Saturday, May 29, 2004

Empty Praise: Response

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It was amazing how varied the comments were to yesterdays post. I think I exhausted my "racial issues" energy for the next month or so, but I just want to squeeze out the last few drops and respond to some of the comments.

I was going to use my normal Q & R format but change my mind. Words in direct response to one particular comment may be misconstrued as criticism, disaproval or censure. That is not my intention. The commenters on this site are all good people who express their opinion. I never prejudge or view their comments as negative. I accept them for what they are: A point of view different from mine. I believe that dialogue is important and the more we know each other, the better we will understand each other. Expressing one's view is a good thing. Otherwise we end up in a society with a worldview of zero.

Is there a double standard if minorities root for minorities?

The guy I talked to at Glory Days said he rooted for a team that incorporate more white palyers. This could be compared to Asians rooting for Ichiro of the Seattle Mariners or Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets. This could be construed as a kind of double standard. Now, if you are Asian and you root for the Mariners or Rockets specifically because there is an Asian on the team, then yeah it would be similar, but not necessarily the same.

Now, I am JA but I have never rooted for Ichiro. I see nothing to root for. And I will never root for Matsui. Why? Cuz he's a Yankee. It has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with being a (former) Dodger fan. I share absolutely nothing with these guys. I rooted for Nomo when he first came because, like Yao, he was an underdog, and being a minority, being an underdog myself, I loved to root for him.

I root for Yao Ming not because he's Asian, but because he's an underdog. An Asian in the NBA has to be considered an underdog--think of all the stereotypes: unaggressive, slow, can't jump--and that is the reason why I root for him. But I don't root for the Rockets, ever. I also rooted for Spud Webb (black) because he was an underdog; he was short like me. I also root for Mark Maddog Madsen (white) because he looks kinda dorky and dorks--like me--are always underdogs in the NBA (re: Kurt Rambis), and we also went to the same school. the bottom line is that I root for particular players for reasons that go beyond race. We share something in common that bonds me to them, from being short, to being a dork, to challenging the stereotypes of being an Asian in America.And this is the point the most crucial point, because it separates me from the white guy I was talking to.

Yes, I root for Yao because he's Asian, but not because he's ethnically Asian or has the same color skin as me, but because he faces the same challenges that I face: An Asian fighting against stereotypes. And I think that is why many ethnic minorities--black, brown, yellow--will root for people of the same ethnicity or heritage; they can relate to something that is internal, NOT external. The vibes I got from the guy in the bar was that he roots for whites because they share the same skin color. Not the same heritage, not the same struggles. And what strikes me about this kind of allegience is that people like him root for whites because they are not Black or Hispanic or Asian. The distinction he is making is purely skin tone and so the distinction is clear. If Szczerbiak of the T-Wolves was Black, he wouldn't root for him so loudly when he hits a three. Is this guy from Minnesota? No. Did he go to the same school as Szczerbiak? Probably not. Is he the same ethnicity as Szczerbiak? I don't know. The ONLY thing he mentioned that would bond him to Szczerbiak and others was that they were white. Which means, they were not Black. He is making a distinction that is purely race based. The next time you hear someone rooting for whites because they are white, ask them why? I bet you'd find that many root because, for no other reason, they aren't black.

So I don't think that there is a double standard for me.

I will continue my thoughts tomorrow. I gotta go grocery shopping with M...

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