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Ten Foot Mailbag: Hawk Saying 'We' And People Saying The N-Word

By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) I have to complain for a minute about the Bulls schedule that was released this week, specifically one game.

On Christmas Day the Bulls will play at Brooklyn. I'm otherwise cool with marquee NBA games on Christmas except that the Bulls game is on at 11am. On Christmas. The day where the morning is spent by many opening presents, eating a nice breakfast or brunch, and getting ready for either hosting a family get-together or traveling to one. So 11am puts a serious cramp in my style, NBA and TV execs.

And this is the second straight year Brooklyn has had the Christmas time slot. I understand their hipster fans probably don't celebrate the holiday, but still. I
didn't like missing much of the Celtics/Nets last year at that time, so it isn't just a selfish Bulls fan thing. Is noon Eastern time December 25th a primo ratings spot? This isn't football on Thanksgiving. Get your act together, people who plan this crap. No basketball games in the morning for more than half the country on holiday.

Weekend. It hurts.

On to your correspondence.

Hawk says "we" all the time, and it makes me furrow my brow ever so slightly and even a bit more when Steve Stone does it because Stone plays the more refined straight guy in that comedy team. Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson do it constantly on the Sox radio broadcasts, too. And other than the late Ron Santo, Cubs TV and radio broadcasts of recent vintage haven't used it to my recollection (including when Stone worked for the Cubs as far as I remember). That could be a sort of ingroup bias on my part, but it just seems to tilt far more to Sox broadcasts. I'm no fan of people who aren't on the actual team using first person plural pronouns—we, us, our, and ours. It's the verbal equivalent of adults wearing a jersey. A sad attempt at the adult version of playing pretend and blurring the lines between entertainment and reality.

That said, broadcasters and other team employees who don't play between the lines or patrol the sidelines get a pass on "we" because they are still part of the organization. Broadcasters, marketing employees, trainers, and others employed by the White Sox are part of the "we," even if they aren't striking guys out or getting hits. As dumb as me saying "We need to improve the offensive line" sounds, someone saying "The team that employs me won the championship" sounds equally bad. So while it isn't necessary for Hawk to talk about "us," and while he wouldn't lose anything from his broadcast (and might get criticized less for being a homer) by saying "They are just not hitting" instead of "we," I let it slide. If you get a paycheck with the team's name on it or would get a ring in the event of winning a title, you can use first person plural.

$2 bills are up there on the list of Awful Aspects of America with childhood obesity. While I'm not a fan of dollar coins (or fifty cent pieces), and they can get lost among pocket change and accidentally handed to a cashier mistakenly as a quarter, they aren't as bad for a few reasons. For one, dollar coins exist in greater abundance and are more unavoidable. $2 bills are produced the least of all denominations of currency because it was realized long ago that they need to die out like the awful elderly who value them. They pretty much have to be actively sought out by the worst of people.

Also, dollar coins are accepted by some vending machines, parking meters, and other non-human cash receptacles. Machines don't acknowledge $2 bills, nor should they because $2 bills suck. Some vending machines give you dollar coins as change, too, which isn't your fault, and then you have to get rid of them somehow. No non-human gives you a $2 bill, or if one does that machine has become self-aware and must be destroyed lest it teach the other machines to overtake us and bathe us in the prophetic blood of Rick Telander.

Dollar coins are usually handed over with an apology and shameful look. "Sorry, man, that's all I had." People with $2 bills are eerily proud of them and always smile and give me a look of "Look at this unicorn I'm placing in your hand! You should be so appreciative of the suspicious looks accusing you of counterfeiting you're going to get when you try to spend this!"

There was an older gentleman who always tipped me in them. Always waiting at the door with wide eyes and a disturbing smile like he'd just cleaned off the clown makeup he'd worn while committing some heinous crimes.

I have a problem with attempting to expunge any word with an established existence from a lexicon. This does not apply to fast food companies making crap up like "melty" and "crunchtastic"—forced advertising and marketing jargon is just the worst.

But the n-word exists, it's not going away, and it should not go away. First of all there is the whole censorship thing with history proving that when you systematically attempt to prevent people from speaking or reading something it only makes them more curious and want to do it more.

There are plenty of white teens who use the word (even with the no less ignorant "-a" suffix) not with a malice to it but merely because they treat it as rebelling against an establishment telling them they're not supposed to do it. The word itself was created as a tool of oppression and censorship over African Americans and then taken by them, as the oppressed are wont to do, and used within the group in order to strip it of its power.

That's where the "Well, black people should stop saying it, too"/ "Maybe whites will stop using it when blacks stop using it" argument fails so pathetically. A lot of white people think that because they never owned a slave that they aren't a member of a historically oppressive group. Sorry, but you are, even if you feel you don't have a racist bone in your body (but those white people usually already understand this; the racists who aren't self-aware tend not to). You don't get to use the tool of oppression without consequence, and you don't get to demand the oppressed—and, yes, black people are still oppressed in President Obama's America—blink first in this illogical staring contest.

More importantly to your question, I side on a greater scale with what author and professor David Bradley says about the word and the fools who would remove it from Huckleberry Finn [WARNING: that video uses the n-word several times]. The word exists, and it is part of America and its history for better or worse. By getting rid of it, just as Mark Twain's novel ceases to be then, so does America as it exists now and in its history. That word has to serve as a reminder of what we are and were and serve as a teaching tool for all the word represents so as to work toward ending racism. Ignoring racism doesn't end it. And while the word has to continue to exist, like Bradley says, too bad if white people are offended that they can't use it because those same white people aren't willing to become what that word contains and accept all that goes with it.

And here's your Angry Penn State Fan of the Week:

Besides being the Pied Piper for JoePa truthers and Sandusky sympathizers, John Ziegler is a Riley Cooper apologist and whitesplainer. Should we be surprised, though?

Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to or tweet them to @TimBaffoe with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.

Jeff Pearl
The author. (credit: Jeff Pearl)

Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America's youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim's inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don't follow him in real life. E-mail him at To read more of Tim's blogs click here.

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