Joe Buck, Casual Racist
Another in my intermittent series, Dear White Friends, what have you done to dismantle systemic racism today?
Last week, self-proclaimed Lucky Bastard Joe Buck opened up about what he called his addiction to hair plugs. He started having the hair replacement procedures done in the 90’s and continued having them up through a procedure in 2011 that damaged a nerve that attaches to his vocal chords. Pause for a moment, and consider how terrifying that must have been for him to wake up, not be able to speak, and that his job, is talking.
While like many millions of sports fans who find it easy to hate on him when he is calling games, I found my empathy for him about this immediately, and was glad he found the courage to talk about it. His openness about vanity and expectations from his job on TV pushing him toward the surgeries is something most women, even those of us not on TV, have been dealing with for most of our lives. Good on him for talking about it.
Then yesterday, in an attempt at hair plug self deprecation, Buck tweeted out a photo of himself (either photoshopped or in costume, I am unclear) in a massive afro, gold framed sunglasses, a gold rope chain necklace, and a poly-blend looking disco shirt. It’s an obvious costume, but is a racist stereotype nonetheless. How it came up in my Twitter feed I don’t even know, I don’t follow him. (I must have been searching for baseball info.) But I thought, “well that’s some racist shit right there.” I tweeted:
About an hour later, he had tweeted me back:
[I digress: THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU PHOTOSHOP MCENROE’S HAIR ON YOUR HEAD, JOE?? OR THOR’S OR FORREST GUMP’S??]
And then, like it usually does on Twitter it devolved from there. His followers came at me with mild annoyance like the person right above, and with pictures of McEnroe, other white men in afro wigs, and some obscure to me white football player in the 70’s with an afro. Then it started to escalate with rhetorical questions about, “why is everything about race?” and “who do you thing you are?” and as eggs started to follow me, I could feel it going to personal attacks. But, I answered Buck’s question, “Pretty easy accusation to throw around?” with, “If it fits.”
Then Joe Buck again:
He came back again, admitting I irritated him (which was the whole point, racism is really uncomfortable, duh):
Meanwhile, I blocked 30 people in the span of 10 minutes. People defending not only Joe Buck’s fragility and honor, but the casual racism of a stereotype of a black man. One that is in Halloween stores right now.
Since I know how this can go, I locked my account, cleared out my location info, and deleted all the tweets from the hoards. All of them were white men.
Buck’s final exchange with someone who got there too late to harass me:
I’m glad he opened up about the hair replacement addiction. Maybe he can apply some of that personal reflection to systemic racism. Hopefully it won’t take 20 years to understand that racism flourishes under stereotypes, white privilege and silence.
And this is what I did yesterday to dismantle systemic racism.