How Chinese-Canadian Division One Basketball Player Ben Li (Lehigh University) Silences Racist Trash-Talkers On The Court

Chinese-Canadian NCAA division one basketball prospect Ben Li has received all the Asian-related racist jibes under the sun.

“I’ve heard all the names right when I step onto the court. From the players it’d be all comparisons to any Asian thing – soy sauce, Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, small eyes. Like I’d be shooting free throws and another team would be standing right there saying ‘can you even see the rim?’ and all that,” the 19-year-old Lehigh University, Pennsylvania first-year said.

Born in Toronto to native Chinese parents, Li defied the odds, stereotypes and stigma to make history as the first ethnic-Chinese player to make the All-Canadian game last year. It is but only the beginning of the forward’s mission to reach the NBA and the Chinese national team.

Already touted as the “Chinese Zion Williamson” by adoring media, Li hoped his unconventionally large physical presence on the court would help rid the arena of any prejudices. Otherwise he will have to take into his own hands.

“It’s definitely annoying but over time, their words didn’t matter to me. Most of the time they were trash-talking and all that, they were usually down. So any time they’d say anything, most of the time I don’t say anything back and just point at the scoreboard,” said Li, all 1.98m, 105kg of him.

“It’s actually pretty fun to get to prove people wrong or when they expect me to not really do anything. Then I showcase my game. Sometimes they start talking trash and I’d get my stuff going and dominate the game. That’s pretty fun sometimes.”

Li regularly seeks advice – be it basketball or identity related, or both – from hero-turned-friend Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American who famously graced the NBA with the “Linsanity” era of 2012. That he is now exchanging texts with the man he watched on TV is another “pinch me” moment in his fledgling career so far.

“I definitely want to shout out Jeremy Lin,” said Li, who he featured alongside on a Chinese basketball TV show in 2019.

“This year, he gave me his number and offered me an outlet to ask questions if I’m struggling or need any advice. I look up to him like a bigger bro. That’s kind of surreal to me because he was my role model.”

“When I first met him, I told him I was just trying to get scholarships and play division one basketball so my parents wouldn’t need to pay a cent for me at university. I think that’s where it kicked off because he could relate to me and had to go through a lot of things. He’s even been kind enough to offer to get a workout in together. That’s surreal. That person you watched, that got you into the sport I’m in now. Now I can just to talk to him. It’s just crazy.”

No racial slur is justifiable, but the ignorance may be partly to do with the lack of Asian faces in the game. That applies throughout all age groups, from little leagues to the NBA, where you could count the number of Asian players on your fingers.

Li’s athletic talent had grown to the point that he would need to head south from his native Canada. The path to a division one scholarship offer was meticulously planned and it was only a matter of time before calls came flooding in.

“I had to do what was best for me and expose myself to more schools and coaches. When I got to Virginia, my coach started calling schools in to come watch. Over time, my stock grew and my coach even told me that people were calling asking ‘is the big Asian guy still available? Can I come watch him work out?’” he said.

“I do this for the younger generation looking for knowledge from anyone in my situation. They’ll read this as the next Asian guy who wants to play division one basketball. My goal on top of playing in the NBA and the national team is to inspire the next generation of Asians to break out of their comfort zones.”

“I feel like there’s a stigma that we’re less than other people in a sport just because of the colour of our skin – and I think that’s kind of bulls***. If you just put in the work and screw what other people think, you can go wherever you want to go in your sport. I don’t want other people thinking they can’t get past something if they’re Asian.”

Source: South China Morning Post

Scientists Reverse Age-Related Vision Loss, Eye Damage From Glaucoma In Mice

Harvard Medical School scientists have successfully restored vision in mice by turning back the clock on aged eye cells in the retina to recapture youthful gene function.

The team’s work, described Dec. 2 in Nature, represents the first demonstration that it may be possible to safely reprogram complex tissues, such as the nerve cells of the eye, to an earlier age.

In addition to resetting the cells’ aging clock, the researchers successfully reversed vision loss in animals with a condition mimicking human glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness around the world.

