L.A Chargers defensive lineman Brandon Mebane thinks he’s being racially discriminated against.
How has Mebane faced discrimination?
Well, though he points out that no one has actually verbalized overt discrimination against him, he thinks it might have something to do with his credit score.
Mebane, who is set to earn $3.5 million next year, was looking for a rental home with his wife in a brand new community in Irvine. The Mebanes were turned down due to the player’s credit score. However, the difference between the Mebane’s credit score and that of the other bidders on the property was very small.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, “They chose somebody else because their credit score was four points higher. 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 says this kind of real estate based discrimination isn’t an isolated incident. He says another player got turned down despite offering to pay a full year of rent in advance. Mebane also told the Los Angeles Daily News, that he believes his wife was followed by security in a Louis Vuitton store, which sells very upscale bags. In addition to these instances, Mebane also tells of another player who was told that pets would be allowed at a home, “then, they find out the family is black and decide they weren’t accepting pets.”
Mebane said, “People tell me it’s not true, but they don’t understand what it’s like to be black in America. The only way we can move on and hear each other is by talking about this.”
While no one would deny that racism exists in America, as it does everywhere in the world, Mebane provides no evidence of racism here. Could the property owners have been racists? Sure. However plenty of reasons, other than racism, exist for why property owners might not want to rent a home to a professional athlete.
For example, football players get traded and in some cases cut outright. If you’re a property owner or manager, sometimes you have to choose between two people making the same or very similar amounts of money. If one has a job that will keep him there for the next ten years, while the other could pivot incorrectly tomorrow and never work again, who would you choose?
Again, there’s no way of knowing how much money the person bidding against the Mebanes made. Though, if they were bidding on an upscale home in a brand new community in Irvine against a guy making $3.5 million dollars a year, unless the property owners just decided they no longer like money, the likelihood is that this person made significant cash.
Not to mention, if the other family made comparable money and put their bid in at the same time as Mebane, credit score is a perfectly reasonable way of determining a winner. Crying racism over a credit score, however, is insane.
Especially for a black athlete in Orange County. The state of California is home to four NFL teams, five MLB teams, and four NBA teams. Plus numerous boxers, tennis players, golfers, and other athletes. Not to mention a huge number of rock, rap, and movie stars. A sizeable portion of which are minorities. Granted, not all of them live in Orange County, but suffice it to say, the Chargers did not move to Green Bay in the 1950’s. They moved to an area more than familiar with the wealthy, modern black athlete and celebrity.
Against that backdrop, one better have a heck of a lot more than losing out on a credit score to make the charge of racism, and make it stick.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn