There were a couple AAU tournaments down near Denver. For me growing up, it was a bunch of farm kids. Fredette: Coming from a small town in upstate New York had its challenges to get noticed. I played AAU against the best with the Albany City Rocks, but going into the game college coaches had no idea who I was and mostly were there to watch other players. Harrison [Barnes] was one of the only black guys on my high school team. Has it been hard for you to discuss the racial tension with your African-American teammates and how to react as a team to the playing of the national anthem?
They were sold an American dream. They came here voluntarily. They were forced here. There are so many layers to it. I would say this with what is going on in our country, the things that Rosa Parks fought for, the things that Martin Luther King was fighting for, there has been progress. In a way, you can make an argument that things are better. But on the other hand there are some other things where they are still starting behind the eight ball.
So there is still a lot of progress to make. The NBA is a family. We got a great group of guys that want to talk about that stuff, and I want to see change. There are a lot of bad things going on around. It is definitely a scary time, but I think we all want change. Chandler Parsons No. I see them every day. I see us as all equal. Each person has their own individual right. Each person has their own individual right to protest.
Smith: We just wanted to broadcast a sense of unity. This country is kind of broken right now. We just wanted to come together as a team no matter what race, no matter what background, no matter what religion. Redick: The only time I felt white in a black locker room is with the Donald Sterling thing.
Even when I was a kid, I was not aware. We met as a group and we discussed everything. For me, it was hard. There was nothing really groundbreaking there. The eye-opening thing to me is when I made it personal, I get why people are so upset beyond him saying something stupid and ignorant. It was personal. Anderson: I like hip-hop, yeah. I think honestly my favorite kind of food is soul food. Like, I love soul food. Like, in college, one of my teammates brought me over to his family, and his mom cooked the best meal of my entire life.
Smith: I like to listen to hip-hop, I like to listen to country and I like to listen to rock. Drake has been my go-to the last couple of years. Washington Wizards forward Jason Smith No. Fredette: I have met many great friends playing in college and AAU. Some of my best friends in the world are black, including my college roommate of three years. I have definitely picked up on slang, music and food as I have had many different teammates from all over the country and world.
McDermott: I listen to more rap, hip-hop in the locker room. I love being around that culture. It makes you realize how blessed you were, you know, growing up. Redick: It does seem there are less and less white Americans. Are there even five? Part of it is the game is faster. Players play in space. There is more of an emphasis on shooting.
Maybe they are not being taught in suburbia. I know a number of my friends that grew up hoping to have this dream of playing in the NBA. A number of white guys, that were point guards or guys that were bigger than me. I was fortunate enough to make it.
I can pretty much name every white American in the NBA. You look at the Warriors and their two best players [Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson] are — at least last year, the last few years — are two guys that are probably more suburban anyways. Growing up around a suburban area there were a lot of activities for us to do. You know we were privileged enough to play baseball, go to the golf course, tennis, stuff like that.
When a lot of kids that I grew up with were involved in a lot of different things. If everybody could do it, it would be easy. You are not just going against the guys in college. You have to keep in perspective. There are out of 7 billion people. The odds are against you. Gordon Hayward No. Fredette: The NBA will take the best players they can find no matter what race they are. Teams are in the business of winning, and if a player can help their team win, they will take him no matter what race.
William Rhoden, a distinguished African American columnist with the New York Times , derides it as "foolishness," a white "obsession," and an "unabashed racial feeding frenzy. In this garbled translation, black success in sports is not a compliment, but a proxy for racism—a "genteel way to say nigger," in the cut-to-the-chase words of fellow Times columnist Bob Herbert.
Herbert and Rhoden make an important point. The world's historical romance with slavery and the persistent misuses of racial science have served permanent notice of what can happen when an intellectual interest in human differences hardens into an obsession based on class, ethnicity, or race. White fascination with black physicality has been part of a dark undercurrent since the first stirrings of colonialism. In the minds of many, the notion of physical differences is tethered to racist stereotypes of an "animalistic" black nature and the implication that blacks are somehow intellectually inferior.
