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Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for me to solve all the world’s problems in the anonymous mailbag.

As always, you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Also, good news, we’re going to be back to having live Outkick events in the near future. (The last live event we did was an October tailgate in Knoxville before Alabama-Tennessee.) We’ll be holding our first Outkick VIP event of 2021 on March 19th in downtown Nashville. That’s the opening Friday of the NCAA Tournament. Our new hires — Chad Withrow, Jonathan Hutton and Paul Kuharsky — will be broadcasting their show live, and I’ll be providing details on the event in a couple of weeks on the VIP message board. You can go sign up for the VIP and guarantee yourself a spot at that event by clicking here.

Okay, here we go:

“My wife and I are polar opposites when it comes to approaching COVID. I think everything should be open and people should not be mandated to wear masks. Despite all the data and studies I have tried to share with her, my wife tends to be more cautious about the situation, even going so far as to bring masks when we go walking at a local park. It has led to some fiery conversations. What do you recommend for navigating this situation, especially as schools begin planning to re-open (we are in CA)?”

I think the solution is pretty simple: you agree to wear a mask with her when you enter public businesses in California together, and she agrees not to bring masks when you’re walking outdoors in a local park.

Since marriage is often about compromise, you are helping to allay her concerns indoors, and she’s acknowledging that there’s no reason to wear a mask outdoors in a park. (There are virtually no cases of COVID spreading outdoors.)

This seems eminently reasonable and should wipe out most of your disagreements.

Plus, let’s be honest, COVID is essentially disappearing now — we’ve got over seventy million people vaccinated now, and according to estimates, over 100 million people have already had COVID. That means over half the country has been exposed to the virus. So the number of people susceptible to COVID is collapsing.

So I think these mask battles are effectively over already. And by the late spring and early summer, they’ll truly be over.

“I want to get your opinion to an incident that recently occurred at a youth soccer game I attended.

Towards the end of the game, a parent (white woman) complained that a player was calling her team ‘the N-Word.’ Obviously, this immediately caused a bit of a stir. Parents from the accused team asked who it was, and the woman replies ‘#12.’

Everyone looks to see who number 12 was and it turns out he is black.

The black parents begin to laugh at the lady who was upset with the word and say ‘Who cares? He is black he can say it.’

Personally, I just observed the situation, but I thought that regardless of your skin color you shouldn’t be using that word on the field of a youth soccer game. I figured the kid who was using the word was saying it towards his opponent, so clearly it was meant to be an insult. What say you? Does the white lady have a reason to be upset?”

This reminds me of an episode of Black-ish when at a school talent competition, the son of the main couple on the show comes out to perform Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” and sings along with the lyrics, including the iconic gold digger couplet. (Seriously, this is the rap couplet — and song — that truly made Kanye West a star.)

As soon as the kid utters the song lyric on stage, he gets suspended from his private school because they have a policy banning the use of the n-word at the school.

You can understand why a policy like that would exist, but my argument is that adults should be able to apply the rules intelligently and that context should matter in all facets of life.

Singing along with a rap song is not intended to be a racial slur. Everyone with a functional brain knows this.

That’s why I’m troubled with the direction our racial discourse has gone over the past decade or so. I’m a post-Civil Rights kid. And everyone in my generation, who attended racially diverse public schools, was taught that we all had more in common than we were different. At my high school we had Heritage Day, and people dressed up like their culture and shared their culture with other kids. That is, we lived in a culture where you wanted people to like and experience your culture.

No one had even thought up the idea of cultural appropriation yet because the entire history of the world is great inventions get appropriated by everyone. That’s how the idea of the melting pot works. It doesn’t matter who began to make coffee or beer or liquor, if people like that product, then it spreads widely.

The best ideas spread the most widely.

The idea behind the way I was raised was that we all have much more in common than we are different and that we should share and embrace our differences.

What’s happened with identity politics is the differences people have are expanded and magnified, and you’re not supposed to cross those cultural lines. Because then you’re infringing on other people’s culture. This, to me, is madness.

If a white or black girl wants to wear a Chinese dress to prom because they think it looks fantastic, they should wear it. If an Asian girl wants to get her hair braided in the Caribbean because she thinks it looks cool, she should do it.

That’s not cultural appropriation, that’s appreciating a different culture.

But back to your question, I think it all comes down to context.

Think about the way we use the word fuck in America today. It can be an insult that leads to a fight (“Fuck you!”), a positive exclamation of joy (“That’s fucking incredible!”) or an invitation for sex (“I can’t wait to fuck you later tonight.”)

The word is the same in every sentence above, but as adults, we’re able to contextualize what it means based on the usage. Yes, fuck is a “bad” word, an expletive, but it carries a multitude of uses, some of which are positive and some of which are negative. And, guess what, all of us can tell just by usage what the intent is.

Part of being an adult — and learning to be an adult — is understanding that the context of your word choice does matter. And it matters in all facets of life with all words. Singing along to a popular rap song, as I noted above, isn’t the same as using the same words to hurl racial insults.

We shouldn’t treat them the same either.

The fact that we have allowed some people to use words that other people can’t use is, I believe, the first step we took towards a cancel culture based on identity politics.

