Category Archives: Race

Why did Levenson release the email?

The Atlanta Hawks released a statement today announcing that owner Bruce Levenson was stepping away from the NBA team, two years after he sent an email that touched on matters of race in a discussion of game day operations and fan attendance.

Levenson stated that his informal strategy memo to Hawks president Danny Ferry “was inappropriate and offensive,” and apologized to the team family and fans. He characterized his decision to sell his majority stake in the NBA franchise as being in the best interest of the team, the city and the league. His statement along with the complete text of the email were both published on the Atlanta Hawks website today.

In the email, Levenson shared thoughts and posed questions about boosting season ticket sales. Having been told that white males age 35-55 are the primary season ticket subscribers around the league, he speculates that a largely black attendance base and cheerleading squad, coupled with the hip hop and gospel music played at the games, was limiting the team’s appeal with this demographic.

Levenson himself had provided the email to the NBA and an investigation commenced, which is still ongoing. It seems an odd supposition that his furnishing of this document would have been unprompted, so the real question is: why did he do it?

That’s what the real reporting will attempt to answer in the next several days. Did any of the minority-share owners having anything to do with the document’s disclosure, and was Levenson pressured to release it, perhaps to preempt its release by another, hostile party?

At least four people knew of the email at the time of its writing: Bruce Levenson himself; its recipient Danny Ferry; and Todd Foreman and Ed Peskowitz, both of whom were Ccd on the email. It’s also possible of course that IT personnel or anyone with access to the computers or email systems of those four individuals could have seen the message as well. And, naturally, any of them could’ve forwarded the message to anybody.

It’s interesting that Levenson sent the message close to midnight on a Saturday night, from his iPad (as recorded by the time stamp in the email at the top, and the signature block at the bottom). Is it possible he was just tired enough or just uninhibited enough to say things in writing that he might otherwise normally not have?

The other whole angle here is of course the nature of public discussion of race, the intricate (but well defined) protocols that dialogue has developed and the strangely formulaic shape the process has assumed. Part and parcel of that part of the story is how the media has covered this issue, and how they have characterized Levenson’s statements. But that is for another day and another post.

 

 

 

 

 

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Violence on Lake Shore Drive mars July 4th celebrations

On Independence Day, scores of youth descended en masse on Chicago’s lakefront in a scene that erupted in a mob-style beating on the lakefront trail and another group attack that spilled into the southbound outer lanes of Lake Shore Drive.

The holiday weekend and inviting weather kept the lakefront busy throughout much of the city yesterday. More than 125,000 visitors were expected at Navy Pier, where officials closed the gates two and a half hours before the 9:30 p.m. show because crowds had already reached full capacity. Just north of Navy Pier, bicyclists and joggers were joined by a steadily growing number of people strolling the lakefront or staking out spots along its raised steps to take in the show.

By around 7:00 p.m., large numbers of young teens were appearing on the lakefront, some in small groups and others in throngs of perhaps a hundred or more. As a whole the group was somewhat amorphous, sometimes coming together in a nearly singular critical mass, other times scattering and remaining in smaller, separate units before reuniting again.

In multiple instances, members of the group surrounded bystanders seated on lakefront’s concrete steps waiting for the fireworks to begin. It was unclear whether the assailants wanted only to intimidate the victims – or to rob them, flash-mob style. Groups of a dozen or more suddenly sat down on both sides of victims, while standing in front of them and also walking up behind them. Within moments, an individual, couple or family would be surrounded by a large, unknown, menacing group of teens. Some got up and walked away, clearly shaken, and others bravely held their ground.

People walking, jogging or biking did not seem to face harassment, other than the obstruction of walking and biking lanes by certain members of the group who swaggered arms-length apart down the lakefront, taking up an outsized portion of the walkway.

Around 7:20 or 7:25, the first fight broke out, several hundred yards north of Navy Pier in front of 850 N. Lake Shore Drive. It happened quickly: there was a commotion near the sidewalk (on the raised, western edge of the lakefront) which quickly moved to the middle of the lakefront. A mob chased a young man into the middle of the lakefront, where he fell to the ground and they continued to kick him until several uniformed police officers on bicycle arrived.

Chicago Police officers interrupted an assault on the lakefront yesterday evening after 7 p.m.

Chicago Police officers interrupted an assault on the lakefront yesterday evening after 7 p.m.

At  7:38, another major assault erupted. Dozens of teens streamed across Lake Shore Drive itself and beat another victim until officers quickly approached and the crowd fled the scene. Others approached a stopped motorist at the intersection of Chestnut & Lake Shore Drive and appeared to harass or threaten the driver. Vehicles on the major north-south freeway braked and stopped to avoid the stream of people rushing across the lanes, or were alternatively stopped by police officers who followed them.

