It’s not so black and white when it comes to racism in sports

Last night was a very interesting night in terms of racism. Or was it real racism? I can’t really tell since I am not sure what is considered racist or not anymore.

As you can see from the above clip, Shaquille O’Neal decided to call David Lee the “White Chris Webber” and everyone has a laugh. But I started to think about why it was OK to laugh at it. Is it OK to bring up Lee’s skin in bringing up a nickname? If I played basketball, I wouldn’t want to be called the “Yellow Chris Webber” or anything like that. I would find that racist.

Then that takes me back to when Kobe Bryant was nicknamed the “Black Mamba” by Nike. Everyone thought that was cool but I sat there wondering why they had to call him the black mamba. Was it necessary to call him that? Why not just call him the mamba instead of choosing the black mamba?

I think the problem here is I don’t get any of this. Since I am not “white” or “black” that these names don’t fly with me. Since I am Chinese, I am taking this from the perspective that if anyone called me a “yellow-something” that I would be offended. Maybe that’s why I find these names for David Lee and Kobe Bryant racist yet it’s socially acceptable. Black and white nicknames are OK but other kinds aren’t.

See, I find this racist. Yet the name black mamba isn't.

See, I find this racist. Yet the name black mamba isn’t.

I remember when Jeremy Lin’s Linsanity rose last February and he played well against Bryant. They started calling him “Yellow Mamba” and I was really hurt by it. Why does his race have to matter? Is that what we only see in him? Can’t we see him as a basketball player?

And maybe that’s how we’re all triggered these days. Someone’s race does matter even when it’s not supposed to. Subconsciously, we’ll always notice the person’s skin color and automatically use it as an identifier. I get it. But after that, is that what we hold on to?

Did we have to call Jason Williams “White Chocolate”? I guess so because he was a white guy who played a game that was predominantly played by black people. We had to call him something to remind people that he was white.

I can see the point and direction of these nicknames and I can get why they come up. But I don’t see as why it was necessary. Wouldn’t it be less racist to call Lee “C-Dub 2.0” or something? Why did his skin color have to factor into the name?

Maybe it’s my upbringing as a Chinese man and since I am neither black or white, I just don’t get it.

I suppose it’s an image that we’ve created here in America. Certain people of certain races are identified with certain things. And maybe that’s why this controversial piece on Colin Kaepernick came up yesterday.

Basically, the article says that the quarterback position is a CEO and CEOs aren’t supposed to have tattoos showing like Kaepernick. Instead, the tattoos make quarterbacks look like prison inmates and gives a bad image. It’s a very odd point to make and it even prompted Kaepernick’s parents to respond to it.

Despite how wrong that article was about defining Kaepernick just by his looks, he brings up a point that we are aware about. The NFL is a business and they want to market their stars. If a star is loaded with tattoos, it brings out a certain perception. It’s unfair that some people perceive tattoos negatively, but when we’re told that tattoos are bad, we foolishly believe.

I know there are people out there that wouldn’t want that kind of stuff to determine our perception of somebody, but it’s there somewhere in the back of our heads. The sad thing about this article about Kaepernick’s tattoos is that it makes unfair comparisons and it makes it look like tattoos are for bad people. I disagree completely but it once again brings up the idea of racism in sports.

Have we gotten anywhere in our perception of people by their image? I probably don’t get a lot of this because I grew up in a very diverse place. Skin color to me isn’t a real big issue. As long as the person is nice, hard working and most importantly, just a good person, then I don’t care what they look like. But somehow, it’s still OK to bring up skin color every now and then when it’s not necessary.

Our perception of it might be getting better in sports and maybe I’m getting too nitpicky about. Maybe I am ignorant to the truth. Or maybe like that South Park episode, I just don’t get it.

Tell ’em, Michael!

One thought on “It’s not so black and white when it comes to racism in sports

  1. Pingback: How long will #Kaepernicking last? It could be around for quite a while | But at the end of the day…

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