By Rudy Mondragon
Racism: Beliefs, actions, practices, and social/political systems that create a hierarchy of races deemed more superior or inferior to each other. Racism gives advantages to groups with power and privilege (white) and is manifested towards people of color who are in subordinated positions.
Adrien Broner was recently used as a scapegoat of racism in a time where racial insensitivity is a hot topic. This is due to the recent incident with Clippers owner, Donald Sterling and his hate towards black people, not wanting black people at his basketball games, and his history of racism. Although what Broner said this past Saturday night after his victory over Carlos Molina was racially and culturally insensitive, disrespectful, arrogant, lacked humility, and ignorant, I would not say that it was racist. A racist position would be someone who said something of someone from a different race with language and a tone of hate and power over another racial group. As a black man, Adrien Broner is not in a position of power, but more so in a position to disrespect an entire community as a result of his dominant performance over Carlos Molina (who is Mexican and Argentinian).
The question here is: Where were the suspensions or fines for racially insensitive shit before the Sterling fiasco? Had the Sterling incident not gone down, would the WBC acted the way they did towards Broner? The actions taken towards Broner come at a time where racialized (the process of making something about race) discourse is a sensitive issue and actions are more reactive than proactive. The actions taken by the WBC towards Broner is more of a move to protect the Mexican fight fan market than addressing racism in the boxing world. With that said, the WBC’s attempt was poorly executed because it was in the name of business rather than intentionally addressing systemic racism and hate. They were actions taken for the sake of taking action.
It is easy for white people to label people of color as racist in order to mask their own white privilege, power, and racial bias. Doing this frees them from discussing their own issues with racism and power and makes racism a universal practice that everyone engages in equally. Example, in 2012 Floyd Mayweather made a comment about the attention that Jeremy Lin was receiving was due to his Asian identity.
There is a truth to what Floyd was saying that was misunderstood. Jeremy Lin was seen as an exotic player because he did not fit the norm of what a basketball player in the NBA looks like. As a result, the NBA and fans made a huge deal about a player (Lin) that was no different than other stand out rookies. Lin had MVP numbers in his first 10 games as a starter for the Knicks (24.6 points, 9.2 assists, and shot 49.7 percent from the floor), but in the next seven games his production dropped (CBS Sports). Yet the words that Floyd Mayweather put out were misconstrued, taken out of context, and simplified to Floyd being a racist bigot. It’s not that simple. If something is not within the norm, it is seen as exotic and when exoticized (process of making something or someone exotic), there is an opportunity to make money off of it, which is what was done with Jeremy Lin (See Lin Jersey Sales).
In conclusion, this piece is not an attempt to excuse Adrien Broner of his mistake. Let’s be VERY CLEAR ABOUT THAT. However, I do not think a suspension is fitting for his actions. I would say a monetary fine is more appropriate as his racially and culturally insensitive words would warrant consequences in any work place. Again, the question is, where were the suspensions or fines in the boxing world for racially and culturally insensitive shit before the Sterling fiasco? Remember Freddie Roach’s words towards Donald Leary and calling him a “Fucking Mexican” or Jim Lampley saying James Kirkland needs to “go ghetto on him” or his insensitive comments towards Islam?
The list goes on. The conversation of racism in boxing needs to be addressed and folks need to be held accountable in a more equitable fashion. This reactive response from the WBC and from the boxing world labeling Adrien Broner a racist is a scapegoat move that needs to be further discussed. I suggest that racism in boxing be seriously dealt with by looking at the history of racism in boxing, understanding it, and taking well informed action in addressing it and calling out those who have power and privilege that go untouched when being racially insensitive and bias.