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Calipari pitches a perfect game on ESPN

The nationally televised discussion of the image of the black athlete probably wasn’t in the contract that Coach Cal signed when he joined Kentucky two years ago, but, as is the case with nearly everything he gets involved with, Calipari represented the school in an amazing fashion.  He didn’t try to be something he’s not, which is something that can be tough to do in these types of settings.  Instead, he just did what he always does and spoke to the importance of the student-athlete and, in doing so, put together a peformance that Jason Whitlock compared to “shooting a recruiting documentary” and called “brilliant”.  Calipari’s mastery of the forum was so perfect, I’m pretty sure the rest of the panel ignored him during commercial breaks and was afraid to look at him between questions. 

But, as is the case with all perfect games, there was a single moment that signified how masterful the performance was.  Last night, it was this answer to Bob Ley’s question about graduation rates – a metric that Calipari had reached 100% before leaving for UK.

Here is his response:

“Let me say this first. I look at this from my own background. My sisters an I are the first college educated in our family. When I go in and recruit a young man, I look at the young man and know he’s going to be the first college graduate in his family. And that means something to me because it meant something to me. I look at so many kids and say ‘because of his background like my own, I was never able to look at being a doctor or lawyer because we had none in our family’. There were no professionals in my family. They were all laborers. My sisters and I had an opportunity to go to college.

My hope is that as I bring players in, some have the opportunity to go to the league. If they leave after a year or two, they reach their dream. But, we’ve graduated over 80% of the kids that stayed four years. The others went and became professionals. My hope for these kids that come in – not Brandon Knight, though. He’s a 4.3 student, gets all As all the time, scored 91 on a test, still and A, and got mad. But my hope for the kids that are first generation is that maybe they won’t be a lawyer or a doctor, but their children now, because they’re a college graduate, have that opportunity. And I’m proud to say my daughter Erin is going to be a doctor – I hope in 2 or 3 years, she’s going to Wake Forest – she’ll be the first doctor in my family.

So when you look — I’m not looking to say ‘I want everyone to have all A’s’, ‘I want everybody to be the best student’. I don’t mind if a kid is a little marginal, but I watch him and he’s a good kid and has a good heart and is willing to work. So, yeah, I want to have 100% graduation rate. But you know whose ego that’s for? Me. But the reality of it is, I want them to enjoy learning, get into good habits and so I’m like Randy (Shannon). Not every kid is born on third base. Some kids are born outside the stadium. Someone better give them a chance. Give them an opportunity.”

You think his players and their families don’t love him.  Well said, Coach.  As an added bonus, here’s  a clip of the panel’s thoughts on LeBron James.

Article written by Thomas Beisner

57 Comments for Calipari pitches a perfect game on ESPN

  1. Hoss
    9:19 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    yep. Racism will never die so long as ESPN needs to fill a time slot.

    F-ing deplorable.

  2. GoCats2010
    9:35 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    I blank out anything Spike Lee and Marion Jones say, but the rest of it was very well done. I wish Wilbon would have laid back some, but Jalen Rose was incredible. I’ve always loved discussing hard issues and race is a great topic for intelligent minds to banter about. If you don’t see an issue you are blind. Race is another factor that makes you who you are. It is just like being from the country and walking into a city with your differing world view and different accent. I do think that some of the numbers are skewed though. Black people account for about 12% of America so you can’t expect every job to be half black and half white. What is worse is that Hispanics are the largest minority group and their numbers across the board are almost non-existant

    Happy Saturday. Go Cats

  3. secretagent0014
    9:41 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    If you have a minute and want to read an excellent article on the Cleveland reaction from someone who actually looked into the situation a little rather than just reacting you should read this article.

