Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season

By David Shields | Go to book overview

4
THE BEAUTIFUL AND
THE USEFUL

12.18.94—Pauls father is an art historian specializing in African art who, according to Paul, “fucking loves black people.” He gives to Paul to give to me Walt Frazier and Ira Berkow’s book Rockin’ Steady, in which Frazier says: “I think I relate best to young kids. Like at Kutsher’s camp, I’ll call the kids chump. They call me chump back. I tell them how great I am. They say to me, Jerry West is best. Or Pistol Pete.” Both of these players are white. “But we’re just kidding. We get along good. Kids are real. You can’t fool kids…. Adults, they’re shaky. Adults ride with the winner. If you lose, you’re a bum. But kids live and the with you. They make excuses for you.” The line “You can’t fool kids” reminds me of former Pistons coach Chuck Daly’s remark that “you can fool everyone but kids, dogs, and NBA players,” i.e., they’re all so simple that nothing could possibly interfere with their radar. Later, Frazier says, “Cool is a quality admired in the black neighborhoods. Cool is a matter of selfpreservation, of survival. It must go back to the slave days, when oftentimes all a black man had to defend himself with was his poise. If you’d show fear or anger, you’d suffer the consequences. Today, the guy respected in the ghetto is the guy who resists the urge to go off—who

-73-

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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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