Black guys have names like Carl, white guys have names like Lenny…

First Felipe Alou decides to take on the role of spokesman for “Caribbean people,” now Scoop Jackson decides to explain the psychology of black people to Jeff Kent. As if any group could be reduced to a few stereotypes, racist or not. As if we were all the same. As if, as if, as if. Now I admit, I often make generalizations about cultural practices, especially since I have started to travel internationally quite a bit. But I always try to distinguish between a custom or social practice, which is an inherently general widespread thing, and “the way (French/Russian/British/Chinese/American etc.) people are,” which is never simply a factor of generalizable cultural factors. But these people that try to speak for the whole of “aggrieved” groups tend to promote the idea that the members of the group for which they speak have no individual identity, are just homogenous tabula rasas upon which are imprinted the identity of the group. This is probably a harsh exaggeration, but only because most people have enough sense to resist the ultimate logic of the generalizations.

p.s. There’s another almost equally baffling article on a somewhat related topic in about the firing of the U. Cincinnati basketball coach, Bob Huggins, where the author, Jason Whitlock, implies that the university administration is basically racist and is getting rid of Huggins because it thinks that all the underclass black players that he recruits tarnish its image. Which is probably true in a way, but there are probably also legitimate non-racist reasons why some of those players would tarnish the image of the school and not be desirable as students. But somehow the bit of the letter that mentions that “in a 16-year span, 21 of Huggins’ players had run afoul of the law in a signficant way, including three players/recruits who were scheduled to play at UC this season” doesn’t even register with him. Then again, from Whitlock’s perspective it seems to be the university’s fault if delinquent semi-illiterate players show up on campus and don’t become model citizens by the time they leave. He seems to view education as an essentially passive process where the student receives rather than (l)earns. Or like a commercial transaction where the barter is athletic skill and socialization and intellect are received in return, none being assumed in the player beforehand. Needless to say, doesn’t establish a very high standard on their side, and the level of success generally seems to correspond. Once again we must acknowledge the wisdom of Dalrymple, who concludes that the single greatest factor in the continued failure of the underclass is the propensity to put one’s own life and actions in a passive framework, and refuse to take any responsibility for them.

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