— Most of you know I write primarily sports articles and featured stories on the people and topics that shape the world of sports but the sudden outburst by comedian Michael Richards best known for his role as “Kramer” on Seinfeld, was not so sudden and surprising to me and I felt compelled to examine this verbal crime. The bustle of whites and other races towards African Americans for decades with the difference being more progressive whites acknowledging the ignorance and wrong of racism and racial slurs alike. The comments of Mr. Richards were so outlandish, deplorable, ignorant, disgusting and unforgiven, they should make you wonder how much he expressed those terms on the set of Seinfeld show and how many of the cast and staff working on and for the show tolerated. What is eerie about it is you can think of many instances where players, coaches and others have made similar comments but in a much more subtle and astute manner.
Before we take a look back at some of those types of declarations, let’s read some of what Richards said:
Richards retorted: “Shut up! Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a f—— fork up your a–.” He then paced across the stage taunting the men for interrupting his show, peppering his speech with racial slurs and profanities. “You can talk, you can talk, you’re brave now mother——. Throw his a– out. He’s a n—–!” Richards shouts before repeating the racial epithet over and over again. Moderating his tone at one point, Richards tells the audience: “It shocks you. It shocks you” and refers to “what lays buried.” While there is some chuckling in the audience throughout the outburst, someone can be heard gasping “Oh my God” and people respond with “ooh” after Richards uses the n-word. Eventually someone calls out: “It’s not funny”. And we are left to believe it was not intentional?
Which brings me to another point of emphasis in this article. I don’t and never will support shows like Seinfeld and Friends because they not only don’t resemble me, but when you have a situation like a sitcom which lacks diversity especially in the cast, one would think racial jokes and slurs would be rampant especially since they are comedians and they have a tendency to wear the comedian hat all the time. Look at what Jerry Seinfeld said after learning of the comments made by Richards:
“I’m sick over this”, Seinfeld said. “I’m sure Michael is also sick over this horrible, horrible mistake. It is so extremely offensive. I feel terrible for all the people who have been hurt,” Seinfeld said of Richards. He encouraged Richards to make a satellite appearance on the David Letterman show airing Monday, November 20th to talk about the incident, a CBS publicist said. Hmm? Not exactly a statement of outrage, denouncement and anger. I mean, he said Richards is “sick over this horrible, horrible mistake”. Are you kidding me? If Richards had made a racial slur against Jews, Jerry Seinfeld would be the one pushing the button the electric chair to execute Richards immediately! Look at what Mel Gibson is going through for something he said and something his father said in the past. They are ready to tar and feather him. Oh, but not African Americans. Not at all because we are of no consequence.
Then there is David Letterman, who allows Richards to come on via satellite to try and put a spin on things along with his buddy and pal Seinfeld. Richards try to sound remorseful even when the jack-asses in the audience laughed at some of his comments and facial expressions during the interview. He tried to sound apologetic as he used the words “AFRO-AMERICAN” several times but I’m not buying it especially since he did it because he is looking at lots of potential revenue out the window. If it was a black who made racial comments about a white person or Jew, he would have been shut out from any media outlet to tell his side of things which in actuality, Richards fail to do on Letterman’s show. Speaking of Letterman, I never really watched his show, and you can rest assured after allowing that monster to appear with his unofficial spokesperson/agent, I will continue that trend permanently!
Many characters and figures in sports have put their proverbial “foot in their mouth” on occasions which was to their detriment. Here are some:
In 1998, Jimmy “THE GREEK” Snyder said about Black Athlete-”The black is the better athlete,” The Greek said. “And he practices to be the better athlete, and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes way back to the slave period. The slave owner would breed this big black with this big black woman so he could have a big black kid. That’s where it all started.” Snyder later apologized saying:
“I’m truly sorry for my remarks and I offer a full, heartfelt apology to all I may have offended,” he said. Reaction:
The Urban League called Snyder’s statement “ludicrous” and suggested he shouldn’t be on-the-air. The NAACP was more direct, calling on CBS to fire The Greek, saying his comments “could set race relations back 100 years or more.” Action taken:
The next day, Rather’s network handed Jimmy the Greek his walking papers.
