March Madness? Here's a bit of the kind of madness we don't want to see.
Kansas State University point guard Angel Rodriguez stepped to the foul line during yesterday's game against the University of Southern Mississippi. When he did so, he was greeted by a not-so-sweet serenade, a chant that arose from a few students in the Southern Miss student band section:
WHERE'S YOUR GREEN CARD?What was that again?
WHERE'S YOUR GREEN CARD?Wow.
By the way, Angel was born in Puerto Rico, and graduated from Michael Krop High School in Miami, FL, where he played ball for four years.
In other words, he doesn't need a green card. He's as American as apple pie. At least he is to me, and presumably to most of you.
Coming off the Mississippi primary, where we all watched as Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich chased the votes of that state's Republican primary voters (of whom exit polls showed 97% were white), this kind of incident is not exactly what Mississippians want the rest of the country to think about when they think of the Magnolia State.
Look, we don't want to impugn a whole state or region (or country for that matter) because of a few morons. The same goes for the incident we read about yesterday in mallyroyal's diary, where someone pasted a truly offensive bumper sticker on his or her car, one that denigrated President Obama with a racial slur. Neither of these incidents tells the whole story about racism in this country or any part of it.
And, to her credit, Southern Miss President Martha Saunders got it right, quickly apologizing on behalf of her institution:
"We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today's game," Saunders said in a statement on the school's website. "The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident."However, this kind of bigotry hits people in the gut. I'm sure it affected Angel Rodriguez, even if he was too tough to let it show or to admit it openly. He did score 13 points and, in a just outcome, his team defeated Southern Miss to advance to the next round of the NCAA tournament.
I'm also sure it affected a lot of other people as well, Latinos as well as those who believe in equality for all, although they will go on living their lives. Additionally, it turns out this hateful chant was captured by TV cameras broadcasting the game, so millions of people were exposed to it.
But we, in this community, and hopefully in communities all over this country can stand up and say that we reject hate. That we'll fight against it. And that, in the political arena, we'll do everything in our power to defeat those politicians who prey on hate and who use hate to divide our people against each other along ethnic and racial lines. Moreover, we'll go out and fight for those politicians who actively seek to enhance our national unity, to strengthen the ties across those lines of culture, religion, and ancestry and make us feel like we are really one people. I think we all know which politicians fall into which category.
To return to the incident at hand, let me say this: Angel, I know you don't know me, but I want you to know that I stand with you, and that in my mind we are part of the same family. What family is that? The American family.
As our President declared in his 2011 State of the Union (and on many other occasions as well):
We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people.Let that language serve as a reply to the hate spewed at yesterday's game. I truly hope that helps.