Wisconsin BBaller Calls Out Campus Racism

By Walter L. Hilliard III –

So Colin Kaepernick’s courageous stand against police brutality and the mistreatment of Black Americans continues to spread and influence the minds of young people.  Black kids, and some White and Brown kids, are taking a knee and even speaking out against racism.  But most Black pro athletes don’t take a knee or say anything about how Black people are being treated; thus, how ashamed should these grown ass men be when young kids are “taking a knee,” while they are too chicken to do anything.

Nigel Hayes, a senior Wisconsin University basketball player, called out his school’s leaders on Twitter, asking them to step up and take action against the racism minority students are facing.  “Black athletes are loved during competition, but then subjected to racial discrimination in our everyday lives,”he said.  He also mentioned a football game at Wisconsin in October when a fan dressed as a caricature of President Barack Obama (mask) with a noose around his neck.

Welcome to the myth of President Obama’s post-racial America so many claim exists.  It’s bad enough that the fan who wore the Obama mask and noose friends, arena staff, and other fans didn’t stop him, but the campus police released a statement saying that the student was practicing free speech.   University officials later said they sent staff to make the student take the Obama mask off at half-time, but that the student did have a right to free speech.  So I guess they call themselves compromising by allowing him to be racist for just half of the game?

Hayes also said that “universities across the nation need to start addressing how students of color are treated,” and he called on his university’s chancellor, Rebecca Blank, to be more active in addressing these issues.  Hayes also went to a “College Game Day” pregame football show holding a sign that said:  “Broke College Athlete, Anything Helps.”  This shows Hayes is not only outspoken but brave and intelligent, knowing the NCAA, big colleges, and coaches are raking in billions at the expense of poor, mostly Black athletes.

Here’s Nigel Haye’s full Twitter statement:  Many people believe that student-athletes of color are immune to the racial injustices that affect other students of color on campus. However, our experiences are not shielded by the ‘W’ we wear on our chest, our experiences are one in the same. We are loved during competition, but then subjected to racial discrimination in our everyday lives too. It is painful that someone in our community would show up to an athletic event with a mask of our sitting president, who happens to look a lot like us, with a noose around his neck. That moment was like a punch in the face to not only student-athletes of color, but also current students, faculty, and alumni of color. This incident was yet another blow and reminder that there are people in this community that may not value diverse populations. When we travel and play in other stadiums, fans have told us to get out of their country, or to go back to Africa, but it hurts to receive that treatment at home. It does not end at overt racial issues, but it is also seen through microaggressions.

Aside from the incidents of racial slurs being flung at us, there are the assumptions that student-athletes of color wouldn’t have been admitted to this university on our merits alone. In actuality, we have to work twice as hard on top of our demanding schedules to prove to professors and classmates that we do belong here. We also have to deal with not being chosen for groups in classes because it’s assumed we are only here for sports and not to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for our future careers. We are fortunate to have many great professors here, but there are those that discourage us not to take their courses because they assume it’s too challenging. Also, fans don’t recognize the pain we feel when they voice their concerns about how raising academic standards will competitively disadvantage our teams, because they assume that student of colors can’t meet them.

Socially, we shouldn’t be called loiterers and threatened to have the police called when we are simply waiting with friends for an Uber. Nor should we have to hear in the dorms, the classroom, or on the street, people refer to us as (expletive) or monkeys. People shouldn’t clutch their bags and cross the street as we approach them. We shouldn’t be commodified for mere entertainment, but respected as individuals with the ideas and the ability to contribute to society.

These issues are in no way localized to UW, this is a national issue, and many universities across the nation need to start addressing how students of color are treated, and here at Wisconsin it starts at Bascom. Wisconsin can not only rely on statements, cultural competency emails and a few surveys to try and mediate this problem. We love the UW and are proud to be STUDENT-athletes here, and truthfully, our positive experiences outweigh the negatives, but no student should have to live through this negative climate. We ask that the university not continue to sweep the collective experiences of the students of color under a rug. So in solidarity with other students on this campus, we implore Chancellor Blank and her cabinet to take action, be visible and leave your ivory tower and speak to the students. Please create real programs, initiate meaningful change and understand that students of color deserve to thrive in this institution just like our peers. We want to be a part of the amazing legacy this university has held for years and years … On Wisconsin.

He added:  “As a student at Wisconsin, I demand change!”

Good for you and all Black people, Mr. Hayes.

Jason Whitlock, who is Black, of Fox’s Speak for Yourself sports talk show said that Nigel Hayes and his generation (of young Blacks) is “too soft . . . we’re pamperin’ Black kids . . . you better get up off your knees and run to success . . . . . ”

“Uhhhh, did Whitlock just call Black folks lazy,” I thought.

Colin Cowherd, Whitlock’s co-host and plantation master, chimed in on the conversation about Hayes as if he was the one who supported Haye’s and one’s right to speak up.  But the entire conversation was a farce — Cowherd and Whitlock were simply playing the typical “good racism, bad racism” cop routine they like to play on days when their both not simply being racist or anti-Black.

Like Stephen in “Django” protecting his master and chastising the Black people who look just like him (self-hate), Whitlock’s entire sports talk career has always been about climbing the Sports Media Ladder by criticizing Black athletes in stereotypical ways.  Malcolm X used to talk about the difference between the House Negro and the Field Negro.  He said of the House Negro:  “If the master got sick, he’d say, ‘What’s the matter boss, we sick?'”  This is Whitlock to a T; he never wants his bosses — Cowherd and Fox — to feel guilty about broadcasting or saying racist things so he protects them by saying what they can’t say about Blacks.  Well, the often say what they want but Whitlock still covers for them.

Whitlock should be ashamed of himself, belittling a young Black man like Nigel Hayes, who is taking a stand when so many young Black athletes are too paranoid to speak out against racism.  Haye’s is undoubtedly a hero.  Whitlock is just Cowherd and Fox’s Racism Whore.  No wonder he’s on Fox.