Not something I’d really thought about

The University of California has acknowledged that its negligence was a substantial factor in the death of former California football player Ted Agu.

The 21-year-old defensive lineman from Bakersfield died nearly two years ago after a strenuous team workout. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, arguing that Agu had sickle cell trait and should not have been put through an exercise in which players sprinted up and down a hill while holding a rope together.

Given the degree to which African American descent is from West Africa and the subsequent mixing of genes all over the place the US must be one of the few wealthy countries where sickle cell is a significant (as opposed to a distinctly minority, it’s always significant for those who have it) health danger in this manner.

Just never really thought about it before.

I mean we could write this story the other way around, parts of America are still driving unpaid young black men to their deaths through overwork. But that would be unkind.

37 thoughts on “Not something I’d really thought about”

  1. I guess his family didn’t realize that there would be “strenuous workouts” involved when they sent him off to play Division 1 football?

  2. Jerry>

    I guess his family very reasonably assumed that fitness training would be conducted with regard to medical conditions, and that, for example, if he’d had a broken leg he wouldn’t have been forced to run on it.

  3. So now they’ll find a way of excluding sickle cell people from e team. Which may well be a desirable outcome of course. They can take up darts or snooker.

  4. Dave

    “I guess his family very reasonably assumed that fitness training would be conducted with regard to medical conditions”

    No. His family should have assumed that he knew his own limitations, given his genetic condition. Is every fitness trainer expected to reel off a list of each and every health and genetic condition that could potentially be fatal before starting a session?

  5. Ryan Clark, NFL safety for many years with the Steelers, had sickle cell which affected his training program. After a near death experience in the thin air of Denver he was held out of all games played at altitude. I never thought about it before he had issues either so I can understand not considering it.

    As to taking up darts or snooker that isn’t an option if you want to make life changing money. For kids in the ghettos, even in small towns, the only options are to become football rich or become just another crime statistic. Football and basketball are the only sports in America that offer a clear path. To these kids the health risks are less than just staying where they are.

  6. Sickle cell *trait* kicks in under pretty specific circumstances, which basically revolves around anoxia, including that caused by extreme physical exertion.

    If he suffered from the condition, he must have deliberately ignored the signs.
    That one exercise *could* conceivably have killed him, but it’s extremely unlikely given the rather strenuous training regimen you have to go through to reach the athletic level we’re talking about here that he hasn’t had problems before.

  7. Bloke in Costa Rica

    LY: those are the only choices, are they? Play for the NFL or NBA, or become a gangster/gangster’s victim?

    And you can make life-changing money playing darts. Maintenance on hat beer belly of Jocky Wilson’s can’t have come cheap.

  8. ‘I mean we could write this story the other way around, parts of America are still driving unpaid young black men to their deaths through overwork.’

    If you are talking about slavery, it is a false characterization. Slaves were far too valuable to be worked to death.

  9. I’m not saying that you can’t make life changing money in other ways but if you never find out about an opportunity you don’t do it. Football and basketball are the options these kids can expect to know where they grow up.

    I think the better argument is young black men are being driven to their deaths through under work. Most ghettos don’t have many employment options. Good luck showing up to a job interview in a “good” area in gang colors with pants that don’t come close to fitting. How to correct this is in the 6th decade of failed attempts.

  10. BiCR

    “In my neighborhood, there are four Black people. Hundreds of houses, four Black people. Who are these Black people? Well, there’s me, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z and Eddie Murphy. Only Black people in the whole neighborhood. So let’s break it down, let’s break it down: me, I’m a decent comedian. I’m a’ight. Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest R&B singers to ever walk the Earth. Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Eddie Murphy, one of the funniest actors to ever, ever do it. Do you know what the White man who lives next door to me does for a living? He’s a f**king dentist! He ain’t the best dentist in the world…he ain’t going to the Dental Hall of Fame…he don’t get plaques for getting rid of plaque. He’s just a yank-your-tooth-out dentist. See, the Black man gotta fly to get to somethin’ the White man can walk to!”

    My experience of black ghettos in the US extends as far as the Wire. But I’m willing to believe Chris Rock that for a black kid in a ghetto to get rich they’re going to have to be a superstar, getting rich by education is hardly an option.

  11. Thanks for the Chris Rock quote. He keeps it real. Unlike n*****, to quote one of my favorite routines, he isn’t dumb though.

