Editor’s Note: The Badgers end up losing to Duke in the championship game, but this tournament put the race debate into the national spotlight.
It is often said winning brings out the best in people while losing does the opposite. If this is true, Andrew Harrison, a member of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, showed us his worst when he was caught uttering, “F*** that N****” under his breath during a post game press conference after he and his teammates saw their perfect season end when they were beaten by Wisconsin. Harrison has since apologized, but is that enough?
Andrew Harrison is black and his remarks were made toward a white opponent. If it were the other way around, this would be a much bigger deal. There is still a commonly held belief within some segments of the black community that blacks cannot be racists because racism only exists when whites mistreat blacks. It is one reason why black abhor the use of the “N” word by whites but claim it is okay for blacks to use it because it is a term of endearment. Anyone who has seen the video of Harrison’s use of the word knows he was not speaking fondly of his opponent.
There is still a problem with racism in this country. It is no longer a matter of just whites who think, speak, or mistreat blacks. However, until people of all colors can own up to its existence among their own people, it will never go away. Until the black community stops using the “N” word in any form, they can expect to hear it uttered from narrow-minded white bigots.
Only Andrew Harrison knows if he is sorry for using the “N” word along with the “F” word toward a white opponent or if he is just sorry for getting caught. Only Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari knows Harrison well enough to decide whether or not he should be dismissed from the team or be required to take a sensitivity training course. Only Harrison’s parents know whether or not this was the result of how they raised their son or just a lapse in judgment.
Still, it is worth wondering whether or not Andrew Harrison will be treated differently because of his skin color. Will white students at the University of Kentucky protest his presence on campus and his receiving a free education after what he said? Will leaders of the black community speak out against what Harrison said and use this as an opportunity to push for ending the use of the “N” word? Will Andrew ask to speak before a white Christian congregation and ask for forgiveness or will he just move on with his life?
How all of us, white, black, or any other color respond will speak volumes about us as a nation. Will the Right run with this and demand an eye for an eye after what happened in Ferguson or will they be the forgiving Christians they claim to be? Will the Left sensationalize this like they did Ferguson or just be thankful this happened at a time we are more interested in hunting for Easter eggs than political scalps?
The reality is, this nation needs a sound and rational examination of the state of race in this country, one that is not dictated by the media. We do not need Al Sharpton or Rush Limbaugh leading the discussion, but rather sound-minded and respectful leaders of all races who can come together and present to all Americans of all races, religions, and political backgrounds with the concerns and suggested solutions that are designed to help us see each other as one people unified for the common good of one another. Until then, we are only adding to our racial problems rather than solving them.
James Moore is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching and currently runs his own personal training business, In Home Jim, in Hemet, CA. Jim’s writings are often the end result of his thoughts mulled over while riding his bike for hours on end.