I don’t like boxing, I do like basketball… and the recent reactions to Pacman’s knockout and certain ongoing reactions to Jeremy Lin have stirred an anxiety and anger in me that’s hard for me to articulate. Thankfully rapper and community activist Kiwi did:
“I think of the sudden declines of Jeremy Lin (38 points last game notwithstanding) and Manny Pacquiao, about how this society still sees Asian masculinity and strength as a caricature, and how the whispers of “I told you so” rear their heads from behind computer screens and sportscenter analyst desks. What I really sense from non-Asians is relief, that this version of manhood (loving, spiritual, respectful, emotional, affectionate) that they’re scared to confront and concede as possibly better than the one that Americans have been force-fed all our lives, has been finally put back where no one can see it. What they don’t understand is that we are no stranger to invisibility, and while they spend all their lives trying to fit in that box, we will spend ours thriving outside of it.”
And Juliana added:
“Hey Kiwi, thanks so much for your thoughts! I was talking to Bao about the whole Jeremy Lin phenomenon, and now the current wave of bashing/detractors, and thinking about how whiteness/white supremacy is pervasive yet unspoken. Even in the trend to paint Jeremy Lin’s support as anti-Black. The effects of living in a white supremacist society that posits itself as post-racial maybe? My thought is that maybe as Asians it’s not actually invisibility that we fight against. That white people and whiteness is the real invisible—they are the ghosts in the room. There doesn’t seem to be anyone enraged about individual white basketball players as either undeserving or overpaid. Because whiteness is the norm, invisible yet ubiquitous. What Jeremy Lin makes evident is that Asian masculinity is illegible more than invisible— that our society can’t comprehend of an Asian male masculinity that confronts the problematic representations of Asian (American) men. And that these f’ed up images have been historically and socially constructed in the service of white supremacy, always there and always hiding.”
I’m really feeling those two points of discussion. Thanks Juliana and Kiwi for articulating, so well, what I couldn’t find the words and vision for.