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Three honkies have been disciplined this week for using the phrase “chink in the armor,” while talking about the Knicks and Asian-American guard, Jeremy Lin. Though I am enjoying the public apologies, the repeated use of this cringe-inducing expression is a clear indication we weren’t ready for an Asian superstar, and the sports media is very repetitive.
The first, and most blatantly inappropriate use of the bigoted phrase came from ESPN.com.
The cracker responsible for this was rightfully fired, but offered an interesting apology.
I am truly sorry…If those who vilify me would take a deeper look at my life they would see that I am the exact opposite of how some are portraying me. They would see that on the day of the incident I got a call from a friend – who happens to be homeless – and rushed to his aid… They would see I used my vacation time last year to volunteer in the orphanages of Haiti. They would see how I ‘adopted’ an elderly Alzheimer’s patient and visited him every week for a year…They would see my actions speak louder than my words.
There’s no better way to let your actions speak louder than words than desperately trying to let your words speak louder than your actions. I think this guy is a better volunteer than website editor, because even his homeless friends know that you can’t have a borderline racial slur with an accompanying picture of an Asian man.
But he’s not the only one that slipped in the phrase, “c-word in the armor.” ESPN TV personality Max Bretos also apologized for his use of the idiom after being suspended for thirty days. Then on Tuesday, Knicks radio voice Spero Dedes followed with his apology. Both seem to use the phrase without intending prejudice, but the fact is there’s a slur in there.
If you’re in the media, you just can’t make this mistake, yet three people did in one week. What is it about these whiteys that suddenly make this phrase so unavoidable? Are slightly xenophobic phrases always on the tips of our tongues? Isn’t it enough that Lin’s last name is so pun-able?
Perhaps the reason Jeremy Lin was brought to our attention was to finally retire the phrase, “blank in the armor.” Do we really need it? Just use the word “weakness,” or “flaw,” or the ten other words that fit.
It’s clear the media was not ready for an Asian superstar. I can’t wait for all the backtracking when the first openly gay athlete becomes the next sensation.