I’ve written about the difference between the Montford Park and Weaver Park tennis courts before, and still stand by these assertions. Weaver Park is laid back with crappier courts, while the superior Montford Courts come with a huge helping of entitled upper-middle-class white people who act like these are their private courts, despite the fact that like me, they are peasants who chose not to pay for the exclusion of a private club.
I’ve had several tangles with these Montford asshats, but last week, after a pair of encounters with a pickleball player who pretended she had rented out the entire facility (not possible), as well as a gentleman giving tennis lessons who claimed he paid a special tax, and so was able to play uninterrupted for two hours (a lie), I got fed up and penned what I considered a decent op-ed for the Asheville Citizen Times.
I know a lot of writers will tell you not to read the comments, claim not to do so themselves, and discourage fellow writers from commenting back to disparaging comments, but I don’t believe in this. The bulk of commenters don’t actually read your piece, just want to spout off, generally have really bad takes, and I suspect don’t expect you to be lurking, so I find a perverse joy in engaging with them.
The initial feedback of the tennis etiquette piece was positive, with many people chiming in saying they’ve noticed the same behavior, and a few even hypothesizing that they’ve dealt with the same coach. There was one gentleman, who, as I pointed out in a comment responding to his comment, 100% demonstrated the point of my article (that too many people think the world revolves around them).
Here’s what Miles I., had to say, “Perhaps if the City of Asheville were recognizing of the fact that just about every other community, town or city in America has recognized that pickleball is the fastest growing sport and that tennis is a slowly dying sport. Let’s not blame it on selfish people, because all people, are self serving to a certain extent. It’s a normal human response. Let’a put the blame where it belongs. It’s the responsiblility of city government to recognize the needs of it’s citizens. The population age is skewing towards older citizens who want to remain active and the citizenry of Asheville is following suit. Why not just build new dedicated pickleball courts for the needs and wants of people they are supposed to be serving. And guess what; all this petty bickering will be a mute point.”
I also found great satisfaction in pointing out to Miles I., that millennials, with our own bad rap for being spoiled, entitled brats who feel the world revolves around us, are statistically the largest generation in the country.
Though the piece was largely about entitlement, apparently I made a grave misstep by making this about race, which upset quite a few Ashevillians. Here’s the racist passage I wrote:
“Sadly, this is far from the first time I’ve dealt with this behavior at Montford Park (and while sure, #notallwhitepeople, it’s worth noting it’s perennially white people of a certain age who treat the public courts like private clubs). I think it’s emblematic of our bigger entitlement problem.”
How do I know it’s racist? Well, another commenter, Scott K, told me!
“Please elaborate on how this about race. You lost me. This is about people being selfish. End of story. The color of their skin in this matter has NOTHING to do with anything. You are watering down and taking away from real progress the battle against racism. People have started tuning out when everything bad is because of the person’s skin color. Bad ‘reporting’ like this is doing more harm than good in the movement to stop seeing color. Keep making everything about color and we will always see color and judge based on color which is exactly what you did,” Scott wrote (credit to him, he included another paragraph elaborating about how my take on the tennis situation was correct).
I defended myself, telling Scott that the piece wasn’t about race at all, but that I included a joking, off-handed observation that the entitlement here in Ashville is older, upper-middle-class white people, politely explained how “not seeing color” isn’t something I’m trying to push, and explained the difference between reporting and opinion writing.
Scott K. educated me further.
“Pat, your joke/off-handed observation is by definition racist. Just because you are white doesn’t mean that it’s not. Change ‘white’ to “black” or ‘asian’ or ‘hispanic’ and tell me if you would get away with writing it. You will of course say that you would never say that because it isn’t true, but that doesn’t matter. Especially in an opinion article. Your story had merit without adding racism to it. Doesn’t matter if you were trying to make a joke. It’s offensive. Have a nice evening and good luck in the next tennis outing. I hope it turns out much better and you run into better people.”
I decided to accept that I’m racist, but left Scott K. with the parting shot of, “You can’t be racist towards white people.” Scott K. didn’t respond. Why would he? He’s right. I’m wrong.
Two additional readers contacted me on Instagram to let me know they also didn’t appreciate my racism. When I tried the same lame response, telling them white people can’t be racist towards white people and that wasn’t even the point of the article, both promptly blocked me.
I’d like to formally thank the upper-middle-class white people of Asheville for teaching me, how I, a lower-middle-class white man, am racist towards them. To start my anti-racist journey, I want to publicly commit to stop seeing color, lift up the untold stories of more white women, and stop using the slur “cracker.”