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Russell Westbrook, an Outrageous Child and White Entitlement

My husband is a sports fanatic. I mean that in the purest sense of the word. But when it comes to basketball, there’s a stronger word that communicates a complete obsession that hasn’t been placed into our lexicon yet to describe his fandom.

Because of that maddening obsession with the game, anytime the TV is on and he’s watching, he’s watching some sort of coverage or game. As his wife and consequent roommate, I, a woman who detests sports, frequently hear about the happenings in the world of sports, basketball especially, walking by the TV. I cannot count how many times hearing these racist ass white men and cooning ass Black men with their anti-Black positions on everything has made me say to my husband, “Get this shit off my fucking TV.”

Today, it was some white man who’s apparently half of Tiki and Tierney with former football player Tiki Barber who made me lose my shit and put my husband on the receiving end of my thirty-minute rant about racism and white entitlement.

Last night, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder played the Denver Nuggets in Denver. During the third quarter, Russell ended up out of bounds. A fan in a floor seat, a white boy, “tapped or lightly pushed Westbrook just after the ref blew the whistle.” In response, Westbrook turned and gave the little boy the look all Black people know before speaking to the boy and his dad. Westbrook later told reporters that he told the boy’s dad, “Be careful, man. You can’t have your son just hitting random people. I don’t know him, he don’t know me.”

During the show, Tierney argued that Westbrook overreacted because the boy, who Tierney thought was 9 or 10 years old, was just a kid. Tiki argued that it was not about how old the child was but about the fact that Russell was touched. Tierney went on to argue that the boy’s father probably has millions (how the fuck he arrived at that conclusion I cannot explain) and paid good money to be in that seat, so Westbrook didn’t need to make a big deal of the incident and should have instead given the kid a handshake and a “memory” for the rest of his life. As Tiki continued to defend Westbrook, making the valid point that children need to be taught what’s right and wrong early, Tierney continued to show his the entitlement that white people usually do when it comes to their children. When a fan called in to bring up how certain cities are notorious for having racist fans who yell racist slurs and other racially offensive statements from the stands, so the Black players are rightfully on high alert in cities like Denver, Tierney dismissed that as a “broad stroke.”

I am so fucking tired of white people.

Let’s begin with the fact that no one sits in floor seats at an NBA game without having the expectation that a player could touch them. It is illogical to want to sit essentially on the court, literally a few feet away from where ten men are playing a fast-paced contact sport, and then become defensive when it appears a player, in the course of doing his job, would come in contact with you as a fan. It’s even more illogical – or perhaps not illogical and just the nature of whiteness that convinces white people they never have to adhere to rules or display common decency – for a parent to bring his young child to sit courtside and then allow that child to not only stand up from his seat during the game, but then say and do nothing when his child puts his hand on one of the players.

I’m willing to bet my life savings on the fact that had that been a Black child and father sitting in those seats, the child would not have had the gall to touch that man. And if by some miracle a Black child had worked up the nerve to touch Westbrook, his daddy would have corrected him immediately and profusely apologized to the superstar because Black people have to know how to move in this world. A Black child at 10 would know better and if he forgot, it would be a lesson thoroughly and publicly reinforced.

So the fact that Westbrook even had to admonish the child and his father speaks to how white people do not respect others’ body autonomy, particularly Black people’s autonomy. And it shouts at how white people still believe their money buys them the right to violate us. Whether his father paid $5 or $5000 for the seats, that child had no right to touch Westbrook.

But the larger, more dangerous and more alarming problem is that this kind of entitlement in white boys has deadly consequences. It’s no coincidence that white men and boys are overwhelmingly most likely to carry out mass shootings at schools and in other public places. The Sandy Hook shooter, the Columbine shooters and the Aurora theatre shooter are all white boys who weren’t taught that they cannot do whatever they want to people. Their entitlement went unchecked and lead to the death of dozens of people.

White people’s failure to check their children’s outrageous behavior, and further, their dismissal of Black people’s angry and appropriate responses to their children’s violations, are clear indications of how we’ve arrived at a society of white people, most relevantly white men, who act with a total disregard for the safety and well-being of everyone else. No one who is the recipient of unwanted and uninvited touching from my child in my presence would ever have the chance to lecture me because I would be too busy handling my child who decided to act so ridiculously. I live by different rules though.

White people have the option of choosing whether to act with integrity or respect because they know that even when they’re wrong, they will always have defenders who excuse them. They are conditioned to believe that their children are always afforded innocence and absolution from the consequences other children would suffer. They are taught that the world is here to pedestal and adore their children.

That father is lucky that his son only received a lecture from Westbrook. He should count his blessings that Westbrook looked before he leaped. It could’ve ended with his child being severely injured. His son should have taken heed to that free lesson.

I’m sure he didn’t though.

UPDATE: Last night, Westbrook got into a verbal altercation with a white man and his wife in Utah. Westbrook said the white man told him to get on his knees.


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Kinfolk Kollective avatar About the author: LaSha is a writer who’s obsessed with Black people. Find her work here of course, but also on Ebony, The Guardian, Essence, Salon, Everyday Feminism, Teen Vogue, HuffPo and For Harriett. She’s loves trap music & 90s R&B, watches Jeopardy faithfully and believes fried chicken is her soulmate. The clapback queen is loud and clear about loving her kids above all else and kinda digs her Yankee husband too. Anti-Blackness gives her hives. Get at her @lashawrites on Twitter.

7 comments… add one
  • “he just tapped him. he was excited” It doesn’t matter. We know he wouldn’t have pulled that BS with a white player because they’re raised to respect their agency/humanity. But black folks are pets and should be grateful, flexible, amicable to conform to the needs of white attention.

  • Ciji Stewart ,

    I think your article was a witness to what’s been going on for a long time. I want to add that what’s happening in our country is a disgrace but not new. The should be shameful acts could and should be stopped but it’s what they wanted. It’s what they were and are breeding.

  • JC ,

    All I can do is shake my head…you summed it all up here. My children would never have the nerve to put their hands on a strange adult, let alone push them. And then the goofy ass dad sitting there with no apparent concern on his face smh. Too bad he couldn’t give him the memory of getting his ass snatched up…

  • Gee ,

    Thank you for explaining what I couldn’t!

  • The nerve to say he should have shook his hand and gave him a memory.yea a memory when smack the shit outta you and your white privileged daddy!!!! GTFOH

  • Maurice ,

    Russ had every right to confront these fans, he’s been harassed before by court side people and if anything the kid is lucky Russ didn’t reflexively smack him. White people do need to start minding their kids because not everyone is going to be as nice as Westbrook or the mother who had the misfortue of dealing the Astro’s owner ex in Houston a few weeks back.

  • IdaHoe avatar S G ,

    The thing about the autonomy of Black bodies is that whites people don’t realIze we aren’t asking for it; we are taking what belongs to us. Sometimes that means a whopping for little Chad.

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