When the White Culture Defense and a NBA Player Collide

A few months back, social justice activist Lorena Wallace (originally from Kentucky, lives in Portland) wrote a thought piece, White People Have No Culture.  In her article for Terra Incognita, Wallace argued as a white woman that yes, there is white culture, but it is the culture of genocide and slavery and oppression. That white culture creates grief in indigenous communities. That white culture takes and simultaneously ignores human suffering. That its arrogance is in its logic: white culture is born on third base and acts like it hit a triple.

“White people do have culture. Our culture is that of colonization. Of genocide. Of taking. Of envy and of fear. The majority of white people have no traditions, and the ones we have are rooted in consumption and the superficial application of organized religion, both of which are steeped in histories of violence.” (Lorena Wallace)

She intersected sports as the only culture white people own with pride and even that is, as she described, “fanatical and used to justify property destruction, vitriolic hatred for people we don’t know.”

Of that particular last detail, “hatred for people we don’t know”,  her point will be meted out if, in a few weeks, Kawhi Leonard is traded and Paul George leaves OKC. Fan bases will be into their feelings and rage will come spewing out in a cesspool of hate, as if adult men cannot change jobs because they want to.

As for the rest of her treatise,  I’ll sum it up this way. White culture creates loss and grief because it appropriates, murders and kills, then gives itself credit for the destruction because it can’t take credit for the creation.

Though her article was written in February, in June it created a Twitter war with NBA player Sam Dekker.

Who is Sam Dekker?

He is known for his timely shooting that put Wisconsin in the 2015 NCAA championship game. He’s a perimeter scorer without much defense who was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the first round (18th pick) of 2015. He played sparingly after a back injury his rookie year. His second year, he played in 77 games- 6.5 points.  He was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers a year ago and played in 73 games- 4.2 points. So not a NBA player worth the ink but here he is having folks talk about what he did off the court and not on the court.

What he did was get into a Twitter thang because of Lorena Wallace’s article. Note to NBA players and just about everyone. You are not going to win a Twitter war when the subject is culture, race, oppression. You are not going to change anyone’s mind. All you are doing, and most do it badly, is reacting and if you have a reputation to lose like Dekker, a white player in a mostly black league and not a lot of playing time, then it’s probably better to fall back and just let the discourse ride without you.

But alas, social discipline is always missing. Dekker got into his white culture feelings and put it on Twitter. It didn’t go well.

It began when Bronson Koenig who is a G League player and Native American posted the link to Lorena Wallace’s article. Koenig tweeted as a commentary to the content: Sad but true. He then tweeted: Still waiting for even one white person to tell me just what America white culture is.

That was an invitation for Sam Dekker to jump in head first, unaware of the cold water in the pool and that he may drown. He was never going to win this.

Don’t put it in my face that being a white guy is something I’m supposed to be ashamed of. I’m proud of who I am and so should you. Buy you’re Native American and also White, BK. This article speaks very many untruths about most of our “culture” that we supposedly don’t have.

Dekker fell further in the morass he dug by responding with this: When did I say I was proud of white skin? Lol. I wish I wasn’t so pale.

White skin and white culture are not moral equivalencies. Dekker wasnt being asked to be ashamed but to be accountable for historical atrocities. Someone on Twitter re-spelled his last name as DeKKKer.  He tried to exit gracefully but there is no grace in social media.  I’m proud of who I am so should you. Go get a hobby or have a beer. I’m not gonna entertain all this nonsense. #LoveYall.

With “nonsense” and “#LoveYall” Dekker succeeded at linking contextual opposites that dismiss the truth about generational trauma. He was, on cue, appropriately tone deaf. For instance, the raping and murdering of Native Americans and stealing their land, the raping and murdering of slaves and ruining their families has created genetic sorow. That’s not nonsense. #LoveYall  diminishes both the oppressor and the oppressed. Its a casual line meant to pacify and exit nicely while dismissing victims. It creates more tension because he accidentally or purposefully doesn’t understand Lorena Wallace’s point. He lacks empathy and compassion. So, no. He doesn’t #LoveYall. I won’t get into the Twitter threat-fight and a hyper-emotional man buying a plane ticket to settle things the way some men like to do with fists all knotted up in someone’s face.

The only one for whom this episode really mattered after twenty four hours was Sam Dekker, a NBA player trying to establish himself, fighting for minutes.

One of those who engaged with Dekker was a Clippers fan who admitted he was embarrassed Dekker was on his team. Dekker’s crime was he lost sight of time and place. He represents the Clippers and the league and his family. Purposefully, Twitter makes it impossible for context and nuance and ideas. You get in. You get out. Feelings get hurt. You can’t unring the bell.

The way these things go, when it is a person involved in entertainment streams like sports, they are the ones who suffer backlash. They have the most to lose. Good luck in training camp Sam Dekker.