Pablo Torre's Essay on Being Asian American Is Powerful, Sadly Necessary
By Kyle Koster
Anti-Asian American violence has been on the rise over the last year as ignorance and unchecked hatred grossly became a badge of honor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, a 21-year-old man killed eight people at Atlanta-area spas; six of the victims were Asian women. It's never been clearer that there is a crisis of character and humanity brewing and as a response, many have been speaking out on this intolerance, which has gone under-reported and under-considered for so long.
It is a shame — as it always is — that it took this long for people to listen and consider the issue. Because how many people have to suffer in silence or fear that their very real concerns and life experiences will be dismissed or trivialized or worry that speaking out will be detrimental to their career?
It must be a heavy burden for the Asian Americans in sports media to put the weight of these weighty conversations on their shoulders, knowing that their voices will carry the most impact but that the underrepresentation makes it feel like even more of an imperative.
This was the thought I had watching media members open up themselves to criticism by being vulnerable: simply by pleading to be treated and respected as an equal. Essays like the one Pablo Torre did for SportsCenter should not be necessary but sadly are needed — and appreciated.
It's worth taking a moment to recognize what Torre is doing here. He's speaking about an intensely personal issue. His basic sense of self. And how that sense of self has been flattened by the outside and morphed into fear. And how that fear is minimized at best and mocked at worst.
Imagine speaking about yourself like that for the world. Imagine having to do that. Imagine carrying that in ways one doesn't even realize.
Hate is an iceberg. We see the tragedy atop when there's a mass killing driven by bias. But underneath there are a tonnage of emotions and struggles unseen. That these two minutes of perspective was needed is, in its own way, a tragedy.
And with that in mind, I agree with those who believe this type of commentary doesn't belong on ESPN. Because it shouldn't even need to be said.