The achievement represents the first successful attempt to reverse glaucoma-induced vision loss, rather than merely stem its progression, the team said. If replicated through further studies, the approach could pave the way for therapies to promote tissue repair across various organs and reverse aging and age-related diseases in humans.

“Our study demonstrates that it’s possible to safely reverse the age of complex tissues such as the retina and restore its youthful biological function,” said senior author David Sinclair, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at HMS and an expert on aging.

Sinclair and colleagues caution that the findings remain to be replicated in further studies, including in different animal models, before any human experiments. Nonetheless, they add, the results offer a proof of concept and a pathway to designing treatments for a range of age-related human diseases.

“If affirmed through further studies, these findings could be transformative for the care of age-related vision diseases like glaucoma and to the fields of biology and medical therapeutics for disease at large,” Sinclair said.

Source: Medical Xpress

As France Entered A Second Lockdown, A Call To Attack Every Chinese Person On The Street Gained Momentum On Twitter; Garnering A Thousand Likes And Getting Shared In Equal Numbers

An angry, hate-filled Twitter call to attack Chinese people in the streets of France after the country went into a second COVID lockdown has been followed by a dozen assaults on Asians and fuelled the flames of anti-Asian sentiment.

The first time anti-Asian racism surfaced in France at the start of the pandemic earlier this year, it was characterised as xenophobia. 

It was a fear and distrust of the “other,” with people of East Asian descent lumped together as presumed carriers of the coronavirus that had started in Wuhan, China, says Sun-Lay Tan, spokesperson for Safety for All, a collective of 46 Franco-Asian associations in France. 

This time, it’s taken a much darker and angrier tone. “It’s no longer just xenophobia. It’s hate,” he said.

Immediately following President Emmanuel Macron’s televised address to the nation at the end of October announcing a second lockdown across the country, a Twitter call to attack every Chinese person on the street began gaining momentum, garnering about a thousand likes and getting shared in equal numbers. 

Replies to the original tweet, which has since been flagged and taken down, were also laced with violence and venom: 

“Hitler should have killed all the Chinese, not the Jews.”

“Put me in a cage with a Chinese I’ll have fun with them. I want to watch all their hope fade from their eyes.”

“It’s a hunt for Asians, for slanted eyes and yellow dog-eaters.”

“You’re only good for bringing back disease.”

What concerns Tan and other anti-racism activists is that these Twitter calls have gone offline and manifested in brutal attacks on Asians of all backgrounds in Paris. The day after the tweet was posted, a male Asian student was assaulted in an unprovoked attack while playing table tennis in the park with a friend (permanent ping pong tables are fixtures in some Parisian parks). According to Le Parisien, his attackers shouted “dirty Chinese” while assaulting him with pepper spray.

Asians are no stranger to being singled out by thieves and pickpockets in the Paris region as it’s mistakenly believed that they carry bundles of cash and are easy targets. But the most recent spate of attacks are driven by something more sinister, Tan said. “Previously, Asians were targeted for their money and were victims of robberies and muggings. Now, it’s not even money. It’s just out of hate.”

In another incident, a 37-year-old Asian woman identified as Françoise was attacked by a young couple who followed her off the city bus. Prior to the attack, a few words were exchanged about the young woman’s coughing fit and mask. The couple got off at the same bus stop as Françoise and attacked, pulling her hair, spitting and punching her in the face, yelling, “It’s because of you, you ch**k that we have coronavirus” and “Go back to China and eat dog,” reports Le Parisien.

“There’s been a crescendo of hate since the second lockdown, and a call to violence that we didn’t see before,” said Laetitia Chhiv, president of the Association of Chinese Youth of France. 

Along with the coronavirus, the collapse of Asian businesses in Chinatown, and the threat of another terror attack – France is on its highest terror alert following the beheading of high school teacher Samuel Paty and an attack in Nice that killed three people – Asians in France now have to worry about being targeted in hate-related assaults. 

“Safety has become their number one preoccupation lately,” Tan said.

Along with fear and anxiety, there’s a feeling of anger and disbelief at the misplaced hate, added Chhiv.

