/  By  / 

Teaching students about race through the Jeremy Lin story

favicon Although the first wave of Linsanity has recently passed, Jeremy Lin’s story is still a phenomenal one.

We identify with Lin’s rise and appreciate his basketball skills. We also like his grit despite being overlooked several times.

As a teacher, I’ve noticed that many of my students — and not just Asian-Americans — also connect with Lin. He represents many of the values that my students espouse.

In addition to talking to students about Lin, I’ve encouraged them to read articles about the larger social ramifications of his success.

There are many articles to consider, but here are my two favorites:

Jeremy Lin’s Triumph Over Stereotype Threat, by Touré, Time Magazine, Feb. 28, 2012
Touré defines stereotype threat as “the idea that we are all aware of the stereotypes that exist about our demographic group and we try to avoid fulfilling those pre-existing notions.” This notion, studied most closely by Stanford University’s Claude Steele, affects many students, particularly students of color attempting to navigate our school system. Touré argues that Lin’s achievement makes it easier for young Asian Americans to extend themselves beyond social expectations.

Jeremy Lin Forces National Discussion on Asian Americans, by Stuart Leung, Asian Week, March 5, 2012.
Many Americans, particularly White Americans, don’t particularly enjoy talking about race. It’s much easier to be silent or to perpetuate racist notions. But Jeremy Lin’s rise, according to Stuart Leung, encourages a dialogue about race that includes Asian Americans. Leung recounts a racist incident at a local pub and then analyzes the recent media responses to Lin’s success. He argues that Lin forces us to notice Asian Americans in a new way, leading to deeper discussion.

I’ve found that my students love talking and reading about current events. Because the Jeremy Lin story combines sports with issues of race, it is a great teaching opportunity.

Please share your brilliant insights!