I’m not saying that it is hard to grow up in Oak Park as a half white half asian boy, but our bubble isn’t always as perfect as it is made out to be. There have been times where I have felt the pressure of orientalism; most notably when I have played sports.
There are many prejudices and assumptions I’m sure people unintentionally make when they hear that I am asian. I’m sure the possibility of me being smart is pondered. I’m sure my height might come into question. One thing that is probably not assumed is my athleticism. Since I could stand, my parents had me playing soccer and baseball. My love of sports only grew when I began to understand the competitive nature of winning and losing.
This continued into elementary school where I began to hoop. Basketball has been one of the great loves in my life. My interest has risen and fallen over the years, but back in fourth grade, when my love for basketball was at maybe an all time high, I began to really follow professional basketball. Coincidently and almost simultaneously, one of the greatest runs of any professional athlete of all time occurred. Jeremy Lin had one of the best two weeks of basketball anybody has ever had. He scored points, hit game winners, and he even beat Kobe.
If you look at professional sports today, I could probably list all of the professional athletes in both the NBA and NFL that are asian without running out of any fingers. It was even worse back when Linsanity happened. Linsanity was huge for me. I was finally able to see someone who like me is asian and was able to make it.
Ever since Linsanity, one of the go-to things my opponents have called me on the court is Jeremy Lin, which I would retort “[expletive] you, I’m Kobe.” But nowadays, when I hear it I’m proud that at least there was an asian good enough and famous enough that when people talk to me on the court there is somebody’s name they can call me.