Illinois State coach's response to racism is exactly why racism still flourishes in our country

Illinois State coach's response to racism is exactly why racism still flourishes in our country

What a typical response to racism from the head coach of Illinois State men’s basketball. During a home game on Saturday, Ryan Pedon got in an altercation with Norfolk State head coach Robert Jones. A situation that was none of Pedon’s business, because Jones was not even talking in the direction of his team.

Norfolk State guard Jamarii Thomas responded to a comment from a fan. Shortly after, the ESPN+ broadcasters said that comments of a “racial nature” had been made by Illinois State fans. When Thomas informed Jones of what happened, he stormed onto the floor. The referee stopped the coach and they had a discussion. As Jones headed back to his bench he looked over at Illinois State’s. Words were exchanged first from afar, and then face to face. Jones yelled that his player was called a name, and Pedon started gesturing and screaming right back at him. Both coaches were issued a technical foul.

It does not take a professional lip reader to see Jones is attempting to inform Pedon that a Norfolk State player had been called something highly inappropriate. In the postgame press conference — per the ISU student newspaper — Pedon said that his temper got the best of him, and his outburst had little to do with the opposing head coach. He did not, however, acknowledge the severity of Jones’ allegations and used a trope about his Italian ethnicity to explain his reaction.

On Sunday, Pedon issued an apology that was posted on the team’s Xwitter profile. In it he claimed that he did not hear what Jones was attempting to tell him. He instead escalated the situation, which he admitted he should not have done, and had he paid attention to what Jones was saying he would have reacted differently. Jones confirmed during a Monday press conference that Pedon said in the handshake line that he did not hear him.

Jones also did not let the Illinois State head coach off of the hook. He told the media that during their altercation Pedon said, “I don’t care,” when he was trying to explain that he heard one of his players was called the n-word. When they met in the handshake line Jones said that he asked him, “Why did you say that you don’t care if you didn’t hear what I said?”

Boom. For all of the damage and death that racism causes, it is so frustrating when people don’t want to hear about it. Some people in this world will go to great lengths to twist racism and be outraged for weeks when they feel it is unjust. But when a real incident happens, they don’t keep that same energy. Furthermore, those people refuse to believe that the issue is systemic.

All of the data out there about how Black people are mistreated or not afforded adequate justice, and we still have to shout for someone to maybe listen. The year 2023 is almost over, and a person in a public university arena allegedly was comfortable calling a Black man a racial slur who was on a court with other Black players, Black coaches and a Black referee.

For a Black player to be slurred in that environment, and then the white home head coach angrily inserts himself into the situation with no details and no desire to understand why the Black visiting coach is upset, therein lies the reason racism is still nowhere near eradicated in this country. It is reinforced more by people not willing to break stride and confront it, than the people who actually embrace it.

Since Saturday, the Illinois State athletic department has apologized in a statement and announced an investigation of the incident. That statement is not on its website nor posted on its social media channels. Pedon also contacted Jones, and during his Monday press conference, finally publicly addressed the alleged racial slur that was said.

So, now the school is managing the fallout of this viral moment of racism. What a shame, because this could have been a teaching moment.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.