"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Very Minor Instance of a Very Important Issue

Here are a series of paragraphs from an otherwise innocuous article about yesterday's Bucks-Heat game:

"We can't make no excuses for ourselves," James said. "But no one had energy from the start of the game to the end."

It was the first time Miami lost this season in seven games without Dwyane Wade, out again with a sprained right ankle.

Miami got within 83-80 with 2:15 left on a pair of free throws by Bosh, before Ilyasova restored Milwaukee's five-point lead with 1:50 left. Miami's next two possessions ended with a turnover and a missed layup by James with three Bucks in pursuit, and Jennings - who was 5 for 20 - came up with the clincher.

His putback of a missed 3-pointer by Jackson with 39.5 seconds left sealed the win for Milwaukee, which won despite missing 25 of its 30 tries from 3-point range, including 16 straight at one point.

"We had a great difficulty making shots, but we made up for it with tremendous effort," Skiles said. "Our defense was very, very good again. When we needed a couple big plays, we were able to make them."
It's the first time Milwaukee has won consecutive road games since December 2010.

The Heat sputtered all night, putting up season-lows in a number of categories, and by some wide margins to boot. Miami's scoring low coming into Sunday was 89, field-goal percentage low was .395, low field-goal total was 32 (now 25) and assists was 16.

"We're not going to make any excuses," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

This is a small deal, no doubt.   NBA player who happens to be black, LeBron James, uses improper English that is presumably accurately quoted.    NBA coach who happens to be white, Erik Spoelstra, uses proper English that is also presumably accurately quoted.   James is a multi-millionaire, a success story, a great player, a hard worker at his craft.   So using improper English hasn't hurt him, and likely won't ever hurt him.  

On the other hand, there are a sum total of 450 NBA players.   There are perhaps 900 black NFL players.   There are maybe another 250 or so black MLB players.   So maybe 1500 total pro athletes who are black, who have careers that probably average around 3-5 years.    Meanwhile, there are something on the order of 13 million black males over the age of 16 in the noninstitutional US population and black male unemployment is pushing up toward 20%.   In an economy that is increasingly oriented toward jobs involving communication skills.  

People don't like to talk about how badly urban culture and the public schools have failed young black males, in particular by creating a culture where speaking proper English is not demanded or rewarded socially.   But they have.  

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