Basketball is not the problem

In Section: News blog Posted By: Neal
- First, I'll say that this truly sucks and reeks of a bygone era.

The storyline that's emerging from this whole basketball court beating incident on Lansing's south side is this: a bunch of black guys play basketball in a neighborhood referred to as "Cleaverville" (a reference to the outdated all-white 1950s sitcom "Leave it to Beaver" - a person who lives there actually said this), the neighbors perceive this as a threat, then tensions boil over and one of the black guys beats up Ward Cleaver (his name is Larry Ruble, and he is white), then the city removes the basketball hoops at the neighbors' request so that those big, bad black guys stay away.

Peace restored.

Oh, and, once again, police are looking for the suspects, nondescript except that they're black and they're young.

Now, several people have said - thank God - that the basketball hoops are not the problem (Police Lt. Noel Garcia, Second Ward Councilwoman Tina Houghton), but the behavior of the guy who savagely beat the other guy. But this incident's portrayal in the media, and the city's response of removing the sports equipment, is ridiculous. I think the neighbors' desire to have the basketball hoops removed is racist and irrational. To wit: before Larry Ruble's beating, according to an LSJ article, the neighbors complaints were that the basketball players used the court after dark, parked on the grass and were occasionally rowdy. Annoying, yes. Criminal? Maybe, if you count violating a noise ordinance as criminal behavior.

But what screams to me out of this is that these neighbors saw the basketball players as a threat, likely based on fear of young black men. If they perceive their neighborhood to be "Cleaverville," then why would they want a bunch of black people there playing basketball after sunset?

Larry Ruble's wife was paraphrased in Tuesday's LSJ story on the removal of the basketball hoops that she is concerned the whole thing is taking on racial overtones. And she is right, it is. There's a forum scheduled Tuesday to discuss this, and the racial implications of this incident desperately need to be raised.

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I\'d say the rule of opposites applies here. What if it had been a middle-class black neighborhood with parents of school-age kids and retirees, and rowdy white jocks were playing basketball and drinking after dark...and then three of them beat-up a black guy in his 50\'s who protested?\nWould they be looking for just one white guy....I don\'t think so, and nor should they be...it\'s wrong not matter which race is doing the beating.
Brother....you have some major holes in your ability to rationalize, unless your intent is to stir racial tension into the pot. I believe that a forum could indeed help you out unless you are so old school that you can\'t let go of your own prejudism. Way to represent. I believe that this type of addiction to sensationalism and drama is what perpetuates the race war, not white, black, yellow, or brown.
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