    If you’re white and want to experience the ghetto first hand all you have to do is wear business attire(JC Penny’s not Armani) and act confidently. Stay on main roads. Most people will think you are a cop or a politician and will avoid trouble. This does make it hard to get the locals to open up. I found that taking a clip board and pretending to be a census taker works well. Once you see the conditions first hand it is easy to see why hope is in short supply.

  12. Surely though the white dentist is there not because he is white but because he is a dentist who built a successful dentistry business. If there aren’t similar black dentists, why aren’t there similar black dentists? Are blacks excluded from dentistry, or are they not seeking entistry to dentry?

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Liberal Yank – “I’m not saying that you can’t make life changing money in other ways but if you never find out about an opportunity you don’t do it.”

    But they can see people make small but still significant improvements to their lives. Michelle Obama’s father was a janitor in a state school for instance. He sent two children to Harvard and one of them ended up in the White House.

    Yet for some reason this model does not appeal to young Black men any more. Any suggestions why this might be?

    “I think the better argument is young black men are being driven to their deaths through under work. Most ghettos don’t have many employment options.”

    Jessie Jackson said that when he was young and worked as a waiter in a country club, he used to spit in the White people’s food. So middle class White liberals have opted to have their children cared for by someone from Guatemala rather than someone from Mr Jackson’s community.

    Racists, that is what they are, just racists.

    Liberal Yank – “Once you see the conditions first hand it is easy to see why hope is in short supply.”

    On the other hand you can stroll through the gentrified formerly-Black now-largely-White parts of New York without any protection at all. It is remarkable that what used to be unsellable slums has magically turned into millions of dollars worth of real estate. There must be an explanation for that. The lack of hope? Horse or cart? If people do not sh!t all over their own neighbourhoods, if they do not make stupid bone-headed decision after stupid bone-headed decision, it is remarkable how life can turn out.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    magnusw – “But I’m willing to believe Chris Rock that for a black kid in a ghetto to get rich they’re going to have to be a superstar, getting rich by education is hardly an option.”

    And yet Michelle Obama sitting in the White House suggests otherwise.

    Let me recommend Alice Goffman’s On the run: fugitive life in an American city. Ignore anything she has to say. Look at what she describes. She may romanticise the young thuglets she clearly has a thing for, but she is honest enough to admit that other, boring, less sexy, young Black men choose to study, work hard and stay out of trouble. Nothing holding them back at all.

    One of the things that has disappeared from modern America is any discussion of Black men that is not centred on the Thug Life. White liberals only love criminals. White conservatives fear them. But there are actually responsible educated sensible Black men who seem to do OK. Not great but OK. It doesn’t usually pass down to their children though.

  15. In the town I grew up in they couldn’t get a mortgage until the 90s. When Dr Green moved into our neighborhood(average middle class Virginia) in 93 it was a huge issue. When I moved to Pittsburgh I really came to understand white flight. Thanks to the larger number of housing choices blacks began moving in to middle class neighborhoods in the 80s. Due to the greater housing choices the whites then left leading to the creation of new ghettos. Additionally blacks tend to move into neighbors with lower average incomes then they make.

    For dentistry in particular, like fields that require a STEM degree, there are not enough qualified black students. Part of this is due to the lack of opportunities offered by ghetto schools. A larger part is that a child is more likely to go to college if their parents had. In my undergraduate EE classes we had very few black and latino students simply because there weren’t enough leaving high school knowing enough to succeed. Those we did have tended to be highly focused despite, or maybe because of, the racism they faced on a daily basis. The simple answer is that many were excluded simply due to poor primary schools and an unstable family life.

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    Liberal Yank – “In the town I grew up in they couldn’t get a mortgage until the 90s.”

    And sub-prime mortgages were invented when red lining was prohibited and banks forced to lend to minorities.

    “Due to the greater housing choices the whites then left leading to the creation of new ghettos. Additionally blacks tend to move into neighbors with lower average incomes then they make.”

    And what process magically happens, in the passive voice of course, to turn a middle class neighbourhood into a slum? Do the White people come and steal away all the good plumbing?

    “For dentistry in particular, like fields that require a STEM degree, there are not enough qualified black students. Part of this is due to the lack of opportunities offered by ghetto schools.”

    Baltimore spends more per student than any other school system in America except for New York. There has been a massive flow of Federal funds into sink schools. Why do ghetto schools lack opportunities (there is that passive voice again)? We have done this experiment – the Courts took over the Kansas City school district and made the tax payers pay:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298.html

    Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.

