On Friday, after I published my article on LeBron’s James’ comment to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien regarding the role of race, some feathers were understandably ruffled. Some commenters to the article took issue with the fact that I was condoning, and apparently agreeing with, LeBron’s claim that “all owhite Americans are racist.”
While it’s possible that all of these people simply didn’t understand what I was trying to say, some introspection and accountability on my part is also in order. Evidently I was not clear enough in what I was trying to say.
As with most things, taken to the extremes that some suggested, my premise does not hold up. I was not suggesting that the entirety of white America is racist or opposed to Lebron's success.
In fact, “racist” is not the operative word. The idea that race may have played a role in some people’s post-Decision backlash against LeBron is by no means synonymous with blatant and widespread racism.
However, with that said, one person asked in a comment "Do you honestly think there is a segment of white America who, after previously having a positive impression of LeBron, changed to a negative impression post-Decision because they 'hate to see a young black man with any real power?'"
Yes! Do you really not?
One thing that I would also point out is that I made a concerted effort to point out that we are talking "a segment"- not everyone, not a majority, not even a large minority.
To take this a step further, my article was not intended to be primarily about race, but about its perception in the PR game. I was simply pointing out that by referencing this segment of the population- not identifying anyone by name, not blatantly screaming racism- LeBron will "quiet his critics" because he's simply brought this land mine into the conversation.
This does NOT imply that I think anyone that bashes LeBron from this point forward is racist. That is not what I am alleging and am deeply disappointed that so many would accuse me of so simplistic and intellectually lazy a premise. What I am saying is, I think, undeniable. His comment marks the end of the "easy" period of LeBron bashing.
Rather than continue to simply be a sponge for all criticism, LeBron has altered the game and made the act of ripping him a slippery slope. In doing this, he's likely deterred most of the mainstream media from doing it because a) you're no longer special if you rip LeBron and b) other media members will subsequently ask if the criticism was racially motivated. Obviously, in an overwhelming majority of cases it will not be. However, who wants to put themselves in a position to actually have to answer that question?
Whether you think it's right or wrong, fair or unfair, LeBron and his crew have employed a strategy that will act as a deterrent to the media bashing he's taking. I'm not saying it's right, but I have little doubt that the reality of the situation as it plays out will prove me right.