LeBron James and the Compton Cookout   2 comments



LeBron James is at UCSD for a youth basketball camp.

Last year, LeBron James held his King’s Academy basketball camp at UCSD. One year later, James once again held his camp at UCSD, but something called the “Compton Cookout” happened at UCSD in between. African Americans were disparaged by a party theme and felt demeaned, resulting in many protests and a signed document from the Chancellor promising to meet demands set forth by the Black Student Union.

LeBron James has returned to UCSD, and I don’t think any of us know how much he knows about the “Cookout” and its aftermath. And I’m not sure it’s a great idea to ask him in front of cameras. Clearly, James felt comfortable returning to UCSD despite the racial tensions that rocked the campus during winter quarter, or else he would not have returned. He could have found beaches and sun much closer to his new home in Miami if he felt the campus climate at UCSD was unwelcoming. He chose to return to UCSD, so he must feel safe in doing so- his qualms about its racial inequities have been overcome.

There was a noose hung in UCSD’s Geisel Library in late February, by a silly girl who did not consider its racial implications or that it could be offensive when she absentmindedly left it hanging in an obscure corner high up in the stacks. She didn’t mean it as a threat and she didn’t consider it in the context of the “Compton Cookout” which was recent news when this occurred.

On Wednesday, July 21, a looped length of thin rope, described by campus police as a “noose”, was found hanging in Mandeville Hall, an out of the way performing arts building with stairwells blanketed in welcome graffiti. Official pictures do not seem to have been released (unlike the Geisel noose), but it is legitimately questionable whether this looped rope was intended to be a noose at all, let alone a threat.

On Wednesday, July 28, the day LeBron James arrived in La Jolla for his King’s Academy basketball camp, the story of the Mandeville noose broke on Southern California news sites, appearing in the print edition of the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, July 29. The San Diego Union Tribune, local news stations, and newspapers in northern California picked up the Mandeville Noose story on July 29 as well. An AP article titled “Noose found at UCSD may be latest racial prank” could be viewed on websites for the San Francisco Examiner and San Jose Mercury News. SanDiego.com reported “More Racial Tension on UCSD Campus“, which happened to be the same day LeBron James started his camp. The sensational headlines do not refer to any confirmed racial motivations, but seem to be tailored to stir up emotion.

The Mandeville noose was found a week before it was reported, even though the Geisel noose was reported on as soon as it was found and it just so happened that the Mandeville Noose was reported at the same time LeBron James was arriving at UCSD and beginning his King’s Academy basketball camp. A photo of the Mandeville “noose” has not been released (an image of the Geisel noose was quickly available) and its legitimate status as a certifiable noose is questionable. It’s impeccable timing, coincident with LeBron James’ arrival,  is unquestionable.

It may be the case that certain individuals in the UCSD administration and the media withheld the Mandeville Noose story and its details with LeBron James in mind. To not scare the NBA star off, and perhaps even to draw him into the campus’s racial issues. LeBron James, with his otherworldly athleticism and skill, did not attend college, so his knowledge of racial issues on a college campus would not be first hand. That is not to say that he has nothing of value to say about race, but his role in UCSD’s racial issues is nonexistent- he’s only here because he thinks La Jolla in the summer is a nice place for a basketball camp. And few would disagree with that.

There may be entities who are trying to orchestrate the collision of the Mandeville noose and LeBron James. To have him speak out on the issue, exploiting his celebrity to give UCSD’s racial climate a national audience. Such a discussion about race and UCSD may very well create further racial tensions. There are agendas at work trying to coordinate the elements of the Mandeville noose and LeBron James in the manner which suits their purposes best. Since “The Decision”, LeBron James’ has polled rather negatively with the public and anything controversial he has to say is likely to be met with hostility and divisive words. The media is possibly using James’ celebrity and newfound villain badge, which they know full well about, to create more controversy at the expense of James and the UCSD community.

It is my hope that LeBron James does only what he was meant to do at UCSD, which is focus on his basketball camp without comment on the Mandeville Noose, Compton Cookout, or other racial issues concerning UCSD. My intention is not to avoid the issue of race or to discount the value of James’ insight into the issue, but to avoid the national spotlight he brings because such exposure and media power can lend themselves to entities vying only to fulfill their own agendas. If it is a UCSD issue, let UCSD handle it. Any entities trying to arrange the intersection of LeBron James and UCSD “nooses” are only looking out for their own sinister agenda.

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2 responses to “LeBron James and the Compton Cookout

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  1. people are stupid

  2. Pingback: He Brought It Up, Now I’m Curious « Tritonthink

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