I have to give credit, or mad props in hip-hop speak, to the eclectic and very funny crew from Ego Trip fame. Ego Trip was a hilarious hip-hop trade fanzine, spewing hot fire when it came to jokes and rap music. In the immortal title of Diamond D’s classic, they were chock full of stunts, blunts, and hip-hop. They also dropped two classic books, the first being the Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists, which is a treasure trove of information for the avid reader. Their second book, Ego Trip’s Big Book of Racism, is different chronicling the sick, sad, and funny truth behind race construction and deconstruction in the fair land of the United States. This is where I obtained the title to my blog post, but the inspiration came from the shame of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, coming from his racist rant which was recorded due to his spotty memory. I guess it’s safe to say that it will forever be embedded for the rest of his life.
I wont cover the details, as you can turn to any news publication and see the story retold over and over again. One thing that this blog is concerned with is the Jewish image, and the fact that he’s a Jew is an annoyance to say the least. However, it should be noted that certain (Not All) of the older Jewish American generation are everyone’s favorite Neo-conservatives. Certain Jews still carry this paternalistic viewpoint, which not only exists in sports but in other professions as well, like the music industry. However, I want to highlight some of the previous members of the hall of shame, and induct Sterling for his sterling performance. First up to the plate is, what Ego Trip terms, “The Old and Stupid Wing.”
The first honor goes to Al Campanis who for a short time played baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Montreal Expos. Interestingly enough he played on Montreal with Jackie Robinson, and he was a scout later discovering the Jewish pitching phenomenon Sandy (No playing on Yum Kippur) Koufax. But, he is known for certain comments made during an interview on Baseball’s opening day in 1987. The date was special as they were going to honor Jackie Robinson for the fortieth anniversary of his breaking the color line. Campanis, a former teammate of Robinson’s and an executive for the L.A. Dodgers weighed in on the event, being interviewed by Ted Koppel. He told the interviewer that Blacks “may not have some of the necessities to be a field manager or perhaps a general manager.” He went on to ask how many blacks are good swimmers? And then answered his own question with none because according to him “They don’t have the buoyancy.” Bizarre to say the least.
Next up is Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, who was born Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos, and his whirlwind of predictions. Jimmy was a close friend of Dean Martin, and rampant numbers man who bet on anything that had any resemblance to a point spread. He even bet on the nail-biter of a presidential election in 1948 between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey, and supposedly bet $10,000 on Truman. He opened his mouth up not long after Al decided to enlighten us on the limitations of African-Americans. Right before Super Bowl XXII Jimmy decided to, in a booze soaked rant, enlighten us on the superiority of black athletes. It was rather confused and dis-combobulated, but the moments of clarity were just as peculiar. He alluded to the fact that during slavery, slave masters would specifically breed their slaves to have “high thighs and big size.” I’m glad that these slave owners found out the secret for a precursor to the convolution of eugenics. Next up, “The Curious But Stupid Wing.”
Kerry Collins has had quite a career starting out strong at Penn State, and then progressing to a prolific career in the NFL, playing for at least five different teams. Unfortunately for him he will be remembered as the quarterback who was annihilated by the Insane Baltimore Ravens during Super Bowl XXXV. Apparently he was also a champion drinker whose antics were well-known in the Charlotte area when he was playing for the Carolina Panthers. During one drunken haze of a night, during a team party, he called one of his black teammates a “nigger.” Apparently he meant it as a joke, but it should be noted that he heard it plenty in the locker room. When you’re drunk, and with teammates who share a strong bond, words can slide out, which is what it seems became of this incident. However, it seems like nothing changed and the same culture is pervasive in major league football, as well as other sports.