  4. My-T-Sharp
    9:51 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Having a show based on the accomplishments of one race is in itself racist, don’t you think? Imagine this show reversed and white people talking about white kids or Hispanics about Hispanics. Now that being said, I am in no way saying that MLK should not be celebrated for the things he accomplished and how the world is a better because of him but having a show based on the celebration of one race of athletes IMO is actually racist. Until racism is not looked at on any side as being an issue anymore it will always exist. As long as people celebrate their skin color as division or others hate on one race because of their color this issue will never be resolved. Maybe it makes more money when we all see different colors…

  5. UKhoopshysteria
    9:54 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Was this tribute sponsored by Nike?

  6. Chris Thomas
    9:57 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Fantastic performance by Cal.

    Lay off the reverse racism BS, people. This was about the IMAGE of the black athlete, which in and of itself is an idea embedded deep in our culture. It’s not a ‘celebration’, it is a discussion.

  7. RidgeRunner
    9:59 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Jalen Rose impressed me with his comments.

  8. Davefromthegap
    10:02 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Although it was great that Cal was included, and continues to put Kentucky Basketball in the spotlight on a daily basis, and there were some good points made, the show as a whole made my ass hurt. Discrimination exists in the daily lives of many. And I’m not going to pretend to know what it’s like from someone’s point of view that has been discriminated against. But as a whole, shows like this do more damage than good toward the resolution of real problems that exist. To proclaim that racisim is the reason that many were turned off by Lebron’s spectacle is beyond obsurd. He came off like a self-centered egotistical asshole because that’s what he is, or at least projected himself to be. The fact that he’s black ain’t got a damn thing to do with nothing. And what about Vick? To proclaim that the reason that people won’t forgive him even though he “Did His Time” is because he is black just makes my head hurt. What he did was vile and brutal, and that tag will stick with him for a long, long time. Not because he’s black, because he comitted deplorable,barbaric acts against animals. That pill is much harder swallowed at least to me, than if he had cheated on his taxes or got caught trying to hump something that didn’t want to be humped. All that panel needed was to add Don Imus as a commentator and the night would have been complete.

  9. duhville cat
    10:02 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    I watched the show last night and was very impressed with Cal, as always. The “not all kids are born on third base” comment was great. Marion Jones was a blithering idiot and had no business, being on that panel. IMHO.

  10. Marc
    10:02 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    So much for fair and balanced discussion. No one on the panel challenged the notion that Cleveland’s owner and fans thought they owned him, or that their emotions were charged with racist undertones. The fact is he was born and raised in Ohio, played high school ball in Ohio, and played pro ball in Ohio for 7 years. They didn’t think they owned him, they thought the best player in the NBA was one of them. And his immaturity shown through when he butchered his exit from them. But none of that matters, he was rich black entitled athlete and the owner was a rich white and racist. Micheal Jordan (team owner) completely agreed that Lebron mishandled his exit and had some seriously scathing words about Lebron. If Micheal Jordan was white, he would have been labeled as racist or a bigot. Hell is there any difference in the terms anymore?

  11. My-T-Sharp
    10:03 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Reverse racism? There is no such concept. Either you separate your race from others or you do not. This “discussion” was in fact a celebration of the superiority of one race over another in sports. Regardless of the forum setting, it had little to nothing to do with MLK. By talking about black athletes and only black athletes, that forum in fact was separating races and promoting the accomplishments of only one. Now had this been any other race it would have been looked upon as racist.

  12. KSR Spy
    10:04 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Anything that focuses on one race just promotes racism. The most racist people I have ever met have been minorities. That being said, some of the most inspiring people I have met have been minorities.

    Also, where is white history month? Discrimination!!!!! Discrimination!!!!

  13. Bob
    10:07 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    The video is on YouTube

  14. KSR Spy
    10:07 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    #11 is correct. He isn’t being racist, he’s stating fact. As long as we continue to laud accomplishments of one race, then there will always be racism. Also, where is my United Caucasian Scholarship Fund at?

  15. Chris Thomas
    10:08 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    11) My point is exactly that: reverse racism doesn’t exist. And this was not racist and was in no way about the superiority of the black athlete!

    If anything, if was about how black athletes have been able to overcome being MADE INFERIOR and how that has affected the culture of sports.

  16. Pigskin Pete
    10:13 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    There are like six people at GAMEDAY in Knoxville…….how funny!!!

