If you're part of a minority group, there's a journalism association for you. NABJ, AWSM, SAJA, NAAJA, NAHJ, AMEJA, EAJA, WAJA, the acronyms go on. But Linsanity, with all the casual racism associated with it, is AAJA's time to shine. The Asian American Journalists Association has been all over the coverage of Jeremy Lin, and yesterday fired off an email blast to just about every media outlet.
You can find the whole thing here, and it's full of useful information. There's background on Lin and his heritage, which you'd think most reporters would know already, but you'd be surprised. There are also warnings on types of coverage to avoid. For example,
Journalists don't assume that African American players identify with NBA players who emigrated from Africa. The same principle applies with Asian Americans. It's fair to ask Lin whether he looked up to or took pride in the accomplishments of Asian players. He may have. It's unfair and poor journalism to assume he did.
This is good advice! More of this please. But there's also the "Danger Zones" section of AAJA's media advisory, which clearly lays out a number of puns and jokes and stereotypes to avoid:
"CHINK": Pejorative; do not use in a context involving an Asian person on someone who is Asian American. Extreme care is needed if using the well-trod phrase "chink in the armor"; be mindful that the context does not involve Asia, Asians or Asian Americans.
DRIVING: This is part of the sport of basketball, but resist the temptation to refer to an "Asian who knows how to drive."
EYE SHAPE: This is irrelevant. Do not make such references if discussing Lin's vision.
FOOD: Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? In the majority of news coverage, the answer will be no.
MARTIAL ARTS: You're writing about a basketball player. Don't conflate his skills with judo, karate, tae kwon do, etc. Do not refer to Lin as "Grasshopper" or similar names associated with martial-arts stereotypes.
"ME LOVE YOU LIN TIME": Avoid. This is a lazy pun on the athlete's name and alludes to the broken English of a Hollywood caricature from the 1980s.
"YELLOW MAMBA": This nickname that some have used for Lin plays off the "Black Mamba" nickname used by NBA star Kobe Bryant. It should be avoided. Asian immigrants in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries were subjected to discriminatory treatment resulting from a fear of a "Yellow Peril" that was touted in the media, which led to legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Half of these are references nobody's even made yet, so thanks, AAJA, for giving racists some new ideas. Also: "Me love you Lin time?" That's terrible. That's not even a pun. That's a bunch of words mashed together. Puns are the absolute lowest form of human discourse, and that's still an insult to the entire concept of a pun.