The liberal sports media is falling all over themselves today to praise LeBron James because of the comments he made after someone wrote a racial slur on the gate of his $21 million Los Angeles mansion. That’s despite the fact that LeBron said nothing eloquent at all and somehow managed to compare a racial slur on the mansion of his second or third home to the lynching of Emmett Till back in 1955.
Presumably we will soon find out who is responsible for this act since LeBron’s mansion and all the mansions surrounding his all have surveillance cameras, but this entire situation seems odd to me. If you were trying to perfectly craft a story to go viral on the day before the NBA Finals started, can you come up with a more viral lead than NBA star’s home emblazoned with a racial slur?
Whoever did this to LeBron’s home knew that this would immediately become a massive story. Which is why until we actually find the perpetrator, I’m not willing to automatically assume it was a white person using LeBron’s gate as a personal canvas upon which to spew vile racist hate. There have just been way too many fake racial hoaxes in the past several years all over the country for me to presume who is responsible for this crime. While everyone in the far left sports media immediately rushed to the conclusion that a racist white person did this, how much does the story change if we end up finding out that a crazy black guy did this instead of a crazy white guy? Call me crazy, but I think we need to discover who the perpetrator of this crime is before we start drawing conclusions about what the crime’s intent was.
Most importantly, I thought LeBron had a real opportunity to address this situation in a compelling fashion and that he, for the most part, failed at that opportunity. The fact that so many in the media are falling all over themselves to praise LeBron shows how lenient our standard is for a pro athlete commenting on social issues. I disagree with that perspective. I think if you want to comment on social issues in this country you should be held to a high standard.
And LeBron didn’t meet that standard.
Not even close.
Here is LeBron’s response, which has gone viral, watch it here. And then I’ll unpack what he said.
LeBron responds powerfully to the racist vandalism of his home in LA.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 31, 2017
Yep, LeBron compares this situation to the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955.
When I heard this my jaw dropped.
“And I think back to Emmett Till’s mom, actually,” LeBron James said. “That’s one of the first things I thought of. The reason she had an open casket was that she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime, and being black in America.”
Are you kidding me?
In case you aren’t a student of history, Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The two white men tried for his murder were acquitted of the crime by an all white jury. No one was ever brought to justice for the murder of this innocent 14 year old.
It’s one of the ugliest stories in American judicial history.
And one of the first things LeBron thought of when he heard that someone wrote a racial slur on the gate of his multi-million dollar second or third mansion was Emmett Till’s open casket? And somehow I’m going to be the only person in media you hear pointing out how patently absurd this is. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here.
First, let’s be clear about something, there is a full scale investigation into who wrote a racial slur on LeBron’s gate and the perpetrator, regardless of race or gender, will be charged with a crime. And will probably go to jail for this. Unlike in Mississippi where the justice system failed Till, the entire justice system is arrayed to ensure that LeBron James and his family get their full measure of justice here. Leaving aside the extreme differences in the crimes, the justice system is not even remotely comparable in these two situations.
Second, LeBron didn’t leave the racial slur up on his gate. Isn’t that the closest he can come to having an open casket? If LeBron wants to shock the nation with the brutality of modern day racism instead of immediately painting over the racial slur before police even arrived to conduct their investigation — which is a strange decision regardless, shouldn’t you have left it alone to aid the investigation? — shouldn’t Lebron have left it up on the gate outside his house? It’s not like his family or kids are staying there right now.
Comparing your situation to the lynching of an innocent child and then also talking about the open casket was a totally absurd analogy to draw in the first place, but the only similar decision LeBron could have made in any respect was to leave the racial slur up on the property for others to see. If he immediately thought of Emmett Till, shouldn’t that idea have occurred to him? Yet he didn’t even do that.
Third, there’s an incredibly important distinction to draw here: Emmett Till was murdered because of his race whereas people like LeBron more when he’s the victim of racism. Think about that for a moment, this racist act actually helps LeBron’s brand. He engenders sympathy from the vast majority of the American public for this act. That in itself proves how much the country has changed in 67 years.
Fourth, how did no one suggest to LeBron before he spoke to the public that maybe comparing a racial slur spraypainted on the gate of his $21 million mansion in 2017 to an infamous historic lynching isn’t the best analogy to draw. LeBron’s situation in 2017 is nothing like what happened in Mississippi in 1955 and it will only serve to inflame the rhetoric here.
It just was just an incredibly dumb comparison to draw and the fact that I’m the only person you see even pointing out how dumb this is shows how most sports media commentators are totally afraid of even mentioning race in America today. And also how lenient the standard is for athletes when they comment on anything other than the games themselves.
