We are so hung up on not offending someone — and many seem to relish being offended — that the public discourse has moved beyond being sanitized: It has become dishonest.
Perhaps DeBerry should have stuck to acceptable, disingenuous football-coach code.
If he had said, “TCU has better athletes than we do; we need to recruit better athletes,” everyone in the room would have known that he was saying the Falcons needed more African American players, but they would have felt comfortably ensconced in unoffensive code.
Here’s some more code translation:
When coaches talk about the athleticism of the SEC, they are talking about a recruiting area with a significant black population.
When coaches talk about recruiting hotbeds in Florida, Texas, Georgia and Southern California, they are talking about areas with a large black population.
To localize it: When Pac-10 coaches outside of Los Angeles talk about recruiting in Southern California, they are talking about recruiting black players.
Those in the arena — the athletes and coaches — recognize the reality. The vast majority, apparently unlike DeBerry, know to keep quiet about it, at least on the record.
Make a list of the most spectacular athletes in history. No, Larry Bird, one of the greatest basketball players in history, wasn’t a spectacular athlete. What’s the racial makeup of your list?
No one is saying whites or Asians can’t be fast or jump high. It’s just that every single piece of empirical evidence suggests that blacks are more likely to run fast or jump high. The sociological theories, convincing when used to explain academic gaps between the races, feel as substantial as cobwebs when applied to times in the 100 meters.
DeBerry critics also are pointing toward the racist stereotype that blacks are physically gifted but mentally deficient, an extreme extrapolation that has no launching pad in his comments.
Where did the idea develop that physical ability automatically diminishes mental ability anyway? There’s no scientific basis for the idea that physical and mental abilities are a zero-sum allotment.
Black folks on a daily basis face slights, sideways glances and inconveniences that are foreign to most white folks. Being told they, on average, are faster than white people probably isn’t very high on the list of annoyances.
Seems to me that attributing TCU’s dominance over Air Force to the former’s pleathora of black athletes diminishes their accomplishments and implies, however slightly, that the Frogs had a competitive advantage solely due to the racial makeup.
Not because they were smarter, worked harder, “wanted it more” or any of the other labels regularly slapped on white athletes. Or because the opposition had a better coach. But perhaps I’m just looking for a reason to be offended.