Like most other fans last Wednesday, I braved the cold and traffic to welcome home our championship Seahawks. I was dangerously attracted to the idea of seeing what half a million people collectively celebrating would look like. I imagined a 21st birthday party with piñatas, confetti and tequila shots, followed by bad decision-making and morning-after regrets. Times 10,000. In reality, I saw a man and woman cursing at each other for cutting in line at the light rail station, a cellphone network that was overwhelmed with Twitter updates, and Skittles being thrown at the crowd #worthit #ThankYouMarshawnLynch #IDontKnowHowToUseHashtags.
I was proud to be associated with a team that had character, class and principle. They were able to overcome numerous obstacles on their way to becoming world champions #SorryDenver. Russell Wilson was called too small to be an NFL quarterback #AsiansRelate; Percy Harvin was injured nearly the entire season; Derrick Coleman is deaf; and Richard Sherman had to ensure a barrage of racist comments.
A Komo News article recently described how undervalued players like Doug Baldwin overcame adversity to find success with the Seahawks. “Everybody says, ‘Doug has a chip on his shoulder, that’s why he’s angry,'” said Baldwin. “I don’t have a chip on my shoulder; I have a boulder on my shoulder. Every negative comment that comes out, I just put it there.”
Baldwin’s comments made me think about the “chip” that many minorities and underrepresented communities are forced to carry (except in the case of hipsters, who simply made a series of poor life choices). I’ve written about my neighbor who didn’t want Asians to move in next door, the effects of Asian stereotypes on dating, and how people who don’t speak English natively are often marginalized. Asian-Americans and other minorities have to endure these negative comments every single day of their lives.
But where critics saw flaws and shortcomings, our Seahawks saw opportunities for greatness. Adversity has made our Seahawks team and players stronger #12thman. They took their anger and turned it into positive energy. “I go back and look at the negative stuff, because it’s not so much about what you’ve done, it’s what you haven’t done, and what opportunities you’re going to have in the future to prove yourself right,” said Baldwin.
Despite the oppression that youth, people of color and women face, we’re all just like football players. Minus about 200 pounds of raw power and athleticism, and the ability to cause earthquakes. We feel angry and frustrated when society doesn’t think we’re good enough to compete at the highest level. We’re sick of always being picked last. And we’re tired of being denied fair opportunities when we have the ability to make an impact.
Like every single Seahawks player, we have something to prove and we’re ready to work hard to achieve our dreams. “I’ve come to believe it’s the key factor in deciding success,” Carroll said. “Overcoming shortcomings, abilities, and stuff like that — the guys who have grit — they’re the ones you’re looking for.” Within my Asian-American community, there are numerous examples of strong, inspiring leaders: Sharon Maeda, State Senator Bob Hasegawa, Kip Tokuda, and more. They never quit, overcame adversity, stepped up, and became champions for social justice and equality #beastmode.
People often ask me why I choose to work in the non-profit sector. Why put up with the low pay, lack of appreciation, long hours and constant stress? It’s because I have a chip on my shoulder too. And the only way to move it is to continue empowering refugee and immigrants #12thman; helping youth overcome adversity #legionofboom; and ensuring women are heard and respected #getLOUDER. Russell Wilson describes it best when he said “I’m one of those guys that’s always in the moment, always trying to focus on what I need to do to be successful, and how I can help other people be successful.”
So thank you Seattle Seahawks, for a historic and unforgettable season. You’ve inspired me and our Seattle community to believe that we too can overcome adversity and become Superbowl Champions. #WeAre12 #neverquit #sbchamps.