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After watching Floyd Mayweather's racist and homophobic rant on YouTube, I was immediately reminded of another popular YouTube clip: "The Bed Intruder Song" featuring Antoine Dodson. With each slanderous remark out of Mayweather's mouth, I could hear Dodson saying "you are so dumb, really, really dumb -- fo' real."
|There's a time to hype fights, and there's a time Floyd Mayweather Jr. should keep his mouth shut.|
I mean, who does that?
Besides Dr. Laura, Don Imus, Michael Richards OK, never mind. So Mayweather isn't the only person to insert an ignorant foot into his public mouth and then try to remove it with an awkward, insincere apology.
"I was trying to make a joke."
"What I said was wrong."
"I'm going into rehab."
Official statements aside, the truth is sometimes we learn more about the person on the front end of a controversy than the back. For example, you can tell from the comfort with which Dr. Laura Schlessinger said the N-word that her infamous Aug. 10 broadcast was not her first time uttering the slur. And as you watch the Mayweather clip in which he rips Manny Pacquiao, it's obvious he doesn't have a problem using a homophobic slur or making offensive, ethnic-based jokes in his private life.
True, Mayweather hurts people for a living, so there should be less shock to hearing him make offensive remarks than someone who is suppose to help people like Schlessinger. Still, his occupation should not excuse him from crossing the line.
Which brings me to my second point: Just as we sometimes learn more about a person on the front end of a controversy than the back, sometimes it's the back end that reveals the ugly truth. In this case, the truth is Mayweather's being given a pass because he's black.
Not long after Schlessinger made her remarks, Rev. Al Sharpton could be seen ripping her to shreds on CNN and suggesting sponsors pull ads from her show. I've yet to hear a Sharpton comment regarding Mayweather. I've yet to hear him call for a boycott of any of his future fights or the sponsors tied to him.
|Michael Richards' rant during a show at a comedy club in 2006 has upstaged his sitcom career.|
The same goes for the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who didn't have a problem inserting himself in the conversation this summer when Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert went off on LeBron James after the King moved his throne to Miami. Jackson implied Gilbert's comments were laced with racist undertones. He even demanded a sit-down with the owner. I've yet to see Jackson insert himself into the Mayweather conversation or publicly request a similar meeting.
We know what Mayweather's comments said about him, but what does the muted response say about Sharpton, Jackson and the rest us? That it's different because it's boxing?
But the day Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997, Fuzzy Zoeller took a lot of heat and lost sponsors for calling a then-21-year-old Woods "little boy" and urging him not to serve fried chicken and collard greens the following year. Zoeller's words are akin to Mayweather's about Pacquiao, who is Filipino. Now do you still think it's about boxing?
Mayweather's comments are as troublesome as Schlessingers', but he is being treated differently because he's black.
And if he were being treated honestly, black man or not, we would be hearing denunciations from Jackson, Sharpton and the NAACP. (The National Federation of Filipino American Associations provided a lead for them today.) I'm not playing devil's advocate; I'm advocating for equality -- but in the true sense of the word. Whites don't hold the patent on being racially insensitive, just as blacks are not the only group of people to be discriminated against in this country.
|Manny Pacquiao, the target of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s rant, probably would like to settle things in the ring.|
For example, more than 250,000 Filipinos served in the United States military during World War II and were promised full veterans benefits for doing so. Yet in 1946, President Harry S. Truman, the same man who issued an executive order desegregating the military, signed the Rescission Act, essentially reneging on that promise. No school benefits, no hospital benefits, nothing. Every president since Truman treated these brave soldiers like second-class citizens. It wasn't until last year when the country finally honored its commitment to the approximately 15,000 veterans who were still alive.
If we truly believe in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," then it is only fair that the boxing world punish Mayweather. I understand he's the industry's cash cow. But this kind of hypocrisy only fertilizes racial tension while simultaneously lining the pockets of people who make their living manipulating that tension.
Mayweather should not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his YouTube comments. If a half-hearted apology was not enough to spare Imus, Schlessinger, et al, then it shouldn't spare him.
And if it does, then what does that say about us?
LZ Granderson is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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