Lin (AP photo)

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) has issued guidelines to help journalists avoid racial stereotypes and other unfortunate references when reporting on Jeremy Lin.

Last week, ESPN suspended an anchor and fired a website headline writer for using the phrase “chink in the armor” when describing the Palo Alto native’s performance in one game.

The AAJA wants journalists to think about the phrases they use and ask themselves if they would use the same terms to describe an athlete who is Caucasian, African American, Latino or Native American?

“Danger Points” in the AAJA’s guidelines include:

    “CHINK” — Pejorative; do not use in a context involving an Asian person on someone who is Asian American. Extreme care is needed if using the well-trod phrase “chink in the armor”; be mindful that the context does not involve Asia, Asians or Asian Americans. … 
    DRIVING — This is part of the sport of basketball, but resist the temptation to refer to “an Asian who knows how to drive.” 
    EYE SHAPE — This is irrelevant. Do not make such references if discussing Lin’s vision. 
    FOOD — Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? In the majority of news coverage, the answer will be no.
    MARTIAL ARTS — You’re writing about a basketball player. Don’t conflate his skills with judo, karate, tae kwon do, etc. Do not refer to Lin as “Grasshopper” or similar names associated with martial-arts stereotypes. 
    “ME LOVE YOU LIN TIME” — Avoid. This is a lazy pun on the athlete’s name and alludes to the broken English of a Hollywood caricature from the 1980s.

The AAJA also asks journalists to “use caution when discussing Lin’s physical characteristics, particularly those that feminize/emasculate the Asian male (Cinderella-story angles should not place Lin in a dress). Discussion of genetic differences in athletic ability among races should be avoided. In referring to Lin’s height or vision, be mindful of the context and avoid invoking stereotypes about Asians.”

Bay Area Media News


  1. …alludes to the broken English of a Hollywood caricature from the 1980s.

    The 1980s? Really? Ever hear if Charlie Chan movies of the 1930s? Or the Joe Jitsu character from the Dick Tracy Show cartoon from 1961?

  2. This is crazy. I guess we've reached a point with political correctness that every race and culture will now distribute a book of words and phrases we can no longer say to one another. Violations will result in your firing and probably being blackballed for life from your profession. What's happened to America?

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