On Friday night, Jason Whitlock said “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight” soon after Jeremy Lin scored 38 points to help the New York Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
It led to a bit of a firestorm on Twitter, with several people calling him out for a comment that was viewed as stereotypical or racist regarding Lin. The Asian American Journalists Association demanded an apology yesterday, saying that the “attempt at humor . . . fell flat” and that “[t]he offensive tweet debased one of sports’ feel-good moments, not just among Asian Americans but for so many others who are part of your audience.”
Late last night, FOX posted an apology from Jason Whitlock, wherein he attributed it to his “immature, sophomoric, comedic nature,” throwing in a Richard Pryor reference.
I expect this to be the end of it. Whitlock’s crack was insensitive, and perpetuated a stereotype (and last I checked, he was not paid as a standup comedian). I’m also not going to pretend he was the only one making a questionable statement about Jeremy Lin over the last week, because I’ve seen plenty of them. For whatever reason, there is a double standard when it comes to Asian stereotypes/jokes. In substance, his comment was like Fuzzy Zoeller’s Fried Chicken and Collard Greens “joke” about Tiger Woods at the Masters (though I suspect the spirit and tone were different; can’t pick that up from Twitter). Zoeller, you might recall, as referenced in this Whitlock piece from 1997, justified his comments because he was a “prankster, comedian, funny man.”
I don’t think Whitlock should have been fired, and if this apology is good enough for the AAJA, then it should be over. I do think the medium of Twitter and the timing was such that it was just an ill-conceived statement. I also think we all need to think about why we think it’s okay to crack on stereotypes related to Jeremy Lin’s ethnicity.
[photo via Getty]