Letter: Not funny

To the editor:

Many argue that we live in a color-blind society. In Lawrence, many consider race no longer an issue; we have integrated communities, classrooms and, predominately African-American sports teams cheered on by blacks and whites collectively. Sports, however, are contested spaces and they force us to confront ideas and situations that we would otherwise be mentally segregated from. This past week Tom Keegan penned an offensive article on former KU basketball player Naadir Tharpe. Feigning sarcasm, Keegan took issue with Tharpe’s press release language, implying that Tharpe, an athlete, could not have come up with those words on his own. Whether Tharpe had assistance with some of his language or not does not matter. Keegan surely has an editor who has changed a word or two of his over the years.

Keegan’s article demonstrates how quickly color-blind adoration, the belief that Tharpe is just a basketball player who we all admire for his skills regardless of his skin color, changes into color-conscious racial realities. Once Tharpe announced his departure from KU, Keegan’s colorless adulation disappeared. Keegan viewed Tharpe as disposable property, feeling free to mock his language and suggesting that he was capable of speaking only in some secret “Ebonics” code. Of course none of these things would have mattered to Keegan if a) Tharpe were staying at KU, or b) he had averaged 20 points last season and led the Jayhawks to a national championship.

Shame on the Lawrence Journal-World for publishing such an article, and shame on Mr. Keegan for stooping so low in a failed attempt to be funny.