This is an article I wrote for socalsportshub.com It may be seen as eerily in the vain of ATS' last post... great minds think alike and all that jazz...
As someone who believes that most people these days are all too willing to accept whatever the mass market labels them as, I tend to be really cynical whenever somebody declares themselves to be of a certain identity. I’ve found in my short time on the planet that most people stress their individuality, then immediately follow their declaration up by doing something that lumps them in with a group of people I like to call the “lowest common denominator”, or people who behave how marketing dollars say they should.
Ron Artest’s recent assertions that he “represents his culture unlike any other black player” are worth a little investigation. Operating under the assumption that one singlehandedly exemplifies a set of presumed racial identity traits is a bold move, considering that in this day and age, you have as much chance of running into someone who shares your exact beliefs as you do convincing another person that your views are “right”. However, when the person making said assumptions has a history of poor decision making, to say that he is woefully presumptive is likely an understatement
Without leaning too far on the racial spectrometer, I will say that I’ve never understood people feeling the need to represent their race or ethnicity, as it is something that you don’t get to choose when you’re born. Most people fail to realize, or simply ignore, that they could have just as easily been Irish, or Portuguese, or Black, or Rich, or Poor, or what have you. So to me, feeling the need to identify yourself and your assumed prerogatives concerning your racial identity is stupid, and borderline racist in and of itself. At the very least, it does nothing to help cover the blemishes our own behaviors have created throughout history.
While I can understand Ron’s desire to defend his past and future actions, I find the fact that he does it by saying it’s defined by something as arbitrary as his ethnicity to be shortsighted and ridiculous. Ron’s attempt to equate his often ludicrous behavior with his race shortchanges the many black people I know who feel that actions and justifications such as his only perpetuate an assumption held by many racists. He would be doing himself and many others a favor by not blaming his own past stupidity on some phantom ethnic disposition.
Again, I don’t want to make too many assumptions, as I am a white male, but I feel like the blacks’ struggle over the past century and a half to be viewed as equals could be equated to building a house of cards. What has been achieved thus far has taken much due diligence and patience, but a wrong move here or there can set the process back quite a bit. As I mentioned, there are many ignorant people out there, and for Ron to act this way only throws fuel on their fire, and in the big picture does not make the world a better place.
In the past, I have always like Ron as a player, a decision that has caused me to give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps too many times. I genuinely felt he was unfairly vilified by his role in the Palace Brawl, due to my belief that the fans had crossed the line, and thus lain themselves at the mercy of those whom they had provoked. Still, this latest outburst is disturbing, only because he acknowledges his own past deeds, before simply excusing them as something we should have expected from his desire to “represent his culture”. Once again, to presume you are acting in everyone’s best interest is generally a poor decision, but to make that decision on their behalf and tie it to such a sensitive issue as race is downright ignorant. Hopefully better heads will prevail in this circumstance, because I don’t know many people who would agree with Ron, black or otherwise.
It is ironic that Ron’s statements stemmed from a concern about team chemistry, because they have the potential to cause a wholly different kind of chemistry problem, one that goes far beyond the basketball court…