“They don’t understand why there’s so much hate. We are not responsible for the coronavirus and yet we’re insulted, assaulted and held responsible.”

Since the spike in assaults, Tan and Chhiv have launched a joint campaign through their groups warning Asians to be vigilant of their surroundings and to file a police report in the event of an attack. Because more often than not, Asian victims – particularly immigrants and the elderly – are less likely to go to the police, for reasons ranging from language barriers to shame, or lack of faith in the judicial system.

But it’s hoped a recent legal victory will change that. On the 12th of November, the French courts sentenced a trio of men two to seven years in prison for targeting, violently assaulting and robbing exclusively Asian women – believed to be easy targets – in the Paris region in 2019. Of the 28 victims identified, only six took part in the legal proceedings. But it’s a major victory that Chhiv hopes will encourage the community to trust the legal system. 

Meanwhile, the Paris prosecutor’s office has launched a formal investigation into the original Twitter call to attack Chinese “for inciting public provocation to carry out a physical attack of a racist nature.”

“We want to send the message that no, you can’t say whatever you want on social media and call for attacks on an entire population for no reason,” Chhiv said.

She also points out that social media played a big role as a vehicle for hate in both the assassination of Paty and the anti-Asian discrimination currently playing out across France. During a lesson on free speech, Paty showed his class a cover from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which depicted a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad naked on all fours. One outraged Muslim parent waged a social media campaign against the teacher, which caught the attention of the killer who had no prior connection to the school or teacher.

“Social media can be a conduit for hate,” Chhiv said. “The fury on social media is nefarious for society. All it takes is for one person with bad intentions to stumble on a hateful post and use it to justify their violent behaviour.”

Source: Vice

80-Year-Old Vietnamese Canadian Grandma Hit With Rocks and Temporarily Blinded By Teens

Horrible night: On Aug. 20, between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Doan was home alone when an aggressive banging at her door riled her dog into barking. She thought her dog wanted to go outside, so she leashed him and opened the door. What was waiting for her were five teenage boys who hurled eggs, rocks, racial slurs and curses, according to her granddaughter Cindy Tran to Ottawa Citizen.

  • Doan doesn’t speak or understand much English but she made out snippets of what she could: “F**k you, f**k, f**k, f**k,” the teens said.
  • After that, the teens started egging her house. One of them, believed to be between 15 to 17 years old, chucked a rock at her face, striking her left cheekbone and bruising her eye, according to the Pembroke Observer.
  • Tran said that this caused her grandmother’s eye to swell and “[rendered] her blind for a few hours.”
  • As Doan stumbled back into her house, she called out saying “Help me. Somebody help me,” in broken English, hoping her neighbors would hear.

Police search: Shortly after the incident, roughly 10:30 p.m. that day, Doan’s grandchildren, including Tran, arrived to take her to the Pembroke Regional Hospital and speak with the Ontario Provincial Police officers (OPP) until 4 a.m. about the assault. Tran said an OPP officer called her and confirmed that the neighbors heard racial slurs directed at her grandmother.

  • The teens allegedly returned two more times after the initial attack to egg Doan’s house just two days after.
  • According to CBC News, in the third instance, “one of the young people was seen yelling and banging on the door.”
  • The OPP are investigating this case and looking for “four individuals…between 15 and 17 years of age,” who were, at the time, wearing shorts and baseball caps and known to “travel on bicycles.”
  • The investigators are especially interested to hear from those from the Isabella Street area, with home surveillance footage, from Aug. 20 and 22.
  • Tran told NextShark, the OPP said, “The investigation is ongoing and progressions have been made.”

Tran’s comments: As one of the few Asian families to grow up in Pembroke, Tran and her family are no strangers to microaggressions and racial slurs. Although it isn’t the first, she said “This has been the most extreme case of racism and discrimination our family has been subjected to.” Tran currently pursues her Master’s of Journalism at Carleton University with a focus on advocacy journalism for marginalized communities; this incident further solidifying her thoughts on how racism is still so prevalent.

Source: NextShark