Jeremy Lin’s hoop success not only brought questions about how players of different ethnicity, experience and education are judged in the NBA, but also questions of political correctness and racial sensitivity—or insensitivity—off the court.
Witness the latest controversy involving Lin: Ben & Jerry’s Boston Scoop Shops creation of a limited-edition “Taste the Lin-Sanity” flavor that was offered in its Harvard Square store. The recipe included pieces of fortune cookies, which has rubbed some people the wrong way.
It’s obvious that Ben & Jerry’s didn’t heed the Asian American Journalists Association’s guidelines on reporting about Lin released last week that specifically outline danger zones, including references to food: “Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? In the majority of news coverage, the answer will be no.” Then again, Ben & Jerry’s is not a media outlet, it’s a corporation looking to sell some ice cream—and create a bit of fun—around a famous local alumnus.
To the company’s credit, it did issue an apology, replaced the fortune cookies with bits of waffles and sold out their supply of the flavor over the weekend. Along with the “chink in the armor” references by two journalists earlier, this latest gaffe shows one thing: Anyone who’s looking to capitalize on the Lin phenomenon—journalist or not—should give a little thought to what they are communicating—or putting in a recipe. Fortune cookie? C’mon.
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