Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mike Greenberg on Martin Luther Coon

Mike Greenberg of the ESPN show Mike and Mike thanked listeners for joining them on Martin Luther Coon Day.”  When he realized his gaffe he changed his wording to King. 

King has apologized for his gaffe.

ESPN broadcaster Mike Greenberg is apologizing for saying the words "Martin Luther Coon" on his morning radio show.

The words were spoken on Martin Luther King Day.

The SportsCenter anchor and Mike and Mike in the Morning co-host says he was "talking too fast -- and slurring my words" when he committed the gaffe on the radio Monday.

Greenberg issued an online apology stating "I would never say anything like that, not in public, or in private, or in the silence of my own mind." He said he felt "horrible" about the words.

First, let me say that I believe that it is a good thing that he apologized but I simply cannot believe him.  This cannot be a simple slip of the tongue because coon and king sound nothing alike.  It would take a real leap of the imagination to believe that of all of the words he could have slipped up with, that coon innocently fell from his lips.

He specifically said that he would never think such thoughts in the privacy of his mind and that cannot be an honest statement.  He had to have been thinking it to say it.  At this point, it seems more likely that he apologized because he got caught rather than a feeling of true remorse.

This apology smacks of a fear of rightly being called a racist.  Greenberg is well aware that any backlash that  causes him to lose sponsors would mean the end of his show.  There are going to be a few people that will look at his record and crack this up to a gaffe, however that would be a mistake because no matter how well meaning or kind a person is, racism is a part of them because we live in a racist society.   We can play with words and say that what he said was racist, rather than calling him a racist but that does not change the facts.   Accepting this apology means that once again Blacks are being asked to turn the other cheek.  How many times are we expected to accept the fake apologies and lies of Whiteness, while our humanity continues to be impugned?

It is time that a message be sent that we will no longer tolerate these fake apologies after the fact.  If we fail to issue consequences for racist behaviour it will continue unabated.  A message needs to be sent to Whiteness that our humanity is worth something and no false apology makes up for the harm that is caused when they decide to invoke White privilege.  It is time that Whiteness be held accountable and this means that Greenberg needs to be called on what he said.