LeBron James and black protectionism by Vincent Thomas espn (great read)
Yes, there are undeniable racial components to the LeBron James hate of the past two months. But the sinister subset of America that finds it easier to loathe him because he's a black man is old, boring news. More interesting to me is the mood of the "black community." [+] Enlarge G Fiume/Getty Images LeBron James has been recast by many in the role of the villain. He's still popular among fellow athletes, though. Much of the country might dislike LeBron James, but black people don't. You've probably heard about his plummeting Q rating (the industry standard for measuring an athlete's familiarity and appeal). According to The Q Scores Co., for non-blacks, LeBron's positive Q rating went from 18 percent in January to 10 percent in September and, more telling, his negative Q rating went from 24 percent to 44. Nearly half of the non-blacks in this country don't like the dude. Meanwhile, LeBron's positive Q rating among blacks went from 52 percent in January to 39 -- a noticeable
drop -- but his negative Q rating barely budged, going from 14 percent to 15. Among African-Americans, says The Q Scores Co. executive vice president Henry Schafer, the shift in opinion was mostly to neutral. The general, expressed sentiment of African-Americans has been, "I may not have agreed with how LeBron carried the whole free-agency thing, but I'm not gonna hate the man." The more America shuns LeBron, the more Black America retreats to his corner. In fact, as America hates LeBron more and more, Black America's collective hug embraces LeBron tighter and tighter. It's called black protectionism. Athletes have always been inspirational figures within the black community and -- as far back as Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson -- often have taken the public racial hit for the team. So, naturally, through the years, they've engendered an almost automatic protectionism response whenever America -- whether justifiably or not -- decides it wants to hate them.You saw it with Hank Aaron. You saw it with Barry Bonds. You saw it with Allen Iverson. You saw it with Michael Vick. You're seeing it now with LeBron James. There are plenty of black folks who want LeBron to drop 60 on the Cavs when he visits Cleveland and wouldn't mind the maligned Heat winning a championship. A few days ago, I headed to the barbershop in Atlanta. Hashir Smith, a Cavs/LeBron fan and Loft 109's owner, smiled, gave me a pound and noted my extended absence. "Man," he said, "we ain't seen you since 'The Decision'!" [+] Enlarge AP Photo Jack Johnson is but one of many champions who had the backing of the black community. Ah, "The Decision." I strolled into the shop the Saturday after LeBron's announcement to get my hair cut and to gauge the reaction. Curiously, probably, to many Americans, but unsurprisingly to me, there was absolutely no anger to be found in the shop full of black men. Disappointment? Sure. LeBron fatigue? Of course. And in a barbershop full of guys from everywhere but Atlanta -- with Knicks fans, Lakers fans, Bulls fans, you name it -- there was maybe even some "hating." Don't get it twisted, though. The modern, colloquial version of "hating" has more to do with jealousy than hate or rancor. Hashir is a Cavs fan. My barber, Steve, is a Knicks fan. They were hating, but you wouldn't find one seed of ill will. The most palpable reaction was intrigue. Why did LeBron choose Miami; what does that say about him as a player/man; and how are the Heat going to fare next season? Meanwhile, the rest of the country had just left the blocks in the 100-yard dash to make
LeBron one of the most vilified athletes in America. The good ol' "two Americas" syndrome, as it is wont to do, was rearing its butt-ugly, ever-present head -- again. So, here we were about two months later and the angry mob was still after LeBron. CNBC had released the report that LeBron was now the sixth most disliked athlete in America and, scrolling across the bottom of the flat screen tuned to ESPN, were quotes from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, spitting his two cents on LeBron and "The Decision." "I don't even have a problem that he had the TV show, Cubes said. "But it turned out to be the largest public humiliation in the history of sports. He humiliated the organization; he humiliated the state of Ohio, the city of Cleveland. All of a sudden, he became a bad guy; he lost a billion dollars in brand equity, give or take a couple bucks here or there." That's when one of the barbershop patrons bellowed, "Yo, all these dudes need to get off his [case], inserting a more vulgar term for "case." That's what we call "black protectionism." K
