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What Jeremy Lin Should Mean to Black Women

June 14, 2012

“Chink in Armor…Go back to China… Orchestra is on the other side of the campus…” are just a few of the taunts that Jeremy Lin had to endure before and during his meteoric rise to fame.  His story is the story of a spiritually-grounded American who has overcome challenges through sheer determination.  In the process, Jeremy Lin has inspired people to rethink race and gender-based stereotypes and that is a good thing for all of us, including black women.

What is most striking about Linsanity is Jeremy Lin’s impact on the perception of Asian men.  Jeremy Lin’s strength, finesse on the court and overall swag seem to debunk stereotypes of Asian-American men as effeminate, weak, timid, nerdy and socially awkward.  The world is taking notice.  A viral YouTube video  depicts an Asian-American female college student leaving her white boyfriend for an Asian-American man after seeing footage of Jeremy Lin playing basketball.  Her stereotype of Asian-American men being effeminate and nerdy dissipates and she suddenly finds an Asian-American man irresistible while acknowledging their cultural connection.  Since Linsanity began, several Asian-American men have reported that they have begun receiving more replies on Internet dating sites.

I’m pleased by these developments.  As a black woman, I am no stranger to harmful gender and race-based stereotypes.  Just recently, a branding and technology consultant who is helping me upgrade my romantic networking site for black women and all men, Loveessence.com, presented me with the following quote in order to demonstrate the reactions to the site that we may sometimes encounter.

“Just the term ‘black women’ conjures up thoughts of an overweight, dark-skinned, loud, poorly educated person with gold teeth yelling at somebody in public. I hope that doesn’t make me racist but honestly that’s the 1st thing I think of.” –anonymous white man

I was horrified.  The white man quoted seems incredibly confused.  Some of the most stunningly beautifully women that I have ever seen have dark-skin.  Further, I don’t personally know any black woman who fits the rest of that description.

It seems that despite the very lovely images of beautiful, intelligent, feminine and glamorous black women from all walks of life such as Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, Shirley Chisholm, Dianne Carroll, Dianna Ross, Iman, Michelle Obama and many more, wicked stereotypes still persist.

With the presence of these vicious stereotypes, it is not entirely surprising that black women and Asian-American men are the least likely groups to marry and date interracially in the United States.  Although it is important to note that black women appear to be far less interested in dating out of their race than all other women in the United States, according to scholars who study this issue such as Professor Ralph Richard Banks.

Jeremy Lin reminds us of the fallacy of race and gender-based stereotypes.  I think that it would be wise if we all stop ourselves the next time we find ourselves thinking that white men have no swag, white women are “easy”, Asian-American men are less endowed, Asian-American women are submissive, Latina women are fiery, Latino men are hot-tempered, black women are overly-demanding, black men are players or any other silly stereotypes.  

I have a radical idea.  Why don’t we all try to get to know people as individuals while keeping in mind that the human race is brimming with diversity? We should try to acknowledge the fact that variety is abundant within the very groups that people perceive as representative of a single “race”.  Can we actually get to love’s essence by opening our minds to discover whether a person, regardless of his or her race, can actually give us the love for which we yearn?  The increasing frequency of Asian men and black women from Africa getting married shows us the viability of love across racial and cultural lines. 

 Linsanity may end tomorrow or it could already be over but if Jeremy Lin has caused people to question their race and gender-based stereotypes in the dating world, even for a millisecond, then count me Lin.

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One Comment
  1. Asantewaa permalink

    Thank you for this. I completely see the parallels between Asian men and black women and I think that the media has a lot to do with the problem.

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