We have gotten to the point in this country where you don't have to yell the "N" word at an innocent black child, or refuse to rent to a black family or to serve a black man at a restaurant to be labelled "Racist." Now, apparently, if a white man talks about race at all, he can be accused of racism.
Witness Bruce Levenson, the soon-to-be-gone Atlanta Hawks owner. Two years ago he writes an email wondering how the team can attract more fans and, specifically, affluent white fans. To my ear, the email isn't racist at all, but simply a thoughtful analysis based on data and demographics and some conjecture about what different audiences might prefer for their entertainment dollar:
Regarding game ops, i need to start with some background. for the first couple of years we owned the team, i didn’t much focus on game ops. then one day a light bulb went off. when digging into why our season ticket base is so small, i was told it is because we can’t get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs and they are the primary demo for season tickets around the league. when i pushed further, folks generally shrugged their shoulders. then i start looking around our arena during games and notice the following:
— it’s 70 pct black
— the cheerleaders are black
— the music is hip hop
— at the bars it’s 90 pct black
— there are few fathers and sons at the games
— we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.
My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don’t know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.Again, to my ear that sounds like a man who is anti-racist but who is sensitive to the fact that some out there in Atlanta might still harbor some racist stereotypes.
But to see even more clearly why this isn't racist, let's play the substitution game. Imagine that a black owner, say, Magic Johnson, wrote an email saying that he had noticed that the crowds at Dodgers games (he's a part-owner) are predomimantly white, and that they have all white ball-girls and play classic 70s rock between innings and had an Eddie and the Cruisers reunion concert after the game to attract more fans, and then wondered whether black patrons feel uncomfortable in that circumstance and stay away, and then asked his subordinates what they can do to attract more black patrons. Maybe play some hip-hop in one of the stadium bars? Maybe have a few more black ball-girls? Would anyone say he was being racist? Or would they say he was a businessman trying to diversify and expand his clientele?
Sheesh! And yet Levenson himself, presumably so indoctrinated by the culture of white liberal guilt that he feels the need to confess to a crime he didn't commit, has pledged to sell the team.
By the way, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar agrees with me. Jabbar is fast becoming my go-to pundit for all issues having to do with race, because, for whatever reason -- maybe it's just because he's really smart -- he seems to make sense and think outside-of-the-box.