There’s no comedy in racism

Josh Brown - Contributing Columnist

It’s a wonder how, given the world’s current state, I can still be surprised with just how horrible and stupid human beings can be in 2018.

Yet, Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball, here we are.

Sunday night, the league, a recreational basketball league for children in grades 2-12, was forced to remove one of the teams, a grades 7-12 team from Kings Mills, after a parent of a different team noticed and protested the wildly offensive jerseys worn by one of the other teams — a team whose very name was an inappropriate sexual reference — and whose players sported a variety of racial slurs and sexist innuendos on their backs.

The phrases on these jerseys — which I won’t bother to repeat here, but have been repeated more than enough by the Cincinnati Enquirer — were not a “ham-handed attempt at humor,” as moronic racism apologists online have tried to say. They weren’t the slightest bit funny or clever. Even with comedy being a subjective thing, I feel comfortable in saying that there is absolutely zero actual comedy in this.

If anyone was trying to be funny, they failed.

Tony Rue certainly wasn’t laughing. The parent that brought light to the problem, Rue posted a massive rant on his Facebook, along with photographic evidence of the jerseys. He managed to find a Twitter account for the team, as well, and added screenshots of its activity, as well — the account has since been shut down.

“Could you imagine being an African American high school kid and seeing these things on the jerseys of the team you are playing and how uncomfortable and unsafe they would feel?” Rue said in the post. “There is enough hate, bullying and aggressive behavior in the world that these kids, parents and schools shouldn’t have to deal with bigotry and lewd innuendos on jerseys and in team names in a school district-represented recreational basketball league.”

It makes absolutely no difference whose fault this was, either — everyone associated with that team, from the players to their parents to their coaches, is complicit. The blame can’t solely be put on the kids for (likely) coming up with the idea. They didn’t stitch the jerseys together and print the foul slurs on them. No matter which direction this went up or down the food chain, there was every chance for someone, anyone, along the way to realize how stupid and offensive this was.

No one was smart enough. No one was decent enough. Every single person involved in it showed exactly what kind of human being they are.

“This isn’t a typo, this isn’t a mistake,” Rue said in his post that night. “These are ideas that were thought of, discussed, agreed upon by adults and kids alike, printed on uniforms, social media accounts registered and manned and no one thought this was a bad idea or inappropriate?”

After the fact, the coach of the team issued a pathetic excuse for an apology — simply saying the word “sincerely” doesn’t make anyone trust you after the stunt pulled here — also saying “we offered to cover them up or change, however the league saw fit to remove us and we have accepted that decision.”

Haven’t racists been allowed to cover up their bigotry for long enough?

Which is exactly what this is. Apologists online will try to tell you that “we’re too quick to call everything racism these days” — because the worst thing you can do to someone guilty of racist behavior is call them out on it, evidently. They’ll make every excuse for these kids, saying that “they’re just being kids and doing something they thought was funny,” or “they’re very good kids and don’t have a racist bone in their body.”

It’s just locker room talk, eh?

But these same adults let this happen in the first place, so we should be talking about their level of indecency, too. One Kings school board member – whose son was on the team — has already resigned, saying, “It breaks my Christian heart.”

No, you don’t get to call yourself that. If you allow something like this to happen, or turn a blind eye while it is happening, you’re a racist or complicit in allowing racism to happen first, a bad parent second, a bad person third, and somewhere five or six spots down the line, you can call yourself whatever religion you claim to be.

And yet another terrible thing about this situation? It took three games before someone finally did something about this. Evidently, another coach had said something about the jerseys in a previous game and complained to the referees, but he didn’t take the complaint any further after the fact. That was all the way back on Dec. 17, and this was allowed to continue until Sunday night.

Our area isn’t immune to this kind of thinking, either. On my drive to work every day, no matter which way I take, I drive past at least three houses displaying Confederate flags — which, no, it’s not about rebellion, it’s about white power and anyone that says different is lying. And just last year, Tippecanoe High School had to deal with a similar kind of racism being called out on social media — and, at least in the court of public opinion, it was largely just blown off as kids being kids.

We, as adults and parents, cannot let our children believe that way of thinking is OK. And those same adults need to check their own way of thinking. It’s not a freedom of expression thing. It’s really not that difficult a concept to grasp — you don’t get to say that you dislike a group of people solely because of the color of their skin in the same way you say you dislike a kind of sandwich. The latter is a personal preference between things, the former is racism against a group of fellow human beings.

And there isn’t anything funny about that.

Josh Brown

Contributing Columnist

Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.

Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.