In 2000, Australian long jumper, Jai Taurima makes racial comments about two American long jumpers: Australian Jai Taurima said that because of the cool conditions expected for the Sydney Olympics, “you can pretty much knock out all the black guys.” “We jumped in Salamanca (Spain) a month ago, and those guys just couldn’t compete well in bad conditions,” Taurima added. “It was wet and cold.” Taurima later apologizes saying:
“I’m quite sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to attack them personally. It was not intended as a racial slur. I didn’t mean to upset them at all.” Those comments were made to the Australian media, but not to the American athletes.” The two long jumpers he offended, Savante Stringfellow and Melvin Lister were not forgiving. “I don’t accept his apology,” Stringfellow said. “I can’t accept what he said. If he didn’t mean it, why did he say it?” “When a guy says something like that, 95 percent of the time he means it,” Lister said. “You can talk trash all you want, but racial comments will never come out of my mouth.” “I would rank them the same as the John Rocker comments,” Stringfellow said. “That was very unprofessional on his part. Maybe he doesn’t know any better.” “I can understand him having the confidence to beat us, but to come at us racially,” Lister said. “I want him to know I wasn’t satisfied with the comments he made. All that can do is cause animosity between the U.S. and Australia.” Reaction:
None really. Action taken:
None to date.
In 2000, Major League Baseball player John Rocker made racial and homophobic comments in Sports Illustrated:During the 1999 off-season, Rocker made headlines when he called an African American teammate a “fat monkey,” disclosed his fear of sitting next to “some queer with AIDS” on the New York subway, and made numerous other bigoted comments. Rocker said in a Sports Illustrated story published last month that he would never play for a New York team because he didn’t want to ride a subway train “next to some queer with AIDS.” He also said, “I’m not a very big fan of foreigners. … How the hell did they get in this country?” While driving in Atlanta during the interview, Rocker spit on a toll machine and mocked Asian women. Rocker later apologizes saying: I apologize one more time to anybody I’ve offended,”
Rocker said. “It certainly was not my intent.”
Rocker admitted that his racial and ethnic comments in a magazine article made him sound like “a complete jerk.”"I’d think he was a complete jerk,”
Rocker told ESPN
. “Who the heck does this guy think he is mouthing off like this? What kind of experiences does he have to talk from?”Rocker gave the typical defense of his hidden racism by saying
If I was a racist, would I want a black guy living in my house and would I invite him to come to my house? I did that three times over,” Rocker said. Reaction: Major League Baseball Commissioner said:
“Major league baseball takes seriously its role as an American institution and the important social responsibility that goes with it,” Selig said. “We will not dodge our responsibility. Mr. Rocker should understand that his remarks offended practically every element of society and brought dishonor to himself, the Atlanta Braves and major league baseball. The terrible example set by Mr. Rocker is not what our great game is about and, in fact, is a profound breach of the social compact we hold in such high regard.” Braves president Kasten said he hoped Rocker understands a suspension is imminent and will not appeal. “I hope we can separate the legal ramifications from John personally,” Kasten said. “It’s most important to get through this thing and get through it successfully. That’s much more important than winning a couple of days.” Rocker’s comments drew a strong response from Braves executive Hank Aaron and civil rights groups. Several Braves players have said they expect Rocker to have a difficult time when he rejoins the team. “We believe that even after this process is complete, there are still two hurdles that remain,” Kasten said. “John still has to reconcile himself with his teammates. After that, he has to reconcile himself with the community. It’s not automatic. But with the right effort and the right attitude, I think it’s possible.” Kasten and John Schuerholz, the team’s General Manager, met about two weeks ago with seven senior members the Atlanta Braves team. “The consensus in that room was that while they believed John should be punished in some fashion, they were willing to give him a second chance as a teammate,” Schuerholz said. “But he must redeem himself and rectify the wrongs he has done.” Action Taken:
Rocker was suspended until May 1st of the 2000 season by baseball commissioner Bud Selig on Monday for racial and ethnic remarks that “offended practically every element of society.” The Atlanta Braves reliever also was fined $20,000 and ordered to undergo sensitivity training for disparaging foreigners, homosexuals and minorities in a magazine interview.With the season to start April 3rd of the following season, the suspension technically is to last 28 days. A suspension will not affect his salary, expected to be between $200,000 and $300,000. The pitcher, whose fine will go to groups that promote diversity, was ordered by Selig on Jan. 6 to undergo psychological tests, but the results of those tests have not been disclosed. He was NOT SURPRISINGLY traded to the Texas Rangers, sent to the minor leagues and after various chances, out of the Majors.
