When I learned that Olympian Michael Phelps had been suspended after photos of him with a bong to his mouth were made public, I couldn't help thinking that he was getting a raw deal, and that we are witnessing a very subtle, soft racism in play here. Black athletes, up until recently, are seldom reprimanded for this type of behavior, which suggests to me that some think it to be normal and acceptable: that is, we have learned to expect little from black athletes. White folks are serious about thier heroes, it would seem.
The idea that Phelps would be suspended for a photograph out of context (lest we forget, bongs are—infrequently—used to smoke tobacco as well as reefer), meanigless in and of itself, sends a message that white athletes are expected to do better than thier black countrparts. Kellog drops Phelps like a hot potato, but bad boy black athletes are often embraced by fans and the media alike. I can't decide what's more troubling: that we set the bar so high for white athletes' off-season behavior or we that we lower the bar for black sportsmen and don't always hold them accountable.
Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper