WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCA, a national organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), strongly condemns sensational speech that capitalizes on an individual’s race. Tweets sent out by Floyd Mayweather on February 13 and 14 have turned his casual observation into an outrageous claim that the “hype (behind the basketball player Jeremy Lin) is because he’s Asian.” The irony lost to Mr. Mayweather is that his dismissive statements perpetuate criticisms that are similar to the racial scrutiny that Jackie Robinson faced when he entered the Major Leagues.
In recent weeks, Jeremy Lin has risen to national attention through his impressive athletic performance as point guard for the New York Knicks. Unfortunately, Mr. Mayweather’s tweet is extremely problematic, stating that, “Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.” Such an unfounded, divisive opinion has the potential to pit one community of color against another on and off the court. It is simply disrespectful to the on-going efforts to improve race relations in this country.
While OCA supports Mr. Mayweather’s right to free speech, rhetoric that exploits the ethnic identity of a public figure for promotional purposes is wrong on many levels and certainly has no place in journalism or under the cover of “speaking (his) mind on behalf of other NBA players,” further claiming that “they are programmed to be politically correct and will be penalized if they speak up.”
We also urge media organizations to exercise prudence when covering gravely regrettable statements such as that of Mr. Mayweather’s which only seeks to provide undue attention for his uninformed opinions.
We call on all media outlets to balance coverage of personal attributes with athletic issues and thoughtfully consider the impact of their statements. While we acknowledge that an apology has been made by Mr. Mayweather to Jeremy Lin, we believe a sincere statement offering a stronger commitment to the practice of integrity should be presented to the community at-large.