by Earl Smith, PhD and Angela J. Hattery, PhD
My book Race, Sport and the American Dream (RSAD, 2014) is an analysis of race in SportsWorld (™) from the time sports became an American item.
From the early days of Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor (November 26, 1878 – June 21, 1932), an African American cyclist whose experiences are detailed in his 1928 auto-biography 1928. Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World: The Story of a Colored Boy’s Indomitable Courage and Success Against Great Odds….
…up through the policing of golf great Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, an African American professional golfer, whose experiences we analyze in our 2010 book chapter entitled: “The Mundanity of Excellence: Tiger Woods and Excellence in Golf.”
RSAD contains the chronicles of the racisms that have been hurled at African American athletes in Little League, High School, Colleges and the pros.
So, it is with some surprise, but not total, that I received the news that the New York Rangers drafted with the 22nd pick an African American hockey player from St. Paul, Minnesota, Mr. K’Andre Miller and that Miller had been racially profiled in a team sponsored video chat with Rangers fans.
No one should have to endure the racist assaults heaped upon Miller, simply doing his job as a new professional hockey player in the National Hockey League.
Usually this type of behavior is targeting players who are Black or who have dark skin tone but who are, in fact, born and raised in Canada. The most recent visible example is from the taunts hurled at the Washington Capitols player Devante Smith-Pelly in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks wherein Chicago fans were yelling “basketball”, basketball”, “basketball.” Smith-Pelly notes that:
“It’s not a secret.” The nonsecret racial stereotype at play here is that basketball is a “black” sport and hockey is for white people.”
Similar chants were tossed Smith-Pelly’s way as he skated around the rink after the Capitols won the Stanley Cup (the NHL Championship) in 2018.
In our analysis we draw on the ideology of “WHITE RACIAL RESENTMENT ” to help explain these persistent behaviors by whites against Blacks in 21st Century America.
As for a definition of white racial resentment, we argue that it is a set of beliefs & ideologies that are both racially prejudiced at the individual level and also opposed to policies that are perceived as helping and / or referencing People of Color (POC). ______________________________________________________________________________
Our latest work that addresses issues and concerns of white racial resentment is found in our forthcoming book: Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith, forthcoming, Way Down in the Hole: Race, Intimacy and the Reproduction of Racial Ideologies in Solitary Confinement. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
The sad part of all this resentment is that many, many of the proposals and policies that are enacted to benefit people who lack medical care and dental care, who experience hunger, homelessness, and poverty as well as under-resources schools would, at the end of the day, benefit white people. But, many opt to oppose such strategies in essence lobbying against their own self-interests in an effort to limit the expansion of theses benefits to non whites. In essence white racial resentment requires an allegiance to protecting one’s membership in the category “white” even when doing so is a disadvantage to one’s class status.
That the young St. Paul, Minnesota native Mr., K’Andre Miller, the future of the National Hockey League, had to sit and listen to the racist vitriol in 2020 is evidence that white racial resentment is deeply ingrained in whites who for whatever reason feel weakened, debased, whenever Blacks are in front of them or on the trajectory of upward mobility.
This is especially true in SportsWorld!