“Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them … Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won … So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.”

You know, I hate to come down on a brother, but didn’t we lose Bryant Gumbel in the last Racial Draft? Didn’t we get Larry Bird and a third round draft choice to be named later? Okay, there are a lack of black people in the Winter Olympics. Is there a movement afoot of black folks lining up to play in the snow? There’s also a lack of black people in the polar bear clubs also. For a reason. I’m not exactly ready to march on Washington trying to re-live the glory days of the movement or anything. Heck, Chesya almost revoked my ghetto pass for mentioning curling in a conversation. To be fair, I am glued in front of my TV whenever the Jamaican hits the scene.

One day my co-workers dragged me to a bar, okay, “dragged” is a strong word. Anyway, this bar was on the south side of town, an area known to be more of a redneck haven at the time. A place where phrases like “yee-haw” and “you think you’re better than me” are regular battle cries. Now I was minding my own business, making the best of a surreal situation, when this complete stranger sidles up to me, the smell of cheap beer reeking from his pores, and says “do you know why black people don’t play hockey?” Let me tell you, visions of me fighting my way out of this club flashed through my head, but I ask “why?” The man smiles at me and says “there’s no way a brotha’s gonna get on a slick surface against 12 white guys with sticks.”

There you go: redneck wisdom.

Before you come to me seeking an opinion on this sort of stuff, know that I typically don’t have the energy or emotional resources to get all exorcized over every racial sleight or insensitive comment. Whenever we discuss race, we need to have thicker skins. Spare me your “it’s a double standard” and “if a white guy said that about black people” rants – yes it’s a double standard. “You” get the viable dream of good credit and socio-economic opportunities and “those people” get to get away with the occasional overstatement. Want to trade histories and social positions?

Free speech guarantees two things: 1) People are free to be as ignorant as they want to be and 2) that the age-old adage about people and their opinions is repeatedly proved. Free speech doesn’t guarantee your right to be heard or paid attention to.

Whenever folks yell racism at the drop of a hat–whether to prove your blackness or as a race-baiting politician/pontificator–it hurts the cause. There is racism and there is racism. If our battles are more wisely chosen, we end up exhausting ourselves over fairly meaningless battles.

That being said, I have a special message just for Bryant: brotha, your ghetto pass is intact. You bona fide. Now save that noise for the barber shop where it belongs. You know we feel you.

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