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Apologetic Ohio State professor pledges to undergo the 'long process of antiracist learning' after publishing pro-football piece

We hate it when any of our readers click away from this site, but you really ought to read the entire piece in Reason detailing an Ohio State professor’s profuse apology “for the hurt, sadness, frustration, fatigue, exhaustion and pain” it caused anyone, especially black students. “I am struggling to find the words to communicate the deep ache for the damage I have done.”

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His apology was published in Inside Higher Ed, where the original piece, “Why America Needs College Football,” was published. Why does America need college football? For one reason, professor of higher education Matthew Mayhew thought that college football “might help get us through these uncharacteristically difficult times of great isolation, division and uncertainty.” He even called it bipartisan.

Uh oh.

Where to start with this?

I learned that I could have titled the piece “Why America Needs Black Athletes.” I learned that Black men putting their bodies on the line for my enjoyment is inspired and maintained by my uninformed and disconnected whiteness and, as written in my previous article, positions student athletes as white property. I have learned that I placed the onus of responsibility for democratic healing on Black communities whose very lives are in danger every single day and that this notion of “democratic healing” is especially problematic since the Black community can’t benefit from ideals they can’t access. I have learned that words like “distraction” and “cheer” erase the present painful moments within the nation and especially the Black community.

I know it’s not anyone’s job to forgive me, but I ask for it — another burden of a white person haunted by his ignorance. To consider the possible hurt I have played a role in, the scores of others whose pain I didn’t fully see, aches inside me — a feeling different and deeper than the tears and emotions I’ve experienced being caught in an ignorant racist moment.

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And that’s just a portion of his apology. The guy’s really, really, really sorry for writing about enjoying college football as if it were … a sport or something.

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It’s really astounding — and this was his reaction to the “distinguished academics” who filled him in on his “uninformed and disconnected whiteness” after writing, “I like football.” Will this groveling appease them? Or is it like Ibram X. Kendi says, there is no such thing as “not racist,” only the lifelong aspiration to be anti-racist?


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