When Race-Sensitivity Becomes A Pathology: The Case Of Kevin Durant’s Shoes

The offensive shoes, and even though they cost $180, the offense is not the shoes...

The offensive shoes, and even though they cost $180, the offense is not the shoes...

NBA star Kevin Durant, who grew up in Maryland’s majority African American Prince George’s County, put both his initials and those of his home community on Nike’s  “KD8 PG County” model basketball shoe. Rather than being grateful or feeling honored, however, many in the community are complaining that Nike, and Durant, has “offended” the area.

“As you can imagine, we are very proud of the success of Prince George’s County native Kevin Durant, and the pride that he has in growing up in the county,” the office of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) said in an e-mail sent to Nike. “We do want to make the Nike corporation aware that ‘P.G.’ is a term that many in Prince George’s County consider pejorative and/or an insult.”

What? I’ve lived in the Washington, D.C. area for decades and heard the county called “P.G.” and “Prince George’s” interchangeably without comment. Now the County’s initials are offensive?

Explains the Washington Post: “Insiders” say the initials could just as easily stand for “Pretty Ghetto” or “Pretty Grim.”


Of course, “P.G.” could also just as easily stand for Poor Godzilla, Putrid Gin, Parsimonious Greeks, or Penis Garnish.

Kevin Durant, who is black, decides to give his community a call out and gets slammed for it by activists and race-baiters who are actively searching for ways to elevate themselves, manufacture publicity and influence, and gain the power of the victim.

A group that is perceived—accurately in too many cases—to be so determined to find racial offense that its allies, supporters,  friends and in this case, members must be constantly vigilant and wary to avoid being accused of offense will eventually find their one-time allies sympathy replaced by resentment.

Who in their right mind want to deal with people who are looking for ways to call them bigots? There is a limit to how tolerant society will be of the “microagression” game, and there should be.

Racial sensitivity is edging toward racial super-sensitivity, and that will eventually become a handicap—a self inflicted one—if it hasn’t already.

12 thoughts on “When Race-Sensitivity Becomes A Pathology: The Case Of Kevin Durant’s Shoes

  1. I live adjacent to Prince George’s county. It is… mildly ghetto. But that’s not the point. The point is more that if you talked to people on the street and asked them about this faux-troversy, they’d have no idea what you’re talking about or who the people are who claim to be representing them. I think the only way this grievance game is going to end is if the people that the grievance-mongers claim to represent know what’s being done and said in their name, and put a stop to it.

  2. And then there was that kid in the Midwest, somewhere around 1,500 miles from California, who was expelled for wearing what the school administration decided were the “colors” of a Los Angeles gang.

    It’s a word game anyone (black) can play; the field has not been leveled, it’s disappeared into a sinkhole. The target can be anyone – black or not – who succeeds outside the self-constructed ghettos of the mind*, the weapons are cheap and easy, even the dumbest can play if they know the language. Definitions are restricted, constricted, reconstructed. Connotations are narrowed (free speech = fuck you); language is assigned by Ebonics so that “you” = not black, one who is not permitted to understand. Acquiescence is mandatory, total and self-defined (only black lives matter). There is no defense against attack by the defensive — anything is an insult, any insult can be declared an injury.

    The Kevin Durants, successful black entertainers, business people and professionals, the kid wearing the “wrong” colors, the non-black person who was nearly run out of college for writing a simple multiple choice questionnaire on Black History for the campus newspaper that the black students could not answer because they were too busy shouting “…power” and “…is beautiful” to read their real history (it was1967, no Black Studies programs yet) are not responsible for arousing the envy or ire of this minority-among-minorities. The fault lies with those who live in that ghetto of the mind, the one that is so difficult to get up and walk out of.

    Now they are running amok (literally) on an imaginary power source. Until and unless they grow up (aging will help as the brain matures), separate into individuals, generate genuine power from education pulled out of hats of all hues, develop social skills, communicate in the language of the majority, and find the courage to live a “normal” up-and-down life outside the walls they have constructed they will fade, like old hippies and clowns, into truly failed and disrespected figures, forever living in a brief past that never did have a future.

    (*) http://genius.com/Pete-rock-and-cl-smooth-ghettos-of-the-mind-lyrics

  3. Barren [sic] Blauschwartz, the Abyss that Stares Back, Demon of Wrath and Tranquility here, with a very important message for the people who take offense to “PG”:

    You can assert that any given instance of a common two-letter abbreviation must, in fact, stand for a very particular phrase which you find offensive, rather than standing for whatever the person using the abbreviation intended it to stand for. However, you would be wrong. That particular instance of the abbreviation, by definition, stands for what the originator intended it to stand for. You can (within reason) declare that a person has been rude to you, even if they did not intend to be, but you absolutely cannot put words in people’s mouths by saying they meant something they didn’t. To be offended by a contrived meaning of a phrase you know was meant in one of its many inoffensive uses is worse. For you to be offended by combinations of letters because they could be interpreted, out of context, to refer to ideas you find offensive is your prerogative, but for a society of (comparatively) mature people to contort and fold into itself into to avoid “harming” people who have the constitution of cotton candy is onerous.

    The presence of people who experience what are essentially mental allergic reactions cannot be allowed to shut down civilization by turning every public place into a mentally hypoallergenic and sterile environment, because then important ideas could not evolve, and crucial questions could not be asked. No person or people can become a force for good without the ability to accept criticism and uncomfortable stimuli and grow from them. Weakness is not an asset with which you can expect to rule over the strong, and society cannot be brought down to the level of its most intellectually cowardly member. You want a safe space? Fine, but it won’t move with you. You don’t get to go where you please and expect everyone to disrupt their lives to turn your surroundings into your personal paradise just because you break down if they don’t. That’s tantamount to a child walking into an executive boardroom and threatening to cry unless the grownups stop the boring talk and start playing horsey instead.

    Since you don’t have a good sense of what is and is not offensive, let me help calibrate your emotions. The letters “PG” with no context are not offensive, because you cannot assume a context that makes them offensive. If you do, you are hurting yourself of your own accord by seeking harm from the harmless, and you need psychiatric help. On the other hand, it would be reasonably offensive to say that it is an indictment of American culture that anyone managed to age into an adult as fragile as you without being urged to check into a mental institution. It would also be true.

    Now that you’ve been intentionally insulted, seeing an insult where none was intended doesn’t feel so bad anymore, does it? Maybe one day you will learn to take what is useful from harsh words and disregard the rest, knowing that in order to bring about the paradise you hope the world will become, you must be strong enough not to need it.

    Also, your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries! Now go away, or I shall taunt you again!

    …That was quite cathartic. That exact sort of person has been my bane for more than a decade. I’m glad to see there are other well-reasoned people on my side.

  4. If they spelled everything out, Durant’s shoes would be covered in writing! You’d think that Prince George’s County (ironically named for a white man!) would be enthusiastic about the good publicity. It’s probably something they rarely get. Unfortunately, race whining has become a cottage industry. I’d suggest that Durant simply put his own name on his shoes and tell P.G. County to go fly a kite.

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