Updates with more information and analysis to follow…

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Race riots once more?

Excellent article by Heather MacDonald in City Journal about the twentieth anniversary of the LA Riots. Law enforcement should be ready for such events, prepared to act swiftly and decisively to put a stop to them. If the George Zimmerman is acquitted, cops could be put to the test, she writes.

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Feelings on race take turn for worse

Unfortunately, this is not surprising. Rasmussen Reports finds that public optimism about race relations has fallen during Barack Obama‘s presidency. There are probably a variety of factors at work here, including a poor economy. Quips about white police officers acting “stupidly,” and the country being a “nation of cowards” when it comes to race, haven’t helped.

The president’s pollsters and political advisers are faced with the challenge of mobilizing a disenergized base, including black voters, for next month’s elections.On the campaign trail, the president has recently invoked the fight against slavery in describing the political battles he has waged in Washington.

While this is tempting as easy rhetoric, any political reward reaped by its continued usage comes not without risk. Casting proponents and opponents of a modern day domestic policy debate with the moral lightness and darkness of the slavery issue of 150 years ago….well, something tells me that’s not likely to inspire the type of harmony worthy of the better angels of our nature.

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School sends American-flag wearing students home

—UPDATE: Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics points to what could become the watchwords of ordinary Americans fed up with the intimidation tactics of the PC Police: “There will be no apology.” As someone who has had the “racist” epithet or its variations hurled at me numerous times over the years, for no reason other than my own political disagreement with the accuser, I will absolutely be using this phrase when the need next arises. Remember: “There will be no apology.” Thank you, James Crowley and Mrs. Dariano, for your courage, insight and strong sense of morality.—

NBC News reports that five students at a California public high school were ordered by its vice-principal to remove or reverse clothing featuring the American flag on Cinco De Mayo. Mexican students said they felt offended and demanded an apology, while school officials called the display “incendiary.”  Rather than ditch the clothing, they left school to avoid the punishment of suspension, as threatened by administrators.

While details will likely continue to emerge, this incident appears to be troubling on several levels. That Mexican students would see the American flag as a sign of disrespect and an offense reveals that they do not self-identify as Americans, favoring instead the identity of their own ethnic heritage. It may even signal outright hostility to their new country of residence. The young students gravitated instinctively  to victomology language, essentially claiming aggrieved status under conventions of political correctness.

One student said that wearing an American flag on Cinco De Mayo would be as if Mexican students wore the Mexican flag on July 4th. (Side note: Ever notice how people rarely say “Independence Day” anymore?). The sensitive young soul missed a crucial piece of this logical puzzle she tried to frame. Yes, it would be the same – if American students came to Mexico and wore the American flag shirts on the Mexican national holiday (while enjoying the host nation’s public education services, naturally).

Adults should know better, but the rationale they seem to have employed is informed by political correctness and Diversity doctrine. Diversity – the sociopolitical movement, not the dictionary word suggesting variety – rejects assimilation in favor of multiculturalism, in which separate but equal identity groups comprise the sociological sphere. Political relations among them are often more competitive than cooperative, animated more by emotion, suspicion and disharmony than reason, charity and unity.

In this case, a logical basis for action was irrelevant, because the correct emotional response on the part of the administration dictated hyper-sensitivity towards the historically aggrieved party claiming offense, at the expense of the historically oppressive party standing accused. One of the offending American students is partially Hispanic, and the American students’ families say an apology will not be forthcoming.

The families also have met or are planning to meet with school district officials. According to a district statement, it does not encourage or discourage the wearing of patriotic clothing, but did say the school acted out of an interest in ensuring safety, and failed to condemn the school’s action. The situation is “under review,” but the district superintendent or school board must act wisely and decisively to this situation.

At a minimum, if the facts as initially reported are correct, the superintendent or board should strongly consider reprimanding or suspending Vice Principal Miguel Rodriguez. He should also receive remedial instruction on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and should be required to attend a diversity training workshop in which he can learn that “diversity” does not involve censorship of patriotic expression. The superintendent or board, if they feel these actions are not enough, should also considering terminating Mr. Rodriguez’s employment. He clearly lacks the good judgment a person in his position should demonstrate.

All in all, a troubling story, but not terribly surprising. I imagine these types of stories will only occur with increasing frequency in the years ahead. It’s my understanding that the majority of children in Arizona’s public schools are of Hispanic origin, and I would take an informed guess that that’s the case in California as well.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous, Race

MU losing perspective in rush to placate protestors

The University of Missouri administration is right to take the cotton ball incident seriously, but that includes taking a proper sense of perspective. Here’s Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton on the incident, as reported by campus newspaper The Maneater:

“While this wasn’t done to anyone specifically, it wasn’t even done to the facility itself, it undid progress that has been made at the University of Missouri-Columbia,” Middleton said.

