Basketball star Jeremy Lin said he fears that speaking out against attacks on Asian Americans could lead to further escalation in the hatred directed at the community.
Anti-Asian attacks and rhetoric have soared during the coronavirus pandemic, including Tuesday’s shootings at massage spas in the Atlanta area that killed eight people. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.
“It feels like it’s happening more and it feels like it’s getting worse,” the Santa Cruz Warriors point guard told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday during a discussion centered on the Georgia killings.
“Even for me, I’m starting to question, ’If I speak out more, am I encouraging more people to have even more hate by other people seeing these headlines? Are we encouraging more people to do more crazy things and to hurt more Asian Americans? It’s just a very fearful thought process,” said Lin.
Lin last month revealed that a rival player called him “coronavirus” on the court. He refused to name the athlete, asking on Twitter what good it would do “in this situation for someone to be torn down?”
Lin, while talking with Cooper, condemned ex-President Donald Trump’s incendiary rhetoric on the coronavirus. Trump used a series of racial slurs to describe the contagion, which was first discovered in China.
“The previous administration and the rhetoric that was being used,” Lin recalled, “you can even hear in the audio recordings, the cheers, the laughs, when it was called the ‘Kung Flu Virus’ and everybody was cheering. I think there’s just a lot of racially charged hatred right now that we’re seeing and feeling.”
Violence against Asian Americans now “feels very different,” he added.
“Growing up, it was always something that might be a little bit more subtle or verbal. But I think what we’re seeing right now is a lot of physical, actual violence, lives being taken, a lot of Asian Americans who are looking over their shoulders when they go outside, when they go to the grocery store,” said Lin. “And we’re starting to slowly see more and more reporting of what is going on, but this is something that is definitely hitting different.”
Watch the full interview here: