BLACK IS BEST
Beautiful, man, as in soul writing! Martin Kane's An Assessment of "Black Is Best" (Jan. 18) opens some very special doors indeed. Or it should.
Not only has sport become a "way out of the despair of the slums" for the black man, but Kane's piece is certain to open the minds of those who insist that the only reason blacks take up sports is so they can put Cadillacs in their garages.
IRA B. HARKEY III
The Frankfort Morning Times
Martin Kane deserves recognition on an overdue article that was well worth waiting for. As a black mulatto, I tend to agree with all aspects presented in this factual account of the black athlete. Although few in number, practically all of Watertown's black high school athletes are highly competitive and prominent in all sports. I am proud to be one of these athletes. Mr. Kane has answered many of my questions by presenting this revealing article about the anatomy of the black athlete. Thank you.
Congratulations on the thoughtful and thought-provoking article on black athletes. It is a relief to know after all these years of trying to learn the latest dances that I do have rhythm! I was beginning to get positively neurotic about it.
The evidence of the role black jockeys played in racing history can still be seen in the occasional black jockey statue that adorns some white middle-class homes. But horse racing was not the only sport in which Negroes fell from prominence. In 1899 and 1900 Marshall W. Taylor won the world and U.S. bicycle sprint championships, respectively, and was known as the "Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World" for more than a decade. Thereafter, black riders were systematically excluded from bicycle racing; however, since the sport itself declined in popularity the exclusion was not of lasting importance.
But Mr. Kane's conclusion is disturbing. To suggest that blacks should see an inspiration in exceptional athletes like Lew Alcindor and Willie Mays is to be guilty of the very racism that Jack Olsen condemned in his fine series on the black athlete (The Black Athlete—A Shameful Story, July 1, 1968 et seq.). While the typical black may be physically better endowed for some sports than the typical white, the vast majority of young Negroes will not achieve the athletic prowess of a superstar. Telling them to work hard so they can someday be like Willie Mays is a fraud. The white who fails to become a superstar can find other outlets. What chance does a mediocre black athlete have if he cannot make it in the big time? The result is frustration and anger—and violence.
FORREST G. WOOD
Department of History
California State College
Martin Kane's article shows great study and research of the physical differential of the black man in comparison with the white; however, Mr. Kane still failed to see the black man as a man. The mere fact that blacks are cast as people who know how to be loose under pressure and relax under stress illustrates more stereotype than I care to see.
This article also shows black kids as making it only with their brawn, while, on the other hand, white kids are "so much more aware of conventional things, of Emily Post...of being right." No one was more scared than my husband the day he had to pitch against Ole Miss during the World Series of collegiate baseball some years ago. Not only did he win that game but today he is a successful black teacher.
Staten Island, N.Y.
I found the article to be both interesting and provocative. However, with the prevalence of racism in sports today, I also found it to be untimely. The problem of racism in sports stems from the belief that one race is superior to another; this holds true for white athletes as well as black athletes. To eradicate this problem we must implant in all athletes' minds the idea that athletic superiority is based solely on the achievements of the man who excels over all others and not on racial distinctions.
SI should strive to remove racism from the sports scene. It appears that Martin Kane is doing just the opposite.
River Edge, N.Y.