The “N-word” is disgusting, but so is the hypocrisy surrounding its usage. Racism has no place is society, though it apparently will never go away, and that should especially be the case in professional sports, where fans watch their favorites teams to escape from “real life” for a couple of hours. In the weeks following Donald Sterling’s taped personal conversation in which he says some overly racist things about black people, does no one else in the NBA notice a glaring hypocrisy when denouncing this man for a private conversation while ignoring other people around the league who have said much worse? Take the co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets for example, Jay Z, a rapper who would not have a career if not for many utterances in his “music” using the N-word. His songs, if you can call them that, go much worse than mere racial epithets, including misogynist remarks about women, championing their rape and use as “hoes”. I need not get into his lyrics, as they are sordidly well-known, but what bothers me is that no one, except Phil Mushnick who writes for the New York Post, seems to care that Jay-Z has never been denounced by the league or any team owners for his past history. For years, Mushnick has asked in his many columns, “Is Jay-Z the only NBA owner allowed to use the N-word? Is Jay-Z the only owner allowed to be racist?” The questions, when asked, were always hypothetical, until Sterling’s little moment a few weeks ago. Now we all know the answer: yes, yes he is.
Sterling’s tirade should have been seized as an opportunity to address racism in the league as a whole: to point out Jay-Z and other basketball players who enjoy the “gangster” image which rubs off on the children who look up to them as role models. It should have been a chance to ban Sterling, or force him to resign, and then open some eyes by asking the Nets’ co-owner to do the same thing. This would have been the right thing to do, setting a precedent that racism of any kind and such language is not going to be tolerated. But alas, Sterling is an old, white man set in his past, racist ways, and Jay-Z is younger and more popular—an “icon”. No doubt the only time he has ever used such horrible language is on stage or in a recording studio, right? Right?
This leads me to something else in professional sports, as we debate racism white vs. black: how about all of the horrifically racist team names that exist in the MLB and NFL, namely the Redskins, Braves, and Indians, whose logo used to include a near devilish-looking Indian that could have come straight out of a 1950’s movie poster for a western in which John Wayne fires his gun six times and twenty Indians fall off their horses. Aside from a few Indian activists (and believe me, the few are getting fewer thanks to the organized extermination of their people set up by the American government over the last 200 years here in the Land of the Free) and sympathetic white people with common sense, this goes unnoticed. The Indians were evil savages, and the stealing of their land was merely our God-given right as ‘Mericans to do so, so who cares?
Lastly, in this third little nugget of racial hypocrisy, not having to do with sports, concerns a movement by black students at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, who in recent weeks, have demanded that the college take action towards the denouncement of Robert E. Lee as a “racist” and “dishonorable” person. While Lee never owned any slaves himself, and spoke of the practice as a dying institution, apparently the price he must pay for begrudgingly defending his native soil of Virginia and establishing himself as one of the greatest military leaders of all time, is a branding of him as a racist, and perhaps, the most ludicrous thing of them all, the removal of Confederate flags from his tomb and around the campus. While focusing all their energy towards Lee, a man no doubt occupying the inner circles of hell as we speak, the activists seem perfectly fine with the George Washington half of the college. I guess owning 318 slaves and pulling the teeth out of one of them to use in his dentures gives him a free pass. He was a pretty good guy other than that. After all, it was only 318 slaves. Could have been worse, right? Right?