Friday, March 21, 2008

Running the Race of Life

Yesterday, Dave Winer wrote a blog post that opened as follows:

I wrote a comment on a post on Phil Windley's blog earlier today which I ended saying perhaps we should all just disclaim up front that we're racists, and then go ahead and say what we have to say about race.

It should save a lot of time, and get a lot of formerly private and hush-hush stuff out in the open....

Fact, if you've lived in the United States as long as I have, 52 years, you have opinions about race, and to some that makes you a racist.

Winer was inspired to write his post after commenting on a Phil Windley post on Barack Obama's attitudes on race - a hot topic, given the brouhaha about Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

I'm not sure what inspired Kareem Abdul-Jabber to write the blog post ((h/t Tony Pierce) entitled Common myths about me: Why was Kareem so mad?. It's certainly something that he's wanted to say for a while, but I don't know why he chose to write it yesterday.

One of the common myths about me was repeated last week when a friend of mine was playing in his weekly basketball league and a teammate asked him, “Why was Kareem always so angry?” That’s not the first time I heard this charge. What’s weird about it is that every morning when I get out of bed, bluebirds, squirrels, and deer help me get dressed while we sing “We Are the World.” By the way, squirrels really suck at tying shoes. And deer often mumble the lyrics.

Even that doesn’t make me angry.

What’s interesting about the question is that the person who asked the question is white. In fact, no black person has ever asked that question. That’s because they already know the answer. In the 1960s and 1970s, when the civil rights movement was at its most intense and volatile level, I often used my celebrity to speak out against certain injustices. This seemed to irritate some people who expected black athletes to simply be silently grateful for their opportunities and not rock the boat.

In essence, Kareem is stating that there are certain parts of the black experience that whites just don't understand.

But I'm not going to worry about racism or sexism or religionism or anyism right now; those things can get me down. I'll just read the next item in my Google Reader feed, from Connie Reece. It' White Men Talk About Social Media:

This afternoon I got an email from fellow Dot-Connector Brenda Thompson with the subject line: “Five White Men Talk About Social Media.” That got my attention and I opened the email right away.

“This just REALLY annoys me,” Brenda wrote. “The Chamber of Commerce is doing a thing on social media. … [she names the panel lineup] … It’s nothing against any of them, but did anyone think for a minute that they should have a woman on the panel?

“Having just renewed my chamber membership for a hefty $439, I will be passing along my thoughts to them, as well.”

But this particular story has a happy ending:

I have indeed been officially invited to join the panel (which, I repeat, was not my purpose in writing this post)....

And Kareem's story also has a happy ending. If Kobe Bryant had chosen to go to college, he would have been allowed to play on the basketball team.

Now we'll just have to see how Barack Obama's story ends. Or how Hillary Clinton's story ends.

I wonder if there's a disaffected Democrat white man somewhere claiming disenfranchisement, to which I reply:

  • Obama is half white.

  • The Democratic Party has been nominating white men for over a century. This was bound to happen someday.

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