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Race in Sports and the Workplace

Meb Keflezighi

Here is a very interesting article from today’s NY Times about race and athletics that has obvious implications for the discussion of race and employment.

There is apparently a debate raging about whether Meb Keflezighi, who won the NY marathon on Sunday, is truly “American” since he did not come to this country until he was 12 years old.  The debate is complicated by the fact that he is a black African. 

As one professor frames the issue, the argument “tells us there are people that still have racial red flags go up when certain things happen.  Many people think that with an African-American president, we are in a postracial society.  Clearly, we are not.”

And another: “Race is still extremely important when you think about athletics.”  (And employment as well.)  “There is this notion about innate physiological gifts that certain races presumably possess.  Quite frankly, I think it feeds into deep-seated stereotypes.  The more blatant forms of racial discrimination and illegal forms have been eliminated, but more subtle forms of discrimination still exist.”

It reminds me of the research that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in “Blink” that revealed that most of us have deep-seated racial preconceptions that we may not even be aware of.

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