"I know what it feels like when people get my culture wrong."
NBA star Jeremy Lin has written a 1,500-word essay about his new haircut and cultural appropriation.
Published on The Players Tribune, the Brooklyn Nets point guard’s piece is titled So … About My Hair. In the 1,500 word essay, Lin explains that he initially didn’t think anyone would care about his haircut.
“I never thought I’d ever think so much about hair,” he writes. “Honestly, at first I was surprised anyone would care what I did with my hair.”
However, it would later occur to him that his choice of getting dreadlocks could result in him being accused of cultural appropriation.
“At first I didn’t see the connection between my own hair and cultural appropriation,” Lin admits. ” Growing up, I’d only ever picked from one or two hairstyles that were popular among my friends and family at the time.”
Nonetheless, he explains that he personally understands the impact of cultural appropriation. “As an Asian-American, I do know something about cultural appropriation,” Lin states. “I know what it feels like when people get my culture wrong. I know how much it bothers me when Hollywood relegates Asian people to token sidekicks, or worse, when it takes Asian stories and tells them without Asian people.”
The 29-year-old Asian-American revealed how he had been hurt by racial stereotypes in the past.
“I know how it feels when people don’t take the time to understand the people and history behind my culture. I’ve felt how hurtful it is when people reduce us to stereotypes of Bruce Lee or “shrimp fried rice.” It’s easy to brush some of these things off as “jokes,” but eventually they add up. And the full effect of them can make you feel like you’re worth less than others, and that your voice matters less than others.”
Consequently, Lin says he would never do the same to others. “So of course, I never want to do that to another culture.”
However, Lin doesn’t feel that his hair would affect anyone else anyway. “But I had never really deeply considered how something as seemingly personal as my hair — as an Asian-American NBA player — could affect anyone else,” he says.
Lin adds that the help of his teammates and friends has allowed him to consider the situation more. “I’m really grateful to my teammates and friends for being willing to help me talk through such a difficult subject, one that I’m still learning about and working my way through.”
“The conversations I had weren’t always very comfortable, and at times I know I didn’t say the right things. But I’m glad I had them – because I know as an Asian-American how rare it is for people to ask me about my heritage beyond a surface level.”