As a newspaper writer, I use what little influence I have to advocate for the rights of Hispanics—but I never make excuses when prominent Latinos fall short of the mark.
In fact, I expect all Hispanics in the public spotlight to be good role models, and I openly chastise any Chicano convicted of wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, the same mindset doesn't exist in the African American community, where the defensiveness begins the minute a black celebrity gets into trouble:
Mike Tyson is not a convicted rapist; he was set up.
Michael Jackson is not a child molester; he loves all the children of the world.
O.J. Simpson is not a murderer; didn't a court find him "not guilty"?
Michael Vick didn't do anything wrong; all the brothers in the hood are into dogfighting.
African Americans not only condone criminal behavior from their stars—they also condone coarse and vulgar behavior from regular black folks.
Hardly anyone bats an eye, for example, when one black person greets a comrade with "nigga" as a term of endearment.
And now we have New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas trying to justify his use of the word "bitch" to refer to a former female Knicks executive—who's seeking $10 million in damages for being fired after accusing Thomas of harassment.
This from the Associated Press:
"To New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, hearing a white man refer to a black woman using a certain vulgar term would be 'highly offensive.' But he said he wouldn't be so offended if he heard a black man use the same term to refer to a black woman.
'I do make a distinction,' Thomas said in a videotaped deposition played for a jury Monday in his sexual harassment trial."
Why hasn't any prominent African American condemned Isiah's misogyny and stupidity? Why the deafening silence when a black man makes a patently ridiculous and extremely offensive statement?
Many whites, especially those who live in ethnically homogenous states, have very little daily interaction with blacks. They mold their opinions of African Americans by observing the behavior of famous black musicians and athletes.
Isiah Thomas is doing incalculable harm to his own race. It behooves responsible people of color to condemn him in no uncertain terms.