I don’t even have to sample Ben & Jerry’s limited-edition, Jeremy Lin-inspired flavor to know that it is tasteless.
After the furor the past week over race and ethnic profiling in over-the-top media coverage of the breakout star of the New York Knicks, for something like this to happen not only is inexcusable, it’s arrogant and incredibly stupid.
Ben & Jerry’s has apologized, but it seems they replaced the fortune cookie bits in the new ice cream flavor mainly because customers complained they got soggy.
The ingredients of “Taste the Lin-sanity” could have more to do with, well, me than Lin.
First off, lychee are native to southern China and Southeast Asia. Lin’s family is from Taiwan, but what continues to be overlooked is that Lin himself was born in the U.S.
Fortune cookies absolutely do not hail from China, Southeast Asia or Taiwan, though some claim they may have, like Lin, originated in Northern California. Others claim them be a Southern California invention. There also is a train of thought that fortune cookies, like me, almost certainly have their origin in Japan.
The non-Chinese origin of the confection is referenced in Amy Tan’s novel, “Joy Luck Club,” in which two immigrant women from China find jobs in a San Francisco factory that makes an unfamiliar product — the fortune cookie.
The fortune cookie also was at the center of one of the first controversies of the Linsanity craze, when the MSG Network aired a fan’s sign depicting Lin’s face above a cookie with the slogan, “The Knicks Good Fortune.”
That Ben & Jerry ignored all the racial hub-bub relating to Lin is mind blowing. That it thought it was paying homage to Lin by employing lazy stereotypes is precisely the point of the race-related discussion that has been prompted by his story. What does race with to do with any of this? It is a critical point that too many continue to fail to grasp.
Jeremy Lin is being celebrated, after all, for his play on the basketball court. Why not combine blueberry and orange sherbet to approximate the Knicks’ team colors? Or produce a “crossover crunch”? The relevance of race could be argued since the dearth of Asian Americans in the NBA is part of Lin’s appeal. If that’s Ben & Jerry’s point, then get it right and get it positive. Do a Year of the Dragon mint because 2012 is considered so lucky in Chinese astrology, as is Lin’s birth year, 1988. Or color it red to signify good fortune.
Or how about this for a novel idea: Find out what Jeremy Lin actually likes and design a product based on that.
Any of the above would require thought and effort (say, 10 minutes conducting Internet searches), which is something you wouldn’t do for marginalized people.