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Stop talking about Ime Udoka and start talking about Brett Favre

How is Ime Udoka’s love life getting more attention than Brett Favre’s alleged crime against humanity?

Brett FavreRogelio V. Solis

Schadenfreude as social consciousness is a sickness we cannot afford. And yet, America lives in the red.

How is it that Ime Udoka and his poor, unprofessional decisions are gaining more interest and spotlight than Brett Favre and the state of Mississippi?

It’s in bad taste for a coach to have a consensual relationship with a staffer. It’s unethical and dangerous if there is a power dynamic. And it’s plain dumb to come up short on Nia Long. But it should not be a national dialogue that consumes the country for nearly 24 hours.

Someone leaked this information. Why?

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Tearing people down seems to be our favorite sport. And when it involves women, any woman, but especially a Black woman, the knives are out.

Celtics vice president of player development and organizational growth Allison Feaster, a Black woman, was trolled all day on social media. Her photo was blasted around the Internet and she was accused of being the woman. The misogynoir was loud and, as always, wrong. She is not involved.

But the inclination to sort through the women of the Celtics like trading cards is reckless and disgusting. There was no statement from the Celtics for nearly a day. And seemingly no protection for the women employed by the team.

As Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN on Thursday, “There’s plenty of white folks in professional sports that’s doing their thing. I don’t see the information out about them. Why we talking about this now?”

A yearlong suspension for a consensual relationship seems harsh. The Celtics say he committed more than one violation. Former NBA player Matt Barnes initially came to Udoka’s defense. After finding out more details, Barnes publicly declared the situation to be “100 times uglier than we thought.” What don’t we know? Sounds like a lot.

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Celtics coach Ime UdokaJohn Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Until we know the specifics of Udoka’s one year suspension, I want to know whether Brett Favre will be charged with a crime for his alleged part in a welfare fraud scheme? Will he have his Hall of Fame membership revoked? Will we ask ourselves why we care more about who is willingly sleeping in Udoka’s bed than we care about the millions of dollars that were allegedly stolen by officials, celebrities, and others in Mississippi.

In the poorest state in our country, things have been bad.

Earlier this week, a group of Jackson, Miss., residents sought class-action status for their lawsuit against officials and contractors in the state’s capital. Those trusted to protect citizens neglected the water system that a predominantly Black city’s population uses. Some 150,000 residents didn’t have access to a basic need for survival this summer.

The volleyball courts in the Wellness Center at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

How is it that after all the neglect and inhumanity that happened in Flint, Mich., we allowed the residents of Jackson to go without consistently safe drinking water?

But that isn’t all. On the same day a Celtics affair overshadowed timelines and headlines, the Department of Justice announced John Davis, the former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, plead guilty for his role in scamming the state’s most vulnerable residents out of nearly $80 million in welfare funds.

Terun Moore distributed water to local residents at the Sykes Park Community Center in Jackson, Miss. on Aug. 30.Edmund D. Fountain/NYT
Mississippi Students Water Crisis Advocacy Team member Jordyn Jackson delivered water earlier this month in Jackson.Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

This scandal has been public for about three years. Favre, the legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback, is accused of receiving $1.1 million for speeches he never gave. Favre, who is reportedly worth some $100 million, seemingly defrauded poor folk. And he allegedly helped orchestrate a few million more to ventures he was aligned with. He was asked to pay the $1.1 million back.

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Earlier this month, text messages were exposed showing just how intentional the actions of Favre, Governor Phil Bryant, and so many others were. As reported by Mississippi Today, officials worked with nonprofit leaders and sports celebrities to misappropriate funds for things like a new volleyball stadium at University of Southern Mississippi, Favre’s alma mater and where his daughter played.

A man with millions upon millions could have paid for a volleyball stadium and given free motivational speeches. But it is not Favre, or the people of Mississippi, on our minds in America.

It is Ime Udoka and his “scandalous” affair.

Meanwhile in Mississippi, thousands of children are being represented in federal court. City leaders allegedly knew of lead problems in Jackson’s well water system in 2013 and did nothing to resolve it.

This week, we learned that five years after the Flint water crisis, more than one in four adults in Flint meet the criteria for depression. And a quarter of them meet the criteria for PTSD, according to research by the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

We already knew the children might have developmental damage from the lead in the water in Flint. We knew the negligence of a few had already damaged the wellness of thousands for years to come.

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Another study, published this week, shows babies in the womb during natural disasters are more likely to have mental health issues in life.

What does it mean when the disasters are of our own making? Mississippi, goddamn.


Jeneé Osterheldt can be reached at jenee.osterheldt@globe.com and on Twitter @sincerelyjenee and on Instagram @abeautifulresistance.