I come from an Asian American background. My dad is full Japanese and my mom is full Chinese. They are both third generation Americans. I started playing basketball when I was 5. My parents put my siblings and I in these Asian basketball leagues in Southern California. created specifically for Asians. Asian league is so incredibly important to me for three reasons, educating me on the traditions of my heritage, blessing me with the lifelong friends I have made, and teaching me how to overcome discrimination in order to achieve my dreams of playing college basketball.

You’re probably wondering what on earth an Asian basketball league is. What we call “Asian league” today was once called Japanese League. Japanese leagues centralized in Northern and Southern California. They started a little before the Pearl Harbor attack. After the attack, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the Executive Order 9066 which allowed government to authorize certain areas to deport Japanese Americans to. These areas became known as Japanese Internment camps. In these camps, the conditions were terrible, so basketball continued to be an outlet for them to stay positive.

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In 1944, Japanese internment camps were shut down. The Japanese American families began to populate cities in Northern and Southern California. Back in the real world, they were amongst all other ethnic groups. So Japanese basketball leagues became a recreational outlet for the Japanese American community. Basketball was a very popular sport in the early 20th century. Not only was it fun, but it was also cheap. All you really needed was a ball and a hoop.

Trying to explain Asian leagues to people now, people often ask, “isn’t that racist?” But at the time, “Basketball emerged in a segregated setting,” says Kathy Yep, a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. “People were segregated by law in terms of immigration, citizenship and marri…

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