Shaquille O’Neal rarely minces words, whether it’s about basketball or off-court matters. In particular, he had a very particular conception of the relationship between Blacks and Whites, in the past… Except that, as he admitted, this is far from still being the case today.
Whether on the courts or in everyday life, American society is still marked by a certain gap between the different ethnic communities; This is especially the case between white people and the African American part of the country, largely because of slavery and racial segregation. It is enough besides to observe the opposition between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to go there.
Indeed, while the former was the new symbol of black success in the NBA, Larry Legend was considered the Messiah by his community, allowing whites to once again become dominant in the big league. Far from being enemies, the two men however quickly became friends. However, not all athletes thought like them, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Again, we can cite a legend of the game as a textbook case, namely Shaquille O’Neal. Growing up in poverty and in a predominantly African-American environment, the four-time champion ended up having a very strong opinion on white people during his young years. In question, the deepening of his civic education on the history of his country, as he revealed in his book Shaq responds :
I never hated white people when I was young. And to this day, I was brought up to believe that there are two kinds of people in this world: good and bad. But I saw the movie Roots many times as a kid, and this movie based on Alex Haley’s book about slavery in his family’s past really stuck with me.
Shaq scarred by US slavery stories
Sensitized through cultural works, the Big Diesel therefore developed biases that quickly worried those close to him. These are therefore made to remove it as quickly as possible:
My mother saw how it affected me and ended up taking me aside one day. “Times have changed,” she said. “You have to take people for what they are worth. Not all white people are like that anymore.
Fortunately, the former Laker was able to listen to these proposals, which certainly helped him a lot later. Indeed, if he had continued to believe that the Whites were all bad, it is hard to believe that he could have cohabited with legendary coaches such as Pat Riley or Phil Jackson. However, this is what he managed to do, thus filling his trophy cabinet during his long career.
Shaquille once had very negative prejudices about white people, but his mother unfortunately made him stop believing it. Without it, we might have been deprived of one of the most dominant players to ever live.