Do sports teams support racist murderers? Before you dismiss this possibility out of hand take a moment, pause and think: Where might a racist look for encouragement and support for his/her/their beliefs?
Certainly many racists can find direct support among their friends, neighbors and family members who share their beliefs, sometimes the same people who taught them to be racist initially. Racism is not natural, it is a learned attitude, one that must be intentionally taught, actually learned.
A beautiful song in the musical South Pacific has the best description of the teaching:
Racism is taught. Here is one simple example found online with a simple search. It is outright propaganda and has nothing to do with facts, truth or accuracy. :
The local racists and small groups look beyond themselves for validity as well. it is far easier to show someone you know that others support your position than to find support for your position on your own when it your belief is something extreme and fundamentally wrong. The human mind is built for questions. In life we seek answers. When real answers are not possible then social pressure and the idea that "others agree" can be a convenient answer to any legitimate question.
What happens if someone starts deeply questioning the assumptions in a racist group? Often in these circumstances those deeply inside the group will bring in outside "evidence" to support the racist positions being held up as "right and true." In yesterday's horrific murders at the Emmanuel AME church prayer meeting and Bible study in South Carolina the alleged shooter has been identified as racist. A picture of him in social media shows him wearing two flags, one of South Africa while it was still an apartheid country and another of the unrecognized state of Rhodesia in Africa which which the United Nations condemned as an "illegal minority racist regime" during the years it "existed", 1965-1979. Along with showing loyalty and publicizing the racism of both regimes the alleged shooter himself could find support for his beliefs. If entire nations could endorse and promote alleged shooter 21 year old Dylan Roof's belief in racial supremacy he could then feel justified, supported and empowered to act. Thankfully those governments are no longer in place. We cannot assume those who accepted those teachings have changed their views.
As always silence endorses. It is time for everyone, white people included, to step up and challenge the sports teams promoting racism. They give support to all racists, everywhere. The reasons are simple the racists now look for support outside their own circles. Where? I suggest people who believe in racist falsehoods will look for other prominent racial identities in the world and examine underlying realities: Who profits? Who is making the decisions? How popular or unpopular are the decisions? Which groups support or oppose the decisions? If white people are profiting from racist images, if white people are making the decisions to continue racist images/identities and if white people are supporting the continued racism of the images with only protests coming from groups and individuals of color then the white racist can see support for their own racism. This will be true even if the white decision makers claim that the images/identities are "not racist but traditional" or use any other justification to continue the use of the racist image/identity.
In the USofA major sports leagues must consider that their race based team identities are part of the problem, not part of the solution. While no major organization or corporation or legislative body can control actions of determined extremists or unstable individuals they can either support or refute extremist ideologies through their decisions and actions. The world is watching. The continued use of race based team identities must be examined and stopped.