In 2003, Rush Limbaugh comments about Donovan McNabb being a media favorite because they want to see a black quarterback succeed in the NFL as an ESPN NFL analyst:”I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.” Limbaugh never apologized and only said: “I don’t think McNabb is a bad player. I just think he isn’t as good as some media members think he is.” He also said: “This is such a mountain out of a molehill,” Limbaugh said. “There’s no racism here, there’s no racist intent whatsoever.” Reaction:McNabb told the Philadelphia Daily News, “It’s sad you’ve got to go to skin color.” In his words, “I thought we were through with that whole deal.” At a news conference, McNabb said he isn’t looking for an apology from Limbaugh. He said it’s too late for that. “It’s what was said and it’s over,” he said. Democratic presidential candidates Wesley Clark, Howard Dean and the Rev. Al Sharpton called for the cable sports network to fire Limbaugh. The NAACP condemned Limbaugh’s remarks, calling them “bigoted and ignorant.” Action taken: He resigned as an ESPN sports analyst.
In April of 2005, Coach Larry Cochell, baseball coach at the University of Oklahoma said before the telecast of the Oklahoma-Wichita State game on ESPN2 and ESPNU, Cochell used a racially-insensitive term in off-camera interviews with ESPN to describe Sooners freshman outfielder Joe Dunigan, an African-American. Cochell was speaking with play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne when he called Dunigan over to praise him for staying in school. When the freshman returned to the field, Cochell told Thorne, “There’s no n—– in him.” The network informed the school that Cochell used similar language in an interview with ESPN analyst Kyle Peterson. Cochell apologized saying: “I am deeply sorry for any pain or embarrassment I have caused for any individual or the university. Our university family is totally committed to equality and mutual respect,” he said. “I personally hold those values and will always regret that my careless use of language did not reflect my own values, and it certainly did not reflect the values of the University of Oklahoma.” Reaction: University officials weren’t informed of the remarks until they were contacted by ESPN, according to school’s statement. “It is widely known that one of the most important values of the University of Oklahoma and its leadership is to celebrate diversity as a strength,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “This university is a place where everyone is respected. Clearly, if these comments were made they run contrary to the core values of this institution and we will treat them very seriously.” Ironically, the parents of the players mentioned forgave the coach. “He has apologized,” Joe Dunigan Jr. told The Oklahoman. “Those words are powerful and derisive. They were inappropriate and offensive. But he is a man who has done so many good things in his life.”He has treated us like family,” he continued. “We have broken bread with him. I know he is a Christian man. We all say things that we don’t mean, and I hope people down there don’t color him as a racist because he made a mistake.” Both Dunigans and Charles Caufield, the father of Chuckie Caufield, the only other black player on the team, had told The Oklahoman they wanted Cochell to keep his job.”He hasn’t done anything where he deserved to be fired,” Charles Caufield told the newspaper. “It’s a small thing. I don’t condone what he said. But I’ve been around the media and you got to watch what you say because they can twist it and make a story and then run with it.”(They are obviously misled) Action Taken: Coach Cochell was suspended and although Cochell remains head coach, assistant coach Sunny Golloway served on an interim basis until the matter was resolved, according to a statement released by the school. The coach eventually resigned with the following statement: “As I have said in a public statement, I deeply regret that I carelessly used language that is clearly contrary to the basic values of our university. Those words also created an impression contrary to my own personal values and my respect for all people,” the letter released by the university read. “… I do not want to be the cause of any person having a mistaken impression about our university. Therefore I hereby request that I be allowed to resign as head baseball coach of the University of Oklahoma effective immediately.”
We can go on and on with many other instances and cases well documented but the Editor would be very upset with me for taking up too much space on the prestigious Black Athlete Website and I can’t afford that.
