UPDATE: The post-racial open line: Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson and race in the NBA | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, September 7, 2014

UPDATE: The post-racial open line: Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson and race in the NBA

Posted By on Sun, Sep 7, 2014 at 5:01 PM

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It's a beautiful Sunday and here's an open line. But let's include a note on race in Dixie.

Bruce Levenson, controlling owner of the Atlanta Hawks, has reported himself to the NBA for writing an e-mail two years ago with racial themes and will sell his interest in the professional basketball team. He said his remarks were "inappropriate and offensive."

The remarks? This article contains the full e-mail in which Levenson talks to the team president about a fan base that was too heavily African-American, especially compared with other teams in the league. Sample:

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.


Yes, clearly Levenson has no place in professional basketball or polite society. It's simply a wonder how a man so educated and successful in business could be so blind and uninformed. Dixie — from Atlanta to Little Rock — is fully post-racial. People in the South no longer see race when they look at, for example, their political leaders. In Little Rock, I defy you to find a white parent who wouldn't send a child to a public school simply because its student body was overwhelmingly black. We're past that.

Right?

UPDATE: A tough column in Monday's New York Times on the subject from William Rhoden. Among other points, he makes the one I attempted to make sarcastically — racism still lives.

Because the email was so open and earnest, it is likely that Levenson believed he was not being racist but was simply addressing a problem that seemed obvious to him.

Indeed, the vast majority of those who self-identify as white in the United States rarely find themselves continually in situations where they are outnumbered by blacks.

Whether it is where they live, where they work, where they worship or where they play, “whiteness” is the norm.

How do whites respond in a situation in which they are not the majority? Do they stay away from that situation, and not attend a certain event — say, a Hawks game, as Levenson suggested in his email?


ALSO: A brilliant article taking apart the decision by a Louisiana federal judge in defense of that state's ban on same-sex marriage. He did dishonor to his mentor, the late Judge John Minor Wisdom. He did dishonor to logic and facts. 

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