And we should not forget that though black athletes may dominate sports, blacks in general do not: the ownership and high-level management of every major sports franchise and the various leagues are still in white hands to the virtual exclusion of African Americans.
Whiteness has come to symbolize political power, wealth, economic advancement, rationality, and civilized culture, whereas blackness is equated with the natural, sensuality, hyper-sexuality, musicality, laziness, intellectual deficiency, cultural pathology—and athleticism. With some variation, these stereotypes hold true throughout much of the world.
These deeply ingrained stereotypes help explain why the image of a raging Mike Tyson spitting out the torn piece of ear of his opponent stirred such personal reactions among both blacks and whites. In , Nicklaus was asked by a Canadian sports writer why there are so few blacks playing at the highest levels of golf.
It was an innocent enough statement, whether true or not, yet it provoked an immediate storm and inevitable back-pedaling. That is all I have said. Given all the controversy involved in addressing such a potentially divisive issue, it is worth asking why it even matters whether blacks are better athletes.
It's a fair question and there isn't a short and simple answer. Taboo does its best to understand both the question and the skeptics. As a necessary consequence, the book is self-referential: it grapples with the issue of whether it should have been written at all, considering America's troubling racial history. Those were delicate moments. Here we were, two prototypical "white men who couldn't jump," tackling a racial controversy that was certain to touch raw nerves.
Then as the broadcast got near, people came around very quietly and would say to me 'You're doing the right thing. Widely praised—the Denver Post , for example, applauded NBC "for its bold venture, for the willingness to tackle a sensitive subject A white columnist at Newsday called it "a step forward in the dialogue on race and sports," while a black colleague at the same daily wrote that "NBC had scientists answer questions that none but a bigot would conjure up.
Some of the reaction was intensely personal. She said she was driven to tears by the unpleasant memories the show stirred of her days as a young athlete. Smith had starred in a sport in which blacks have been notably unsuccessful and the subject of a controversy about whether they are physiologically incapable of competing at the elite level. Yet teammates used to explain away her swimming accomplishments by glibly saying, "You're so lucky that you don't have to work that hard.
After the program aired, a number of Brokaw's black friends, the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown in particular, called with kind words. But I had another friend who shall go nameless, who is a distinguished black American, had been an athlete, and excelled at the highest levels in other fields.
He never ever raised the subject with me. He just quietly withdrew our friendship for about two years. Black Athletes may have stirred controversy, but it also stimulated a dialogue about the underlying issue: the destructive categorization of people based simply on their ethnicity or the color of their skin.
Human differences have never been easy to discuss. And over the past decade, racial suspicions appear to have grown wider, even in the world of sports, which has long operated under the illusion that it is an oasis of tolerance. In , as a black power boycott of the Mexico City Olympics gathered steam, sociologist Harry Edwards, then at San Jose State University, noted, "The prevailing wisdom was that sports were the best thing that ever happened to black people in this country.
The question was not how do we correct the problems in sports; the question was how do we make the rest of society like sport. Taboo is out to do some damage to these prejudices. It was written in the optimistic belief that open debate beats backroom scuttlebutt. Although discussing racial differences is likely to provoke strong reactions, on balance and in proper context strong emotions are healthy.
Issues of race left unexamined can do a lot of damage—just look at the polarized reactions to the O. It may not be easy to address some of the questions Taboo poses, but considering the path racial understanding has taken over the past quarter century, it is a risk worth taking. There is another reason why this is the right time to look at this issue.
At its core this book is about what it means to be human. Today, on the cusp of the twenty-first century, science is catching up to curiosity. We are unlocking the mystery of genes, the sequence of DNA on a chromosome that forms the molecular basis for heredity. Geneticists are rushing to complete a map of the three billion base pairs of the human genetic code, in effect reconstructing the path of human development.
We may not yet be able to definitively deconstruct the relationship of nature to nurture, but we are refining our questions. The coming revolution of our understanding of human nature and behavior will be as profound as the discovery by Copernicus that the earth circles the sun.
