A lot of controversy sparked the news waves with comments made by Air Force Head Coach Fisher DeBerry Oct. 24. Following a loss to Texas Christian University, DeBerry said that TCU, “had a lot more Afro-American players than we did, and they ran a lot faster than we did. Afro-American kids can run very well.” DeBerry went on to say: “The black athlete, statistically, from program to program, seems to have an edge as far as I’m concerned.”
Some have characterized these remarks as being racist. I concede that they are racist in the sense that they attribute specific traits and advantages to a race as opposed to an individual. But, to me at least, they are not racist in the sense that they are offensive or derogatory.
In my opinion, these are statements of fact. Black players overwhelmingly fill speed positions such as wide receiver, running back, safety and corner. In fact, blacks fill many of the non-speed positions. They wouldn’t be in these positions if they weren’t outperforming their white counterparts.
There are racial injustices committed and ignorant statements uttered every day in America. But some race-related talk, no matter how ineloquently stated (“Afro-Americans”) must be allowed.
Should we rush to pull copies of “White Men Can’t Jump” or “The Great White Hope” from video store shelves?
If anyone should be offended, it’s me as a white person. But I don’t think it’s my place to tell other races what they should or shouldn’t be offended about.
I asked some fellow students at FAMU what they thought about DeBerry’s remarks and they indicated to me that they did not offend them and were simply statements of fact.
Since coming to FAMU, I have been exposed to the idea that racism is an inherited genetic trait of whites. I often find myself pondering over this idea and I truthfully cannot say whether it is right or wrong. But even if I disagreed with it, I couldn’t be mad at the person whose idea it was.
We cannot treat all statements about race as racism. Those that are offensive or intentionally hurtful should be condemned. But valid observations and theories about race, even those that we don’t want to think as true, must be allowed and given consideration.
Mackenzie Turberville is a fourth-year magazine-production student from Lake City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org