Yes, I understand the argument that context matters here in the soccer game too and that a black kid using that word isn’t doing so in a racist manner, but if he’s yelling it at other players, isn’t he doing so in an attempt to insult them? Put it this way, if a kid on a youth soccer team spent the entire game yelling that other kids were “motherfuckers,” would any parent laugh that off? I don’t think so.

That kid would be pulled aside and his parents — and coaches — would instruct him that his behavior — and word choice — isn’t appropriate in the context in which he used it.

That’s the very definition of parenting and coaching: teaching young kids who don’t know any better which of their actions are acceptable and unacceptable and how choosing to violate those rules can lead to difficulties in life.

Let’s consider the larger context too — these other young kids are potentially being exposed to that word for the first time, and they’re being shown that it’s appropriate to yell at other kids during a game. So if you sit down to talk to your kids after the game, you have to explain what the word is, explain its history, and then you finish your lesson by saying, “It’s a racial slur that you should never ever utter in your entire life because you might get immediately fired or kicked out of school for doing so, but it’s also the most popular word that exists in rap music, which is the most popular form of music in America today. And, oh by the way, black kids can call you that during soccer games.”

That’s a nonsensical explanation.

Any kid would be confused by that lesson. Because it isn’t a lesson at all. It’s a power-based dogma that’s the product of woke culture.

Imagine what happens if a young kid, mirrors the behavior of the black kid, and uses the word on the field too in the same way he is. It could then become a huge scandal for that kid. Especially, god forbid, if some parent catches him on camera using it, and it then turns into a massive story because the way videos are edited it could immediately become a viral story on social media. “White Kid Hurls N-Word At Black Kid During Youth Soccer Game!”

Before you know it, that little kid, who has no idea what he’s saying and is just mirroring the word choices he saw from another kid, and his family are in danger of being canceled. You know how this story would go, don’t you? “Well if he’s using that word then he heard it from his parents! They are racist and don’t deserve to work at their jobs!”

Next thing you know, you’ve got parents getting canceled over a word at a youth soccer game.

It sounds crazy, but you know this could happen, very easily.

I mean, it’s just fundamentally a broken system we have here.

All based on our inability to use context.

I believe one of the biggest issues in our society today is our inability to use context to determine what is and is not appropriate. We have word police creating bright line rules, and then we have cancel culture waiting to mobilize and immediately cancel anyone stepping outside of these absurd bright line rule constructs we’ve created. And these bright line constructs, by the way, are constantly shifting and worst of all, we’re applying the present-day rules to anyone who violated them in the past several decades. It’s the very definition of ex post facto law creation. You can’t punish someone for a law that didn’t exist when they broke that law, but that’s what the woke mob does every single day.

As a result, we’re canceling people, or attempting to cancel people, who do nothing wrong at all. Or, at worst, offend a tiny percentage of the population that isn’t remotely representative of the opinions of the country.

I think the white parent was correct here, but I also understand why most other white parents have no wish to engage in this conversation because, next thing you know, they’re being labeled racist too for even having a conversation about race at all that doesn’t immediately require them to be the villain. I’m actually surprised, honestly, that this woman even spoke up. She’s right, but being right, unfortunately, doesn’t matter very much in today’s society where the woke police, like the religious police in the Taliban, are ascendant on our social media streets and in our media.

It’s just easier for most white people to pretend these absurd rules don’t exist and hope their sons and daughters don’t get caught on TikTok one day dancing and rapping along to their favorite popular songs.

Which, I think, is just about every parent’s fear. Because how in the world do you expect kids to follow these absurd rules we’re creating and not run afoul of them occasionally?

We should be behaving like adults instead of tattle tales on the schoolyard, but unfortunately we aren’t.

“What are your thoughts on the host of the Bachelor, Chris Harrison, stepping down? He basically stepped aside because he didn’t want to judge somebody off of their social media posts, which frankly were not that bad to begin with. This woke culture is getting out of control.”

Woke culture has been out of control for years. And it’s not getting better with Joe Biden as president either, as many people argued that it would. Arguably, it’s even getting worse because Biden’s election elevated many of the most absurd proponents of woke culture to even more positions of power.

This goes back to my context argument above — woke culture is child-like in its inability to understand basic context.

For those of you who don’t know the story, the woke mob got mad at Rachel, a white contestant on The Bachelor, because she attended a Civil War-era dress up party while a member of a sorority at the University of Georgia. As part of the Civil War — or Old South — era party, you dress like someone would have back in the 1860s in the South. It’s basically a costume party.

Now I understand why some people wouldn’t want to go to a party like this, heck I’ve never been to a party like this or been invited to one either, but ultimately it’s a costume party. And anyone of any race, in theory, can show up and dress like this.

I actually think the idea of a minority dressing up like Scarlett O’Hara flips the historical convention on its head and creates a dynamic fusion. You’re reclaiming the South’s past in a new, far more interesting cultural context for the present day. That’s how, in fact, progress often occurs most rapidly, by creating dynamic conflict between culturally divergent perspectives. This is, for instance, the jet fuel that propelled the song “Old Town Road,” to such popularity a few years ago, the wedding of country and rap creates a new, dynamic sound that can appeal to fans of both genres.

