September 8, 2014
Former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has written an op-ed for time about the recent Jew Levenson racist troubles. Though written like a second grade essay, there are actually some good insights.
The only problem is that Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson is no Donald Sterling. Nor is his email racist. In fact, his worst crime is misguided white guilt.
I read Levenson’s email. Here’s what I concluded: Levenson is a businessman asking reasonable questions about how to put customers in seats. In the email, addressed to Hawks President Danny Ferry, Levenson wonders whether (according to his observations) the emphasis on hip-hop and gospel music, the fact that the cheerleaders are black, the bars are filled with 90 percent blacks, kiss-cams focus on black fans, and timeout contestants are always black has an effect on keeping away white fans.
Sure, there are a few assumptions he makes that make me cringe a little: “My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.” On the other hand, I have no evidence that he’s wrong on either count. Even if he is, the question still needed to be raised because racism is a realistic possibility as to why whites in Atlanta, Georgia may not be coming.
To Levenson’s credit, in that same paragraph, he dismisses fans who complained about the arena’s site as being code for racist fear that “there are too many blacks at the games.” He further decries the white perception that even though the percentage of blacks in attendance had lessened, that they still feel it’s higher and therefore somehow threatening. His outrage seems authentic.
Business people should have the right to wonder how to appeal to diverse groups in order to increase business. They should even be able to make minor insensitive gaffs if there is no obvious animosity or racist intent. This is a business email that is pretty harmless in terms of insulting anyone — and pretty fascinating in terms of seeing how the business of running a team really works.
The thing that makes me mad is that Levenson was too quick to rend his clothing and shout mea culpa. In his apology, he wrote: “By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans.” But that’s not the message in the email at all. If the seats had all been filled, even if all by blacks, the email wouldn’t have been written. He wasn’t valuing white fans over blacks, he was trying to figure out a way to change what he thought was the white perception in Atlanta so he could sell more tickets. That’s his job.
You see, Blacks, if not being spurred on by whacked-out crazies like Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, tend to be rather cool-headed on the race issue.
If it was not for the Jews stirring these primitives up to violence, we could probably sit down and work something out with these Blacks. Give them some cash and send them back to Africa.
It is somewhat funny that though he doesn’t mention that Levenson is a Jew, he sort of implies it by saying “he just cares about the money.”