Lebron James has earned $595 million dollars between his salary, endorsements, and a continuing one-billion-dollar contract with Nike. The world will likely hold off his deserved title of “best basketball player in the world” until he decides to retire, but most people already acknowledge that. Yet, despite all that, there’s one label that LeBron James will never shed in the eyes of some folks in this country no matter how rich he gets: N*gger.
If you somehow missed the news, late Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning) someone decided to spray paint the word “n*gger” on the front gate of LeBron’s Brentwood home in Los Angeles. Make that, his Brentwood mansion. Racist vandalism on the front porch or gate or lawn of a black residence is an ugly and all too familiar chapter of America’s racist past, and clearly, its present.
This time the perpetrators used spray paint to remind James that no matter his paycheck, no matter his skill level, American racism will always pop up to assert his lower racial status, because of his blackness. It wasn’t quite a burning cross, but it’s damned close.
There is a certain irony that James’ house in the Brentwood is in the same neighborhood that OJ Simpson lived while spending years attempting to run away from the realities of his race. LeBron, on the other hand, confronted it directly.
James responded to the incident with this statement: “Racism will always be a part of this world, a part of America. And you know hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day. Even though it’s concealed most of the time, even though people hide their faces and will say things about you and when they see you they smile in your face, it’s life every single day.”