Radical ESPN Senior Writer Howard Bryant has released another book of political essays indicting American sports as overtly political, one where African Americans must navigate a sharp edge of whiteness. Released late last month, Full Dissidence: Notes From An Uneven Playing Field follows Bryant’s 2019 book, The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism, by a year.
Not surprisingly, Bryant’s latest race-baiting condemnation of American sports is attracting attention from media who speak his left-wing language. NPR, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and The Nation magazine all gave the book fawning attention. Random House book notes describe Bryant’s latest tripe this way:
« Whether the issues are protest, labor, patriotism, or class division, it is clear that professional sports are no longer simply fun and games. Rather, the industry is a hotbed of fractures and inequities that reflect and even drive some of the most divisive issues in our country.
« The book is a reflection on a culture where African Americans continue to navigate the sharp edges of whiteness—as citizens who are always at risk of being told, often directly from the White House, to go back to where they came from. »
Bryant (seen above in file photo) criticizes the player-owner relationship, « the militarization of sports, the myth of integration, the erasure of black identity as a condition of success, and the kleptocracy that has forced America to ask itself if its beliefs of freedom and democracy are more than just words. »
Like-minded radical leftist Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation magazine, interviewed Bryant Tuesday on his Edge of Sports podcast. He called Bryant’s latest book « a searing look at race, power, and the real world beyond the sports world. » Zirin says Bryant uses sports as a lens throughout the book to try to elucidate a lot of his political points.
Bryant said if one examines issues just by sticking to sports then others will trivialize them. Issues in and out of sports mimic each other, he said. Bryant says he was inspired to write cultural criticism to encourage people to think beyond what they’re watching on the field and amplify how political that is.
Denying he’s received a stick-to-sports backlash, Bryant said it’s been just the opposite. He said he was able to step outside « the toy department » and still be taken seriously. For example, Bryant takes delight in readers appreciating the fact that he revealed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, hated target of leftists, is related to the NBA’s Orlando Magic DeVos’s.
« You were brought here to be part of a permanent underclass, » Bryant says of blacks in America. « But there is a way out of it if we face some things we never wanted to face. »
Bryant told Zirin the backlash against Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign demonstrated aggression toward all the issues he represented and he « needed us more than ever. » Zirin said the opposition to Nike ‘felt like old school, small town McCarthyism from the Fifties where they don’t even want you to have a job, like there’s no job Colin Kaepernick could have. … »
NPR’s Scott Simon writes of Bryant’s new release, « He’s written a deeply personal book of urgent and eloquent essays about racism in American life on and off the field. » Bryant tells Simon the first sentence of the book states that to be black is to be a dissident because whenever you speak, one of the reactions is invariably, go back where you came from.
In an interview with Chris Hayes appearing on an NBC web site, Bryant said: « We talk about not wanting politics in sports, but what we’re really saying is we don’t want a certain type of politics. We don’t want the players’ politics. And essentially what we really don’t want is we don’t want the black players’ politics. »