Commentary: The Racial Aftermath of Saturday’s Basketball Fight

Last Saturday's raucous basketball fight between players from Cincinnati and Xavier plays right into the hands of racists who seek to stereotype Blacks as thugs and criminals.

On Saturday, toward the end of a basketball game between Cincinnati and Xavier University, a fight broke out. There was blood, lots of punches and even a Cincinnati player kicking a Xavier student in the head. In short, it was ugly, and four Cincinnati students have been suspended as prosecutors decide whether or not they’ll press assault charges against them.
In the end, the players who instigated and then participated in the fight may have damaged their individual basketball careers irrevocably. But one piece of collateral damage of the incident is also bad enough for all African-Americans to take note of.
For anyone who hasn’t looked yet, here’s one of the comments underneath a YouTube video of Saturday’s altercation [sic throughout]:
“Basic safety 101 was not observed here. Whenever you have a bunch of yard-apes running around like this, some s--t is gonna go down. Always have a buckets of fried chicken at the ready...I recommend Churches.”
They’re not all like that, of course, but enough of them are for us to take notice. Strip out all the racial slurs and food stereotyping and their overarching message is uniform and simple: “This kind of violent behavior is to be expected from a bunch of young Black men. Nothing to see here.”
If there’s something to be gleaned from Saturday’s Cincinnati–Xavier fight, it’s that when Black people behave badly, not only do they damage their own reputations and lives, they also contribute to white America’s perception that Blacks are a bunch of thugs and criminals. It’s certainly not fair for someone to think that, but we all know life isn’t fair, and the YouTube comments make it pretty clear what lots of whites are thinking about these Ohio students.
One would certainly hope that every player involved in Saturday’s fight has learned some sort of valuable lesson. If not for themselves, then at least for their community.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.


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(Photo: AP Photo/Al Behrman)

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