Racial Double Standards

Steven M. Warshawsky
Last week on  HBO's Inside the NFL, star running back Larry Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs stated during an interview that he relates much better to his current coach, Herm Edwards, because they both are African-American.  Indeed, Johnson went so far as to say that African-American athletes perform better for African-American coaches because, unlike white coaches, black coaches can understand what "young black athletes" go through in life. 

Here is the key quote:
"They [white coaches] hadn't been in a situation as a young black athlete and know what we had to go through when we go out.  We like to go out. We like to have fun, but then you have to worry about the guy around the corner with the gun.  You've got to worry about this girl on the block.  You've got to worry about your parents, your homeboys taking advantage of you.  So many things you have to worry about being a young black athlete.  And to be able to have a father like mine [Johnson's father was an assistant football coach at Penn State, where Johnson was a college star] and a coach like Herm, I was able to escape a lot of those realities and find myself in a new ray of light."
These sentiments may be understandable, if misguided, but much more disconcerting is Johnson's statement that black athletes resent being coached by whites.  As he put it:
"The one thing we hate is to have somebody who is not African-American come in and say, You've got to do this.  No matter how you put it, it looks like you're telling me what to do and you don't know where I'm from and what I've got to live through."
The entire interview has been posted on YouTube.  ESPN.com's Jemele Hill has written a very good piece about the interview.  I would like to add a few observations:

First, a Google search for "Larry Johnson" + "African American" + "Inside the NFL" comes up with several message boards on which this interview has been discussed, but no articles or editorials from the mainstream media (except for Hill's piece).  I assume such articles or editorials exist, but clearly they are very few in number.  It's been a week since the interview, long enough for Google to catch these items -- as well as for the mainstream media to report any "backlash" from the interview.  Obviously, there is no backlash, because the mainstream media simply doesn't care about the racial thinking of blacks (as has been documented over and over again).

Now imagine what would have been the media's (and hence public's) reaction if a white star football player (say, quarterback Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts) had made similar remarks about preferring to play for a white coach.  (Of course, the head coach of the Colts is Tony Dungy, who is black, which hasn't hurt Manning's performance in the least.)  I submit that this would have been blown up into a Mel Gibson or Michael Richards (or John Rocker) -like episode.  Perhaps not as extreme, but the white athlete undoubtedly would have been subjected to verbal abuse, required to undergo counseling or "sensitivity training," and pressured into one or more acts of public contrition (apologies for making "hurtful" remarks, admissions of mental illness, and sizeable monetary donations).

Why is such racial thinking of blacks considered "acceptable" but not that of whites?  Why aren't statements like Johnson's pilloried for the ignorant, racist garbage they are?

I think the answer goes to the racial double standard that lies at the heart of contemporary multiculturalism, which subscribes to the "essentialist" notion that blacks and other minorities cannot succeed and flourish in a majority-white environment.  Hence the belief that black elementary and secondary students will learn math and literature and history and science better from black teachers than from white teachers.  Hence the belief that black college students require their own academic departments and dormitories and student centers and graduation ceremonies.  And so on.

The liberal elites in the mainstream media endorse the racial essentialism of contemporary multiculturalism, so they cannot very well reject the same thinking when it is applied to sports.  Nor is it surprising that someone like Johnson, who is 27 years old and therefore grew up in today's deeply race-conscious educational environment, would believe that he relates better to black coaches and performs better for them because they know what it is like to be a "young black athlete."

Unfortunately, such beliefs can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies, with severely debilitating consequences for the individual who holds them and for society at large. 

Contact Steven M. Warshawsky

Last week on  HBO's Inside the NFL, star running back Larry Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs stated during an interview that he relates much better to his current coach, Herm Edwards, because they both are African-American.  Indeed, Johnson went so far as to say that African-American athletes perform better for African-American coaches because, unlike white coaches, black coaches can understand what "young black athletes" go through in life. 

Here is the key quote:
"They [white coaches] hadn't been in a situation as a young black athlete and know what we had to go through when we go out.  We like to go out. We like to have fun, but then you have to worry about the guy around the corner with the gun.  You've got to worry about this girl on the block.  You've got to worry about your parents, your homeboys taking advantage of you.  So many things you have to worry about being a young black athlete.  And to be able to have a father like mine [Johnson's father was an assistant football coach at Penn State, where Johnson was a college star] and a coach like Herm, I was able to escape a lot of those realities and find myself in a new ray of light."
These sentiments may be understandable, if misguided, but much more disconcerting is Johnson's statement that black athletes resent being coached by whites.  As he put it:
"The one thing we hate is to have somebody who is not African-American come in and say, You've got to do this.  No matter how you put it, it looks like you're telling me what to do and you don't know where I'm from and what I've got to live through."
The entire interview has been posted on YouTube.  ESPN.com's Jemele Hill has written a very good piece about the interview.  I would like to add a few observations:

First, a Google search for "Larry Johnson" + "African American" + "Inside the NFL" comes up with several message boards on which this interview has been discussed, but no articles or editorials from the mainstream media (except for Hill's piece).  I assume such articles or editorials exist, but clearly they are very few in number.  It's been a week since the interview, long enough for Google to catch these items -- as well as for the mainstream media to report any "backlash" from the interview.  Obviously, there is no backlash, because the mainstream media simply doesn't care about the racial thinking of blacks (as has been documented over and over again).

Now imagine what would have been the media's (and hence public's) reaction if a white star football player (say, quarterback Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts) had made similar remarks about preferring to play for a white coach.  (Of course, the head coach of the Colts is Tony Dungy, who is black, which hasn't hurt Manning's performance in the least.)  I submit that this would have been blown up into a Mel Gibson or Michael Richards (or John Rocker) -like episode.  Perhaps not as extreme, but the white athlete undoubtedly would have been subjected to verbal abuse, required to undergo counseling or "sensitivity training," and pressured into one or more acts of public contrition (apologies for making "hurtful" remarks, admissions of mental illness, and sizeable monetary donations).

Why is such racial thinking of blacks considered "acceptable" but not that of whites?  Why aren't statements like Johnson's pilloried for the ignorant, racist garbage they are?

I think the answer goes to the racial double standard that lies at the heart of contemporary multiculturalism, which subscribes to the "essentialist" notion that blacks and other minorities cannot succeed and flourish in a majority-white environment.  Hence the belief that black elementary and secondary students will learn math and literature and history and science better from black teachers than from white teachers.  Hence the belief that black college students require their own academic departments and dormitories and student centers and graduation ceremonies.  And so on.

The liberal elites in the mainstream media endorse the racial essentialism of contemporary multiculturalism, so they cannot very well reject the same thinking when it is applied to sports.  Nor is it surprising that someone like Johnson, who is 27 years old and therefore grew up in today's deeply race-conscious educational environment, would believe that he relates better to black coaches and performs better for them because they know what it is like to be a "young black athlete."

Unfortunately, such beliefs can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies, with severely debilitating consequences for the individual who holds them and for society at large. 

Contact Steven M. Warshawsky