  17. mudcat
    10:13 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Jalen is about as sharp as they come. My friend and I always talk about how well he handles himself and knows he stuff. That being said, Cal is unbelievable. I am so glad he is our coach! What young man would not want to play for him if given the opportunity…CJ Leslie, Tobias Harris, Rodney Purvis…hello?

  18. tyson
    10:13 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    how can anyone say that people being mad at Lebron for leaving Cleveland and having that stupid “Decision” on ESPN is racist??? was it racist when everyone at Memphis was highly upset that Coach Cal left? is it racist that we in KY still boo Pitino and take delight in his misery since he left?

    Spike, Reverend Al, and Jesse do more harm than good for race relations in America

  19. puke
    10:16 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Each time I get sick and puke, it reminds me of Jesse Jackson.
    MLK was about equality, Jackson about reverse racism.

  20. My-T-Sharp
    10:16 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    15) Look at your wording here. You use black athlete!, then the word “overcome” and, “MADE INFERIOR”. You are separating and implying that these athletes are overcoming something that is put on them by someone else, another race perhaps? This is celebrating their accomplishments, like I said before and it is also separating races to promote accomplishments through adversity based on racism.

    My opinion of the show is that it separates black athletes from other athletes. That is racist in itself. Maybe not racist how everyone thinks, maybe not full of hate, but it is by definition racism. Would just be nice to someday see that skin color is not an issue anymore, that is my point.

    And reverse racism is a term to imply only one race can be or is racist. That is why the term “reverse racism” is not accurate. Any race can e racist so there is no reverse to it. That implies only white people can be racist, is that true? No.

  21. white guy
    10:22 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    we are all racist i guess and if we dont honor everything mlk and name a street in every city mlk then we must be racist. lets say a minority and i both have electrical engineering degrees and are applying for the same position, all things equal ,you dont think that minority would get the position above me? now that is racism

  22. bob
    10:26 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Heres the link…

  23. BlueMark
    10:27 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    C’mon guys, save the discussion on race relations for a coffee house, FOX News or MSNBC.

    The bottom line for those of us in the BBN is that Cal knocked it out of the park (once again), regardless of the comments of other panelists, regardless ESPN’s intent in producing the show, and regardless of whether the show was a good or bad idea, and we couldn’t be happier about the way he has represented us so far.

  24. Mack
    10:34 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Love the way Jalen handles the Vandy boy on 1st & 10, he gets to the point and doesn’t waste any words. Wilbon(sp) is mostly good but sometimes is just a little wordy. Of course coach is a born PR guy and normally will say something good about everyone and to me at least he didn’t come across as just the token ESPN wanted when he was invited; made excellent points.

  25. macon_volfan
    10:40 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    As a history teacher, I can tell you that “White History Month” is every month.
    White Entertainment Television is every network.
    United Caucasian College Fund is just about every scholarship at every school.

    At some point we’ll move away from affirmative action and whatnot, but it is needed in some situations. If you want more black engineers #21, then young blacks have to have role models to look up to. If you want more women in science, then girls in college need to see some female professors in science departments.

    To deny that our times haven’t been dominated by white males is to ignore the obvious. To state that a white male gets the shaft is to ignore reality.

  26. UKBIgDaddy
    10:41 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    One step forward……two steps back. Every year around MLK day there are several shows that this occurs. This whole idea was a crock of BS. People, there is no such thing as “reverse racism.” Spike Lee has made mad $$$$$ by pushing the “because we are black” mentality. Who in their right mind would select Marion Jones to represent the female side of the minority athlete? She was a steroid using, lair that made a mockery of the USA track and field program. Does that make me a racist now? To be honest with you, I wish Cal had no part in this because of the way the it portrayed the “us” against “them.”

  27. Message board
    10:44 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Hold the phone…….when did coach start wearing glasses. The man knows how to work it.