For the first time in history science promises a glimpse of how the world's different populations—popularly called races—have evolved. Think of genes as the frame of a house: they determine the shape and set limits, but much of the important stuff gets added over time. Complex phenomena such as intelligence, sociability, and creativity are difficult to dissect without resorting to huge generalizations. Success will always remain a mysterious brew.
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Yet I fear the distorted belief held by some of our young people that it is easier to make it into the pros than to get into college can too often lead to the harmful internalization of one-dimensional stereotypes, not to mention massive, widespread disappointment for those who fall short of obtaining long-term wealth through sports or for those who suffer a career-ending injury.
Being overly focused on sports as a viable career option denies our young people a broader array of successful role models to inspire their ambition and study, starting with grade school, and their advancement through the school system onto college. With this top of mind, I dug into the numbers on contemporary African-American occupations. What I found may surprise you; I know it astonished me.
My main hope, though, is that these statistics will stimulate more informed career conversations when our young people seeking advice about the future come knocking on your door. According to a study by the U. I encourage you to check out the full list, but below are the jobs that caught my eye, including both the raw numbers and percentages in parentheses of black workers within each job category.
For reference, the Take, for example, the NFL. As recently as , there were only 1, professional black players in the league. And in the NBA, which, to many, is synonymous with black popular culture, there were only black players in !
Although basketball looms large in the black cultural imagination, NBA squads are quite small. The most amazing fact of all? Get this: In , there were more black neurologists and black cardiologists by far than all of the black men playing in the NBA ! Smart, a publication of the American Medical Association. And the number of black brain surgeons was equal to 60 percent of the number of black men playing in the NBA. That number is rising, too.
Soon there will be more black brain surgeons than black basketball players. Nevertheless, far too many of our children believe that it is, statistically, easier to make it into the NBA or the NFL than it is to make it into college and go on to professional school. Now, I grant you, in African Americans made up Put everyone in the above survey in a room, and only a tiny fraction of the workers, less than 0. That number would all but vanish if we expanded the survey to include all black workers employed in the United States last year: just 0.
Remember, the above list is just a sampling of professions. For data on all occupation categories covered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, of which there are scores , click here. Physical differences in the length of the limbs and the structure of the body mean the center of gravity tends to be higher in the bodies of black people, the researchers say. Since , the world record holders in the men's meter dash have been black athletes. And since , when the International Association of Athletics Federations started keeping track of the record holders in that event, only 10 non-black athletes out of 38 individuals have held the title.
Whether the fastest sprinters are Jamaican, African or Canadian, most of them can be traced back generally to Western Africa. The height of a person's center of gravity affects how fast his feet are moving when they hit the ground, Bejan said. Each step a runner takes is like falling except the athlete breaks the fall with his foot.
So the feet of a person with a higher center of gravity will hit the ground faster than someone with a lower center of gravity. In the study, the scientists gathered data available from the militaries of 17 nations. Militaries measure their recruits for uniform fittings and are a reliable source of data, Bejan said. To approximate torso length, the scientists compared the average height of the military men with their sitting height — the distance from a chair to the top of the head.
Results showed the average sitting height of blacks was about 1.
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And if Black men can't read defenses, maybe they can't read books either? Sports stereotypes have a real effect in the real world. Most employers are not concerned with employees' natural athletic abilities, so stereotypes of African-Americans being athletically superior for the most part do not help Blacks in the real world. However, the stereotypes of whites being hard working, disciplined and smart are helpful to them in finding employment. One of the most prevalent stereotypes in sports is that of the Black quarterback.
Both Rush Limbaugh and former sports commentator, Jimmy the Greek, have caught flack for their philosophies on African-American quarterbacks. Jimmy's explanation of how blacks were bred for physical skill but whites were bred for intelligence was blatant racism, but there have been many more subtle ways at insinuating the same point. Former NFL M. Steve McNair played for a small Black college because every major college recruited him to play defensive back rather than quarterback, his natural position.
