FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Racism in Sports

by

The hypocrisy of race discourse in the U.S. is breathtaking. A week after Cliven Bundy, the white supremacist rancher in Nevada, voiced his views on slavery and the current plight of urban-based black communities that many white Americans either believe or have considered, the public is now collectively outraged by the silly, racist comments of NBA massa Donald Sterling. We are all supposed to pretend that his views on the social undesirability of associating with black people were something that just emerged from his sick imagination and not a sentiment shared (though not openly spoken) in polite white society.

But what really reveals the superficiality and dishonesty of the supposed outrage about racism in U.S. society and in sports is the complete cognitive dissociation between this outrage against black people and the ongoing degrading assault in the world of sport on the Indigenous people of this land.

Indigenous people of this territory called the United States have for years, as a simple matter of dignity, been involved in efforts to remove the racist names, mascots and other practices in major league and college sports that have perpetuated their de-humanization, with only mixed success. In the last few years, a major focus of these efforts was to change the name of the D.C.-based football team, the Washington Redskins – something one might think would be completely obvious in 2014. But the campaign has met with fierce resistance. Why?

How is it that people can pretend to be outraged by Sterling’s comments, while the owners of the Redskins and the Atlanta “Braves” are not questioned as to why they insist on defending brands that Native peoples and others have condemned as racially offensive? Not only do the names remain in place, but they are defended by large cross-sections of society, including by many African Americans.

Not seeing or making the link between these two issues illustrates for me that the discourse on anti-racism in the U.S. is not to be taken seriously. These “conversations,” whether it is Obama’s pathetic appeal to white vanity and defense of integrationism in his “race speech” or the current discussion around the meaning of the movie Twelve Years a Slave, reveal themselves as phony, diversionary and racist exercises. Rather than advancing change, they provide cover for the real element that must be identified, deconstructed and abolished – the ideology of white supremacy and the material privileges that come along with it.

When the ideology of white supremacy that permeates all aspects of culture, politics and social being in the U.S. is reduced to a focus on the more crude expressions of anti-black racism, it is easy to jump on a Sterling, Cliven Bundy, or Ted Nugent and completely miss the more pervasive, and thus insidious, structural and ideological expressions of white supremacy. I couldn’t care less about the racist rants of  Donald Sterling when the more devastating expressions of white supremacy are reflected in national and global institutions dedicated to upholding the power of a racialized, white male, capitalist/colonialist elite.

Those expressions are reflected in the racist NATO assault on Libya; IMF-imposed structural adjustment to force the “profligate natives” in the global South to stop wasting state resources on such trivialities as education, the arts, sports and health; the rationalizations for the West’s “responsibility to protect;” the accepted racist musings of Charles Murray on black culture and educational ability; and the racist obscenity of attempting to wipe out a whole people and then subjecting their survivors to ridicule and disrespect with sports team names. Is there really a big leap between being unconcerned about the continued dehumanization of Native peoples in the U.S. and being similarly unconcerned about U.S. drone state terrorism that has killed thousands?

The new slogan for the LA Clippers is “we are one.”  It is a slogan that captures the hypocrisy, dishonesty and denial that characterizes the non-confrontation with the reality of white supremacy and white power in the U.S.  Something that I am sure the originators of the slogan did not see or intend – but that is precisely the point.

Ajamu Baraka is a long-time human rights activist, writer and veteran of the Black Liberation, anti-war, anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity Movements in the United States.  He is currently an Associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.

 

 

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (CounterPunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba after Fidel: Interview with Professor John Kirk
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail