tv Sports and Civil Rights CSPAN December 27, 2014 11:25am-12:03pm EST
it was my job on sunday and thursday to talk about it. i had watched riley cooper. he has been playing football for a lot of years. one of the things i talked about was i was coming from a basketball camp with my son in las vegas. as we walked by the pool, they had music blasting with the "n" word. everybody was having a great time. riley cooper steps in an angering situation. and here we go saying everything about riley cooper. i said it then and i will say it now, we ought to take responsibility as african-americans for injecting the word out there and making it ok.
riley cooper said it in a moment of heat. you let the word go in a moment of heat. do i count him as a racist? i don't think so. he is been around people all of his life. richie incognito's situation is different in miami. i thought that is what the word and how it was used back in the day. he used it as a systematic way to break down another man. that is racism. a systematic way of raking down the other man. that is not tolerable. [applause] >> when they say athletes are not smart, you get these to appear. i am sitting next to the dictionary.
this knows every meaning of every word and for him to be able to break down the issues, this drives me crazy as a former athlete. people don't give athletes credit for what they do. these are great examples. >> he knows more words than don king? >> this is true. kareem and i were on streetcar in san francisco. we were getting an award. we were riding around. [indiscernible] i said, tell me something about the great walls of china? he said, did you know the rock was a quarry built?
you had to deal with it. >> my reaction was swift, aggressive, and negative. i saw that tape. we put a statement that said he needed to clean up and fix it. quite honestly, i was left with the impression that it was not the first time in his life he did use that word. that calls into question a host of other issues. the team tried to deal with it. he suddenly had to go away. it was never really clear. they were just trying to get him out of town. out of the situation.
the season started and there wasn't much. he had a pretty good season. i am not going to say that all is forgotten. i think people remember. he is trying to get past it. when i see him on tv, i am usually remember that. he has to deal with that. >> we have a false reality about race. this is what it has evolved into. riley cooper, racist or not a racist? it was the same thing as donald sterling. it becomes racist or not a racist? there is nothing in between those two. what happens is people say you are or you are not. as if there is nothing that is in between that deals with how we have grown up or our perceptions.
there is nothing that this is me off more that -- pisses me off more than people asking me if i played ball there. i didn't play ball. the first question is not did you graduate or what did you major in? i was playing golf and the dude asked me. i had just written a column called no i am not a football player. he asked the question. i did not respond. we finally got done. what happens is we have perceptions. we have beliefs. a lot of them are based on race.
if i see a 6'5" white guy i don't assume he played basketball. i just don't. when we talk about race, we have to acknowledge that there is something in between not a racist or you are a racist that plays into this and then we don't like to have that. now it brings into question how we were raised, how are friends are around us. there are all of these black and white and hispanic and asian students. they get along great. i know this is a bunch of b.s. i asked them who they ate lunch with. who do you eat lunch with? when i asked that question, they got uncomfortable.
i said you can't tell me you get along and you live in this wonderful race neutral world because who you choose to go to lunch with defines your view. i look at the parents and say who eats at your house for dinner? the room got really uncomfortable. school, work are involuntary situations. who you eat with and who you go to lunch with is a voluntary situation. often we eat with people we are like as opposed to people who are different. the whole conversation changed. they realized they had self segregated. they thought they were all multiracial. it never dawned on them that they were still segregating.
if you take donald sterling and these other issues, you examine race in a different way. >> there is a schism. if a guy comes up to you and asks, what year did you play ball? does that mean he is racist? we have to be careful as well. >> if he saw a dude my size, a white guy my size, he is not asking that question. >> you just made an assessment. you see what i am saying? that is the thing we have to be careful with.
maybe that has something to do with the time or the people we have been around or the culture that we came up with. sports are huge. let's think through this. sports are huge in this country. the money we spend on sports and, maybe he went to a&m or sees me in a shirt, and it doesn't mean i played sports and didn't graduate. in order to have growth and we have to watch it on both ways. >> i didn't call him a racist. there are perceptions and stereotypes that we buy into.
when we see it over a period of years, i did not realize i jumped to a conclusion. >> what we are dealing with is the idea of the word prejudiced. it means prejudging. when you come into a situation and you already know you played for -- no, i am a doctor. that is what we are talking about. >> prejudging and assessing are two different things. i get prejudged, that made it my mind to he is. assessing means i'm trying to figure out who he is. i may be assessing but not prejudging.
>> i may be thinking sports. >> there are 500,000 former aggies out there. all of them didn't play. >> mayor, can you sit between these two. >> i may be offended. nobody ever asked me if i played ball. [laughter] >> people come up to me and asked me if i am will chamberlain. i say, will chamberlain is dead. what is that all about? >> maybe they want dating advice.
>> i want to get away from sterling for just one second. you said it best. you said sports gives us an opportunity. >> what we were talking about is donald sterling and michael sam situation. when they happen in sports, sports garners so much attention from the world and it is right there on tv. i can't believe they pay me what they pay me to talk about it. i was fortunate enough to make millions and now i make millions talking about how to fake people out with my lips there in this is an incredible world. i love it. having that opportunity is so
real. we don't get those opportunities in fortune 500 companies. what we do is we are at a five through those conversations. -- edified through those conversations. let's take the michael sam situation for a moment. for me growing up, calling michael sam or guys that have a sexual orientation opposite of mine, we didn't even know that. whenever the use the "f" word it wasn't about sexual orientation it was about finding weakness. now as we have these conversations, we start dispelling all the myths and edifying one another and getting better at it. i want the first guy to be a
linebacker so he can knock somebody out. he can squash all of the gate stereotypes to move forward. that is what is great about it. having conversation is what we need. i hate that we focus on the one like sterling. we do need to have these conversations. >> i want to build on michael irvin's point about sports. it does play out literally on the biggest stage. people are watching. there is money. there are all kinds of things going on. jesse owens. it wasn't just about running. what was going on at that time? at war, near war, world issues.
at the olympics. this was literally the united states of america and germany. now being defined on a track. america's strength. 1968, john carlos decides to stand on the podium with a black glove on his hand and puts his fist up in the 1960's as a sign to the world that what was on his mind. our friend here. comes in to the nba and changes his name. huge controversy. cassius clay.
this is during my lifetime and my childhood. i know exactly where i was in march 1971 as people -- you are either joe frazier fan or you were a mohamed ali fan. they were both in each of those camps. they were trying to define are you a radical or are you a more establishment kind of mode. that is been going on. certainly from the 60's on up. race and other issues have played out on a larger scale in the united states of america. it is shaping attitudes and perspectives on who we are and what we are about. a lot of that continues today.
>> i am asking the question because you are older than me. that fight was about we were inferior and it was sports saying they were not inferior. and jesse owens and all of those things. through sports we show that we are not inferior. is that still the same fight we are having today? >> yes. 1936 was america versus not see germany. -- nazi germany. when jesse owens came back he could not eat in restaurants in his own country.
to bring it to present-day, we will praise our athletes as our warriors on the field but when we have a conversation about education reform and are they being taught in school, and praising them as if they're winning on friday night. all of a sudden we begin forcing the conversation, sports allows us. sports, comedy, and music bring us together regardless of ethnicity, gender, all those factors. we are all operating behind this one deal. those are three entertainment venues. we can get along and that is great. we go outside of that, your back in the real world.
the problem i have in we have these conversations and is somebody who spent six years on cnn, i have been involved in media since i was 14. in the media we do the exact same thing in the real world. let's hurry up and end this conversation. let's move onto what we were talking about beforehand. let's get off this stuff with michael sam and dealing with race and gender so we can get back to playing games. we like to play games. verses dealing with the hard stuff. what i try to do is say wait a minute.
you have to keep that conversation going. even if you disagree with michael sam, disagree with incognito, riley cooper, this is a whole part human discussion. i had no problem with what mark cuban had to say because somebody said i had prejudices. i am biased. he puts it on the table and the argument turned into. it should have been he puts it on the table so can we not own up to our own biases and have that conversation? part of the problem with race discussion is a lot of whites want to talk about their personal feelings are afraid to say it because they will be called a racist. you have to create an environment where people can be honest about how they feel and begin to say ok. my first response was it you are a racist. -- wasn't you're racist. my first question would have been, mark, what is caused you to feel that way? what has brought you to that particular viewpoint? if the moderator had asked that question, it would've led to the
next question. we have evolved into statement and denunciation. as opposed to statement, question. [applause] >> how much time do we have? >> we have a way to go. my flight leaves later today. >> so when the trayvon martin incident happened, kobe bryant made a comment in the terms of the way the miami heat players addressed it.