atheryn Russell-Brown coined the term in the immediate aftermath of the O.J. Simpson trial. She remembers watching the split-screen reactions of Simpson's not guilty verdict, seeing what she recalls as white-hot rage from white people and unbridled jubilation from black people. In her book, "Protecting Our Own: Race, Crime, and African Americans," she defines black protectionism as, "the response by large numbers of the black community to allegations that a famous black person has engaged in a criminal act or ethical violation. The response is protective in that it denies, excuses or minimizes the charges." This is conditioned behavior. Black male history in this country began with the slave trade, lynchings, wrongful deaths and wrongful imprisonments. The experience has bred a skepticism. "Why do you hate this black man?" And it has bred a defense mechanism. "Leave this black man alone." There also remains a success gap in America, even as more African-Americans succeed. The ones who make it often get cub treatment from the "mama bear" of the community. What makes LeBron even more ripe for protectionism is the fact that he hasn't been charged with a crime or accused of an ethical violation. Nah, he just angered a bunch of sports fans with a wack decision and an even wacker "Decision," and now half of America thinks he's either a punk or a jerk. [+] Enlarge Denise Truscello/WireImage Some will find wearing No. 6 even sweeter for all the hate directed in
LeBron James' direction. If that were merely it, if folks just said, "Eh, I don't really like the guy -- I think he's kind of a jerk," the black protectionism probably wouldn't be so strong. But there are yahoos in Cleveland burning his jersey, brewing smarmy beer called "Quitness," and putting up ingrate billboards. Frothy-mouthed Cavs owner Dan Gilbert made like Syndrome from "The Incredibles," sending out a maniac missive, stopping just short of calling down evil upon LeBron. Even NBA legends -- mostly black men, coincidentally -- got in on the action. Charles Barkley called LeBron's free agency choice a "punk move." It seems everybody and their mothers have weighed in to let LeBron know just how much they don't like him. And for what? Why? Because "The Decision" was annoying and self-indulgent? I'm sorry, but Brett Favre was nowhere to be found on The Q Scores Co.'s top 10 most disliked list. And, dig this: America dislikes LeBron more than it dislikes Ben Roethlisberger. That's just not deserved. So, you know what? Enter the ride-or-die black community. "The more LeBron is vilified," Russell-Brown said, "the more the community will respond. Protectionism comes in as a tempering." A few weeks ago, airport-hopping while on vacation, I saw at least a half dozen Miami Heat, LeBron No. 6 jerseys -- all worn by black men. Given today's anti-LeBron climate, rocking his jersey is a fairly defiant act. It says, "Screw the rest of these folks, LeBron, I'm riding with you, homeboy." It might seem as if LeBron is on an island, right now, but something tells me he knows he's not alone.<
This is like one big old blob... Just post the link.
Kundahard with iPhone to make spaces but I'm editing now to do it
i hate racism. in ruins sports for me. i dont like lebron for whay happened, but how can u hate someone for making what he felt like was a good decosion.
This is a horrible article...making something out of nothing...
I do feel people took the HATING of Lebron a little too far.
For the best of me, I cannot understand how the greatest player in the NBA today is a #2 option.
I don't understand how a offseason move made him the 3rd best player in the NBA
How is Kevin Durant better then him?
I feel people who claimed these statements are just hating.
there nothing wrong with hating on him but just to flat out hate him would be kind of immature. but all big stories turn to race somehow. why overshadow the season everyone is looking forward to?
Call me when ESPN runs a story about its hillbilly protectionism of Brett Favre. The bigger diva he becomes, and the worse he is at his job, the more that network sprints to protect him and praise him for accomplishments made during the Clinton administration. This story can be written about any number of segments of the American population, and it is incredibly lazy writing to not point out that this is simply a Black America/White America phenomena.
that this is more than simply a Black America/White America phenomena.
He just had to make it a black vs white thing...this is why racism will never die.
I hate when people try to bring up race in sports. It's TERRIBLE! Whenever I watch ESPN and they say that someone is getting hated on more than someone else because of their race, I feel like my head is about to explode. Im'ma be honest, I don't really like LeBron because of what he did to the Wizards back in 06, and I'm black. Whenever I watch sports, I just see a person, I don't see the color of their skin. Race plays no factor in my enjoyment of sports. I think most of these accusations are being started by the black community(and I'm not racist, I'm also black). Whenever and African-American athlete is getting hated on, a lot of them are always tryiing to bring up race. People that write articles like this are trying to make something out of nothing. Sports analysts should just stop talking about race all together.
