"NO! Where are you REALLY from?..."
Have you ever had a car full of African Americans drive by while you played basketball with some friend yell at you, "Ching-Chong-Ching! Ching-Chong-Ching! Go back to China!"
The first time this happened I said, "What a bunch of ignorant racists."
What if it was a bunch of Caucasians yelling at a group of African Americans on the basketball court, "Porch monkey!Spearchuckers!" Or if they did their best gangsta-rap impression? Would these Caucasians simply be written off as insensitive? Tell me one African American that would not be pissed off, hurt, or out for blood? Wouldn't most of the general population consider these comments racists and the people that yelled them out the car window racists? Maybe that should be your next poll on ESPN.com.
I grew up in a predominantly Jewish and white suburb of Chicago. I didn't encounter these various situations until I hit college and afterwards. I remember soon after graduation I worked for the Governor of Illinois and lived in Springfield, IL. A highly segregated town. I was the first Asian American that most people there encountered, especially one that spoke perfect English. So I was treated as a "white". There I really encountered the racist or ignorant population that I believe occupies the majority of America. People would tell me to be be careful of "them" people and don't go to that part of town. They would imitate African Americans in some silly servant voice to my shock and discomfort. Are these people simply insensitive? If an African American was listening in, what would they feel especially after the laughter that I heard? Remember the movie, "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story"? There was a part when Bruce Lee was hurt and offended and ran out of the theater when he saw the scene in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" when Mickey Rooney is imitating a Chinese man? Not a good feeling to be mocked or stereotyped.
You said that "Yao might respond with his best gangsta-rap impression and everyone would laugh." Really? Maybe when this all dies down have someone from ESPN that's Caucasian bust out in their best gangsta-rap impression to an African American athlete during an interview. I think I can safely assume that most of athletes will be pissed off. Maybe a rare few will not take offense and just brush it off as insensitive, and I bet a handful will clock that journalist. And how hard will the NAACP come down on that journalist?
And Yao shrugging off comments won't be criticized for being "Americanized", but unaccustomed to speaking out in a more open social environment or understandably fearful of not fitting into the world of the NBA. If he didn't have these and other factors to worry about, I would counter and say that he's not being American by voicing and speaking for Asian and Asian Americans... against ignorance and injustice... for principles on which our great nation was founded upon.
He doesn't simply represent China or the entire Chinese population in the world, but Asians because I assume you and the majority of the U.S. don't know the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, and others. Like those African Americans in the car yelling at a group of majority Asians playing basketball. Not one person of Chinese descent. All Korean and Japanese descent. Like I said then and now, "What a bunch of ignorant racists."