    The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

    “The simple answer is that many were excluded simply due to poor primary schools and an unstable family life.”

    Actually Blacks don’t do so badly at school until puberty kicks in. That is where things like Head Start stop working. Unstable family life? What might be causing that?

    A young Black football player can do nothing about his genes. He can do something about the number of children he has out of wedlock.

  17. When I moved to Pittsburgh I really came to understand white flight. Thanks to the larger number of housing choices blacks began moving in to middle class neighborhoods in the 80s. Due to the greater housing choices the whites then left leading to the creation of new ghettos.

    Interesting. I’m from Pittsburgh, where are these new ghettos located? Obviously not the Hill District or Homewood-Brushton, those have been ghettos for ages.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    JerryC – “Interesting. I’m from Pittsburgh, where are these new ghettos located? Obviously not the Hill District or Homewood-Brushton, those have been ghettos for ages.”

    Pittsburgh is fascinating. Like a lot of North-Eastern cities, it has lost a lot of industry. The Steel industry has suffered. They lost a lot of corporate headquarters. Pittsburgh may have suffered worse than Detroit when it comes to declining industries.

    But: In 2015, Pittsburgh was named on a list of the “eleven most livable cities in the world.”

    Pittsburgh is still a pretty good place to live. Crime is rather low:

    Pittsburgh annually ranks as one of America’s safest big cities, recently being named the 3rd “most secure” big city by Farmers Insurance.[163] Among crime rates of the 60 largest U.S. cities, 43 had more instances of property crime while 16 had less when compared to Pittsburgh. More instances of violent crime were reported in 21 of the largest cities while 37 had less.

    Now why would that be?

    At the 2010 Census, there were 305,704 people residing in Pittsburgh, a decrease of 8.6% since 2000. 66.0% of the population was White, 25.8% Black or African American, 0.2% American Indian and Alaska Native, 4.4% Asian, 0.3% Other and 2.3% mixed. 2.3% of Pittsburgh’s population was of Hispanic or Latino origin of any race.

    Americans can elect Leftist governments in places like Seattle and they are still nice places to live. They have done so in Pittsburgh. They cannot elect leftist politicians in places like Washington DC or Detroit or Chicago or Baltimore and still remain nice places to live.

    Why, I will leave as an exercise to the reader.

  19. Thank you for pointing out my overuse of passive phrasing. I will try to avoid that in the future since it didn’t convey the point I intended.

    Dr Green’s son and I ended up becoming friends. I can’t speak for all areas since I’ve never experienced it directly but in my rural VA town skin color made a huge difference no matter what the federal government said.

    The magic process that turned a solid middle class neighborhood was simple in the areas I’ve explored. Thanks to the decline of the steel industry a large housing surplus developed in Pittsburgh. In Observatory Hill, for example, a black family would move in. This was fairly quickly followed by the most racist white families moving out. Other black families moved in to the now vacant houses they were able to purchase thanks to the previous owners selling for whatever they could get. This led to the sense that the neighborhood was being overrun and additional white families moved out. Many of these were sold to operators of government assisted, section 8, rental groups. The section 8 landlords generally don’t care who is in their properties as long as they get their government checks each month. Within a couple years the former middle class neighborhood had a high proportion of residents on government assistance and a rapidly growing crime rate. While I didn’t experience this directly my girlfriend for my sophomore and junior years lived through it as her grandparents lived at the edge of the neighborhood. I heard similar stories about many other neighbors in Pittsburgh leading to the many of the racial lines that can be seen today.

    This explains the white flight in 1980s Pittsburgh but does not tell the whole story. Proceeding the changes of the 1980s that were helped in large part to the collapse of steel were the changes following WWII. In general before WWII most mill workers lived in the mill towns they worked in like McKeesport. Thanks to high wages from generous union contracts the, generally white, mill workers could now afford cars allowing them to move into new suburbs. This turned formerly green areas of the red-lining days into yellow and then red neighborhoods. I don’t have the same quantity of first hand stories from these days so I don’t claim this with certainty.

    Poverty is a contributing factor to an unstable family life. I would argue that the structure of welfare prior to 1996 also played a huge role. One of my college friend’s mother was a typical(white) welfare recipient that stayed drunk and high all day long until the change. Her 4 brothers and sisters that lived with the mother had no concept of the value of work. Although I can’t say for sure I’m guessing many children raised on government cheese had the same problem.

