Isiah Thomas' video-taped deposition, played the other day in a federal courtroom, contained a curiously phrased denial. When asked if a white male Knicks executive had referred to a black female Knicks executive as a "bitch," Thomas became vehement, certain that it could not have happened under his watch.Forget team policy, he said: "It would have violated my code of conduct ... A white man calling a black woman a bitch ... That is a problem for me."
But a black man calling a black woman a bitch — just one of the offensive terms Thomas himself is alleged to have used in addressing the plaintiff — is somewhat less offensive in his estimation. "Not as much," said Thomas. "I'm sorry to say. I do make a distinction."-From a Mark Kriegle article on Foxsports.com
As a person of color, Al Sharpton tends to be problematic for me when I engage in discourse on matters of race. He's always in front of the cameras, and many times his presence and presentation leads one to believe that he is more interested in advocating for himself than for the voiceless.
White people are very aware of this fact. In conversation with people, I have often heard some form of the hypothesis, "If the roles were reversed and the black person were in the wrong, would Sharpton make such a big deal out of this?" On the one hand, it's a fair question. But at the same time, the question serves as an unintentional and unnecessary diversion from whatever relevant issue is being debated.
So I was delighted to hear Rev. Sharpton come with a take this past week that adds a helpful dimension to his public persona, effectively undercutting the caricature that most people (present company included) view him as.
Isaiah Thomas was recently held liable in court for sexual harassment of a fellow New York Knicks front office member. As part of his hearing, he submitted a taped deposition where he made distinctions about how language by black men and white men toward black women should be judged. It was a distinction that a lot of people found ridiculous, and for good reason. One of those people just so happened to be Al Sharpton.
A few days after the Thomas decision was made, Sharpton publicly called for Thomas to apologize for his comments. He upped the ante by then contending that if Thomas does not apologize, Sharpton's organization will picket Knicks games this season.
This is a huge development. Obviously, Sharpton calling out a popular African American is a big deal. But to then picket a sport and team that is wildly popular within the African American community is arguably a bigger stand. It's an unexpected stand, but a welcomed one.
My hope is that Thomas realizes that a sincere apology would be appropriate. If not, then I hope that Rev. Sharpton makes good on his pledge to picket. I think it would be helpful to both of us.