Race Consciousness not Race-Blindness

As I was basking in the sunshine in California during Spring Break, I read Stuart Scott’s memoir, Every Day I Fight. And even though I was reading this book for leisure, I could not but help to draw connections between some of Scott’s comments and experiences to articles we have read for class and our class discussions. While Scott may have been known for his catch phrases like “Booyah!” and “As cool as the other side of the pillow!”, the memoir provides an inside look on the man Stuart Scott was and his cultural influence through ESPN broadcasting. For those of you who do not know, Stuart Scott was a SportsCenter broadcaster at ESPN who recently passed away from his battle with Appendiceal Cancer. As can be assumed, much of the book deals with Scott’s journey with cancer starting with his diagnosis through all the operations and chemotherapy and false hopes with remission. But, there is another component of this memoir that connects greatly to our class as he explains the race dynamic between sports journalism: the overwhelmingly white broadcasters and journalists with the predominantly black athletes, whom they cover. Scott articulates this culture clash in his book, often times connecting the hip hop world and culture with the athletes, which was something the white, middle-aged broadcasters were unable to do. Not only was he able to bridge the gap of sports journalism with the athletes they cover, he was able to share struggles being a black man growing up in the North Carolina South as well as his entrance into an overwhelmingly white career field. One quote in particular stuck out to me when he said “I’m always aware of being a black man. You can’t help but be” (132). This plays into the racial stereotypes he encountered with his colleagues when covering black athletes or hanging out with other black colleagues in the hallways at work. While he articulates how ESPN executives John Skipper and John Walsh stood up for a diverse workplace, racial stereotypes remained. In addition, Scott articulates “Whenever someone claims to be color-blind—black or white—I’m suspicious. Because it’s impossible to be unaffected by race—it’s all around us everyday day” (132). And with that comes Ian Haney Lopez’s discussion on color-blindness and race-blindness in White By Law.

Lopez argues “color-blindness renders such power maintenance unassailable. Rejecting all talk of race would produce comparable effects across society. Under race-blindness, the language necessary to remake racial ideology could not be used, since such language would necessarily refer to race. Meanwhile, race-blindness would not challenge the continuation, extension, and innovation of new patters of discrimination, so long as these patterns did not explicitly make distinctions on racial impermissible bases” (125). Ultimately, this echoes Scott’s thoughts. Race-blindness or color-blindness cannot exist in society because the only way to overcome the stereotypes Scott experienced, we need to be racially conscious. We as a society must be able to acknowledged the history of race in this country and understand the lasting effects happening today. Race is constructed every day without ever really knowing we are doing it because of the racial hierarchies created by white men with the white race at the top. Therefore, Scoot and Lopez articulate how people need to start thinking consciously in order to raise issues surrounding race.  While Stuart Scott did not mention reading White By Law in his memoir, his thoughts are very closely linked to Lopez’s arguments. Both provide us with grounds to mend racial barriers and understand how our actions affect others.

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One thought on “Race Consciousness not Race-Blindness

  1. I want to comment about how much I loved watching Stuart Scott growing up. He was to sportscasting what Canada Lee was to acting in the sense that he was an “outsider” in a predominantly white field.

    In the coverage after his unfortunate death many of his former colleagues and other sportscasters talked about Scott as a pioneer. And like any pioneer, Scott faced some major issues along the way. One of the major problems was that people were not comfortable with his style, particularly his way of blending different types of cultures. While this maybe didn’t sit well with the mostly white sports broadcaster field, avid sports fans like myself completely ate it up. At least for me, what I saw wasn’t an African American man ruining sports broadcasting as we know and love it, but rather an African American man using his experiences and cultural influences to add to a field begging for change.

    Scott forever changed the way sports are broadcasted, which is due in large part to the blending of American cultures. However, his influence on sports broadcasting is only one of many examples of different cultures coalescing into what we deem popular culture. These cultural coalitions form the basis for many of the stereotypes and assumptions our country holds about certain groups of people. That is despite the wide acceptance of such cultural staples, i.e. hip-hop, jazz, blues, etc.

    Anyway, great piece Kelsey!

    Like

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