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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Media Playing Race Card Over and Over

First, some guy named Imus called the women’s basketball team from Rutgers nappy headed hoes. Then the world of academia published a study essentially calling NBA refs racist because white officials call more fouls on black players than white players. Now ESPN took a poll to show more whites than blacks are rooting for Barry Bonds to fail in his quest to hit the most home runs in a career in Major League history.

I’m not about to make a fool of myself and question when the race issue will be put to rest. It’s a real issue, and, sadly, it seems destined to always be an issue. Some may think I’m a fool for the question I am going to ask: Why are we looking so hard for so-called examples of racism?

The easy answer is it sells. Stories like the Don Imus and Rutgers issue gets ratings. That’s the only reason a racist joke by a radio host plenty of us never heard of two months ago became a two-week story. Ratings bring advertising dollars, and as we all know advertising dollars are really what determines what’s on television, including the “news.” By the way, the lack of advertising dollars is what cost Imus his job, not some moral crusade led by the likes of Al Sharpton. (Where was Al when the Duke lacrosse players were exonerated?)

But you knew all that. When we start commissioning studies as asinine as the one on NBA refs, it’s time to look a little deeper. Forget the fact that the study was done by a couple of Ivy Leaguers who likely never played basketball in their lives. Forget that they used box scores for their study, which simply doesn’t make it possible to draw the conclusions they drew. The real question is why this was ever even studied.

In a country that has no shortage of people crying foul on the race issue, not one player ever suggested refs were racist. More damning, not one player, writer, or leader in the black community, supported the study after the study was out there. ESPN may be worse because they ripped the study for a couple days, and now jump on the race ratings boat with the Bonds poll. But they’re ESPN, so it’s not surprising.

Academia had nothing better to study? The media can’t find something more important to cover? Besides that, when was it decided racism in the form of whites being the offending party against blacks was the only type of prejudice that gets attention in this country?

At the risk of sounding self-serving, how about the fact that people with disabilities face staggering unemployment getting a little attention? We face the same very real prejudice African Americans face, but calling it racism gets better ratings so we’re ignored.

If you just rolled your eyes, good. You made my point. It doesn’t affect you, it’s not sexy, and you really don’t care. Fair enough.

So, tell me why you do care about Imus, NBA refs being called racist, and whites disliking Bonds more than blacks. The media doesn’t get its ratings out of nowhere. They get them from all of us tuning in every time they mention race.

My point wasn’t just to mention that my group is ignored, though I might as well do it now and then because nobody else does. And, make no mistake, I’m not suggesting Imus’ statement wasn’t completely idiotic.

My real issue is that I am sick and tired of pseudo race issues. Like it or not, they water down real issues of prejudice faced by African Americans, people with disabilities, and other minorities. The media needs to stop acting like they have a social conscience by going on and on about such stories, and actually have one by covering real issues. Better yet, people ought to do it for them by caring about real issues.

Week-in-Review:

· Only in Philadelphia could the Eagles drafting Kevin Kolb be a week-long story. Andy Reid seemed to genuinely like the guy, and I think that’s the one thing you have to give him — he should know QBs. If they’re really looking at this guy as Donovan McNabb’s replacement, I’m ok with it. In fact I’m encouraged to see the coddling of McNabb won’t go on forever. I’d rip McNabb for crying to ESPN’s Michael Smith that he’s befuddled by the pick, but that’s old. He’d never just man-up, and say if it’s a challenge to me I’ll handle it.

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