The scary and somewhat surprising allotment of this outburst, is Richards was allowed to leave the stage and come back and perform later that evening. What does that say to the people offended. The owner of the club had to say this: “This is one thing we don’t tolerate. … I personally apologize. I apologize from my heart,” Jamie Masada, owner of the club said Monday. I wonder if that statement has anything to do with the protesters ready to protest his establishment causing him to lose revenue. Their lots of reasons why this racial slur and hate crime and talk occurs:
1. We are DE-sensitize to immorality and evil. The country and the world is so use to hearing about these stories, they are benumbed to it. We live in an age of hate, deceit, evil, anger and deception. I’m not surprise an idiot like Richards would just say what he said and not feel remorseful.
2. Some people will believe he was angry and just lost it but there are two things in this world which act as a “TRUTH SERUM”: ANGER AND ALCOHOL and I believe Richards were both that evening which is not an excuse for such comments and actions. When you have traits or either one of those, YOU USUALLY TELL THE WORLD HOW YOU REALLY FEEL!
3. We need to stop using the “N” towards ourselves(myself included). Too many times, we get around our friends and use the “N” word and other derogatory words and phrases that up until recently, some BLACKS, WHITES and other races found that appalling and not a “term of endearment”. Not anymore. Whites see blacks using the words and feel it’s ok to say it especially when feeling a sense of comfort ability around an African American. Wrong! It shouldn’t be said by anyone not just because it means stupid or ignorant in some dictionaries, but because stupid or ignorant doesn’t apply to blacks but can be applied to anyone of any race,creed, color or nationality. It’s an action word not a person. Too often we say “whats up my nigga” to express ourselves and when we hear the word NIGGER come out of a white persons mouth, then that is deemed derogatory, in sensitive and racially motivated. We can’t have it both ways.
4. A sense of entitlement by whites can also surface feelings of anger and hate inside when seemingly provoked Heckling someone at a game, concert or comedy club is no evasion for using such dialog. What do I mean by entitlement? Entitlement from the stand point of whites having the better jobs, houses, cars, etc because of a feeling of superiority or what I call a “Napoleon Complex”. Let’s face it, the idea of taking their jobs, land, neighborhoods, health care and other “entitlements” cause whites to feel they must lash out and spread hate like cancer through a body. Wait a minute, this sounds familiar. Taking jobs, health care, taking over neighborhoods and land? Where have I heard this before? For the answer, just turn on your television, radio or read the paper and read about this Mexican invasion and how they are doing the same thing. Sound familiar?
5. Where is the outrage? Outrage, protesting and solidarity we need to make a difference? The outrage in writing to Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, CBS, the comedy club he was working at when he made the comments, those who have allowed his racial views to fester(and you know some of his cast members and others knew how he felt). Where is the outrage at the work place when comments, although probably less outrages, are made and you laugh it off because you don’t want to make a scene or rock the boat at work? Where is the outrage when YOU(NOT ME BECAUSE I JUST WATCH SPORTS) watch and support shows like Seinfeld or friends even though their is not a damn friend on the show that looks like you? They are not my friends! Where is the outrage when a show like Girlfriends always portrays black women in situations where they either need a man, want a man or can’t keep a man and what’s worse is the creator/writer is Kelsey Grammar a white man. So I guess he understands black women better than black women understand their selves? Where is the outrage and accountability when racial slurs, racial acts or hate crimes occur and the mainstream media sweeps it under the rug after a day or two? Right Duke?
The fact remains the country is still mired in asperity and sports is a microcosm of it. The truthful reality is as a Caucasian in society, you cannot make such racial insults and not expect to endure some form of amercement or repercussion but as a African American you can simply because of the decades of inequality, unfairness, bias, partiality, bigotry and disposition bestowed upon us. IT’S THE WAY IT IS NOW DEAL WITH IT!
Let’s keep it real, Richards could have been drunk, on drugs, stressed, angry, depressed, lonely, desperate for a laugh or just stupid but nothing justifies what he said and never will. He can take anger management classes, check into a drug and/or alcohol rehab center or give his life to Christ and nothing can and/or will change his heart. Your heart doesn’t lie, you lie. You lie to protect your secrets, real feelings or even your job especially someone who relies on laughter to make a living. Let’s hope the way Michael Richards is currently LIVING, is deeply affected financially so he will never do this again because the lack of money, glamor, prestige and power has a way of humbling most and Richards needs it. He won’t have to change but he doesn’t have to, just his pockets.
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES……………………………………………………………….