Solomon Hill’s mother was allegedly harassed with a racial slur by a pair of Oklahoma City fans.
After the Indiana Pacers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder of Friday night, Solomon Hill should have been enjoying the win with his fellow teammates. Instead, he was talking with his mother, who informed him that a pair of women sitting near her had berated her using a racial slur.
Soon after the game ended, Solomon Hill tweeted out his disgust and frustration.
This obviously isn’t a representation of the Oklahoma City’s fans as a whole, and to their credit, there was a long list of replies to his tweet from Thunder fans apologizing on behalf of the fan base.
But I can understand Hill’s frustration than no one said anything to the two women. We too often see that no one does anything when they see this sort of behavior. It has been well documented that some fan bases might engage in this sort of behavior more often than others, but I imagine the majority of non-white NBA players have experience something similar this to some degree in some circumstance — probably more often than we would like to imagine.
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Former Indiana Pacers Stephen Jackson, for example, once said playing in Salt Lake City was one of the worst experiences of his career. During the Golden State Warriors series against the Utah Jazz in 2008, he said that racist taunts were somewhat common.
"Talking about the difference between playing at home compared to on the road during the series against the Jazz, Warriors forward Stephen Jackson said, “Well, we’re not hearing racial slurs, we’re not hearing people wishing for me to go to jail. That’s the difference for me. I’m loved here in Oakland.”"
There is no place for this, and sitting by quietly in an arena and letting this happen allows behavior like this to continue. Fans do create the culture around their teams, and you have to be self-policing when it comes to behavior that crosses the line. If you see or hear it, it is up to you to decide if you’re going to let it continue or do something about it. I can only hope as fans of any team, when we see or hear this sort of thing, we call out the person or alert stadium security.
Again, to the credit of some Thunder fans, they’ve tracked down who the abusers are and appear to be letting the Thunder know. At least one of the women is denying it, for what that’s worth. It’s Solomon Hill’s mother’s word versus these women’s, so I don’t think we’ll get definitive proof of what happened.
I’ll never have to worry about something like this happening to myself directly, as I’m a white male. But I can understand Solomon Hill’s anger. If this happened to my wife or to my future children, I’d be more than angry. I’d like to think that, like Solomon, I’d pray for them instead of lashing out, but I wouldn’t blame him if he would have.
It is often harder to watch someone you love deal with an issue like this than if you were dealing with it yourself. I can imagine seeing his mom text “I’m so mad I could cry” was harder for him than if he would have heard the same slur directed his way.
Things like this are what worry me as I look to have kids one day, who will have to worry about this. My wife has dealt with plenty of it in her life already, but I can’t imagine having to explain to my children one day why something like this is happening to them. I’ve had people say to my face that me being with a black woman was “disgraceful,” and I was angry not because of the insult to me, but that they would even think saying that to me was acceptable in any way. More than once, I’ve had people I interact with on my job say something like “ESPN is too black these days” before they realize who my wife is and the color of her skin. How far am I suppose to believe their feeling go when they think telling that to a coworker seems perfectly acceptable?
I can handle those sort of things happening to me, but I’d be much more angry if it happened to someone I loved.
Sure, this is just the surface level of racism when someone calls someone a racial slur, but we know it often goes deeper than that, even if you are polite enough not to use that sort of language. As a human being, this concerns me, but as a man married to a black woman and who will one day have children, the events of tonight make me worry about the day I have to explain to them why they were insulted like that. And have to explain to them a slur is only the surface of a much deeper racial problem we have in this country.