Last September, I had blogged about Jeremy Lin’s escape from his busy Taipei schedule to play street basketball and how that was taped by 60 Minutes. The full 60 Minutes piece profiling Jeremy Lin finally aired this past Sunday night! I guess 60 Minutes decided to wait to see how his season with the Houston Rockets went as well as time the segment as the Rockets are going to secure a spot in the NBA playoffs in the next week or so. And I also saw timely promotions over the weekend during the semi-final matches for the NCAA basketball tournament (otherwise known as March Madness).
Charlie Rose does a good job of giving a quick 13+ minute overview of Jeremy Lin’s life history, from his days growing up in Palo Alto, playing basketball in high school and at Harvard, and then to the NBA and the onslaught of LINSANITY. If you don’t get a chance to see LINSANITY the documentary, this segment does a good job of providing a background on Jeremy Lin – but I’d still recommend you seeing the documentary.
Towards the end of the segment, Rose touches on the subject of racism Lin faced while in high school and college as an Asian American basketball player, as well as the fact that despite being awarded the best high school basketball player in California, no Division I college basketball team offered him a basketball scholarship. Lin plain and simply explains that if he were black or white, he would have been offered a basketball scholarship, but because he was an Asian American (with the stereotypes associated by being one), he wasn’t offered one:
Jeremy Lin: Well, I think the obvious thing is– in my mind is that I was Asian American which, you know, is a whole different issue but that’s– I think that was a barrier.
Charlie Rose: When you say because you’re an Asian American, what is that? But there’s nothing about being Asian American that doesn’t give you the ability to play basketball.
Jeremy Lin: Yeah. I mean, it is just– I mean, it’s just– it’s a stereotype.
Charlie Rose: Do you think there was ever any discrimination against him because he was an Asian American?
David Stern: I think in the rawest sense the answer to that is yes. In terms of looking at somebody who comes out of– I don’t know whether he was discriminated against because he was at Harvard.
Charlie Rose: Yes.
David Stern: Or because he was Asian.
Charlie Rose: In other words, there’s a kind of prejudgment about him. That he can’t be that good because he didn’t–
David Stern: Correct.
Charlie Rose: –he doesn’t have the same background as others.
David Stern: Correct.
I’m glad to hear this was directly addressed and answered by David Stern. As I have blogged in the past, prior to moving to California, I kind of embraced the Model Minority myth, but slowly began to realize how crippling, self-containing and confining that stereotype can be. How many Jeremy Lin’s, Justin Lin’s, Yo-Yo Ma’s or Ang Lee’s have been self-denied due to Asian American stereotypes that have been imposed or self-imposed on Asian Americans? To Jeremy Lin’s credit, he acknowledges in the segment that his parents were extraordinarily supportive (more so than any typical Asian American parents would be) to pursue his interest in basketball.
I hope you enjoyed the 60 Minutes segment. I did quite a bit and hope to see more Asian Americans profiled in the future from all various backgrounds help to expose and break the stereotypes that we all confront.