Guest Post: An Almost-Reflection on Election Day 2016

It’s been more than five years since Kevin’s last guest post.  In 2012, he wrote about Linsanity.  As Election Day is upon us again, here’s Kevin reflecting on last year’s Presidential Election, the patriarchy, and the “Me, Too” movement:

Last November, on the eve of the Presidential Election, I had thought all along that Trump would win, but finally, on the day of the election,  I trusted the projections and like most of the country, thought that I was about to witness the election of our first female President.

I was writing a piece about how the election of our first female President would fool us into thinking we had now successfully risen above the patriarchy and sexism.

The result of the election made the piece irrelevant so I never published it, but the sentiment behind it is not.

As a society we desperately cling to flash points to make us feel like we have made progress and conquered another one of our societal demons.  For example, there were many who tried to make the election of Barack Obama THE turning point of racial relations in this country.  And yes, while we have made progress in race relations since the Civil Rights Era, the senseless and heartbreaking deaths of Eric Garner and too many other Black males at the hands of police tore open hidden fissures in our society and exposed gaping wounds.

The same thing is going on with our attitudes towards women.   While Hillary Clinton’s loss took away a flash point to make society pat ourselves on the back with our advancement in the field of gender equality, we have desperately looked for others.

We celebrate female athletes (UConn Basketball, Serena Williams), the staggering attendance at the Women’s March on Washington, or the rise of powerful female celebrities (Beyonce, Oprah, Amy Schumer) in order for us to say that we as a society are going in the right direction.  It is a powerful narrative and important because we have improved as a society and the way forward can be seen.  But to do so blindly, we miss the areas in which we lack.

The recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly and Billy Cosby reveal an area in which we have racial harmony and bipartisanship.  Regardless of your skin color or political party, men have a problem with women.  Namely, men like to have sex with women and will use force to get what they want.  And while these famous examples are rich and powerful, men of all ages and salary ranges violate women.

Hopefully, this will lead to a flash point to show us not how far we’ve come, but rather how much further we have to go.  The “Me Too” movement is a powerful one and hopefully will make an impact on men as the number of women who have been harassed or assaulted is staggering.  And while trite, this statement is still true: all men came from a woman.  Most women have experienced sexual harassment and/or assault.  If society wants this to stop, the responsibility of it wholly falls on us men.

It might seem impossible, but it isn’t.  When I was in high school, it was okay to hate gay people.  It was okay to call them by whatever slur you wanted to try out, and it was even excusable to threaten to beat up an openly gay person.  And those things remained somewhat okay to say during my freshman year at NYU, one of the most gay friendly campuses in the country.  But by my junior year, I would NEVER say those things nor did I believe them.

Though it took a combination of personal growth and a gradual societal awakening, it almost seemed like it was decided overnight that we must not say these things.  Why can’t this happen for women?

If  society, and by society, I mean MEN, could accept that women are people who have the ability to accept or decline sexual advances no matter who they are from,  and that calling them sexist, demeaning names is unacceptable, it would go a long ways towards changing things.

And for Olive’s sake I hope we can get there.





Ball don’t lie

This week of Linsanity thanks to one Jeremy Lin, currently of the NY Knicks, has infused my already joyful (in the ordinary) life with an added dimension of merriment.  Sure, basketball is strictly a spectator sport for me ever since my brother made fun of my ugly form.  Feeling this amount of gaiety while simply spectating is hard to explain.  Perhaps I will try to at a later time but right now, I’d like to introduce my first guest blogger.  Hint:  Physically, he has been likened to a young Ron Darling and Korean Fred Savage.

Without further adieu, here are my husband’s thoughts surrounding Linsanity:

Around 10 years ago when I was spry and still had a modicum of athleticism, I went out with one of  my friends to find some pickup basketball games in the streets of NYC.  Young black teenagers taunted us with, “Get off the courts, chino.”  Eventually we got onto a court and played some two-on-two.  For the next couple of hours, my friend and I just dominated and never got off the court.  Those same teenagers calling us “chino” were now defending their loss by saying, “Yo, they games is NICE.”  Some of these kids just couldn’t believe they were losing and kept coming back for more, only to have their asses handed to them time and time again.  They left the court shaking their heads and with a minor in East Asian studies.

If I just wanted to write that I am a great basketball player, this would be a dumb post…and a bald-faced lie.  Because I am not.  I am OK and I was definitely better 10 years ago.  But the funny thing is when I said that we were beating teenagers, I mean freshly minted teenagers as in their voices had deepened just that very day – they couldn’t have been more than 13!  So here were these kids playing grown men, thinking they would surely school us.  In three or four years I bet these kids might have been able to beat us, but at that age it’s not a fair physical match up.  It’s really not about just skill, but also about being stronger, faster, and smarter.  There was no way these kids were going to beat us and no way they should have expected to.  But they did expect to win, and were utterly shocked that they were losing.  There is obviously only one reason they thought they were going to win – we were Asian and they were black. 

Obviously, this is not meant to be a shot against black youth.  It’s just a fact that most people don’t view Asian males as paradigms of athleticism unless you’re talking about speedskating.  Hell, I not only agree with that sentiment, I fully embody it – and I can’t even skate worth sh*t.  But there certainly is a lesson to be learned and it is the same one that Jeremy Lin is teaching all of us right now.

The title of this piece comes from the sage mouth of one Rasheed Wallace.  In basketball, it doesn’t matter what you look like or what you say or what the referees call.  In the end, all will be settled on the court and if you can make shots, you can make shots.  Ball. Don’t. Lie.  When it goes through the hoop, it just do.

Jeremy Lin has shown us in this past monumental week that ball don’t lie.  You can look at whatever statistics you want about his points or his PER or what his usage rate and offensive efficiency are.  In the end, if you know basketball, you know what a basketball player looks like.  And he certainly looks like one. And if he is going to continue to be successful and not just a guy having a crazy week, once again, the ball ain’t gon’ lie!  A great story is emerging with an ending yet to be determined.  All the hosannas being thrown at him today will, sadly, be gone tomorrow if he starts sucking or God forbid, gets hurt.  And if he continues to star, then we will have one of the greatest and most inspiring underdog sports stories of this young century.

All of this will be decided by one thing and one thing only – the ball.  And that’s the lesson we all forget sometimes.  We get so scared by appearances and tradition and stereotypes that most of the time we never bother to lace up our sneakers because we believe that there’s no reason to even try.  That’s why the underdog story is so inspiring – the person who so desperately wants something that they chase it headlong without listening to those voices telling them, and often reasonably so, “NO”, is the one we all wish we could be.  Despite all the doubters and the obstacles he has faced (which I won’t bother to list as they have been more than well-chronicled as of late), Mr. Lin kept lacing up his sneakers and allowing the ball to tell him about his basketball career.  Since the ball told me LONG ago that the NBA will never be calling me unless they want to interview a Celtics fan for a small feature story, I only hope I can follow Mr. Lin’s lead in my personal or professional life – to try even in an area I am not forecasted to thrive in.