they came out with the hoodies on in solidarity. and you take a little bit of exception to what will be bryant had to say. give us your perspective. >> first, he gave an interview to the "new yorker." i read the piece, and the question that the interviewer asked really was a ridiculous question. he sort of mixed several things together. he mixed with the miami heat did with kobe giving criticism for not being involved and more active on various issues, and then kobe bryant responded. first of all, people seem to forget the trayvon martin was killed on the night of the nba all-star game in sanford, florida. the game took place in orlando. he was going to come to watch the game. it was another two months before it blew up because, frankly, national media ignored it. it was on social media. i remember tweeting dewayne wade, who i know, and i
specifically said -- i am stunned that players who live in orlando and miami are saying nothing about this, because he lived in miami gardens. so i remember him tweeting -- thanks, brother, for pushing us and keeping us on these issues. a day later, they made the statement. the problem i had with kobe was he was missing critical facts as to what actually happened and what took place. the heat players were not saying george zimmerman was guilty. it was sending a signal that we stand in solidarity. with they also were saying with those hoodies was that even though we might be nba ballers, depending upon where we go, they might not recognize the face of of lebron or dwayne, so we're just like trayvon.
if i am willing to criticize the president and oprah, kobe, i'm going to swing at you, to double up -- talk about you, too. he called my office. we had a discussion, and he said, you know, the issue i stated was i have a problem when people jump to someone's side because of race. i said, kobe, let me remind you -- because of the history of the black man being accused of rape in america and some black folks jumped at your side when you were accused of rape -- [applause] so in a conversation -- i was flying somewhere and he hit me and i seen his number, and luckily i answered here it he
he said, i see you are talking about me, and i was like, who the hell is this, and he said kobe. i said, kobe, the interview made it sound as if the heat players jumped to the conclusion because trayvon was black, and that is not what they were saying. that is what i took exception to. but it led to a conversation. i told him we can discuss it off-line or on television or radio, because there needs to be a broader discussion jim brown criticized him for the same thing. that is what i am saying -- when these things happen, we can either respond or we can communicate and really break it down and have a back-and-forth. that is why media is so important. you should not have the eight-minute quick discussion, racist or nonracist. it is, ok, what do you mean, and how can we get to that? >> here again, on the other side -- if i'm walking with my little girl and i see some somebody walking and it
is 98 degrees out, like it often is here in texas, and you have on an hoodie over your head in 98 degrees -- they do not come much blacker than me, but i will be a little bit worried that i do not know why you're a heady -- hiding like that when it is 98 degrees. if i see someone walking towards me with all tattoos and he has those little teardrops in his eyes, i just saw on tv that that means you are a murderer. what we can say -- that is what i am telling you, we are all human and have to assess the things around us. >> freeze it right there. you said -- i just saw it on tv.
>> it is an assessment. we are making absolutes out of things. >> i am glad you said that. you are proving my point. what happens is we are watching television. we're watching movies or the news. all of the sudden, what we are being fed is driving our perceptions of one and other, which also goes back to the work that you are involved in in terms of your documentaries, your movie, your book, and what i am doing by saying part of the problem is we have an unbalanced diet of what we have been fed in america that is driving these racial perceptions. >> michael, are you good on that or no? >> [inaudible] i understand i believe some of that is reality. >> we are wrapping up here. i have a two-part question. the first one is in terms of just simply -- what role has sports played in race relations?
