These last few months have seen a rise in Asian hate crimes, bringing home the realities of painful racism that the AAPI community faces worldwide. Even though we still have more work to do, let’s celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, specifically Asian athletes.
Racism Against Asian Athletes
From stereotypes to underrepresentation, many factors have contributed to the low Asian-American participation in athletics. The common misconception of an Asian athlete is that Asians are “weak, fragile, and biologically ‘unsuited’ to modern sports” due to their outperformance in test scores, GPA, and extracurricular involvement. Furthermore, due to the myth of the “Model Minority,” Asian American children often do not pursue non-academic activities, such as sports, because they do not “match the norm.” Now, with COVID-19, Asian athletes have seen a rise in being targets of derogatory language on and off the court.
Statistics Of Asians In Sports
While the Asian population in the United States is between 5% to 6%, only 2.1% of Asian-American student-athletes are involved in NCAA. Furthermore, less than 1% of Asian athletes involved in NCAA play basketball or baseball. However, Asian athletes comprise about 10.5% of women’s Division I golf and about 14.6% of men’s fencing. The sports that Asians are most involved in include golf, gymnastics, tennis, swimming, and volleyball.
Asian Athletes And Their Response
Jeremy Lin was an impressive and influential Tawainese player for Harvard’s basketball team and the NBA. However, he faced many racist remarks throughout his career. During his college years, he heard racial slurs from fans, opposing players, and coaches. He would be called “chicken fried rice” or “beef lo mein.” He would also hear comments about his appearance, specifically his eyes. When he got to the NBA, he continued to be called slurs, such as “coronavirus.” However, Lin has stated that these opinions have motivated him “in a different way,” meaning that he now takes more pride in his identity. With this mindset, Lin has said that for every 3-pointer he makes, he will donate to an organization that supports youth empowerment or cross-cultural work. Also, Lin will use his social media platform(s) to highlight these non-profits and stand up, and “have a voice for the unheard.”
Chloe Kim is a well-achieved Korean American Olympic gold medalist. However, from childhood to now, she has experienced the adversaries of racial discrimination. Growing up in a predominantly white community, Kim always felt isolated and was never comfortable speaking about her situation. Even after winning her first X games and attending the Olympics, people continued to belittle her achievements. After that, Kim felt embarrassed being Asian, so she stopped speaking Korean and laughed off any racist jokes about the AAPI community. However, she is now sorry that she “was ever ashamed” and is “so proud to be Korean American.” Thus, Kim stated that “we need to hear more of these conversations” and that she is hopeful that she “can still do so much more.”
We should continue celebrating the achievements and challenges the AAPI community has overcome to create change, not just during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month but throughout the whole year.
Call To Action
Follow and support Asian athletes on any social media platform to learn about their stories, allowing you the opportunity to educate yourself and become involved. Stand up against racism and discrimination in your sport’s community, whether in school or club. Lastly, confront your biases to continue to work toward equality.