  28. Mack
    10:48 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    I wish coach had mentioned that the CATS took a racist direct hit from the liberal northeast media types when they were preparing to play Cornell. Their “racism” was implied by their referencing the difference between Cornell’s players completing four years of hard work and then “required” to enter the tough job market and UK’s players going to a safe NBA lottery after only one year without the hard work. They don’t see this as racism because that is just the way it is and anyone who may disagree is just too stupid to understand.

  29. WalkersGoggles
    10:52 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Lebron dumped his girlfriend in front of the whole world. Classless move. That has NOTHING to do with race.

  30. LansingCat
    10:55 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    People telling me what I am really thinking about the LeBitch two hour special (read: I’m racist) rather than listening to what I’m telling them (read: What a self-centered douche!) are only offending me and are, in fact, calling me a liar. If Elway or Peyton would have had a two hour ESPN special I would have thought the EXACT SAME THING. But conversely, these same people should be telling me what I feel about that, too (read: I am racist against white people).

    Either way, I can’t win. F this S!

  31. LansingCat
    10:55 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    PS–stfu Marion Jones.

  32. Hoss
    10:56 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    #8 and #11 have it right. If you seriously believe this was ANYTHING other than a stab at ratings with a volatile subject, you are a fool.

  33. Hoss
    11:04 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    26- why can’t history be just that…history? Why the need to STILL be drawing lines? I can’t for elife of me see how this is productive as it inevitably ends in convos like these. Every GD time.

    Let. It. Die.

  34. macon_volfan
    11:07 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    #34-I agree with you, actually. Just responding to earlier comments.

  35. teaching history makes me an expert
    11:12 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    26) role models? that’s the reason people study engineering and science? please. let me ask you: why do we need more black engineers? more women in science? are you borrowing 2)’s idea that the norm, the goal, should be a proportional distribution of populations in every field? 12% black, 16% Latino, 51% female, 25% Catholic? that’s your defense of affirmative action? as someone from eastern kentucky, let me tell you that a hell of a lot of poor white people never got an equal start in life, never got a leg up when it came to success. do you really believe that one day affirmative action will equalize everyone’s lot in life by putting a few role models in place? if you do, you haven’t learned much from history.

  36. secretagent0014
    11:18 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    26)two thumbs up

  37. Al's IndiCats
    11:41 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    When Jalen played for the Pacers, I had the chance to talk with him while waiting at for a table. (He didn’t have to wait too long LOL) But I completely was blown away by this guy. He isn’t your typical Jock who all he talked about basketball. I came away (although I absolutly hated the Fab five) being a BIG Jalen Rose fan. By the way he got our table sooner than we expected and it was next to his.
    . Marion Jones surely couldn’t have been “The world Wide Leaders” first choice. Although before she admitted she was on Roids, she was one of my favorite female atheletes, I feel they should have gotten one of the Williams sisters or maybe even both of them. For they played in a sport that has been dominated by white female for many moons. Their dad was maybe a work of art but they are true champions in every sense of the word…..Cal NAILED it. I am soooooo glad he with us and not against us.

  38. Davefromthegap
    11:47 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    You know it just now hit me,,,,,Cal was the Token White Guy.

  39. billybob
    11:53 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Why do businesses have to abide by affirmative action but the biggest businesses (NBA,NFL, MLB ) don’t. Race shouldn’t play a role on either side but it does.

  40. Wildcat Singularity
    11:54 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    26 see 36. Poverty is the one thing that isn’t racist – it hits every color.

    The problem is that sure, you might give a handful of black folks a leg up to get to college and have a career, and that might inspire a handful more. But then you’re directly discriminating against the poor whites who also can’t afford college education. Basically, what affirmative action says is “racism is okay as long as it’s against whitey.”

    If you disagree, go ahead and dig up the latest scholly from the “College Fund for Poor-ass Crackers.”