  20. OK, Observatory Hill is Perry North. Which makes sense because Perry South had already become a well known ghetto by the time I graduated high school in 1984.

    In Observatory Hill, for example, a black family would move in. This was fairly quickly followed by the most racist white families moving out. Other black families moved in to the now vacant houses they were able to purchase thanks to the previous owners selling for whatever they could get. This led to the sense that the neighborhood was being overrun and additional white families moved out.

    The most racist white families or the white families with the most foresight? They left because they figured the neighborhood would turn into a ghetto, and it turned into a ghetto. Hard to say they made the wrong call.

  21. Individually the first to move made the right call.

    From what I understand most of the North Side outside of the circle followed the same pattern. A similar thing seems to have happened around East Liberty. Is this what you recall as well or are there more pieces to the story?

    Also the last time I was out that way it wasn’t safe to go past the park. What was the cut off when you lived there.

  22. The concept that blacks can only succeed by striking it big in sport or entertainment is a significant feature holding them back.

    The immigrant Koreans, Vietnamese and Filipinos don’t think like that and already their climb in starting. Before them it was groups like the Jews and Irish that worked their way out of discrimination and poverty.

    But not enough Blacks will play the game whereby you get something of an education, work hard, don’t take drugs and dress like a person who cares.

  23. So Much For Subtlety

    Liberal Yank – “Thank you for pointing out my overuse of passive phrasing. I will try to avoid that in the future since it didn’t convey the point I intended.”

    It is not just you. It is everyone. Schools don’t fail. Teachers may. Students do. Neighbourhoods aren’t dangerous. People are.

    “The magic process that turned a solid middle class neighborhood was simple in the areas I’ve explored. …. This was fairly quickly followed by the most racist white families moving out.”

    The smartest you mean. Not necessarily the most racist. White Flight hurts the people we should want to do well – the least racist Whites who stay the longest and get nothing for their property and the first Blacks to move in. They pay top dollar for a good house in a good suburb but they and their fellow Blacks inevitably turn the suburb into a slum and their houses become worth nothing.

    “Other black families moved in to the now vacant houses they were able to purchase thanks to the previous owners selling for whatever they could get.”

    In other words, Blacks have been given a massive free gift – housing they could not normally afford. In places where housing should be worth millions. Go look at Oakland or Harlem. These are great places to live – or would be if the population was a hell of a lot less Black.

    “Within a couple years the former middle class neighborhood had a high proportion of residents on government assistance and a rapidly growing crime rate.”

    In other words a large number of Black men choose crime. The neighbourhood isn’t on welfare, the neighbourhood does not commit crime. People are and people do.

    “Proceeding the changes of the 1980s that were helped in large part to the collapse of steel were the changes following WWII.”

    Pittsburgh suffered a collapse of the steel industry but is still a great place to live. Regularly cited as such. It is also the only major North-East city that is majority White.

    “Poverty is a contributing factor to an unstable family life.”

    If you are Black or Native American. Not if you are Chinese.

    “I would argue that the structure of welfare prior to 1996 also played a huge role.”

    So welfare causing massive damage to Black communities but you are still on the Left? Given what you are doing to Black children isn’t it time to stop?

    Liberal Yank – “Individually the first to move made the right call.”

    But you need to demonise them anyway.

    “Also the last time I was out that way it wasn’t safe to go past the park.”

    The best book written on White Flight is Hillel Levine’s The death of an American Jewish community : a tragedy of good intentions

  24. Hmm..Chester.. not entirely true..

    Each and every group has had their own, and entirely different set of prejudices to contend with.
    The Irish were catholics in a puritan-calvinist nation. The Jews and Asians, for reasons historical or cultural, tend to look to their own community first, so they have a ..buffer.. if there are enough to form one. Plus their culture itself promotes Personal Success to begin with.

    The African-descended Americans however, have been.. well… shat upon really up until the 1960’s, and even then, grudgingly, the Rules changed on them… formally.
    You’re talking about a pretty substantial mass of people of whom about anybody over 55-ish has consciously experienced the rather charming ways of the Land of Opportunities, if you’re anything but “Black”. Anyone younger has lived through the aftermath.

    It would be nice if you could just change some laws, and people will suddenly be A-OK, but Happy Ever After is a Disney fiction. The circumstances in which millions of people grow up haven’t, and can’t have changed in a mere couple of decades. Especially if you keep dumping the worst of everything else into the mix as well.

