All-Star 2018 has brought about a lot of excitement, but there’s one thing that sits at the intersection of race and sports: the venomous insults from Fox News’ Laura Ingraham toward LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
In less than 45 seconds, Ingraham belittles and criticizes LeBron James for his interview with ESPN’s Cari Champion and fellow NBA Star Kevin Durant because the three of them speak out against the current presidential administration. And apparently, James is pinpointed in her attack, and therefore unable to provide political commentary as an athlete, because he said “like” too much and does not have a white-approved education beyond high school. Ingraham goes as far as to question why “must they run their mouths like that.”
The overt insistence of white supremacy forcing its standards on LeBron and the entire Black community speaks for itself. What’s most disheartening, however, is that Ingraham and all who agree with her position, do not realize that they epitomize social injustice, white supremacy and the matrix of domination that Black folks have been fighting for the past 300 years. But do not worry, my kind white friends, I have dissected Ingraham’s comments line-by-line and provide an analysis as to why they are wrong. Please do read them to understand, or at the very least you can try.
- “Mm. I’m numb to this commentary, like.” It’s unfortunate that LeBron’s comments were reduced to the two or three filler words that Ingraham decided to highlight in her segment, as if everyone doesn’t use filler words as a way to collect their thoughts. Lebron’s actual comments— about what made him fall in love with basketball, what being a Black man in this country means, and his keen political views—fell on deaf ears because Ingraham is too busy mocking his dialect, and thus his race. Ingraham’s comments, as with many of the president’s supporters, are a distraction from the content of a person’s words to keep the focus off of the numerous limitations of our country’s leader.
- “Must they run their mouths like that.” I’m assuming “they” refers to citizens of this country who are well within their rights to verbally challenge the president. But this separatist pronoun is yet another indicator of the difference between Black and white America. Black folks can’t even speak out without being seen as ‘the other’ in a country that we literally built.
- “Unfortunately, a lot of kids and some adults take these ignorant comments seriously.” This is a certified opinion. And it is equally accepted, unfortunately, by probably the same number of kids and adults. What’s most ironic to me is that James is being criticized by Ingraham for calling the president different iterations of ignorant, and then she turns around and uses the very word. So, LeBron doesn’t have enough education to form a political decision, but he is worthy of using the same words, or synonyms, as you? If you do not understand, number 4 is your friend.
- “Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in Lebron for kids: This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA.” Now this is ignorance, my friends. There is no known evidence of Lebron attempting to do any such thing. In fact, he graduated high school. But his educational background is irrelevant; He is a grown man who can form coherent thoughts and arrive at a position of political disagreement whenever he wants. The fact that he is willing to voice his thoughts is commendable. Plus, he is still a Black man in this country who faces racism because his privilege does not erase his Black experience, or his upbringing. Remember a year ago when racial slurs were spray painted on his door?
- “And it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid 100 million dollars a year to bounce a ball.” Again, another example of true ignorance . LeBron made $30.9 million dollars “dribbling a basketball” in the 2016-17 season and will earn the same amount from the Cavaliers by the end of this season. The rest of his money comes from endorsements: Nike, Kia, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Beats by Dr. Dre and McDonald’s as of 2015. Many of these company’s advertisements do not have him in an athletic space, let alone dribbling a ball. But proving Ingraham wrong is not the point (okay, maybe it is). Lebron’s profession does not act as a mute for his political commentary. Basketball players can and do have political thoughts of which they have the right to think and share if they are so willing. He is not offering ‘advice’ to anyone; he is simply stating his position. Those who agree, agree and those who don’t, don’t.
- “Oh and LeBron and Kevin, you’re great players but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach.” First off, they didn’t run for President. So this is a false sense of equivalency. Even so, Ingraham conveniently leaves out how the majority of Americans did not vote for Trump either. Clinton won the popular vote, so quit omitting facts to push your own agenda, Laura Ingraham.
- “So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.” No. They will not. And, no. Black athletes will not. The audacity to even ask the question as a statement is exactly why Black folks speak out; we have yet to be treated as equal citizens in this country where our thoughts are evenly yoked with that of a white persons. I see no one telling Lindsey Vonn to hold her political commentary as she enters the winter olympics. This is white privilege; this is an advantage of being a white woman.
- Speaking of women, Ingraham didn’t even acknowledge the equally as powerful comments that came from Cari Champion. Of course I don’t want racism to continue to live and thrive, but erasing Black women doesn’t fly with me either. I know she isn’t the star of Rolling with the Champion, but since Ingraham was already dishing out hate, she could have at least done that treacherous act fairly.
So you see, Ingraham is a clear example of how ostracizing, censoring and attempting to silence athletes and Black folks is ingrained in America’s culture. LeBron, KD, and Cari Champion are yet another casualty that refuses to submit to the death that white supremacy employs. I leave you with these eight points to ponder as you ask yourself which microaggressions you have committed, or which you have fell victim to.