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There are many reasons why America hasn’t fully dealt with the issue of race, one being that the issue is often framed by mainstream society. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to discuss Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s punishment and encouraged observers to look more closely where issues of race are concerned.
“I did a little bit of research: more whites believe in ghosts than believe in racism,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “That’s why we have shows like Ghostbusters and not shows like Racistbusters. It’s something that’s still part of our culture. People hold on to some of these ideas and practices, just out of habit and saying, ‘Well, that’s the way it always was.’ But things have to change.”
Abdul-Jabbar also praised the NBA for moving quickly to deal with the Sterling.
“I think all the NBA has to do right now is keep the issue in people’s minds when it’s appropriate,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “It’s not something you can constantly be harping on. But when it’s appropriate, and they see people doing things that don’t line up with how we’re supposed to be feeling about things, then people have to speak up. It’s like watching the temperature. Somebody gets a temperature, something might be wrong. You gotta deal with it quickly.”
The way in which white people often buttress white privilege, as explained by Pastor Jon Robinson, may help shed light on why more whites believe in ghosts than racism:
Privilege not only causes white people to miss instances of racism but it causes them to think they get to set the terms or parameters for what constitutes racism as well. For example; situations that can universally be understood as racist like a blatant hate crime, are “in bounds.” But anything that’s not as obvious is dismissed and those who attempt to shed light on less obvious forms of racism get accused of race baiting or, my personal favorite, playing the race card. Which essentially means that if it’s not obviously racist to a white person then it’s not racist.