Race Tracks

Author Jon Entine comes to Phoenix to dissect the Taboo subject of why blacks dominate sports

Although the book has received considerable praise from the black community -- and the book's foreword was written by Earl Smith, an African-American professor at Wake Forest University -- for some African-Americans, even exploring this topic is like opening up an old wound. They view the issue as a white obsession and argue that there is nothing to be gained from biological research. Entine long had a hard time accepting this viewpoint, but he says he understands it better now.

"When I went to Kenya to do research for the book, I went into the mountain areas, and I was there for quite a while with Kenyan athletes," he says. "And I was the only white there. And I was amazed at how I felt my whiteness there. It gave me just the slightest inkling of what it's like to be a black in the United States, where at every moment you're defined by your blackness.

"I asked one of the Kenyans, 'Do you think of me as a white person?' and they said, 'Of course.' And I asked, 'Do you think of yourself as a black person?' And they looked at me as if I was crazy, and said, 'No, I think of myself as a person.' And that's the difference between the way whites and blacks think of themselves in this country. Blacks are constantly defined by their race. So if I was a black person, I'd probably be hypersensitive to these issues."

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