Sunday, July 08, 2012

That city edge

An unnamed NBA executive commenting on Moe Harkless, a player just drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers:
"He's a good kid. And he's one of those guys where, even though he's from New York City, he doesn't have that city edge to him. He's really polished."
And very articulate.



  1. Sometimes I wish they'd just say what they're thinking.

    "He's practically White!"

    "He's one of us!"

    "You can't even tell he's Black if you're on the phone!"

    Always used to want to punch my friends who would say this shit.

  2. Is not the problem with racism that it is the pre-judging of someone based on a superficial distinction (skin-color; or more broadly, a set of inherited physical characteristics) that not only has no logical connection to a person's character, but is also something over which a person reasonably has no control?

    And is not culture a completely different thing than race? You are born black, white, asian, whatever... and that is your genetic make-up; your race. But even though you are raised in a given culture, the degree to which you adopt or reject that culture is a personal choice (one that can vary throughout life) and thus an action you can be "judged" for (unlike "being" of black ancestry, which is not an action/choice).

    Cultures are a mixture of many different things. Values, customs, clothing, hairstyles, music, etc. All things that each person will have a unique, subjective valuation of.

    In this light, is it really indicative of a moral deficiency worthy of scorn and condemnation for some people not to prefer some cultures and more highly value cultures that share more traits with their own? We're talking in the voluntary realm here, obviously the introduction of violence is a different issue.

    I'm white, I was raised in coastal Southern California and thus adopted both metropolitan and suburban cultures to a degree. I personally don't prefer, for example, strongly pronounced "Southern" culture; i.e., "redneck" culture (enthusiasm for guns, country music, fishing, their way of speaking, cammo baseball hats, mullets etc...). No, I'm not hateful or hostile towards people from that culture, and happen to be friends with a few (there's my "I have black friends" pass). But my preferences certainly influence (key word) where I choose to live, how my social circle develops, who I choose to do more than just incidental business with, etc.

  3. ...continued

    I chose 2 "white" (predominately) cultures to contrast to demonstrate that I think it's clear that "culture-ism" is not the same as racism. I don't see it as obvious why my preference for one culture over the other is a moral failing.

    Am I suddenly a racist(TM) if I, as a white person, announce my distaste for a predominately "black" culture like hip-hop?

    I don't see the difference (between not preferring "redneck" culture and not preferring "hip hop" culture). I'm not judging those who prominently embody hip-hop culture for something they can't change, the color of their skin (and my attitude towards non-black adherents of that culture is no different), but rather for their voluntary choice to express a culture I don't prefer. And by "judging", I don't mean that I consider them "bad" people in the context of moral condemnation. I mean that I'm simply recognizing my own subjective preferences and acting in accordance; no different than when I negatively judge a meal because I don't like the flavors/ingredients involved.

    Perhaps I'm reading too much into your post, but it seemed like your point was "hey, look at this racist, scumbag NBA executive. He detests black people, so is happily relieved this new player is 'more white'". But unless you have some magic viewing portal into his inner-thoughts, I see no evidence here of racism, only of culture preference. Where's the fault in that?

    Actually, judging solely from the quote, it seems more likely he's referring strictly to the man's playing style. "City edge" could simply be a reference to the more rough-and-tumble aspect of unregulated "street ball" (enjoyed by people of all races) that is not entirely compatible with the more rule-laden NBA. You know sometimes there actually isn't a racist hiding behind every tree.

    BTW, this comment is in reference to Charles post, but my interpretation of that was influenced by Karl's comment. So perhaps Charles wasn't intending an inference to a racism charge, but Karl certainly seemed to.

  4. Anonymous2:47 AM

    Thank God someone from Orange County has cleared this up.

    The NBA is a business. When players get in trouble with the law or act against NBA rules, it costs the business money.

    Though all of the valiant (and probably white) voices out there are here to protect this NYC kid, we also do so from a very safe place. If we were in the NBA exec's place we would say the same things, we just may be more careful not to let Charles Davis hear.

  5. Anonymous8:39 AM

    I think you took this out of context, Charles. In sports, when people talk about athletes being "polished," they usually mean the player won't need a lot of coaching because they already have a good grasp of all aspects of the game. Players from NYC (guards, in particular) have a reputation for being excellent ball-handlers and scorers but also underdeveloped in other facets of the game such as outside shooting, defense, and positional play. My guess is that is what the exec meant by "that city edge."