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Ben & Jerry’s Joins List of People Taking Lin-Sanity To an Offensive Place

Adding to the list of Jeremy Lin gaffes is a Boston Ben & Jerry’s shop, which created a special “Taste the Lin-Sanity” flavor that included lychee honey swirls and… wait for it… fortune cookie pieces. Groan.

Note the past tenses in that first sentence. News of this misguided flavor combination came out on Friday (we tweeted about it) and since then, the shop has issued an apology and replaced the offending cookie with waffle cone.

The flavor was introduced after the Asian American Journalists Association very clearly laid out a list of references that are considered unacceptable and offensive. Number four on the list: “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.”

Perhaps the folks at this Ben & Jerry’s shop were high on “Magic Brownies” when they came up with this flavor. Or maybe they thought the rules for journalism didn’t apply to ice cream makers. Alas, they were wrong.

There was an immediate backlash (even though the shop says it sold out of containers with the fortune cookie inside) and media outlets nationwide have covered the news.

But do note, we also said that this is the latest in a list of off-color gaffes made by reporters and others. ESPN had to take action against two writers/reporters who used the phrase “Chink in the armor” in their coverage of Lin’s recent success with the Knicks. The headline writer, Anthony Frederico, told the New York Daily News that he meant no harm nor did he intend for it to be a slur.

“The ‘c’ word is for Asian Americans like the ‘n’ word is for African Americans,” California Congresswoman Judy Chu, the first Chinese-American person elected to Congress , told MSNBC last week. (Aside: Is Rep. Chu seriously the first Chinese-American in Congress in the year 2012?!)

MSG Network also used a fortune cookie in an image about Jeremy Lin earlier this month.

This lack of sensitivity and all-out ignorance, in part, speaks to the continuing need for diversity. One of the many reasons diversity is valuable is it brings experience and cultural knowledge to the work you’re doing. When you have people of different backgrounds and ethnicities, you have someone who can chime in with a cautionary “Hey, that’s a bad idea.” You reduce the risk of stupid things like this happening.

In an opinion piece about the NBA All-Star weekend, the Miami Herald points out the importance of reaching basketball fans in China.

“In short, the NBA All-Star Weekend has morphed into a three-day event geared toward selling basketball to the world, but mostly to the Chinese,” the story says.

Basketball like every other sport and industry is going increasingly global and reaching more and more multicultural audiences. Knowing how to talk about people, places, and things without being offensive needs to be taken much more seriously.

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