But that’s not all LeBron said, he also said this: “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. We’ve got a long way to go, for us as a society and for us as African Americans, until we feel equal in America.”
First, do you think LeBron James’s life is tough? Because I don’t. I think the vast majority of people of all races reading this article right now have a tougher life than LeBron James. In fact, is there any white man reading this right now who wouldn’t trade places with LeBron James in a heartbeat? I bet there isn’t.
Second, note that LeBron James says “We’ve got a long way to go…for us as African Americans until we feel equal in America.” The key word is bolded here, it’s feel. Why do we care whether someone feels equal, shouldn’t we care instead about whether someone is equal?
Feelings aren’t rooted in facts, they’re rooted in emotions. And rightly or wrongly many people take their lead from LeBron’s comments. And LeBron’s feelings aren’t rooted in accurate facts. The facts are these: Black people are equal under the law in America today. Now that has not always been true, but it is today. Black people are not being oppressed by the federal government. In fact, through affirmative action black people are actually treated more fairly than any other racial group in America today under federal law. No one else gets into a school with lower test scores and grades because of the color of their skin. Black people do. That’s indisputably true. Now you can certainly argue that is justified based on America’s legacy of past racial discrimination, but the factual evidence is clear — no law today specifically treats black people unfairly. In fact, the exact opposite is true, black people are treated more fairly under federal law based on the color of their skin.
We need to spend less time on feelings in this country and more time on facts.
Well, how about on an individual level then? Does LeBron feel that he has been treated unfairly because he is black? If so, in what ways? He’s going to become a billionaire because he’s good at basketball. Would a white, Hispanic or Asian person with the same exact talents and work ethic as LeBron have made more money playing basketball than he has? That seems unlikely. But if it were true that could be evidence of discrimination. But is LeBron alleging that, I don’t think so.
Instead of being treated unfairly, LeBron has been able, thanks to the opportunities available to him as a basketball player, to make so much money that he can buy a $21M mansion in Los Angeles that he uses as a SECOND or THIRD home. Good for him, that’s the fruits of his labor, the benefit to him of being born in a capitalistic society like America. But LeBron himself is actually the perfect example of American meritocracy, he was born into poverty and became a billionaire because of his talents. Nothing else mattered, but his ability on the basketball court. In fact, LeBron is paid so well precisely because his talents are so unequal to everyone else’s of his generation.
History is an important teacher and LeBron chose to use it to try and make a point to the larger world. But you have to be careful what historical analogies you use. Because if you use the wrong historical analogy instead of looking to the future you can anchor yourself into the past. Imagine, therefore, if LeBron had used a different historical analogy and said this instead when he was asked about the racial slur on the gate of his mansion:
“I don’t know who is responsible for the racial slur on the gates of my home, but the most important thing is my family is okay and that I could use this situation as a teaching moment for my kids. The second most important thing is this — and I told my kids this too — I’m not going to allow the racial slur on the gate of my home to distract me from the progress we’re making every day in this country. Did you know that a black man couldn’t even make a living playing sports in this country until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947? Now I’m going to become a billionaire because I’m good at putting a ball in a basket.
How amazing is that?
That’s only been 70 years, but the trajectory is clear, every year things get better in this country when it comes to opportunities for all Americans, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, male and female. So when I look down at my kids I think, what will this country be like in another 70 years, or another 100 years? My kids and your kids all have unbelievable futures. Futures that are better than any that have ever existed in the history of this world.
Will there still be racists of all colors in 100 years? Probably. Will there still be kids growing up in Akron like I did without the same advantages that my own kids will have today in 100 years? Definitely. But you know what all those kids should do? They should look up to me and know that in this country anything is possible. I’m living proof.
So instead of focusing on the actions of one crazy, loser racist lunatic and allowing him to take me back onto the distant shores of past racial conflict and division, what I’m talking about to you today is how far we’ve come. And how far we’re all going to go together.
It won’t be perfect, but it’s gonna be amazing here in this country one day for everyone and I wish I could live forever to see it. But in the meantime I’m just trying to make this country and this world better when I leave it than it was when I got here.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go prepare to kick the Warriors ass.”
That would have been eloquent and I’d be singing LeBron James’s praises for elevating the conversation today.
But that didn’t happen.
Instead LeBron compared himself to Emmett Till. And instead of bravely leading us into the future, he dragged us back into the past.
The fact that most in the sports media are praising LeBron James for what he said today doesn’t show how eloquent LeBron was, it shows us how low the standard is for athletes speaking out on social issues. And that’s a true shame, because low standards don’t make champions.
LeBron’s words did not befit a king.
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