Next up is the Jewish comments made by New York Knicks players Charlie Ward and Allan Houston. Charlie Ward was an accomplished college football and basketball player for Florida State University. He played for the Knicks in their better, but not necessarily winning, days of the mid-1990’s into the new millenium. In 2001 Ward allegedly said that, “Jews are stubborn.” They had (Jesus’s) blood on their hands. “There are Christians getting persecuted by Jews everyday.” The words were printed in a story in the New York Times Magazine section, but they were spoken at one of his Bible study groups. I think another detail that was lost is the fact that the author of the article was a Jew who attended this rigidly sounding Christian group. The words sound, and the article sounded more like this, like they came from a sheltered guy who’s Christian views were very rigidly defined. Once the article came out he was condemned by the league, his team, and the press. At first Ward defended himself saying that he “didn’t mean to offend any one group because that’s not what I’m about. I have friends that are Jewish. Actually, my friend is a Jewish guy, and his name is Jesus Christ.” He also clarified that Jews were stubborn due to their disinclination to convert to Christianity. It was also exasperated by the fact that his teammate, Allan Houston chimed in saying that Jews, “Spit on Jesus’ face and hit him with their fists.” Both players sound off the Jews killed Jesus saying, which the Catholic Church actually rescinded in Vatican two in the 1960’s. Apparently these guys didn’t get the message. These words are problematic because they present a pathology of hate going back generations where Anti-Judaism sounded just like this. It is also sorrowful to hear such statements that are so devoid of facts, especially the last line of Christian persecution by Jews. It’s also completely disingenuous to jump on any racial epithet with scorn, while Jew-bashing is seen as normal, and given a pass.
The last section belongs to the untouchables, the Klan lovers, the high-rise racists, or what Ego Trip calls “The Grand Dragon Wing.” The characters in this section are the worst of the worst, yet it should be said that this type of racist and anti-Semitic language was rampant in the past. I would guess that it’s still used, but behind closed doors and usually not taped. The person, or lady of you want to call her that, I want to focus on is the ex-Cincinnati Reds team owner, Marge Schott. Ego Trip described her best as the “fat-guy-in-a-dress” looking, beer chugging, and full on racist, bigot, and all around equal opportunity hater.
Marge Schott was a trailblazer in so many ways, as she was the third woman to own a major league baseball team, and the second woman to purchase the team as opposed to inheriting the team. She bought the team, and was named its president and CEO in 1985, and five years later the Reds won the World Series. She was very visible, strolling the stadium during the games with her dog. She also made sure to keep the concession and seat prices low so that the average working class family could attend a game. But, large Marge had quite a tongue when it came to her vitriol. According to many sources, including the Ego Trip book, She said that “I would never hire a nigger” and she referred to outfielder Eric Davis as her “million dollar nigger.” She made plenty more remarks about Asians and Jews, as she proudly owned a Nazi armband, zeig heil!
Major League Baseball saw her as a thorn, but it took them some time to act. She became owner of the team in 1985, and she wasn’t getting any real heat until a decade later. In 1993 they banned her from day-to-day operations and was fined $25,000. However, the stinging words of Ms. Marge didn’t end with this because in May of 1996 she made statements sounding favorable to Adolf Hitler. She said that he “was a good beginning, but went too far.” The MLB came out again and banned her a second time through the 1998 season. But, she didn’t stop as she was quoted a month later in Sports Illustrated speaking in a “cartoonish Japanese accent” while describing her meeting with the prime minister of Japan. The deluge took its toll as she finally agreed to sell her controlling interest in the Reds for $67 Million. Many factors led her to sell the team including her failing health, her facing a third suspension, and an expiring ownership agreement with her partners who planned to oust her. Sterling belongs in this group, not just for his rant but for his legacy of housing discrimination. It should be known that this was the main weapon of whites in California against what they saw as black encroachment. Many historians have written on this, but his actions and practice should be heavily scrutinized as well, including his racist rant.
These are just a few examples of name calling that should open the doors for further dialogue. After hearing interviews and commentaries galore, it seems as if the problem had been solved. Adam Silver banned Sterling, but this shouldn’t be the end at all. We should discuss why is it that African-Americans aren’t part of the system as well. This systemic racism excludes them from any profits, while the main profits go to the owners who are almost all white (big ups to Michael Jordan), and some Jewish. The dialogue should extend further to locker room banter, as well as the use of racial epithets by whites, blacks, and any other race, ethnicity, creed, gender, etc. etc. As I said with the Jewish comments there shouldn’t be any contest for most oppressed, but all groups should get their fair day of justice and freedom. Sports should be the great unifier, not the divider of our nation.