LeBron James became the all-time highest scorer in NBA history Tuesday night, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record.
They are both amazing athletes, bright, dedicated men who are icons in the African-American community.
In Sunday’s Super Bowl, both star quarterbacks, Patrick Maholms and Jalen Hurts, are Black. It is the first time that has happened in the championship game.
These are tremendous personal achievements for these four men, but I will pose the question that a white man perhaps has no right to ask. Has their greatness as athletes been a positive thing for the Black community in America?
I was thinking about this question yesterday and asking myself if anybody knows the greatest Jewish NBA player or pro football player. Maybe we know the greatest Japanese baseball player because he is playing at the moment (Shohei Ohtani).
Has the superiority and exaltation of LeBron James and Patrick Mahomes done anything substantive to elevate the lives of the millions of poorly educated, underclass Black people in America who idolize them? Athletic status and superiority and the veneration of star athletes may have actually stifled the rise of many blacks in this country.
The Graff-Pinkert plant and offices are a short walk from Hillcrest High school in Country Club Hills, IL. Hillcrest is virtually all African-American. It is not a highly ranked academic school in the Chicagoland area.
Hillcrest received a big boost in its funds recently when 1,100,000 square feet of new warehouse space was developed and leased out adjacent to the school. Hillcrest’s School Board opted to build a beautiful new gym with its fresh money. Another local high school, Homewood-Flossmoor, a few miles away, recently built its own new gym as well. Meanwhile, local test scores continue to go down.
My close friend Jerry Levine lived in the Homewood-Flossmoor area for 25 years while his kids grew up. He was a leader in raising the money for a beautiful apartment building near Hillcrest for homeless people needing a place to get back on their feet.
He recently established a scholarship at his alma mater, Purdue University, just for Black kids, to study engineering. He has managed to find only two kids who qualified in four years. Both are the children of middle class parents who emigrated to America from Africa.
Sadly, I think that role models like LeBron and Patrick Mahomes have not motivated the majority of Black males to excel academically. Hillcrest High School did not use its windfall to do the long hard task of somehow motivating students to eventually qualify for Jerry Levine’s scholarship at Purdue.
Is it LeBron’s fault? No. He is using his great gift as a basketball player with all of his vigor. But something is wrong with this picture. I do not think blaming America’s long-term racism is an answer. I do not think LeBron and Mahomes have lived their lives as victims.
I think that lowering academic standards and requirements reinforces a sense of victimhood. The upcoming Supreme Court decision about Harvard and University of North Carolina showing favoritism in admissions to Black students in order to achieve diversity and equality will be fascinating to watch.
Meanwhile, let us applaud LeBron, Mahomes, and Jalen Hurts, for their terrific accomplishments, yet still ask whether it is a great thing for the African-American community to build gyms and not students.
Question: Why are there so few Black people working in precision machining?
Great honest assessment. Completely agree. We can and should do better. We owe it to the entire next generation to offer more opportunities to succeed. Specifically for children/families struggling to break the impoverished cycle. The chances these kids will turn out to be a brilliant machinists, supervisors, executives, or owners are much greater than playing a professional sport.
Greatest Jewish basketball player ever is Adolph (Dolph) Schayes who played for the Syracuse Nationals before they moved to Philadelphia and became the 76ers.
Greatest NFL Jewish player Sid Luckman who played with the Chicago Bears in the 1940s.
I’d like to ask your friend (JL) through you to request that he extend his scholarship opportunity to kids from his or your high-school to attend other accredited engineering programs besides Purdue if he doesn’t find them for Purdue for that year.
Just a passing thought. He is already doing more than just about everyone and I would not see it as a negative if he chose to keep his current path instead. In fact, it’s none of my business if he does or does not, just thinking out loud and saying thanks for the above and beyond that he is already doing.
Best of luck to all.
Most industrial occupations brought over to the USA by emigrants from Europe did started out as a family business.
They hired white staff and served white customers. Very few outsiders had a chance to learn the trade, also women for that matter.
People of color are seldom seen attending manufacturing related conventions. Still smiling about the looks we did get as me and my black grirlfriend on my arm stepped into the ballroom at the Breakers in Palm Beach early 1980’s. It was even more fun for us when the bandleader invited her to sing a few songs with the band.
Fortunatly things look up for our future Black skilled workers as it is now common to see them as students in trade schools of every description.
We are penalizing young people living in the ten states with achievement rates of 30 to 40 compared to the states with rates of 57 to 73. HR personnel know all about these achievement levels, they hire accordingly.
Every state does insists to control their last sacred cow: education. Give us the money, do not dare to tell us how to spend it.
Paul Huber LSME
Lloyd and Paul both typed white and Black. I wonder why? I will identify as capital White. Joe
Over a thousand US metalworkers taught me to speak English while I did instruct them in the technology of Swiss Automatics since my arrival
in the USA in 1962.
My little writing knowledge does come from reading trade papers and the Wall Street Journal.
Proud to be a US citizen sharing my knowledge with anybody eager to learn.
Hope I did not offend you and anybody else,
Lloyd, are you aware that Lebron James founded his own public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio? It is called the I Promise School and it is dedicated to helping kids who are falling behind academically. https://ipromise.school/
In response to a couple of comments in this blog, I’d like to explain how my scholarship works.
I gave Purdue a lump of money to permanently endow a four year scholarship to a need-based African-American student in STEM. The endowment’s principle stays fixed, and the interest pays the student’s tuition. Purdue selects the students, whom they believe will be able to attain a BS degree in four years.
I have nothing to do with the selection process. However, my preference is for someone who, like me, grew up on the southside of Chicago. Up to now we have had two recipients, both very bright students, one from Nigeria, and one from Kenya, whose parents are immigrants, but also happen to have professional degrees. These families, like millions of other immigrant families before them, will make it in America, and will do very well, contributing to society, just like my parents and grandparents did.
I have no problem with students playing sports in high school and college. I and my children did so very successfully in college. The focus and discipline required to be a student – athlete can be a great molder of one’s personality.
Lloyd‘s, and my concern, is that while athletics are important, the focus of a school should be on the student part of student – athlete, not solely on the athlete part. Both should be stressed. The windfall that has come to the Hillcrest school system might be better spent on permanently enriching the grade school and high school curriculum than on the new gym. I don’t know how the money will be split, but I get the feeling the bulk of it will be unwisely spent on the new gym.
Rick, thanks for the comment on the school in Akron. LeBron is philanthropic, unquestionably. My point is that LeBron is a Black hero. He is spreading his wings in the entertainment industry. He appears to have business acumen in how he has handled his image and Nike contracts. This is a man who left school at 18 to enter the NBA.
The sad thing to me is that in Chicago and Cleveland and all over the country Black young men are falling further and further behind economically, despite his example. They also are falling rapidly behind Black women. I applaud LeBron and he seems to be doing well with his own family,too. But when will the plight of Black men shift as rapidly as LeBron’s moves to the hoop.