HOUSTON- The story of Coach Eric King (as told in last week’s edition) and his experience at St. Pius X Catholic School should be a lesson for us all.
As long as King was using his influence, personality and connections to bring Black athletes to St. Pius he was welcomed. But, when it appeared that he would take his talents elsewhere he was humiliated, disregarded, disrespected and banned from the campus. It reminds me of the Lebron James debacle. As long as Lebron was using his talent to win games for the Cleveland Cavaliers they loved him enough to crown him “King James.” When he decided he wanted to be a Miami Heat they exposed how they truly felt about him all along.
We do not live in a post-racial society. We live in a “most racial” society. The election of the first Black president of the United States did not do away with racism in America; it only exposed how racist America truly was in the first place. The case of Coach King is proof that you are not even safe on “church grounds.” It is a disgrace that a Black man can be accused of something so flimsy and banned from an institution that is supposed to be a place where man goes to be redeemed and restored. I guess this should not surprise us since the most segregated time of the week in America is Sunday morning at 11am.
I was reminded by the publisher of this newspaper, Mr. Roy D. Malonson, when racial integration was legally instituted, there was a strong campaign among White schools to recruit Black athletes. Powerhouse athletic programs are serious breadwinners for educational institutions. They love to see us run the ball, shoot the ball and dash to the finish line, but feel they have the right to mistreat us when we no longer serve their immediate purpose. If Eric King could be treated like this on “church grounds”, none of us are immune. Wake up people. Ain’t nothin’ changed.
We received a response to last week’s story from the head of St. Pius, Sister Donna Pollard. It’s interesting how she claimed that her schedule would not permit her to meet with me until June, yet she somehow “found time” to write various back and forth responses to my article. What a difference a day, and a front page article in the African-American News&Issues, makes.
Additionally troubling was the fact that St. Pius’ letter was addressed to the publisher, Mr. S.A. Malonson and Editor Emeritus, Mr. Bud Johnson. Anyone connected to the Black community knows that Johnson, one of the Black Press’ literary giants, died two years ago.
The fact that St. Pius would address a letter to a dead man (rest his soul) says quite a bit about how disconnected they are from the Black Community. How can they write a letter to the African-American News&Issues questioning if an article was poorly researched, when they did not care enough to research if one of the persons they addressed the letter to was still alive or that Mr. S.A. is indeed a female, Mrs. Shirley Ann Malonson? St. Pius sits right in the heart of the Black community, but could not be more disconnected.
Did I do my research? Emphatically Yes! I surely did! Enough to know that you have White employees that have committed acts far more egregious than those you accused Mr. King of. One of which, according to my sources, involved a coach who physically threatened one of your elderly employees to the point that police were called and a restraining order had to be instituted. According to my sources, that employee is still employed there at St. Pius. Why wasn’t he asked to leave the premises and never return like Mr. King? It is called discrimination. That’s only one example. I have many more. What I don’t have is the time to go back and forth.
Nevertheless, I applaud St. Pius for hiring Black coaches. However, that’s nothing new. My question is, “how many Black teachers do you employ?” My sources say, “maybe one.” If this is true, Black people are overrepresented in your athletic department and underrepresented in your academic department. This is nothing to brag about. If true, this requires change.
Lastly I’ll say that in the response letter, the school admits that their actions against coach King were based on allegations, not substantiated facts. St. Pius is complaining about the myself and African- American News&Issues for not hearing both sides of the story when they, themselves, never bothered to hear Eric King’s side of the story before they took action against him. Discriminatory institutions are usually hypocritical like this. They think the rules are for everyone else, but them. If they really believed in the principle of hearing both sides of a story they would have heard Eric King’s.
I have nothing personal against St. Pius, but, I do have a problem with the way they’ve treated King, and others who have come to me since then (Black, White & Latino). It is my job to defend victims of injustice from institutions that feel they can run roughshod over them without ever having to answer for their actions. Well, thank you for answering, St. Pius. But, I’m just doing my job.
Deric Muhammad is a Houston-based activist who can be reached via his website, www.dericmuhammad.com