Matt Waldman’s RSP: Reads (August 10, 2018)

Matt Waldman’s RSP: Reads (August 10, 2018)

Matt Waldman’s Reads Listens Views is back in a slightly new form. This post is devoted to recommended reads of the week. 


If you’re new to the Rookie Scouting Portfolio blog, welcome.  Every Friday, I post links to pieces that I’ve found personally compelling or to content I hope will eventually scratch that itch when I get around to reading it.

You may not like everything listed here, but you’re bound to like something.

The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain: Science Suggests we’re hardwired to delude ourselves. Can we do anything about it?

This is going to be a read that veers into the academic but I’m hoping it will be worth my time and yours. Link.

Strong by Russell Wilson

In a recent Footballguys article, I play the role of Lucifer as I cast doubt on the top-50 players according to their recent average draft position. I made fun of Wilson’s skillful handling of the media. However, visiting children in the hospital isn’t a phony thing. This story by Wilson about his dad and a kid he met years ago is well worth your time. If you wonder why Wilson is so good at never giving up, consider that his brain seeks out these moments of inspiration where he can find them and values them for their grit. Link

NBA Legend Oscar Robertson Asks Why More White Athletes Aren’t Speaking Out About Social Injustice

I’ll take a stab at answering this question: denial. All human beings face the opportunity to take several meaningful risks throughout life. This ranges from something as obvious as skydiving to as subtle as deciding to flirt with a woman you find attractive but don’t know at all.

However, compared to people of color, white people in America usually don’t have to take enormous risks just “to be.” From childhood, white kids can throw tantrums in a grocery store, misbehave in class, shoplift, or inappropriately flirt with a young adult, and earn punishments appropriate for children. However, history (and studies) reveal that children of color earn a disproportionate punishment for doing these same things.

In an effort to prevent their children from being subjected to these punishments that have ranged from inappropriate to emotionally scarring to deadly, a lot of fear is instilled in children about the potential consequences. I don’t know many white families that have “the talk” with young children in the car before every trip to a store. I don’t know a black family that didn’t give that talk to their children.

If you don’t know what “the talk” is, then odds are likely that you’ve never been (or seen a loved one) treated like a dangerous criminal for behavior that while people get an appropriate punishment — if not a slap on the wrist or a free pass.

The photo above continues to tell this ongoing story about our society.

When a white person decides to truly love a person of color like family, their world must change. I’m not just talking about partnerships, but also close friendships. You’re going to see social injustices and racist behavior far more often. At first, you’re likely to find yourself in denial — no matter how “woke” you think you are.

I’ve watched security guards and police behave differently towards my family as I was following behind them until they realized I was with them. I’ve had friends and acquaintances feel compelled to unburden themselves about racial topics to me only after my family left the house. I’ve had servers treat me and one of my friends differently — and most inappropriately — in restaurants.

I’ve lost close family over this behavior. I didn’t want to believe it would play out this way. In fact, I procrastinated about taking the issue head-on because I was in denial that it would be an issue.

When I realized that I needed to take it on or risk disrespecting those around me, people who claimed to care about me wanted me to do more to protect the feelings of those in the wrong than be honest, loving, and respectful to those who’ve earned that basic right.

It’s a painful moment to realize how deep-seeded this behavior can be. It’s almost as painful to realize that you probably should have known that’s how it would be and didn’t want to face it.

I was fortunate that I didn’t wait so long to speak out that I put those I care about in any uncomfortable situations. However, I know people to this day who behave this way — people who think they’re friends to someone of color and shout it to the world around them but then can’t bring themselves to invite those friends to meaningful events.

They have other friends and family who might exhibit ignorant or even hateful behavior and they’re afraid to speak out. They don’t even want to put those people on notice about their behavior and lack the spine to stand up and enforce consequences when their warnings are unheeded.

In these situations, they’re suddenly aware that they might be alienated, abandoned, or disproportionately punished for something that is completely ignorant — alienated, abandoned, and disproportionately punished in ways black people have had to get used to potentially facing on a daily basis just ‘to be.’

Many white athletes are behaving this way. They’re afraid of taking a stand and losing what’s important to them. Some of them are in denial right now and they’re hoping it will be resolved without them. They’re approaching that slow realization that they might have to speak out and suddenly they might not be treated like white people anymore.


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