Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

The world of sports is disproportionately Black, but the world of sports talk radio can be a blizzard of whiteness. Dr. Ball relates an on-air clash of Black realities and white male fantasies. In the Black corner, Harold Bell: “Here was Bell, a ‘native Washingtonian,’ Black, irreverent, well-credentialed in his community if not in the establishment halls of sports radio, alerting the very White Mike Wise to a history of Black DC….”

 

Sports Radio and Apartheid North America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

Bell was reminding his White antagonists of their real worst nightmare: Not every native loves the natives you’vechosen to love.”

Sports talk radio is the single most listened to radio format by Black men between ages 35-54 according to the latest Arbitron study of Black Radio. To the extent that this is true my own tendency to listen to so much of it is at least partially explained by this overall popularity among my demographic cohort. And anyone who listens to sports radio at all knows just how White, male and conservative sports radio is. In fact, as much as I listen I know to turn the dial as soon as the conversation leaves sports proper because despite the necessity of politics, race, class and history to any honest discussion of sports these usually descend into soft-core racist White male rants against the lesser Black beings making so much money and often breaking those stern morals exhibited by those in sports journalism. But every once in awhile the twice-a-day correctness of the broken clock of commercial radio gets real exciting and even revelatory.

A few weeks ago there was a great on-air exchange between White sports radio host Mike Wise and the Black, DC-native and sports journalist Harold Bell. It was hostile and aggressive. It was great radio. And it was also another shining example of this country’s continuing imposed racial exclusion and separateness. It is, of course, no surprise that this happened in the nation’s capital, the city still referred to as a “colony” and a “plantation” whose politics and media environment has been compared to that of any traditional colony. It was an argument that speaks to the apartheid nature of the country itself and the almost total disconnect that exists between Black and White America, the kind of disconnect that exists between any who are colonized and those who are colonizing them. Always near the settler is the colonized; near and essential to the well-being of the colonizer, but never with the colonizer.

Bell’s target was John Thompson, the now retired head basketball coach at Georgetown University and current host on the city’s other major sports radio station.”

On its surface the argument, which even for commercial sports radio had become quite heated, started when Bell was invited on the Mike Wise Show to discuss his recent article in which he truly took down a legend. Bell’s target was John Thompson, the now retired head basketball coach at Georgetown University and current host on the city’s other major sports radio station. In a long piece filled with Black insider DC sports and media history Bell’s views were summarized in his claim that Thompson’s “secret to success…” is his being “… big and black…” his use of “…profanity and ‘the race card’ to successfully intimidate his players and white folks!” Thompson, said Bell, fabricated and took advantage of racist acts and then used to them solidify himself as an anti-racist crusader and leader of Black people and all humanity. But, said Bell, none of this was real and those who know Black DC know better, from former players to mainstays in the sports, media and political world.

Mike Wise and his White colleagues were incensed. They defended Thompson and dismissed Bell as the fraud. They defended Thompson as one would expect if in fact Bell’s accusations were correct. White men defending their validating native, their accepted super Negro, the one who justifies and even appeases the current relationship. This was what Fanon meant by the role of radio in a colony; its purpose is to satiate the settler and make settlement acceptable. This requires preferred versions of the colonized. And here was Bell, a “native Washingtonian,” Black, irreverent, well-credentialed in his community if not in the establishment halls of sports radio, alerting the very White Mike Wise to a history of Black DC, of Bell’s own pioneering sports radio work which prefigured the current format that now spoke against Bell, viciously, as any colonizer’s media must. But mostly Bell was reminding his White antagonists of their real worst nightmare: Not every native loves the natives you’ve chosen to love.

Charles Mills has said that the “consensual hallucinations” Whites have concocted to protect their delicate settler psyche’s are now beyond their own interpretation. They don’t even know the world they’ve created. This small example from sports radio also demonstrates the larger disconnect that keeps Black America off the agenda for real change in the world and why Black Thought said “the ghetto might as well be the Gaza Strip,” and also why nobody takes flotillas to the hood.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. On the web go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is the author of I MiX What I Like! A MiXtape Manifesto and can be reached via the web atIMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110629_jb_SportsTalk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37am EDT