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10/02/2013

A reader asks if Tanner Brock would be treated the same way if he was not white

The letter is written on a yellow piece of legal paper, and in cursive. Since no one writes in cursive any longer, my guess is the author of said letter is a little older. 

The letter was sent to me at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and it was in response to this long story about former TCU linebacker Tanner Brock. In the article Brock, who was one of the four TCU football players who were arrested for selling a small amount of drugs two years ago, admits he messed up and has asked for forgiveness.

K90tJ.St.58The reaction to the article was that Brock deserves another chance, and people were happy he's moved on and up at Sam Houston State.

The author of this letter, whose name is "Barbara", wrote:

"Read your article about Tanner Brock in the Sept. 27 Star Telegram. Apparently, you believe that a white, upper middle class football player should have the public's sympathy and understanding because he's a "good boy" who screwed up.

"Had Brock been a poor, minority kid who "screwed up", you can bet such an article would never have been written about him. And he's shacking up with his girlfriend.

"Help me understand why cases like this are treated so differently. Young "good kids" who are NOT white, etc. screw up but they are classified as criminals, never-do-wells. They shack up too but they are irresponsible.

"Too bad you - and many journalists - have tunnel vision. But keep trying. Maybe one of these days you'll get your priorities straight and realize the fans may have their priorities all "screwed up"."

- Barbara 

THOUGHTS:

1. Tanner is white. Tanner is not upper middle class. He's not poor, but that's a working class background.

2. It's 2013, not 1713. People live with their girlfriends, boyfriends, etc. You don't have to like it or do it yourself. Deal with it.

3. Barbara may be right about cutting Tanner some slack because he's a white kid. It helps he has no prior record and this, thus far, is a one-time thing. I would hope that if everything were exactly the same - no prior record, saying/doing what has been asked, taking responsibility, being accountable while expressing regret - he would be treated publicly with the same leniency. 
There is a decent chance he would not.

To deny that such prejudices exist is ignorant. Just as some people take a look at the color of the skin and the background and label him an amoral thug is not too much different than looking at a white kid and think, "He's upper middle class."

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Comments

Mike C

Excellent response where one was not required, Mac. Shows you're a true journalist.

College Football

The NCAA ranks are filled with kids - black, brown, white, whatever - that have messed up once and been given another chance to demonstrate they understand they messed up and can now succeed. Some are suspended a few games, some are kicked off teams and find a second chance with another, some go Pro. Barbara needs to expand her scope of knowledge to the whole picture. More often than not, in college kids are given 10 chances to fix it before anything is done (ie. LSU and Honey Badger) - and the players race or demographic seems to have little to do with it.

JWnTX

Barbara must live in the 60's. If Tanner had been a minority, the press would have NEVER made a big deal of his arrest. They have a narrative, and holding a minority kid up to public ridicule is not it. Further, had he been a minority, I doubt he would have been kicked off most teams--he would have likely garnered a suspension of some time. After all, the Barbara's of the world have made their soft bigotry of low expectations an art form of sorts. Minority kids aren't expected to act like white kids anymore. They get a lower bar of expectations thanks to the Barbara's of the world. All that said, I think Gary Patterson has the stones to do what he thinks is right, regardless of the Barbara's of the world. And for that I'm very grateful.

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