Chris Rock tells a hilarious and revealing joke about the pristine and mostly white community of Alpine, New Jersey that he calls home. Chris Rock, we all know, began life in a working class community in NYC and began working in comedy clubs when he was in high school. After years of toil that led to global fame, he bought the home of his dreams. According to him he had to make ‘miracles happen!’ to buy that house. Of course he was probably expecting his neighbors to be equally famous people: titans of industry, world-renowned innovators, maybe a few heirs and heiresses. But Chris Rock’s white next door neighbor was a dentist.  Not the guy that ‘invented teeth’ as Rock says, but a ‘pull your teeth’ dentist. Blacks often pay a surcharge in pursuit of a sense of accomplishment, but end wasting money in the process.

Bruce Levenson, the majority owner of the Atlanta Hawks, is likely hoping for a similar payout. Back in July, Levenson announced to the NBA ownership that he’d written a racist intra-company email two years prior. He announced his prior offense while the league was in litigation over the Donald Sterling controversy – a controversy that ultimately yielded Sterling $2 billion dollars. I won’t rehash his whole email, but I’ll point out some of the more ‘controversial’ parts:

 My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant(sic) season ticket base.

I have been open with our executive team about these concerns. I have told them I want some white cheerleaders and while i don’t care what the color of the artist is, i want the music to be music familiar to a 40 year old white guy if that’s our season tixs demo. i have also balked when every fan picked out of crowd to shoot shots in some time out contest is black. I have even bitched that the kiss cam is too black.

Regardless of what time a game starts, we have the latest arriving crowd in the league. It often looks and sounds empty when the team takes the floor.

We manufacture a lot of noise but because of the late arriving crowd and the fact that a lot of blacks dont(sic) seem to go as crazy cheering (another one of my theories) as whites, it is not great.

There is more of course, but essentially his argument seems to be that the fans are too black, there are too many of them, and they are too cheap. He gives them free t-shirts but they don’t show the proper level of enthusiasm for the game. He gives them free tickets and they then come to the games, which scares off white fans who in his mind would likely buy season tickets.

The email is filled with stereotypes about both black and white fans – he thinks white people need white cheerleaders – but it seems highly unlikely that he would have announced this email to the NBA if Donald Sterling had not made a fortune from selling his team after making racist remarks. This seems like an instance of someone using both black fear and black pride to sucker potential black owners into a bad deal. Atlanta is a predominately black city. The Hawks are a predominately black team. He has now cast himself as a white racist owner, who needs to be taught a lesson – by being paid a fortune.

Let’s not give him the satisfaction. Let him keep the team. Maybe his future white fans will respond to a half time rodeo show. Or perhaps white cheerleaders will do the trick. Perhaps blacks will jump at the opportunity to prove him wrong and go out and buy season tickets in droves. Maybe they’ll show up early to the games ready to be extra-enthusiastic. Maybe they’ll hide out and wait for the white fans to show up, then reveal themselves to the white fans after they have already taken their seats. Maybe white fans will themselves leap at the opportunity to prove him wrong and show up ready cheer for black ‘kiss camers’. The possibilities are endless, but any blacks who pay this man a premium for his team – especially in the name of black empowerment and solidarity –  should have their heads examined after having their asses kicked. Levenson’s fans or lack thereof are his problem and they should stay that way.


I am a writer, filmmaker, and founder of Production Portal, Inc. an accounting and consulting firm specializing in film, tv and event management. I blog here about history, politics, and culture. I live in NJ and work in NY.

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