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Kimbo Slice and Racism

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Many folks disagree with my hunch that a portion of the vitriol being spewed at Kimbo Slice is driven by racist inklings. Ultimately, I have no hard data on this matter, but I don't issue the claim idly.

And here's Exhibit A on this matter. This is from a thread on the Sherdog forums. The Sherdog forum posters offer the same transparently obvious rebuttals to the notion of racism determining dislike for Kimbo, e.g. the assertion that one can very much dislike or doubt Kimbo Slice without actually being racist. This, of course, is true, but hardly the point. One could issue those arguments at any juncture and not reference the particulars of this matter.

There is a significant portion of Americans who are simply unwilling to acknowledge their biases or the prevalence of biases in others. For the life of me, I cannot figure this out. While I agree it's a sad cop out for race merchants such as Al Sharpton to reduce every ailment of the black community as a consequence of racism, there is something to his point. We (not so much Canadians) are still grappling with decades of more than just proclivities for "sameness". We are dealing with centuries of institutional barriers between racial groups that are only now really beginning to dissipate.

Again, hard data on this matter is few and far between, but language can be revealing. We often hear from critics that Kimbo is a "thug." I find this characterization very curious. A "thug" is actually someone who is more than unsavory. They engage in criminal acts of the vicious sort. Yes, Kimbo's street fights were technically illegal, but the nuances of this matter are critical. He was attacking no one, robbing no one and fighting no one who didn't want to be there. Kimbo is, at heart, more sportsman than brute. He is a not a public nuisance terrorizing the neighborhood or preying on the weak. He is not a mercenary or sentinel for those whose interests it is to damage communities. He is anything but a thug.

Admittedly, Kimbo draws a little more heat because of his street ethos and lack of real post-high school athletic credentials. Unlike Rashad Evans or Yves Edwards, he isn't formally educated and speaks in modern urban colloquialisms. But that is merely a product of his upbringing, something at this juncture he has little control over. And what he does have control over - his present - he is acting wisely, maturely and responsibly. Ultimately, that is all we can ask of someone.

And that, readers, is the point: to not be able to see beyond this is either a product of laziness or racism. Either someone has inherit biases that knee-jerk them into their reactions or they are too lazy to do their homework before making judgments. They are letting their own narrow world view affect their judgment and resort to the crudest of characterizations. "Thug", in this case, is shorthand for more vicious epithets.

Folks, wake up. We live in a world where polling data from the Democratic New Hampshire primary (and many other elections, as this is an extensively documented phenomenon) was skewed because white voters who were asked about their election choices told those taking the survey they would vote for Barack Obama because they didn't want to seem as though they weren't going to vote for a black person. And then what? They voted for Obama's white rival, Hillary Clinton. This isn't evidence of "racism" such as we understand it, but it is evidence of racial proclivities affecting choice, views and outcomes as it bubbles under the surface of interpersonal reactions.

Stage One thinking circumvents what is obvious in favor of the shelter of intellectual possibility. Let's move beyond this, please. You deny such realities at the expense of your intellectual honesty. I prefer to keep mine.