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Comments by Bruce Levenson of Atlanta Hawks not Racist

by Todd A. Smith

Bruce Levenson, Atlanta Hawks Aren’t the Problem

          Anyone who has ever known me knows that I am an equal opportunist when it comes to criticism and telling the truth.

          When the Black community is at fault, I am the first to say it.  Likewise, when the White community is at fault I do not give them a get-out-jail free pass either.

          I openly criticized Donald Sterling for his racist remarks regarding Black people at Los Angeles Clippers games, and racist behavior away from Staples Center and rightfully so.

But the maligned former Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson should not be branded a racist for his comments about Black and White season ticket holders.  America should be blamed for pretending like a sizable portion of the population does not adhere to the racist beliefs that Levenson used to describe the mentality of some in our society.

          While his comments via email were probably not the correct thing to say in this technological and politically correct age that we live in, as a Black man I have no problems with what he said.  I just hate the fact that people still have those prejudices in 2014.

          In an email to Hawks general manager Danny Ferry Levenson wrote, “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.  Please dont get me wrong.  There was nothing threatening going on in the arena back then.  i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority.  On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, I don’t know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident.  This was just racist garbage.  When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.”

          He went on to say that there were too many Black cheerleaders, too much hip-hop and too many Black couples on the kiss cam to attract the White male 35-55 demographic, which is allegedly the main demographic that purchases season tickets.

          Forgive me for this unpopular opinion, but I think Bruce Levenson should be commended for being a White guy that is open-minded enough to state the obvious.

          There are still a lot of people in White American who hold unwarranted prejudices and biases against the Black community and it causes them to become uncomfortable when they are the minority in certain situations and places.

          After all, the term White flight was not created to discuss an aviation endeavor.

          When Black people move into a neighborhood, the notion is that the neighborhood is getting bad and SOME White people run for the nearest “safe haven.”

          What Bruce Levenson and many in the White community may not know is that secretly some Black people hold the same prejudices and biases toward their own people.

          In a way, White flight and Black self-hate are somehow related like distant or not-so-distant cousins.

          I have heard many former White classmates say they did not think they were safe because they were attending a historically Black college.

          Some thought that if they drove a Lexus to such neighborhoods as Third Ward in Houston, that their car would be stolen as if Blacks had never seen a luxury vehicle.

          Likewise, I have seen many Blacks turn their nose up at their “brothers” and “sisters” because they wear hip-hop clothing or were not speaking the King’s English.

          On the other hand, what Ferry stated about Miami Heat small forward Luol Deng was racial and totally unnecessary.

          Ferry described Deng as a con man stating that he “has a little African in him.”  He basically implied that Deng’s African heritage made him untrustworthy.

However, what Bruce Levenson said is the God’s honest truth.  People do still hold those prejudices unfortunately.  He was just man enough to state the obvious.

          And for being a man and speaking the truth, he should not have had to sell his controlling interest in the Atlanta Hawks and should have the opportunity to be reinstated as the owner.

This article was published on Friday 12 September, 2014.
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