On October 5th, Aaron Colen with The Blaze published an article called “Asian NBA Player Accused of Appropriating Black Culture Fires Back against Hypocrisy,” covering the recent controversy surrounding current Brooklyn Nets player Jeremy Lin and former player Kenyon Martin. A topic previously explored on the American Exceptionalism website, cultural appropriation has been met with heated debate on numerous occasions. It would seem that American society has come to a crossroads in which it must either walk the path of cultural sharing, having led to much of the nation’s innovation and success in the past, or one of cultural segregation, no doubt a track toward societal stagnation. In the case of Lin and Martin, it is clear which path each player has chosen. Colen sets the scene:

Former Nets forward Kenyon Martin tore into Lin in an Instagram video Wednesday for [Lin’s] dreadlocks, but Lin’s response showed class and the composure of someone who has been judged for being an Asian in a predominantly black league for years.


Martin played for the Nets, then in New Jersey, from 2000-04, and retired from the league after the 2014-15 season. He said this in an Instagramvideo:

“Do I need to remind this damn boy that his last name Lin?” Martin said. “Like, come on, man. Let’s stop with these people. There is no way possible he would’ve made it on one of our teams with that bulls**t on his head.

“Come on man, somebody need to tell him, like, ‘alright bro, we get it. You wanna be black.’ Like, we get it. But your last name is Lin,” Martin continued.

The video has since been deleted, but not before stirring up headlines on various media outlets. Martin’s comments leave no room for cultural celebration. His words scream, “Get back in your own culture lane!” Unfortunately, this sort of attitude generally leads to a blurry understanding of different traditions and customs and thus, often contributes to the advancement of stereotypes. In contrast, Lin’s response to Martin shows his desire to share and appreciate all cultures:

Lin avoided taking any direct shots at Martin in his reply, but did point out one glaring bit of hypocrisy in Martin’s cultural appropriation accusation.

Lin posted this in an Instagram comment(emphasis added):

“Hey man. Its all good you don’t have to like my hair and definitely entitled to your opinion. Actually i legit grateful you sharin it tbh. At the end of the day i appreciate that i have dreads and you have Chinese tattoos bc i think its a sign of respect. And i think as minorities, the more we appreciate each others cultures, the more we influence mainstream society. Thanks for everything you did for the nets and hoops…had your poster on my wall growin up.”

Colen ultimately asserts that this isn’t about cultural appropriation, but the freedom to be yourself, an essential element in celebrating individualism:

Lin, a Harvard graduate who made it to the NBA despite being undrafted, enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame with the New York Knicks, followed by an injury-ridden fall from grace.

The entire time, he’s had to deal with detractors who believe much of his success and fame was only due to the novelty of being an Asian NBA star.

Martin interpreted Lin’s hair as an attempt to steal from African-American culture, but that wasn’t Lin’s intent. He just wants to free himself from the restraint of others’ opinions, and his response to Martin shows that he’s been able to do just that.

Read the full article here.

Take a Lesson from Lin

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