Chicago Sun-Times
Discussions across the racial divide

July 2010 Archives

Who is to blame for the Shirley Sherrod debacle?

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Now that President Obama has personally apologized to Shirley Sherrod, the USDA director who was hounded out of her job after a doctored video of Sherrod's remarks hit the Internet, what now?

Glow Putt Paradise is no threat to Beverly

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Today I got a chance to visit Glow Putt Paradise, an indoor golf course located at 11101 W. Western. The children looked like they were having a great time. Heck, I felt like picking up a putter myself.

So now I really don't understand why Ald. Virginia Rugai gave owner Michael Barfield such a tough time.

LeBron James, Jesse Jackson and Mel Gibson

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Of course white people didn't understand why the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. used a reference to slavery to address the vitriolic criticism leveled at LeBron James for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers

Most whites and a few blacks are in denial about the impact the institution of slavery continues to have on the psyche of black people. No, we don't get up in the morning bemoaning what happened 400 years ago.

But when it comes to slavery, blacks have a frame of reference that whites just don't have. Many African-Americans will remark that someone is being treated like a slave when they see a black person being treated unfairly.

Honestly, the first time I saw lines of shackled black men in orange jump suits behind prison bars, they look like slaves to me.

I watched ESPN's "The Decision" and found it to be boring. Still, by the time LeBron actually said he was going to Miami, the "slave" analogy was embedded in my brain. No matter what you call it, LeBron was on the auction block. Only now, he was the one getting paid.

When the sportscasters said Cleveland fans were burning LeBron's jersey in the streets, and police were putting extra police around his mother's house, I thought: These people are treating LeBron like a slave.

So I wasn't surprised that Jackson blasted Cavs owner Daniel Gilbert for his unfair and ugly comments about LeBron's decision to leave the team, likening Gilbert to an "angry slave owner."

Most white people can't see this because they don't have this same frame of reference.

As for Mel Gibson, he got caught using the n-word in a rant that was secretly taped. Given that Gibson lived in Australia from age 12, I'm surprised anyone is shocked.

Obviously Gibson has been exposed to some extreme views about black people.

After all, Australia hasn't been a great place to be black. Blacks did not obtain the right to vote in federal elections until 1961. They did not gain the legal right to drink alcohol until 1964 and were not counted as legal citizens until a constitutional amendment in 1967.

But it won't be Gibson's use of the n-word that will bring him down. Other celebrities have survived worst. That Gibson seemingly admits to brutally punching his very Russian girlfriend, however, will prove to be his undoing.

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