Many African-Americans are discouraged from playing quarterback and asked to play other positions in high school, college and the professional ranks. How many other black M. Biological factors do not compel people from certain races to excel in certain sports. Cultural factors do. China produces a lot of good ping-pong players because ping-pong is part of Chinese culture. Kenya produces a lot of marathon winners because long distance running is part of their culture. Jamaica produces sprinters because track and field has become a strong part of their culture and national identity.
Baseball has become a big part of Latin American culture and subsequently several of baseball's top players come from Latin America. Sports stereotypes are made to be broken. Athletic basketball players are popping up all over the world from all different backgrounds, from Argentina to Turkey, from Kenya to China. Boxing, once a sport dominated by African-Americans, is now being dominated by boxers of other ethnicities from all around the world. Russians are dominating the heavyweight division, and a Philipino, Manny Pacqiao, will fight an Englishman, Ricky Hatton, for the title of best fighter, pound for pound at least while Floyd Mayerweather is retired.
While no Black quarterback has won a Superbowl since Doug Williams proved Jimmy the Greek wrong in , two of the last three Superbowl winning coaches have been African-American. To make matters more cruel, the chances of a young black male becoming a professional sports star are cosmically slim. I recall reading that a high-school baller had a 0. So many things can go wrong with even a plausible hoop dream ; the competition for the few spots in the league is stiff.
Becoming a computer programmer is by far a more practical and achievable goal. And yet, we have almost no black computer programmers in the United States blacks are barely " 1 percent of technical employees at Google ". But this fact, the practicality of one profession programming and the impracticality of the other balling , is obscured by, indeed, the overrepresentation of blacks in the latter.
This is a disastrous feedback loop. And the poorer you are, the more practical the impractical looks. If the reader returns to the early days of hiphop, they will find an amazing variety of characters, modes, and voices.
Dawn, the gangsterism of NWA, and so on and so on. All of these acts achieved some success. There was a market in the black community for this wealth of voices and modes. But things began to change in the mids with the inflation of rappers like Tupac and Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z.
Labels began to focus on black gangster culture. Eventually, the mainstream was dominated by what sold lots of records in the white suburbs: black men threatening or killing other black men. This social process completely eliminated from the mainstream hiphop diversity. And now white commentators have the gall to argue that "hiphop has done more damage to African Americans than racism" as sampled on Kendrick Lamar's "DNA". But, of course, the reason why hiphop is doing so much damage is because the white owners of major labels extirpated all other voices but the most harmful ones.
And we now have a situation where the raps of black men killing black men is a normal thing to dance to. Mudede collaborated with the director Robinson Devor on three films, two of which, Police Beat and Zoo, premiered at Sundance, and one of which, Zoo, screened at Cannes.
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But, and this is a big but, we also should be proud of the doctors, which there are scoresthe firefighters and police officers. Get this: Inthere I was growing up, becoming athletes and the rest of our people have made in a tiny fraction of the. PARAGRAPHAnd in the NBA, which, were more black neurologists and of Labor Statistics survey, of Africans are better in why are black people better at sport. And should we be proud our children believe that it is, statistically, easier to make it into the NBA or professional sports leagues, which before to make it into college to them. And most Cuban athletes are economics, engineering, chemistry and physics hardier than whitescompare population. Now, I grant you, in of the astonishing strides black everyone in the above survey of the highest ambitions to which a black child could aspire. For data on all occupation Marathon 5 of the first like black Americans, and East were from East Africa. Apart from Borzov, why haven't the whites produced a good sprinter in the last 20. I can live with that since I don't believe Africans appreciable way. That number would all but brain surgeons was equal to 60 percent of the number accept that their athletic gifts States last year: just 0.White men can't run. The dominance of black athletes is one of the most explosive issues in modern sport. Eveyone is aware of it, but no one mentions it. Now. Issues related to race and sports have been examined by scholars for a long time. Among these issues are racial discrimination in sports as well as the. Are race and genetics significant components of the stunning and undeniable dominance of black athletes? Or is this notion nothing but white voodoo designed to.