For many Americans, the election of an African-American president in 2008 meant that the nation had moved past discrimination on the basis of race. Many other Americans realize nothing has changed.
According to Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Daily News, Chargers defensive lineman Brandon Mebane believes he has experienced racism in Southern California following the team’s move to L.A.
Mebane explains that he and his wife, Amena, applied for a rental home in a new neighborhood in Irvine. With Mebane due to make $3.5 million in 2017, ability to pay isn’t an issue. But the Mebanes were denied, because of one specific factor.
“They chose somebody else because their credit score was four points higher,” Mebane said. “When your credit score is in the 800s, it’s pretty much a wash. But you can’t tell a person they can’t come in your neighborhood because they’re black; that’s against the law. They don’t actually say those types of things. But they’ll point out things like those four points. The neighborhood was brand new. There were no black families there.”
Mebane said other Chargers teammates are experiencing racism in Orange County, where the African-American population, according to the most recent census, sits at only 1.5 percent. One player, per Mebane, offered to pay a full year of rent in advance for a home at Newport Beach. The player and his family were denied at the last minute, with no explanation.
Another teammate, Mebane explained to Kartje, was told pets would be allowed and “then, they find out the family is black and decide they weren’t accepting pets.”
Mebane also believes that a security guard at a local Louis Vuitton facility followed Mebane and his wife throughout their time in the store due to their race.
“People tell me it’s not true, but they don’t understand what it’s like to be black in America,” Mebane told Kartje. “The only way we can move on and hear each other is by talking about this.”
It’s good that Mebane is willing to talk about it. More people need to be willing to do that, and people who are the victims of discrimination in housing or employment need to be willing to pursue the various avenues for taking legal action against it. Only by exposing this behavior will it end, and only be truly understanding each other will we ever get to the point where we understand that we’re all the same.