“Middleton referenced Lloyd Gaines, the black student who won a Supreme Court case in 1938 to gain entry into the MU School of Law and disappeared the following year.

“It undid the progress we have made, that we have fought for, the progress that Lloyd Gaines died for,” Middleton said.” [emphasis added]

Excuse me? Two malcontents, who have been arrested, suspended, and their actions universally condemned in the campus community, have not undone “the progress that Lloyd Gaines died for,” or that has been fought for and won since that time. Beyond a few activists or ideologically-motivated professors, I don’t anyone on this campus who actually believes something like that or would indulge in such ridiculous rhetoric.

Such hyperbole suggests Middleton is out of touch with reality, and lacks perspective on this incident and the larger contextual issues. It also suggests he feels a need to project ultra-sensitivity on the part of the university towards the concerns and demands of those parties most active in response to the incident.

As I have said earlier and will repeat here, the university should be sensitive to student sentiment right now. What it should not be is so sensitive to any perceived or declared demands that it throws out proper perspective and proper procedures in dealing with this issue.

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Possible racial incident at MU

UPDATE: Here’s an article from the Missourian on the topic. And the Legion of Black Collegians statement. The latter contains some great words advice from group president Anthony Martin towards the end: “Be upset, be disgusted, but keep your composure and react to this situation as the outstanding men and women that you are.”

Earlier today, University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton emailed students about an alleged incident at the Black Culture Center. The incident has all the makings of a situation that could flare up into a full scale controversy, notwithstanding the announcement’s timing at the beginning of the weekend. If this initial bit of information is accurate in its suggestion of a racially-motivated act of vandalism, indeed that is despicable.

Surely nearly every student and local citizen supports the immediate investigation into the incident, and strongly condemns the conduct in question. After the identification and sanction of the individual or individuals who engaged in this act, what interests me is exactly how far university administrators and student activists will take this, officially and rhetorically.

Will people be expelled? Does a university ever suspend people? Perhaps they’ll be placed on disciplinary probation? Will they be kicked out of a fraternity or sorority? Of student groups? Will they be physically safe on campus?

I’m not attempting to determine what would be appropriate at the moment. However, disciplinary action should be administered according to existing student conduct code standards (if the person or persons involved are in fact students), and not be devised in a reactionary or ad hoc basis in response to the intense social and political reactions and demands sure to ensue on campus. That’s not to say don’t be sensitive to student input – but justice is not the same as mob justice, and should that pressure arise the administration must be prepared to resist. Nor should this incident be exploited in pursuit of anybody’s pet programming objectives on campus.

What’s the actual crime here? Vandalism? What happened is not yet public knowledge, so it’s hard to say. But that would seem to be the actual, statutorily-defined and legally prosecutable act (as I don’t think Missouri has hate crime legislation on the books. Although Columbia very well might have municipal ordinances to that effect, which I’ll look into). Anything beyond that will come through university action.

This incident brings to mind the case of Jenny Marinko, a former MU student who several years ago was ostracized from the community for a distasteful comment she made seeming to endorse social self-segregation at the university. In a column for the now defunct MU Student News, she reacted petulantly to alleged acts of vandalism by black sorority members against some predominantly white sororities and fraternities. To my knowledge the vandalism itself – with its obvious racial dynamics – was not discussed after the column’s appearance, while Marinko’s comments became cause for campus uproar.

Ironically, some  who rushed to condemn Marinko seem to advocate related notions of group identity and non-assimilation under the guise of diversity and multiculturalism. Also left unspoken at that time was that there was and still is a good deal of racial self-segregation at MU, much of it with the tacit endorsement of the aforementioned parties.

I’ll continue to track developments of the BCC story, offer my thoughts and relate those of students on campus.

—–

From: MU CHANCELLOR
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010
To: MU CHANCELLOR
Subject: Message from the Chancellor

To the MU Community:

In today’s early morning hours, a disheartening and inexcusable act was committed on our campus when cotton balls were strewn at the front entrance to our Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center. Those guilty of this despicable action have not yet been identified, but MUPD became involved immediately and is conducting an investigation.  This university is fully committed to tolerance and respect for every one of its members, and this kind of conduct will not be tolerated. I urge anyone who has information related to this crime to contact the MU Police Department immediately at 882-7201. I also ask you to join me in expressing your own individual concern and support to the members of our community who were the apparent targets. I have been informed that the Legion of Black Collegians is calling a Town Hall Meeting for Monday at 5 p.m., location to be determined.

MU celebrates the diversity of our community. This morning’s behavior offends us all.

Brady J. Deaton

Chancellor

This e-mail has been generated in accordance with the MU Mass E-Mail Policy: http://doit.missouri.edu/e-mail/mass/

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