just give us that perspective. >> i think sports has the potential to be a great area where people can bridge to one another. by that i mean the los angeles lakers win the world championship and they have a street parade downtown in front of city hall. the whole community was there. on the spanish-language movie theater, people from the korean community -- [speaking foreign language] >> speaking different languages, go ahead. >> people from the korean community, westside, the valley, they all came together. it was wonderful. then you look at the opposite, when things do not work like that, and we had the rodney king
issue, and l.a. was tearing itself apart. sports can bring us together in terms of the big community, as individuals. you go out there every day and you work in the baseball field or in the weight room or on football fields with people who are not like you, and you see that they are hard-working and have a sense of humor. you relate. what do you like? i like james lee or whatever. -- jay-z or whatever. it enables people that would not necessarily have the opportunity to get to know each other and understand -- hey, they are just like us and we are dealing with the same issues, trying to get to the same place. the potential for sports to overcome a lot of ignorance and lack of knowledge of other people is huge. white americans did not ever see a black american as having any
value, especially heroic value, until -- [inaudible] that was pretty good. all of the sudden, they looked upon black americans in a different way. jackie robinson breaks the color barrier in baseball. people say he should be out there. if he is not, that means the best players are not playing major league baseball. sports has that potential, and i think for that reason, it is a good thing, especially as we know it here in america, and the things it makes possible for all of us in terms of understanding and knowing each other. >> i have this final question for you. when the donald sterling incident happened, you wrote the article in "time" magazine.
i did not understand half your big words, but it was a good article. >> read a dictionary. [laughter] >> here is what i want to ask you. the incident became public on a saturday, friday night, saturday morning. we are in l.a. on tuesday morning because we hear that adam silver, the commissioner, is about to make a ruling. i call you and your team the night before. we come down to city hall. you come to city hall. we are in mayor garcetti's office. you, norm nixon, steve nash, luke walter, all these great players there. why was it so important for you to be there at city hall, and what were you thinking right before adam silver made his ruling? >> i was thinking that the nba had been my life and i do not want some racist clown being the face of the nba. that was the one thing that got
to me. [applause] commissioner silver did such a great job. my first year in the league, i played in milwaukee. it was that year that they hired the very first black general manager, wayne embry, and my whole life since then, i have seen the nba make more and more reaches to be inclusive and to open up doors in the front office, management, and other areas where black americans, at one point, were not considered. so i know that the nba, it's hard is right and it has tried to do the right thing. and if donald sterling is the face of that, some thing has to be done. that is why i got on my horse. >> round of applause for kareem abdul-jabbar. [applause] on c-span, a
conversation with alain a kagan. she recently returned to her all moderate, princeton university, to talk about her career and approach to law and relate stories from behind the scenes at the supreme court. >> the hearings that you see on tv are the tip of the iceberg. andhave to wonder around talk to all the senators. think i did 82 of them. what was striking was how many of them, republicans and democrats, wanted to talk to me about the second amendment and guns. there are rules about what you can ask at these kinds of sit downs, or least there are rules knew they could not ask me very direct questions about what i thought of particular cases or issues. they would come up with these proxies and the proxies were along the lines of -- do you hunt?
i went through countless interviews. my answers were so pathetic. do you know anybody who hunts? not really. [laughter] i was sitting down with the senator, from idaho. and who has a ranch and was a great hunter. he was telling me about his itting, and how important was to his constituents. many senators would want to know these kinds of things. it was late in the day, my 93rd interview, and i said, senator, if you would like to invite me hunting, i would be glad to come. and this look of abject horror over his face.
i realized, i gone too far. i said, senator, i didn't mean to invite myself to your ranch. i will tell you, if i'm lucky enough to be confirmed, i will ask my colleagues, justice scalia to take me hunting. i understand why this matters to you. commit to do that for you. when i got to the court, i went over to justice scalia's chambers and told him the story. he thought it was hilarious. this is the single promise i made in 82 office interviews. thatid, i guess i have to you fulfill that promise. >> you can see all that conversation with supreme court justice elena kagan at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span.
new year's day on the c-span networks. at 10:00 a.m. eastern, the washington ideas forum with david crane. brown,ve owner warren and inventor dean kamen. at 4:00 p.m. eastern the brooklyn historical society holds conversation on race. from the explorers club, walt cunningham on the first manned spaceflight. on new year's day on c-span2, author hector towbar on the men buried in a chilean mine. on then richard norton smith the life of rockefeller. and then former investigative correspondent for the news, sharon atkinson