    What REALLY irks me though, is the fact that while many black folks are agitated by the use of the “n word” by white people, they have a freaking scholarship fund with the ROOT WORD for the “n word” in it – negro! If this were truly about ending hate-speech and hate-crime, the FIRST thing that would happen would be to eliminate the word from the fund. The “United Black Scholarship Fund” sounds dignified. The “United Negro Scholarship Fund” sounds to many like a name that gets away with saying it and dares you to say the same word – if you do, and you’re white, you’ll be murdered. Not lynched, you apparently can’t be lynched if you’re white. :- \

  41. Common Sense
    11:56 am January 15, 2011 Permalink

    26 Sounds like you subscribe to the “We must hold our tongues because of the injustice of our ancestors” philosophy. To say that some minorities don’t get undeserved opportunities just because of their race is to “ignore reality”.

  42. Ben4UK
    12:11 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    As someone who has spent a good deal of time in Cleveland, I understand the city’s hatred for Lebron. And I don’t think it has much to do with race.

    People of the rust belt have a hard time being proud of where they are from. There are probably as many Clevelanders in the SW and Florida as there are in Ohio, people leave all the time. It is really bad and the people that remain have a very negative attitude about those who left while also wanting to leave themselves.

    Lebron was the national face of the city; a city in decline who placed their hopes on his shoulders. The Cleveland psyche and sports psyche are very similar and very tortured. Lebron was supposed to understand. But he didn’t.

    Lebron the ex-pat. He left and those still there hate him for it.

  43. Jordan
    12:24 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Im sick of people always using the race card! The reason people hate LeBron James is because he completely turned his back not only on an organization, but an entire city who loved him. He was God in their eyes. A city that really has nothing to their name and is full of losers (Indians, Browns, etc.) this was the one thing they could be proud of. It would be different if he had handled it in a different matter and continuously handles it today (tweeting Carmas a b**ch). Race is not a factor in his decision, it’s his heartless back-stabbing actions and attitude towards the Cavs and the city of Cleveland.
    And what really sent it over the top was Jesse Jackson saying the owner was a slave master. I wanted to throw my TV against the wall when I heard that! He’s more annoying than Dick Vitale or John Madden, not because of his mouth but the sh*t that comes out of it!

  44. bubba
    12:34 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Given the fact that I am the son of a tobacco farmer’s daughter, Cal speaks my language when he talks about what an opportunity it is to get an education at UK.

  45. i.b.poe
    1:13 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Go cards, with 4 seconds to go!!!!!!

  46. i.b.poe
    1:14 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Good job lil bro, way to fight back and show some KY spirit!

  47. twnky
    1:27 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Very well said #2

  48. jpizzle
    1:30 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    As I watched last night I was so proud to see “our” coach involved. He was outstanding and his appearance and the things he said (from the heart) can only be a positive for Cal and for UK. As a first generation college student in my family I salute Cal!

  49. Rational Cat Fan
    3:32 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Growing up in a city (Memphis) that is/was 70/30 favoring an African American
    majority, I can easily say that while racism is still prevalent in a social context,
    the more prevailing factor is the class system in which we live. If people got as upset
    about the class system as they did about race, progress would probably come much
    quicker. I grew up a city kid, married an Eastern Kentucky girl so I’ve seen both sides.
    The social obstacles one needs to overcome to be successful are the same in the hills
    of Eastern Kentucky as they are in Orange Mound Memphis. The only difference in those 2 regions are skin color and the only similarity is overwhelming poverty.
    George Carlin said it best:
    “the rich are here to make all of the money and pay none of the taxes, the middle class is here to pay all of the taxes and do all of the work. The poor are here to scare the shit out of the middle

  50. I Call John Wall At Night
    3:38 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    There are some black people that will make race an issue with everything that goes on because as a minority with their history that’s how they view the world. I can tell you with 100% certainty that race was not an issue in the Lebron debacle. Some black people seem to think it was an issue because it’s the black player vs the white owner. It’s the master/slave mentality. What the Cavs owner did was wrong and childish but not racist. Lebron was his whole franchise and without him the Cavs will sink once again. What Lebron did was wrong and childish. He made a promise to Cavs fans he couldn’t keep and that’s why Cavs fans are angry. Announcing his decision on ESPN using donations to a good children’s cause as a scapegoat is what made even more people angry. People are smarter than you think and can see through the BS and that ESPN announcement was pure BS and childish on Lebron’s part. All that did was fuel the flames.