    Sure.. people can escape from the edges, but try to fight your way out of the core..

  25. So Much For Subtlety

    Grikath – “It would be nice if you could just change some laws, and people will suddenly be A-OK, but Happy Ever After is a Disney fiction. The circumstances in which millions of people grow up haven’t, and can’t have changed in a mere couple of decades.”

    Baden and Württemberg passed the legislation that gave the Jews complete equality before the law in 1861-64

    Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire on 14 March 1879.

  26. Re the change in racial make up of a neighbourhood. Thomas Schelling worked this out back in the 60s. Part of what he got his Nobel for. It only takes very mild prejudice on hte part of a few people and only a few “others” moving into a neighbourhood to change it very quickly.

    So, one “other” moves in, only one in the area who doesn’t like (mildly) the “other” moves out. This means two others in the area which prompts one more who doesn’t very much like the other to move and now we’ve three and it just cascades from there on. His paper about this is easy enough to find online.

    His point was really mathematical but the implication is that it’s not that all a stone cold racists, it’s that you only need one or two who even mildly are for such a change to cascade through a neighbourhood quickly.

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Worstall – “His point was really mathematical but the implication is that it’s not that all a stone cold racists, it’s that you only need one or two who even mildly are for such a change to cascade through a neighbourhood quickly.”

    You don’t even need to be racist. Just aware of what is likely to happen – remembering the last one out loses all his money.

    There is a blog on line by someone called La Griffe du Lion, anonymous of course. He has a posting called “Crime in the Hood”. He points out that Blacks are about 13% of the population but they commit about 90% of the violent interracial crime. Less than 15% of these are robberies – that is, these crimes are usually not really about money. The rest are mostly assaults and rapes.

    It is no surprise that in places like Brooklyn, the first Whites to move in to Black areas are 1. Gays and 2. Yuppies without children.

  28. Thomas Sowell in ‘Wealth, Poverty and Politics’ takes a cool, historical (over thousands of years) look at inequality, development, successful societies that eventually fail (all of them) and also why black youth are failing so spectacularly in USA.

    He is black, a scholar and writes in a way that even I can understand everything. He takes a long look at ‘equality’, ‘privilege’, welfare, expectations etc worldwide and how and why different cultures inside countries do so differently, but there is a lot about the downward journey of black American youth.

    Enormous growth in disfunctional families that ‘coincided’ with the introduction of 60’s welfare and the development of a gang culture where the worst of all is to talk or act white! He sets this against the black reality of the 40’s and 50’s. Makes interesting reading.

    He is scathing about all the whiney, micro-agression, blame slavery, let’s go segregate stuff and backs it up with data.

    Touches on IQ and poor whites often did worse than poor blacks and he explains how geographic isolation makes people underachieve and poor, how immigrants can bring their attitudes with them (even though they start with no money) and of course how the larger group comes to hate the more successful newcomers (read documented bullying of (some) Asians by (some) Afro-americans).

    I haven’t reached his conclusions yet, but looks an awful lot like do-gooders have done really bad by ‘trying’ to do good.

  29. or we could simply say that he wasn’t up to the job and we should, for health reasons, not allow anyone with sickle cell to work in this area.

    I await the proposal.

  30. It looks like a trip to the library for both Schelling and Sowell is needed. Maybe after more reading I’ll be able to actually explain the differences in racism I’ve observed between small VA towns and larger northern cities.

    Why do I feel I learn more from the comments here than I did in 4 years of college?

  31. Umm SFMS.. Is that supposed to counter my argument?

    Those laws didn’t change a thing In fact, they’re part of why a certain bemustached ex-corporal could get away with some of his notions half a century later..

    And Einstein isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill example, is he? Besides the fact that his parents were solid middle class to begin with, and all.

  32. And yet Michelle Obama sitting in the White House suggests otherwise.

    Condi Rice too, although she never made the White House her own. Grew up in segregated Alabama, too. The Left hate her.

  33. ‘He points out that Blacks are about 13% of the population but they commit about 90% of the violent interracial crime.’

    Even this is bogus metrics. It is black males, who are 6.5% of the population.

    Black males commit 55% of all “homicide by firearms discharge” (the government’s description). Most of their victims are black. The U.S. rate of homicide by firearms discharge with black males excluded is under 2 per 100,000, a very low rate.

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