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Racial prejudice alive and well in America
This month, several media outlets have been criticized for their use of racial slurs in coverage of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin’s ascent to stardom. ESPN.com published an article about Lin with the word “chink” in its headline, a clear allusion, intentional or not, to the racial epithet, and Fox Sports reporter Jason Whitlock publicly apologized after tweeting a joke about Lin’s sexual capabilities. Saturday Night Live responded with a skit in which four reporters, two black and two white, made racial jabs at Lin. The script flipped when a white reporter began making jokes about blacks, and the others admonished him for his offensive allusions to social conditions still stifling the growth of black communities—which they had all done to Asians moments before.
Lin’s rise is certainly unexpected for Americans. We form expectations for one another based on what we’ve seen to be true in communities of which we have never been a part. Whether it’s stereotypes of crime rates attributed to blacks and Latinos or academic achievement and athletic ineptitude for Asians, we still regularly create boundaries between groups using racial distinctions. The debacle surrounding Lin shows these harmful and ill-founded racial constructions still play an important role in American society and have an impact beyond the realm of sports.
We continue to view race much of the time as a black-white binary, and a figure like Lin who bucks this dichotomy can often bring out racial stereotypes usually concealed by the culture of political correctness that surrounds other racial groups. This has negative implications for the economic and social standing of all groups included in the distinction or not, as it shows we still expect different things from different races. These different expectations undoubtedly set social boundaries for what individuals can do and be in today’s America.
Racial divisions formed this way are prevalent on Georgetown’s campus as well. It’s a sad, unspoken reality that Georgetown is largely a segregated campus, and the refusal of students to bridge racial boundaries limits not only our knowledge of others, but of ourselves.
“Cultural immersion” for students of all races usually means study abroad, but really it can just be sitting with someone at Leo’s who doesn’t look like you. The attention that Lin has garnered from his basketball talent is an opportunity to reconsider our social construction and treatment of race at Georgetown, in which we, despite our political corectness, impose and reinforce racial boundaries. Calling Lin an anomaly means that we still set different innate standards for different races, and this is proof that race not only still exists, but that we continue to separate and limit ourselves by using it as a discriminatory compass in social interactions, on campus and off.