The best way to disrupt antiquated stereotypes is by blowing them up with present-day values.

It’s also much more powerful and much less whiny.

Getting offended by an old picture isn’t how an adult should behave, it’s how a child would behave. Plus, any one decision — or photo — is very often not representative of any individual of any race.

I understand that some people live to get offended by costumes — it’s a staple of Halloween cancel culture now — but if you were going to judge someone’s racial attitudes, which would be a bigger deal — the fact that Rachel on The Bachelor is willing to MARRY A BLACK MAN or the fact that she dressed up in a Civil War-era dress several years ago at a college party?

Looking at the context of both of these actions, I’d say it’s pretty strong evidence you aren’t racist if you are willing to marry a black guy and, presumably, then have mixed race children with that person as well. In fact, I’m not sure what you could do to demonstrate your lack of racism in a more concrete way than marrying a member of a different race and giving birth to mixed-race children.

So if you were choosing to judge someone which, as an adult, would be a more dispositive action to judge, a marriage or a photo from a party? I think anyone with a functional brain would argue the marriage is a bigger deal.

Again, that seems like the way a rational adult would behave when confronted with situations like these.

But that’s not what happens on social media.

So we end up with The Bachelor host Chris Harrison attempting to interview the first black bachelorette, a different Rachel, Rachel Lindsey, and then he awkwardly attempts to defend the other Rachel, the white girl, who is getting slammed on social media as a racist, and then he ends up the target of the mob as well because he doesn’t sufficiently condemn white Rachel to black Rachel.

It’s all so transparently and absurdly ridiculous.

Which brings me back to the question of why woke culture thrives, it’s because not only does woke culture target anyone who makes the slightest misstep against their arbitrary rules of morality, but they also attack anyone who has the balls to defend anyone who is targeted by woke culture.

That’s why these mobs are so powerful.

Because they aren’t just canceling the person who has offended their world view. They are canceling anyone who even attempts to challenge their world view. And many people just decide to keep their mouths shut for fear of becoming the new target, like happened with Chris Harrison.

The end result?

Unless you have a media company like OutKick, it’s almost impossible to fight back against the woke police.

Which is why I’ve never been happier to own a media company in my life. Agree or disagree with me, I’m not going anywhere.

And neither is OutKick.

As always, thanks for your support of OutKick.

Send your questions to claytravis@gmail.com

And tomorrow I’m heading to Mexico, where I intend to culturally appropriate the hell out of some margaritas and tacos.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

9 Comments

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  1. Always appreciate your takes, Clay. Well done, especially on the second question re the kid at the soccer game. Just a couple important things to point out on the last question re Chris Harrison, as I don’t think this one was quite up to par with your usual applying facts to responses approach (though, generally, I agree with your response).

    First, I am pretty sure the party this girl attended was set up to be purposely offensive/racist i.e. it wasn’t simply a costume party. Rachel (the girl under scrutiny) has confirmed this and apologized for her immaturity at the time for participating in such a charade. I think that’s important to point out when analyzing Harrison’s response.

    Second, the problem, in my opinion, wasn’t that Harrison defended this Rachel, it was what he actually said. He squandered an opportunity to have a real conversation about race. I doubt you’ve watched, but if you have, I think you’d agree Harrison’s response was awkward and deserved criticism, at best. He sounded like a moron, which I thought was very uncharacteristic of him. It wasn’t that he didn’t sufficiently condemn Rachel, it was that he did a terrible job defending her. Does he deserve to be cancelled? No. But he did nothing to help racial discourse, and was given an opportunity to do so with time to prepare.

    Would have liked to have seen this factor into your analysis, especially given the “context” argument you laid out in your second response above. Would hate to see you just automatically go against the Left without seeing through your typical, fair-minded approach.

  2. Clay, mailbag was fine this week but different question for you.

    I know you have said many times whoever pays to advertise on your site and radio show you will take. Could you guys have a section of “American made” sponsors. I have been doing everything within reason to only shop American made (trust me it is difficult) but I also try to support businesses who advertise here. If I could get it all in one place that would be great

  3. Re: Soccer Mom

    This is not the hill to die on haha.. I understand the sentiment of “no one should say this” (across the board) but you will never convince the average black person that they shouldn’t be allowed to say the N-word, no matter have pure your intentions.

    I also think it’s corny when a white person pretends to be offended when they hear the N-word (when not used in a Klan like manner). Inappropriate? Sure. Something I’m gonna lose sleep over? Nah.

  4. In regards to the soccer mom. Great response Clay. Context plays a major role. Those of us that take a common sense approach to matters understand that. For instance, this past season I was asked to coach 6th grade school basketball. I chose to do so. One game an opposing player called one of my boys a bitch. Of course my player yells “coach, that kid called me the B word!” My response…”Great, you are expanding his vocabulary, and obviously doing a great job, keep it up” He smiled and continued to play an outstanding game. All in context and how one responds. SYK our boys put a 20 point drubbing on the opposing team.

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