We All Need “A Little More African” in Us- The Luol Deng Controversy

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By now most of you must have heard about the major scandal in American basketball right now regarding comments made by an NBA executive about African player Luol Deng. To give you a little background, an audio was released last week revealing a conversation that happened on June 6th between the general manager of the Atlanta Hawks, Danny Ferry and the Hawks management where they were discussing potential free agent targets.

Ferry made the following remarks about Luol Deng:

“He’s still a young guy overall. He is a good guy overall. But he is not perfect. He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way. But he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell your counterfeit stuff out of the back.”

The release of the audio has caused a firestorm in the media consequently resulting in Ferry taking an indefinite leave of absence as GM.

Luol Deng released the following statement recently in response to the issue:

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I was really inspired by Luol’s beautiful response. It takes a lot more than having “a little African” in you to respond in the manner that he did. Luol could have chosen to simply condemn Ferry’s statement, but he used this as an opportunity to publicly reaffirm his pride for being African. That to me is very significant.

Africans face discrimination on so many levels. In schools, at jobs, or anywhere really, there are preconceived notions and stereotypes that directly targets us.  It is very common to see young Africans shunning away from their cultures because of these stereotypes. But people like Luol who are not afraid to stand atop the mountain and proclaim their pride for Africa help everyone in the process.

There are several times in the past that I have personally ignored situations where myself or another African was a target. We would fare much better if we all had “a lot more African” in us; to have the guts to defend ourselves and stand up tall with pride for who we are, even at times where it might appear easier to just walk away and be silent.