The ESPN personality aired his views on racism Monday night (Feb. 29) while giving a talk on “The Legacy, History and Impact of the African American Athlete” at the University of South Alabama.
The event, part of the school’s program offerings during Black History Month, featured Smith as its invited guest. WKRG reports that part of Smith’s talk was specifically addressed to young black students and attendees in the crowd.
In his eyes, Smith says when it comes to excuses for a lack of progress in the lives of black college students, racism “doesn’t exist” for them. As a result, there shouldn’t be anything to prevent the students from achieving the success they work for.
“Racism doesn’t exist. Obviously, I’m lying. Of course it exists, but not for you, Smith told the crowd. “See, you don’t have to go to the back of the bus. You’re not denied the opportunity to eat at restaurants, or to enter night clubs, or to patronize businesses. You have the right to vote. You’re not being lynched. You’re not being hung. You’re not going through the trials and tribulations your ancestors recent and far beyond recent, endured so you can sit here today.”
“You’re older, you know I’m not talking about you. But youngsters, nobody’s trying to hear that. You need to understand that white folks got problems, too,” he continued. Some of them can’t pay their bills. Some of them are struggling. Some of them are being denied opportunities. And you need to understand that, because when people are going through their own problems, they are not going to lament what your trials and tribulations are […]
Smith went on to point out that the students are not alone in having to deal with racism and other problems in life. As a result, they have to realize that they shouldn’t expect others to be “sensitive” to their personal “trials and tribulations.”
“That applies to them too in their world,” he said. “So if they’re going through that, how could they possibly be sensitive to your trials and tribulations? That doesn’t mean that you don’t go through it from time to time. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have those experiences.
“It means that we will not allow you to use it as an excuse.”