I know, I know…before I even start, I know what you’re thinking…Jesus F., man…isn’t every single thing you post on this blog some sort of ridiculous rant about something?
Well, yeah, but usually I include a link that nobody will click on or a video or nine that nobody will watch and yeah, that’s right, I’m callin’ you out yet again, Friends of i am whaleman. Click on the damn links, people. That’s why God invented them. Links are for clicking.
But that’s not the rant. This is the rant. And it’s not like I really do all that much ranting anyway (“THEY WERE DONATED TICKETS!”), so I think I’m due. It’s entirely possible that someone said this somewhere already, but I didn’t see it on Twitter, so I’m going to go with that old saw: “If it’s not on Twitter, it doesn’t exist.” I think Twain said that. Or maybe Euripides (that was a guy, right?). Anyway, I know it may be too late for this rant because it relates to something that happened earlier this evening, but here it is anyway:
I have been enraged, over the last few days, to hear all the talk about the Kentucky-Cornell matchup. It started with some jokes here and there about the “brains” and the “jocks” or whatever such 50+-year-old stereotypes, which were interesting for about 15 seconds. Yep, Cornell is in the Ivy League, which is known more for academics. Kentucky is in the SEC, which tends to be known more for their athletics (and yeah, NCAA, I know that there are many thousands of student-athletes out there, and many of them will “go pro” in something other than sports, as your commercials say. But what you continue to pretend doesn’t exist is the fact if you were playing word association, if you say “Florida”, many people think of Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow. If you say “Kentucky,” a great many people think of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and Calipari and Pitino and Louisville and Rupp Arena and et cetera. And you pretend that doesn’t exist because you want to pretend that you’re not a bunch of old white folks making a shitload of money off of young black men. But you are…and since we’re talking about race, let’s get back to Cornell and Kentucky. Now, I was just going to use my words, but here are some pictures that are absolutely essential to this rant:
Now, I know there’s a prominent token in that Kentucky pic, and Cornell has one too. Here’s the part that really starts to get me riled up as the comments continued to roll in on the Twitter (and elsewhere) about the difference between these two teams…what are we really talking about?
Let’s see…smart white guys go to Cornell and are really smart but they are definitely not supposed to be good at basketball. You know, because they’re white. Stupid black dudes go to Kentucky and they are great at basketball, but everybody knows that there’s no reason for them to even be at “college” because we (and by we I mean white sportswriters and message-board commenters) all know they’re not studying anyway.
Now, this isn’t going to be a conversation about the college and whether everybody should go to it (though for the record, I’d like to be on said record as saying that while I think schools should promote the value of lifelong learning and education, I know that that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone needs to go to a small liberal arts college in the Midwest just because that was my experience. Education is supposed to be training for life, and should continue as life continues. But for millions of people, that means community college, and that’s a good thing. For millions of others it means trade schools which have been pushed out in the rush to try to get every kid to go to “college.” A very small, incredibly lucky few need only to be prepared for a life of great wealth and the only expectation being that they play basketball at an incredibly high level. People get all up in arms about the “farce” that is “college” basketball…but it’s mostly the people who make millions of dollars off of the athletes who they masquerade as students). This is a conversation about how people think it’s really funny to make jokes about how white people are real smart and black people are stupid. Unfortunately, it’s generally true that white kids are more successful in school than black kids. There’s a term for that: the achievement gap. And for the people who are concerned about such things, it’s not really all that funny. Making light of the fact that white students tend to be better off academically than their black peers just isn’t all that funny. It’s a gigantic problem in America, and it’s getting worse before getting better.
There’s a lot of talk about how Obama’s Next Big Fight will be education, and I truly hope that’s the case. Because right now it’s okay for black kids to be stupid…as long as they’re good at sports. And that’s not okay.