This past weekend the NCAA DI Final Four aired on national television. In this tournament, the “unthinkable” occurred: Kentucky, a team who was on their way to an undefeated season, had been taken down by the Wisconsin Badgers. Whether a supporter of Kentucky basketball or an avid critic, the game was an emotion filled four quarters that had its viewers hooked. However, for the players, specifically Kentucky’s guard Andrew Harrison, the emotion was simply too much. After the loss, three of Kentucky’s players, including Harrison, walked off the court without shaking Wisconsin’s hands. While this is a sign of disrespect, the disregard for Wisconsin’s players continued when Andrew Harrison simply couldn’t control his emotions. During a press conference after the game, a reporter asked a Kentucky player what was unique about Kaminsky (a white male Wisconsin guard). Under his breath, Andrew Harrison (a black male) muttered “F— that N—-“. Obviously, the microphone picked his words up and social media erupted. To watch this bit of the interview, click HERE.
What I thought was most interesting about this situation is that while internet surfing to find out what the reaction of the social world, I found most websites zeroed in on role race has to play in this situation rather than if his actions as a student athlete. Instead of questioning the repercussions of an emotion filled response as a human, most articles and tweets focused on the function of race and his choice of words. I expected authors to be interested in him as an athlete, yet to my surprise reporters seemed to narrow in on the idea of race and how his choice of words affected him. Furthermore, reporters could not come to an agreement as to whether or not his comment was racist or emotionally built. Some argued his comment is being unnecessarily blown up, while others argue that this topic is being too far ignored. Specifically, the reporters who argued this type of situation was being ignored questioned if there would be more backlash if the race of the two males were reversed.
Responses I found included:
“That’s just reality though. Trying to play victim and whining that one group of people doesn’t get as condemned as your group of people when saying a bad word is a waste of time. If that’s the greatest affront facing your particular social group, then count your blessings.”
“Imagine if Kaminsky had said this about Harrison’s brother, Aaron, last year after that killer 3-pointer that eliminated the Badgers in the 2014 national semifinals. Kaminsky would have been executed by a social media mob. Perhaps literally.”
“Is it okay Andrew Harrison called Kaminsky a racial slur? No. Is it being blown way out of proportion? Absolutely”. – tweet from David Hookstead
“Andrew Harrison is yet another example of the absurdity of trying to control a word that you choose to use, but “forbid” others to use.” – tweet from Robert Smith
Essentially, what I am trying to display, is the complete disagreement between Americans whether this under the breath, emotion filled comment should be analyzed and punished. Is this situation being “blown out of proportion”? Would the situation be different if the roles were reversed? Kaminsky forgave Harrison for his statements, so should the conversation be forgotten? How does this apply to whiteness as a property and the reinforcement of race as a social construction?
Let me know your thoughts!