Far too often in America, racism is thought of as something that only Black people endure. But, as history and the present have always proved, hate has no color.
Last month, Jeremy Lin spoke out in support of the #StopAsianHate movement that addresses growing violence against Asians after Trump’s labeling of the coronavirus as the “China Virus” ignited his racist supporters (again). Lin had seen enough, especially as he was called “coronavirus” on the court during a G League game.
“With everything happening recently, I feel like I needed to say something. The hate, the racism and the attacks on the Asian-American community are obviously wrong, so that needs to be stated and that’s part of my role,” Lin told the New York Times:
I wanted to share that everybody is susceptible to these types of things and to racism, but to me that’s not the main focus. The goal isn’t like: “Woe is me. Look at this situation.” The real issues right now are the people that are dying, the people that are getting spit on, the people that are getting robbed, the people that are getting burned, the people that are getting stabbed. That’s where the attention needs to be.
On Tuesday, a 21-year-old white American man named Robert Aaron Long was identified and has been accused of killing eight people at massage parlors in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims were Asian and seven were women. According to reports, Long was also planning to go to Florida to do more damage.
The whitewashing has already begun.
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant – a Black man – said that it’s too early to (properly) label this a hate crime. The police are trying to possibly pin this on sex, and not race (as if that’s not still hate). “He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds. According to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacist propaganda surged in 2020, as cases of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ, and other hateful messages nearly double from 2019.
If you’re Black, you know how this feels. You’ve seen this movie play out too many times, as excuses are always being made for why white American terrorists do these things, instead of the conversation focusing on why white American terrorists keep being allowed to get away with it.
And then, there’s this.
Look at that photo. Long doesn’t appear distraught or guilt-ridden. He looks like a man that accomplished what he set out to do. But, look deeper. Do you see any scars? Any taser marks? Any blood? Any bruises?
Now ask yourself this: When was the last time you’ve seen a Black person get away with killing eight people and the police not put a scratch on him?
In the same way that cops bought Dylann Roof Burger King and calmly arrested him after he killed nine Black people inside of a church in South Carolina in 2015, Long and Roof were taken in alive, which is something the most innocent and unarmed Black people don’t get to experience when it comes to interactions with the police.
Last summer, we watched as the sports world conveniently stood against racism. Everybody was taking a knee and raising fists. The Black national anthem was even played before games, and tons of donations were made. That’s what happens when you watch a white cop kneel on a Black man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. But, what happens when crimes against other people of color are committed and there isn’t a video to watch?
Does it make it less impactful?
Or, is it just easier to ignore?
Ironically, the beginning of the 2019-2020 NBA season started with a fallout with an Asian country. Former Rockets GM and current Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey tweeted “FIGHT FOR FREEDOM STAND WITH HONG KONG” in October of 2019. It led to the NBA losing millions as their biggest global partner wanted nothing to do with them. However, the deaths of David Stern and Kobe Bryant, along with a global pandemic and a “racial awakening” pushed that incident to the back of people’s minds, as the relationship with China and the NBA eventually healed.
But given what has happened to Lin and what took place in Atlanta, it will be interesting to see how the sports world and the rest of America react.
Because while Black lives do, in fact, matter, it doesn’t mean that they’re the ones with that distinction. And if equality is the goal, then it can’t be a color-specific destination.