Daniel Negreanu Responds to Shock Racism Claims

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Daniel Negreanu

It is the hottest story of the week in the poker world.  Gambling911.com Special Contributor Thomas Somach questioning remarks poker pro Daniel Negreanu made on his blog suggesting a possible "racial undertone". 

"Negreanu made some outrageous comments about the sensitive subject of race, comments that would have created a firestorm if Negreanu had any relevance outside the poker world but which have been generally ignored because he is, after all, just a poker player.  But one with a blog, so people do read it," Somach said.

Readers have mostly been supportive of Negreanu.

One person commenting on the Gambling911.com website had this to say:

"If DN was a racist why would he be watching BET and suggesting they rename it to include him in the demographic? A racist blog entry would have a much different tone. We are obviously not at a point where we can just refer to people without describing their skin color, but I think its a good goal. Does anybody include hair color or eye color when discussing someone? There are plenty of black people that don't care for BET and plenty of white people that do; black entertainment is not the best description of the channel. Nobody actually wants a WET, the point is that it is interesting that one is considered fine and the other would be ridiculous, and that it would be a better country if nobody felt a need to differentiate white Americans from black Americans. Of course there actually are differences because culturally we have been more separated than not. The fact that Urban Entertainment Television would be a better description reflects the reality that in urban areas the cultures are very intertwined, a good thing."

Steven Ruddock of the Examiner suggested Friday that opinions on topics like this are often taken out of context.

"To call someone racist over these comments is quite a jump in my opinion," Ruddock says.  "A bit ignorant and insensitive, but there is no hate in his remarks, at least that I see. It seems Daniel is just offering up some musings on life as he sees it, as he is entitled to."

Much of Negreanu's rants centered on why there should exist a Black Entertainment Television network and whether there would be an uproar if someone announced the creation of a White Entertainment Television network.  He also questioned the usage of the term "African American". 

Even Gambling911.com's own African American reporter, Tyrone Black, defended Negreanu.

"These are valid points Daniel raises," says Black.  "We may not all agree with him but he can hardly be deemed a ‘racist' for making such comments."

Negreanu finally commented about Somach's piece on the Two Plus Two Forum Friday.

"I guess I didn't write it clear enough so I wanted to address one thing:

"Duh, I realize that a black man born in Jamaica has ancestry and roots in Africa. My point there was that if the Jamaican came to America to live, he would be called an African-American and NOT what he is more closely linked to heritage wise, his birthplace, Jamaica.

"I thought about it some more, and it's totally illogical to call blacks African-American. Outside of the native-Americans (a title that actually DOES hold merit and make some sense) every American would have to be hyphenated in order for the African-American label to make sense. The majority of Americans would either be Euro-American, Asian-American, or African-American.

"We never, ever use the term Euro-American. If you and your family have been in the U.S. for the last 150 years, but your ancestry is from Germany, then by the same logic as calling a black kid from Queens who's never been to Africa African-American, you would be a Euro-American.

"The point of my distaste for the term African-American is because if I were black, I would find that offensive. I know some blacks who really don't like the term, most notably Whoopi Goldberg. It's not right to label black Americans if you aren't going to do that to everyone. Let whites, blacks, and Asians, all just be AMERICAN. We really don't need any hyphens, they serve no positive purpose at all, IMO.

"As for the article the guy wrote, I think he was brilliant. He threw out a big, eye-catching title like "Daniel Negreanu a racist?" and it did wonders for the site. They got lots of hits.

"It's a really low class move to try and increase traffic at your site that way, but hey, it really does work. He ends up looking pretty foolish, though, because as the majority of people who read what I wrote all agree on, is that my comments weren't racist at all. Some claimed my comments were ignorant, but that's because they thought I believed black Jamaicans didn't originate in Africa.

"Oh, one more thing: what do you call a white man from South Africa, with roots in South Africa for centuries that now lives in America? Is HE not African-American? Silly stuff huh?"

Negreanu also added how much he hates "real" racists.

"In closing, one thing I'm extremely passionate about are race relations. It's something that often touches me personally, both with anger and joy. Two of my favorite films, Remember the Titans and American History X. Both race driven movies. Also, most recently the doc "Prom Night in Mississippi."

"I do hate. I HATE racists! I really get angry with ignorant people who judge a person based on skin color. It infuriates me to no end. Growing up, I didn't have a lot of white friends. In grade school most of my friends were all black. Then in junior high it was a mix of blacks and Asians. I had white friends too, but when you grow up in Toronto, the most multi-cultural city in the world, racism just isn't the same kind of problem as it is in the rest of the world. I wish the whole world was a melting pot, just like Toronto. Ignorance is bred out of fear of what you do not know, but when you break down those walls of fear, you make room for love and acceptance."

Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com


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