I long decided when I have something to say, I will say it and gladly let the chips fall where they may.
This is one of those occasions.
Recently I wrote a commentary titled, “Jimmer Fredette: Is he legit or another ‘Great White Hope?’”
I received a fair number of responses, some of which were in poor taste. Given the subject matter I sometimes address, it comes with the territory and I deal with it accordingly. But someone chose to take the level of scrutiny to another level.
Based on my Fredette commentary, here is what a reader had to say, “Dexter Rogers is a RACIST NIGGER! Oh, you don't like the 'N' word tossed around, well I hear 'bruthas' tossing it at each other all the time. So it is just US WHITE folk who can't use the word now days, eh. What's next Dext, shall we ride in the back of the bus too? I hate niggers like you.”
The ignorance continues: “How is it too far, so only niggers are allowed to be racist now days? I'm sick of this shit, tip toeing around them as to not offend them, FUCK THEM! I'm sick of it, I dealt with this shit in college, they were always looking to start shit with white guys but you better not offend them. I have a Glock .45 and I really want one to try to hold me up in the city cause I'm going to blow him away. WHITE POWER YOU STUPID NIGGER!!!!!”
For those who feel that way, so be it. But the show must go on.
When I first read the comments, I was thinking, “Is this the best you got?”
Then, as I began to reflect, I was a little taken aback at the hostile nature of his words.
The comments were revealing on several fronts. It shows this person has an abundance of ignorance to attack and he has an evident bias towards African-Americans.
This may surprise you, but in an odd sense I have a very small level of respect for this person's ignorance. Despite the fact he hid behind a fake name, this gutless wonder said exactly what he felt. He let it be known how he feels about me and African-Americans.
I believe this reader's ignorance is a reflection of how a segment of white readers feel, but they will not go on the record. I’d venture to say a small portion of those in the media embrace this person's ideological framework as well.
No, I don’t have statistical studies to support this theory, but I do know from personal experience in dealing with media outlets. Editors have attempted to silence me by cutting my space or asking that I change my content for inexplicable reasons.
In any event, the Bleacher Report staff removed the comments, but I think we would have been better served to have them stay up. Then people can see for themselves how much work we still have to do along racial lines.
Deleting the comments won’t fully eradicate the situation nor will it erase what transpired.
I’ve been down this road before. I conducted an interview on CNN’s Rick’s List last spring where I talked about media, race and Ben Roethlisberger. I received a ton of e-mail responses from around the country. Some were good and some were in poor taste, but in my world they all were good.
There was one e-mail response that stuck out so much I was prompted to write about the experience.
The reader characterized me as a racist who hates white people. He suggested I was part of the problem instead of the solution.
Long story short, I was able to convert someone who harbored negative feelings towards me into someone who allowed himself the opportunity to open his mind. He is now an avid reader of my work.
Bottom line: I write to make a difference and not for hits. I cannot satisfy my primary aim as a writer posting commentary about who has the biggest boobs on college campuses or what professional female athlete has the best butt. I have nothing against that type of story, but that’s not my bag.
Furthermore, most editors at newspapers across this country don’t have the stones to constructively attack ills like racism: They don’t have the guts to address issues that are slowly killing our country due to the lack of diversity and fear.
Facts indicate the world sports media is a lily-white world. According to The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports, whites account for 94 percent of sports editors, 88 percent of sports columnists, and 89 percent of sports reporters. The percentages for African-Americans in these positions are 2, 6, and 4 percent, respectively.
As an African-American writer, reading “Dexter Rogers is a RACIST nigger” will likely affect me one way and a white person another. A portion of white America simply lacks the sensitivity to comprehend how damaging those comments can be.
When someone writes, “I hate niggers like you” it will not move a white person in the media the way it moves me.
When such incidents are chronicled by African-Americans like me, they are likely placed in the hands of whites to handle them. Chances are, they lack the necessary life experience to act properly.
Acting properly means allowing the writer (in this case me) to constructively address the matter. Allow someone with the skills necessary to bridge gaps rather then deny their existence.
Now, back to reality.
When racial situations like these typically arise, it often leads editors to conveniently silence the messenger by killing his message. Editors will often opt to sweep situations like this under the rug rather open their minds to take constructive action.
Generally, white people cannot comprehend what it feels like to be subjected to such a fierce level of ridicule and utter disrespect like I was subjected to. Slice the pie as you wish but the word “nigger” has a distinct meaning that’s geared toward a particular group. I would also venture to say this commentary will irritate some on this staff. Some would suggest, “It's Dexter playing the race card.”
I am using a negative situation to inform, awaken, and educate those who minds are open and are willing. If I happen to be resented for writing passionately about a problem worthy of public dialogue, so be it. If there is an attempt to label and/or restrict my voice based on my form of commentary, so be it.
Opting for silence in situations like these is not in my makeup. Therefore, in the words of Rhett Butler Clark Gable from Gone with the Wind, for those who may not approve, I simply state, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
In my opinion, it makes sense to embrace the message instead of potentially condemning the messenger. Individuals in society, sports, and members in the media, including this website, perhaps fear addressing issues they don’t understand or care about.
Facts indicate—as a result of the earlier outlined percentages—the lack of diversity in the media cripples our ability to collectively engage. It is easier for the white media hierarchy to just let it go because it doesn’t affect them directly. It is easy for a segment of the white masses to suggest to African-Americans just forget about slavery and move because we (whites) didn’t enslave you.
I would have no problem letting this situation go if race were not a problem in this society.
I would have no problem letting this go if there had been a concentrated effort amongst citizens in society and athletes in sports to openly dialogue about racism with fear of potential repercussions.
I would have no problem letting this go if media establishments were more diverse and open to constructively attack the issue of race.
Racism is still a disease that is the ultimate thief of opportunity. It has yet to be critically addressed in society, sports or in the mainstream media: As a result, I must address issues that I deem relevant to sports and society, and race happens to be one of those issues.
Denying the presence of racism will not ensure it will dissipate so long as those like me who are conscious are fighting for justice.
That being said, my makeup will not allow me to succumb to being called a “nigger” without responding appropriately.
I’m nobody’s “nigger.”
Here’s the bottom line: Editors need to get a clue. For those editors who are digesting this commentary, look around your newsroom and count how many look like you as opposed to me.
Stop embracing fear and opting for silence when you are in a position to allow teachable moments to manifest.
Instead of potentially negatively labeling the messenger, how about attacking your collective fears by opening your minds for business?
Instead of continuing the consistent legacy of silence on racial matters, embrace those journalists who have the skill-set and willingness to ignite change.
For those who ignore my message as if I am not here doesn’t mean I’m not present. History has shown the darkness of deceit will always bow down to the light of the truth.
I will not let someone else’s fear, ignorance, and lack of courage derail my efforts, nor will I let the lack of diversity in the media alter my course to help change its landscape.
No matter how the chips will fall, the show must go on.