Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season

By David Shields | Go to book overview

AUTHOR’S NOTE

During the 1994–95 NBA season, I attended nearly all of the Seattle SuperSonics’ home games; watched on TV nearly all their away games; listened to countless pre- and post-game interviews and call-in shows on the radio; talked to or tried to talk to players, coaches, agents, journalists, fans, my wife; corresponded with members of the Sonics newsgroup on the Internet; read articles and articles and articles. Although I’m a passionate basketball fan and Sonics fan, when I was writing the book I wasn’t interested in the game per sewho won, who lost, the minutiae of strategy. I was interested in how the game gets discussed. By the end of the season, I’d accumulated hundreds of pages of often illegible notes, the roughest of rough drafts. Over the last three years, I transformed those notes into this booka daily diary which runs the length of one team’s long-forgotten season and which is now focused, to the point of obsession, on how white people (including especially myself) think about and talk about black heroes, black scapegoats, black bodies.

What John Edgar Wideman calls “our country’s love/hate affair with the black body” can be seen nowhere more clearly than in the National Basketball Association, which is a photo negative of American race relations: strong young black men have some of the power, much of the money, and all of the fun. The NBA is a place where, without ever acknowledging itand because it’s never acknowledged, it’s that much more potent and tellingwhite fans and black players enact and quietly explode virtually every racial issue and tension in the culture at large. Race, the league’s taboo topic, is the league’s true subject.

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-xxi-

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Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Introduction vii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Contents xix
  • Author's Note xxi
  • 1 - America Upside Down 1
  • 2 - Everyone Else Is They 26
  • 3 - Proof of My Own Racism 53
  • 4 - The Beautiful and the Useful 73
  • 5 - Converting Our Self­ Loathing to Hatred 97
  • 6 - History Is Just a Rumor Somewhere out There 114
  • 7 - An Agony of Enthralldom 129
  • 8 - Can You Feel Now What Power Feels Like? 154
  • 9 - History Is Not Just a Rumor Somewhere out There 175
  • 10 - The Space between Us 198
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