The NBA, in case you haven’t heard, is “moving away” from the term “owner” in referencing the person who purchased the team, replacing it with the less offensive term “governor”. They actually did this years ago, but didn’t really tell anyone and now a certain subset of people are all bent out of shape.
Changing the job title of a billionaire isn’t that big of a move, but it’s telling that the NBA did it and didn’t even do a bunch of self-congratulatory PR. No one expects the NFL to follow suit.
The NBA is a mostly African-American league with a mostly white bosses, so it’s not hard to see how people could interpret that as insensitive. But I think the important thing here is the NBA’s response. They learned that some of their players found something to be problematic and rather than wait for it to blow over or dig their heels in or start fining people who complained, they quietly stopped doing the offensive thing. That is how good and decent people respond upon learning that they’re causing someone pain. They stop doing that thing. It’s pretty simple.
This is how people should act. Every time.
Because no one cares if you find it offensive. In fact, your feelings are completely irrelevant.
If only Adam Silver were in charge in Skowhegan when the school board finally voted to stop using the “Indians” mascot. There’s no shortage of evidence that Native American mascots are harmful. The National Congress for American Indians started campaigning for the removal of these mascots back in 1968, which means that for the vast majority of people alive today, the mascot was known to be offensive back when they were in high school. That’s than white people have known they shouldn’t use the “n word”. So a town’s “history” and “good intentions” are just excuses to perpetuate a stereotype that for their entire lives people have known to be rooted in hatred.
Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and the state of Maine stepped in.
It may seem like these controversies are new and scary and the whole damn world has gone mad, but they aren’t. These issues have been around for a long time, longer than you think. What’s changed is that people are finally being forced to account for their role in hurting people and it’s that accountability that’s new and scary. If you played nothing but pickup basketball and you never called your own fouls, it’s a pretty rough adjustment to a real game with 3 refs and suddenly you can’t knock people over every time they drive the lane. Fouls didn’t change. They’re just being called.
The mascot issue is resolved, but it won’t be the last one. Before you know it, there will be some new controversy and you’ll have to respond to it. You can act like the NBA and respond with empathy and understanding, learning a little bit more about your fellow man in the process. Or you can dig in and start a petition and threaten everyone who will listen until you either get your way or someone takes that option away from you. Only one of those choices will make you look bad on the evening news.