I was watching College Gameday on ESPN recently and they began the program with a discussion on cancer and the ongoing fight to find a cure.
In the process of that conversation they rolled out a myriad of ESPN analysts and reporters and even head coaches of MAJOR college basketball programs who openly discussed their support for the cause and the battle to defeat the dreaded disease. Clearly this was a common objective that everyone agreed upon and one they all felt was much needed. And, I guess it goes without saying that I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. This is especially true and also extremely personal for me since BOTH of my parents (one of them twice) have been diagnosed with cancer in the past and battled through to remission. Not only this but I have also lost family and friends to various forms of cancer over the years and my wife’s uncle who has two young kids was just recently diagnosed with brain cancer and is in battle for his life as we speak.
Having said all of that – as I was watching this program that was highlighting the “Jimmy V Foundation” which is dedicated to finding a cure and whose famous slogan is in the image above – I wondered to myself: Why doesn’t ESPN and any other given network ever highlight the fight against racism in America? After all, much as is the case with cancer, we desperately need to find a cure for racism – another dreaded disease in this country and around the world. Despite the protestations of many Americans, we need to talk OUT LOUD about racism the same exact way we do about other dire issues that are not labeled as being “controversial”. And, you know, as I think about it…racism in our nation is really only a controversial topic where White Americans are concerned. After all, and in case you were unaware -you are never going to hear black people complaining about that discussion taking place in a public forum!
During the recent debates that ensued on ESPN in the aftermath of what is an ongoing “controversy” regarding NFL players kneeling during the anthem – I would hear a lot of comments from White Americans (or see comments on social media) saying things like: “Can I please just watch sports without hearing sportscasters discuss racism”?? “I just want to get away from the issues in the world for two hours”?! And, yet in the midst of the aforementioned Jimmy V Foundation campaign (which is an ANNUAL effort by the way), I have not heard ANYONE say: “Oh my God, do they have to talk about cancer again…I just want to watch sports, ok”?? Or, when our troops are regularly brought up during NFL Games no one says: “Do we have to talk about veterans and the problems they are facing or supporting our troops when I am watching the Steelers play”??
So apparently we CAN talk about THOSE types of issues during a sporting event or on a sports show
and we can discuss other issues like bullying or misogyny as well while we watch the playoffs – but for some reason issues of race being discussed during “the game” bothers White America. And the question America must look into the mirror and ask itself is, why? Whether it is guilt or bigotry or stereotypes or ignorance (or maybe all of the above) that is causing individuals to want to avoid that conversation – the root of their disdain and avoidance of discussions on race needs to be identified and addressed.
The battle against the disease of racism – much like the battle against the disease of cancer – must start with an actual diagnosis. We cannot treat what has not been diagnosed. And that is a point that is absolutely critical. Because as is the case with an undetected cancer that has invaded the human body – racism will spread and deteriorate – and attack the vitality of our corporate body if left to roam unchecked. In fact, it can be absolutely deadly and shut down the vital organs of our democracy. And it would not be too much of a stretch to say it has invaded far too many sectors of our society already – so time is of the essence.
Let’s “Jimmy V” racism in America. I want to turn on my TV one day soon and see Jay Bilas talking about ridding our nation of racism. I want to hear Dick Vitale speaking openly about its hideous effects and calling on all Americans to help find a cure. I want to see Mike Kryzewski (aka Coach K) saying “we will not stop until racism is completely eradicated”. This is a no-brainer, dear reader. It is a cause that we should all – each and every one of us – be unabashedly behind. There is no way that as we head into 2018 – ESPN (or any other network) – or head coaches of college or professional teams should be terrified to roll out an anti-racism campaign because they are fully aware and scared to death that the ignorance of viewers could cost them ratings and therefore advertising dollars. The fact that they are in fact concerned with that scenario can only mean one thing: the cancer of racism is alive and well in America. And it is well past time that we diagnose – identify – and eliminate this treacherous disease.
Oreos to go: Racism is a disease.
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.