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NBA Commissioner Gives Charlotte a Gift We Don't Deserve

Fool's Silver

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Ten Months.

That's the span of time that it took for Charlotte to not only lose an NBA All-Star Game but to then gain one back.

And the truth is, it should have stayed gone.

Last week, the NBA announced that the 2019 All Star-Game would be held in the Queen City after having the 2017 iteration taken away thanks to the infamous House Bill 2.

So what changed? Leadership for starters; Roy Cooper was elected into the Governor's mansion in Raleigh, and in turn brought in the aptly named House Bill 142, which does a marginal job to un-ring the bell of HB2, making the state of North Carolina reasonably palatable for sports businesses to return to.

There's just one small problem: LGBTQ citizens of North Carolina are far less protected than they were before HB2 arrived.

You see, what's lost in all this news about the "HB2 repeal" is that the repeal of HB2 was also the repeal of Charlotte's amendment to the nondiscrimination ordinance — the one that gave protections to folks in our city based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things.

In a statement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote, "While we understand the concerns of those who say the repeal of HB2 did not go far enough, we believe the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law." He continued, "It allows [the NBA] to work with the leadership of the Hornets organization to apply a set of equality principles to ensure every All-Star event will proceed with open access and anti-discrimination policies."

Commissioner Silver's statement is an affront to the entire North Carolina LBGTQ community. At best, it suggests that the only time the LGBTQ community in North Carolina will rightfully be treated as a protected class in this state is during a three-day event during February 2019 that they'll be forced to pay exorbitant sums of money to attend.

By now, one can easily become frustrated with the NBA, who made their displeasure with HB2 very public when it came time for the All-Star Game in 2017. Last year, Silver said that HB2 violated the core principles of the league, which include diversity, inclusion fairness and respect for others.

But I'd ask the NBA and the Hornets, have they spoken to those in North Carolina's LGBTQ community? Has the NBA seen that House Bill 142 effectively returns transgender people in North Carolina to the status of second-class citizens with few rights and little-to-no protections, where they will remain until December 2020 at the earliest?

It's those questions that make all this celebration regarding the return of the All-Star Game to Charlotte laughable. The status quo has simply been maintained and extended past the next election cycle. If anything, the NBA chose to wait a year until the stench of HB2 had wafted away and former Governor Pat McCrory was a distant, sickening memory so they could return to business as usual.

Lest we forget about Silver's photo op at last year's New York Pride Parade in June. Little did the public know then that Silver was using the community's struggle for equality as a prop; a negotiation tool. It's no different than when a struggling pop artist decides to "discover" a hip-hop sound when their album sales start to sag (Someone come get Katy Perry).

Silver's Pride stunt was simple appropriation of a culture to benefit that person through some form of financial means.

In a February op-ed, Governor Cooper wrote that North Carolina needed to show that "We are a state that's open for business" and that "It's time to put the partisan barbs aside, roll up our sleeves and repeal House Bill 2." Yeah, that's politician for, "Let's stop letting this bigotry cost us millions of dollars."

Where my real disappointment lies is with Silver, who's fluent in the politician verbiage, and who chose business loyalties instead of those core values that the NBA was supposedly founded upon.

And now Charlotte has its crown jewel, albeit on a tarnished bronze cap.

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