Smart incident reinforces racial biases

When Marcus Smart, one of basketball’s biggest and brightest collegiate stars, placed two hands on Jeff Orr, a lifelong Texas Tech supporter, and rocked him back with a forceful shove, the heat of the moment proved to be too much. In that situation, Smart–by all accounts, a likable student-athlete with a sturdy character–went way too far , as his unique brand of intensity boiled to the top and spilled over in the front rows of the United Spirit Arena. That shocking display of animosity and vitriol cannot be condoned under any circumstance and no matter the reason, especially with thousands of eyes watching and many impressionable minds tuning in for what was supposed to be a marquee matchup of conference rivals, and nothing more.

Alas, Marcus Smart made it into much, much more than that in a span of mere seconds–sometimes, deep-seated anger gets the best of us, and I can certainly attest to that from my own experiences. Smart messed up in the blink of an eye, as many of us do on a day-to-day basis. We are imperfect beings, and that unfortunate situation in Lubbock, Texas shed light on the scores of personal imperfections that come to characterize all of us.

But, the situation in Lubbock shed light on much more than a young student-athlete losing his cool at a time when emotions run high and patience runs thin. Namely, it reminded us all that racism still exists in this world. Not only does racism stubbornly keep manifesting itself in the realm of athletic competition, but that sort of narrow-minded expression of racial superiority is anywhere and everywhere–we only have to cast a gaze long and hard enough to realize that there are those in our midst who view certain others with disdain, and for no logical reason. Apparently, Jeff Orr is one of those simpletons .

Now, I’m basing my opinions in this instance on a sad and regrettable truth, that Orr uttered some sort of racial slur (if not more) in the direction of Marcus Smart and provoked the shove that followed. In other words, I’ll assume that this particular basketball fan insulted a player on the basis of that player’s skin color, which prompted a reaction. That is the most egregious of errors on the part of said basketball fan, a damnable offense that should not go unpunished by the institution to which he feels such an unshakable sense of allegiance. It is vulgar, disgusting, and inarguably moronic all at the same time. I tense up and shudder a bit just thinking about the thought process behind such an expression of base loathing–and, once again, I am reminded of those in our midst with nary a glimmer of enlightenment.

I am reminded that there are those in these United States of America with neither the aptitude of an open-minded soul, nor the greater understanding to improve. These foolish people, do not see the light in front of them and they never will because of the stupidity that courses through their veins and clouds the neurons in their nervous system . Jeff Orr, and all of those who resort to such base loathing, have no place in an enlightened society predicated upon the eternal equality of all human beings, no matter the skin color visible to the naked eye.

As such, I am reminded that our supposedly progressive state, built upon the individual human right and the civil liberty shared by all, still houses a multitude of shortsighted individuals with no understanding of that fundamental concept. What does “civil liberty” really mean to a racist simpleton like Jeff Orr? On a deeper level, it doesn’t even register .

It is the shame of our time that something so fundamental does not register, somehow to this day? In 2014. We have all come a long, long way from the pits of slave shackles and racial division in the coffee shops , but there is more work to be done as we strive to move forward as one united people–open-minded and tolerant of those in our presence, with no exceptions. A simpleton like Jeff Orr reminds us of that inconvenient truth. Our work is not over, and it won’t be until there is a universal and unwavering belief in the sanctity of the “civil liberty” as most of us know it to be, which is shared by men and women, boys and girls, of all tones and complexions.

We are not residents of that truly enlightened society—a city that is set on a hill and casts a shining beacon for all to see–until all of the city’s residents understand. Not most and not some, but all. These United States are not exceptional in the Eyes of the Beholder until we all acquire such understanding–this America of ours, whose beacon should illuminate the darkest corners of mankind, will never shine so bright when the evils of racism still dim the display.

Only when such evil reveals itself are we fully aware of the imperfections that permeate our society. When one of us decides, for whatever reason, to resort to a base loathing of the other, then we are all affected by that shortcoming present amongst us–by the dimming of the light that should shine brighter. The unfortunate situation in Lubbock dimmed the display ever so slightly because one racist individual chose to make his presence felt for the public eye to see.

That is the true travesty, not the sudden display of anger and subsequent shove. Yes, Marcus Smart messed up in the heat of the moment and resigned himself to sheer force of violence, when he clearly shouldn’t have on the national stage. But, there is a greater problem to confront here. We are again exposed to a greater inconvenience, and one far more disheartening.

So, it is up to each and every one of us to acknowledge, recover, and fully understand what is at stake. Only then can our American society truly see the light in all of its shining brightness.

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