    I think a lot of blacks feel they’re owed something given their history. Most of them don’t even know their history. Slavery wasn’t about black vs white. It was about money. Slavery was going away until the cotton gin was invented. It catapulted the industry and the cotton fields started to spread throughout the country which meant that more people (slaves) would be needed to pick it. Without those slaves the industry and the country couldn’t have grown to what it is today. Instead of having the mentality that since their ancestors were slaves they should get reparations or be “owed” by white people they should see what pivotal role they played in building the country. No slavery wasn’t right and is a black eye in our country’s history but it happened and we can’t change the past. What most people don’t even know because history books have been written by progressives is that the first real slave owner was a black man who was a former indentured servant. Slavery as we know it today started then. But since it’s not in our school’s history books most people especially blacks don’t know that. So it goes back to the real root of slavery which is money and not race. You don’t see Jews thinking they are owed something from their history which by the way was far worse than what black ancestors endured. Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years and millions have been killed. They even had to survive an attempt of extermination at the hands of Hitler. They bear the scars and remember the past but they don’t hold a grudge to those that had nothing to do with it. Blacks need to realize what happened is in the past. It’s part of history right or wrong and holding a grudge to those that had nothing to do with it won’t change what happened. Racism and hate will never die unfortunately but playing the race card or the victim every time there’s a backlash at a black person only keeps it alive and strong. People are responsible for their own actions not an entire race. Race isn’t even the issue. It’s ignorance. Until people educate themselves about their own history they’ll never let go of the past.

  51. huh...?
    6:48 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    macon_volfan, I am working 7 days a week to pay for my son’s college. Please, I beg you, tell me where I can get these white scholarships you speak of. Only ones we can find for our situation, he must be minority for.

  52. huh...?
    6:55 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    51-If everyone had your attitude and knowledge, we ALL would live happier lives together.

  53. kyfan
    8:51 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    Very well said #44. There is nothing remotely connected to racism and the situation between Cleveland and LeBron. He proved himself egotistical and self centered. It does not matter if he is black, white, etc. The City of Cleveland had incredible love and respect for him and he proved that respect was very undeserved. He can win 12 NBA titles but they will never repair his reputation. The word integrity will never apply to LeBron James. Everytime a black person does something deplorable they claim the race card if they receive bad press. The press needs to stop dignifying those remarks.

  54. kyfan
    8:58 pm January 15, 2011 Permalink

    By the way…LeBron layed down in the play off games. Very obvious to anyone that was an avid fan. If LeBron would have given notice of his intentions as Carmelo Anthony has to his team there wouldn’t be such venomous feelings towards him. Yes, the owner was very immature in his response but as the person paying him millions he deserved at least 2 weeks notice as every other employer requires.

  55. markp
    8:58 am January 16, 2011 Permalink

    I feel….most folks just look at him as a quitter. Jordan was in a very similar position, blue collar town that is cold and not ever won but stayed and won. Lebron didn’t have that ” true grit ” and on top of it handled the leaving of Cleveland in a bad way.

  56. SagaciousMind
    1:44 pm January 16, 2011 Permalink

    Spike Lee, Jesse Jackson, they always try to make it about race. But it has nothing to do with it! The backlash was because LeBron is from Ohio, been with Cleveland for 7 yrs and just up and says, well I’m leaving. Since then he has said himself he should have handled it differently, and he should have. He should have had like a farewell conference to Cleveland thanking them for their support, but he is choosing to leave. Just like Mike did when he retired from the league for good. That’s all it was about, the way he left. And to say that it’s like a slave is running away is just stupid. Dont you think people would be outraged if Tom Brady just up and left the Patriots? If the owner made Benedict Arnold commits do you think that he would be fined? No. People have made it about race when race had nothing to do with it. It’s amazing how people take a situation and complicate it to ridiculous levels.