Riley Cooper’s fine for using an ethnic slur avoids the real problem

August 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Posted in African American, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Media and Race, minority, Race in America, skin color, Slavery | Leave a comment
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Many Americans like to play a game called “Let’s Pretend,” where they know something to be real, but pretend that it does not exist or they have no knowledge of it. Such is the case with comments surrounding Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver Riley Cooper. The team fined Cooper for saying that “he would fight every ‘n—–‘ at a Kenny Chesney concert in Philadelphia.” The pretending comes into play when many people react to the news like they did not know that many Americans still use the N word. We know that this ethnic slur is used on a regular basis by many Americans, so what is the problem?
The problem with Cooper using the N word is that he used it in a place he thought was safe to use it, but he got caught. He evidently forgot that being a high-profile person in a large city meant someone had a camera on him at all times. The owner of the Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie, remarked that “We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper’s words,” and continued by stating that “This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society. He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident.” (Upi.com/Sports) For Cooper, the fine is a reminder to make sure the area is safe before any word is used that could result in another fine. As far as behavior and attitude regarding non-European ethnic American players are concerned, Lurie should address his concerns with the entire organization.
With respect to Cooper and his use of the N word, chances are he grew up in an environment where the word was used by people as part of their everyday speech. We Americans like to pretend that all bigotry and prejudice has been eliminated from society because we are now all civil. The reality is that many Americans did not get the memo about ethnic slurs being unacceptable in a civil society or if they did get the memo just ignored it. Many European Americans grew up in communities where the use of the N word was a regular part of everyday conversations. For anyone growing up in such a community considering the N word as something unacceptable was unthinkable. No one comes into this word creating his or her own values and standards, but simply learn and accept without question what is already in place. In many instances, some people do not learn until latter in life that certain words are considered ethnic slurs. My statements are not meant to dismiss the use and power of ethnic slurs regardless of how they were acquired. My concern is that when a problem such as Cooper’s occurs, simply fining him is not the answer to the problem. The problem is not that he used the N word, but why.
Society has done a disservice to many Americans by not clearing the air concerning the myth of race. America is a diverse society, but also one that embraced bigotry and prejudice. When American slavery created the two races—black and white, it also created the element of color to be used to keep these races separate. When one so-called race is made to think it superior to other so-called races, then bigotry and prejudice comes into play. America has yet to debunk the myth so many people still hold on to the belief that multiple races of human beings exist and are inferior to the so-called white race. We are led to believe that all is well in society because all people possess the same rights and privileges. While we know that bigotry and prejudice still exist, we pretend that they all in the past.
The fine accessed against Cooper does nothing to inform him relative to why the fine was given. The message that action sent to the other players was not to get caught using ethnic slurs. That is the wrong message to send because it does nothing to inform Cooper and others why the use of ethnic slurs are not socially acceptable. What Lurie should do is institute a program where his entire organization can learn about American diversity and how we are all human being with the same social value regardless of our skin color. An explanation of why using ethnic slurs would be more beneficial than just a fine. To some people who see nothing wrong with using ethnic slurs as long as one is not detected, they lack the knowledge and understanding of their perception of themselves and others.
America gets its strength through is diversity, so when Americans are educated about diversity it should not focus on the things that make ethnic groups different from one another, but what makes them alike. The differences among ethnic groups are derived through human efforts—economical, educational, geographical, and cultural; these differences have nothing to do with biology. So, the idea of ethnic superiority has nothing to do with color. If programs spend time teaching the differences among ethnic groups, then these programs are counter-productive. The concern in teaching about diversity is to show just how much alike human being really are, not what makes them different.
Cooper understands that what he did was not socially acceptable, he said “I shouldn’t have. I ‘m disgusted. And I’m sorry. That’s not the type of person I am. I wasn’t raised that way.” We, unfortunately, do not know what he meant by “that way.” He continued by stating that “I have a great mom and dad at home. And they’re extremely, extremely disappointed in me. They are disgusted with my actions.” What we see in Cooper’s comments is a lack of understanding of why he made the comment; he knows that he should not have made it, we just see how embarrassed he was about the negative press he received and how it affected his parents. In order to try and prevent a repeat performance, Cooper should be made aware of why he made the comment in the first place. He needs to know that he is not alone in this situation, that many of his colleagues are as ignorant as is he regarding the myth of race, diversity, and ethnicity; they just do a better job hiding their ignorance.

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