Public radio host Terry Gross had an exchange with comedian Ramy Youssef during a recent episode of “Fresh Air” that was as poignant as it was hilarious. Gross asked Youssef, who is Muslim, about elements of his life that appear to be in conflict with his faith.
Gross: “Like, you’re really — you are a practicing Muslim. You probably practice it slightly different than your parents do, and you’re not completely all in. I mean, it’s clear. Like, you have premarital sex, for example.”
YOUSSEF: “Yeah. We would call it the picking and choosing. Sometimes, we would call it Allah carte ... where we’re kind of, you know — everyone’s got a different line, and it’s really funny. There’s the people who are like, ‘OK, I’m going to have sex, but I’m not going to drink.’ Then there’s the people who are like, ‘No way am I having sex, but let’s do acid on Saturday.’”
In many ways the line that Youssef refers to can be said about the supporters of President Trump who get offended when people call them racists for supporting a man who in testimony to Congress in 1993 said some Native American casinos shouldn’t be allowed because “they don’t look like Indians to me” and in 2016 said that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not be impartial presiding over a lawsuit involving Trump University because he was Latino.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is one of those people.
He is under fire for hosting a $250,000 a plate fundraiser for President Trump. Someone close to Ross, who also has a financial stake in Equinox as well as SoulCycle, came to the owner’s defense, telling the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “They agree on some things and disagree on others, specifically on the rhetoric around race,” adding, “with regards to race, Stephen’s record on fighting racism speaks for itself. It is possible to support someone on the basis of some things, and not agree with everything about them.”
The statement reminds me of that hate the sin/love the sinner mumbo-jumbo some in religious communities use to try to justify homophobia, as if one’s sexual orientation was restricted to the bedroom.
Ross may not be a racist, but where he has chosen to draw his line is different from where his star wideout Kenny Stills drew his.
“You can’t have a non-profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills wrote on Twitter with a screenshot from the website RISE to Win, a nonprofit created by Ross that prides itself on “harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations.”
Ross is not the only NFL owner who purports to be a fighter for social justice while buddying up to with the man who called some NFL players sons of bitches for protesting police brutality (insert Robert Kraft/Meek Mill joke here). The reality is many people in power play both sides, be they billionaires like Ross and Kraft or the politicians who seek their contributions. At the end of the day, it’s all about where the rich white men who own teams full of black and brown men choose to draw their line.
Though if we’re being honest the color that matters most in this scenario is green.
The irony in all of this is that clearly the source who came to Ross’ defense thought they were distancing the owner from racism, but in doing so, painted a perfect picture of how Ross and others like him enjoy the benefits of white privilege.
Minorities do not have the luxury of compartmentalizing the effects of racism because it is woven into virtually every aspect of American life. From redlining by mortgage lenders and the calculative manner in which early-voting restrictions are applied to police brutality and discrimination against natural black hair, it must be nice to live in a world where race is viewed as a card to be played and not a scarlet letter to be endured.
That isn’t to suggest things haven’t changed because they have. But just this week the Galveston Police Department in Texas had to apologize after pictures of white police officers on horseback leading a handcuffed black man by a rope began circulating.
“Officers showed poor judgment in this instance,” Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale said.
Well, that’s one way of putting it.
The point is Ross has every right to host a fundraiser for Trump. But he doesn’t get to side step the negativity attached to it because he thinks playing both sides gives him cover.
When you draw a line you have to own it. If you don’t like the light that line puts you in, redraw it.
If you don’t think that’s fair, get in line behind Colin Kaepernick, whose line cost him his career.