And I repeat, I AM NOT RACIST. I am also black and African-Americans should not take what I wrote to offense.
I don't like when race is talked about in sports but u can't lie there are racial divides that do show up in sports once in a while
race should not be an issue but unfortunately it is because ignoring it will not go away. Also this may have more to do with income than actual race. Lebron pissed off a lot of people with money and as of right now there are probably a lot more white people with money than black people so that would make the stats look the way they did. Lebron lost a lot of backing from people who make a lot of money because he literally cause the Cavs to lose millions because they were making millions of dollar off him and not that he is gone that money will too. There are probably a lot of people without money that were pissed but our society works where if the most popular kids don't like something most everyone else will follow suit . If people with money start hating or liking you, it can sway the rest of this country very easily.
depends, sometimes race is an issue and sometimes its not. There are always gonna be people in this country that have their own racial agendas ie pulling for their particular race and coming to their races defense. But that doesnt mean its the case with the majority of people and it doesnt mean it needs to be brought up everytime someone is criticized or gets negative pub.
this is a pretty pointless article. in summary, non-blacks who liked Lebron or were neutral before the move to Miami are probably against him now, while blacks who were neutral or for him before are probably more middle of the road. not a big deal. if there had been a significant move of blacks to be pro-Lebron after the move, then there would be at least some grounds to examine the phenomenon.
also, the Ben comparison is silly. in the world of pro athletes Lebron is a global icon. everyone knows Lebron, but i bet 60% of non sports fans don't even know who Roethlisberger is, let alone what he did. you have to be known to be hated. if you sat down the average person and gave them the two profiles of Ben and Lebron, including their race and past histories, and were to ask who they hated more it would be Ben by a mile.
Everybody in America knows who Ben Roethisberger is, he is a two time NFL champion... I think the race will always be an issue its ingrained in the American culture/concience.. To say you dont see a color of a person is BS the media perpectuates racial diffferences... I would be NICE to think racism or race doesnt matter but the fact it does and to deny so is being naive.. Its in our laws, media, sports, politics etc...
I agree many people know been. He won the superbowl and football is watched more then basketball. The people who vote for that Q rating obviously watch sports since the lost is made up if sports figures even if they don't watch many games they clearly watch espn and Ben, farve have been on that all day every day during the summer. How is ben lower then some of these guys when he's actually accused of a crime(for the second time)
And when is it ever alright to be a hater. Remember being a hater is different from disliking someone
We may not like racisim but unfortunatly it's a part of our society and always will be. It's in almost every decision/thought process when dealing with black and white. And other races although the other races don't seem to get the attention black vs right get
Another example is when Maxuim and other magazines make there top 100 most beautiful women list. White magazines Like maxuim have 9 out of 10 white girls in there top 10 and 75 out of 100 in the top 100
wizardofoz said it best..
this article just down right pissed me off
It's crazy to say that everybody in America knows who Ben Roethlisberger is. Maybe the average sports fan, but not the average person. These athletes don't become famous with non-sports fans because of what they do on the field, it's endorsements, commercials, etc. Lebron dwarfs pretty much everyone except Tiger Woods in these areas. Lebron was recently #6 in a Harris poll of favorite athletes and was #3 last year:
Roethlisberger wasn't listed in the top 10 for 2010 or 2009, which was right after he won the superbowl. Also, the Q score is based off the opinion of the "general population".
It's more crazy to say Ben isn't known. His case was all over the sports channel and regular news!!! So how is it crazy to think more people don't know who he is over someone like ochosinco or other people? Or how about Bret farve. He's on tv even more for the past couple years.
i dont really worry about the whole q rating thing becasue i didnt vote and i can honestly care less what a couple thousand people who i've nver met care about something so trivial as who is liked or disliked in sports.
Comparing Ben to someone like Ochocinco is valid, but Lebron is in an entirely different league of notariety. I would venture to say that the vast majority of people have heard his name, but only about 60% could tell you about his history. The main reason people hate Lebron is because of "The Decision", which was an hour long on national TV. Ben hasn't had anything like that. His negative exposure comes in bits and pieces.