I had an entire blog post written earlier today about the Los Angeles Angels acquisition of Josh Hamilton but that will have to wait.
In my daily perusing of the internet I stumbled upon a video clip from the First Take show on the evil 4 letter network in which show contributor Rob Parker accused Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III of being a “cornball brother.” Parker claimed to “not know what Griffin was about” because he's engaged to a white woman and he might be a republican, but gave Griffin “credit” or in other words “black brownie points” for having braids.
Its this kind of ignorance and irresponsible journalism by someone who has a national platform that keeps black people fighting the same fight we've been fighting for years. Black folks have spent decades trying to debunk the old stereotypes that have plagued us for as far back as my ancestors can remember. You all know the stereotypes that I’m talking about, the list is way too long to mention.
The thing that pisses me off the most is that we are ALWAYS our own worst enemies. Too often when we see a brother coming up and doing something positive outside of the realm of what the “typical successful brother” does, he suddenly becomes some sort of Uncle Tom or a “cornball.”
If a black man is a rapper, his blackness isn’t questioned. If he reps his hood and talks about banging bitches and slapping hoes, his blackness isn’t questioned. If he talks about shooting his enemies and smoking weed, his blackness isn’t questioned. If a black man is an athlete, and he doesn’t get arrested, has only one baby mamma, or talks too articulately then he's not “really black.” What the hell are we talking about here!?
First off we need to define what “being black” is. In its truest since, its nothing more than the color of your skin. THAT'S IT. We are all individuals who's personalities, attitudes, actions, beliefs, and values are all influenced by the environment that we grew up in. A black man that grew up in
For some people who live outside of the black spectrum, their ignorance can be understood at times. I mean if being black has been presented to you a certain way for your entire life and you run across someone that doesn't embody those qualities, you might believe that this person is an oddity or an exception. So I would expect someone who hasn't had much exposure to black people outside of what they read or see in the media to feel this way. But US? No way, WE KNOW BETTER.
I'm a perfect example of that. I grew up in South Central LA (I know its politically incorrect to call it South Central now, but to me that's what it'll always be). I grew up in a neighborhood that was littered with every marginalized, negative archetype and stereotype you can think of (prostitution, gang violence, drugs, dog fighting etc). But, because my mother placed an emphasis on education, responsibility, and respect for myself and others, I never fell into the trap of any of those vices. I'm not saying that to say that I’m better than anyone else because that’s not the case. I'm saying that because I grew up doing things that by some peoples standards wouldn't necessarily be considered “black.” I didn't wear my pants below my butt, I didn't join a gang and I tried to speak as clearly and as articulately as I could. I’ve even had people who've heard me on the radio but have never seen my face actually tell me that they thought I was white. I've even had friends tell me that I don't sound black except when I’m angry (is that racist?). And you know what? THATS FINE. I don't care about that because my blackness is not defined by how I talk, how I walk, what I wear, what I do for a living or where I live. Its defined by my willingness and determination to be another brother that made it. Its defined by me working as hard as I can so that I can make it easier for black boys and girls younger than me to debunk those same stereotypes that people like Parker are constantly keeping alive. Its defined by me TRULY “representing the cause” by being a productive member of society and showing other black people that came from the same place that I came from and saw the things that I saw that there is more for them out there then what goes on in the streets. Its defined by me being the best that I can be so that all of the physical and mental struggles that my ancestors went through so that I could have these opportunities didn't go in vain.
But Parker apparently doesn't believe that Griffin “represents the cause.” That's funny because I think he represents the cause as well as any black athlete that I've seen in years. He was a star track athlete and football player in high school and college (I mean that's pretty BLACK right!?), was a 4.0 student who went from not being on anyone's radar to winning the Heisman trophy, being selected in the top 5 of the NFL Draft and possibly leading the Redskins to their first playoff berth in 5 years. He's a great interview, is funny with a great personality and his teammates and coaches all love him. By all accounts, Robert Griffin III is a role model to people of ANY race.
But I guess that's not good enough for guys like Parker. So tell me Rob, who does represent the cause? Chief Keef? Waka Flocka? Antonio Cromartie? Shawn Kemp? Because they all keep it trill, right? And I dont say that to hate on any of those guys because they've all had success and they've all done their thing their own way, more power to them. But is that the kind of stuff Parker is talking about? I mean to even intimate that RGIII having braids gives him some sort of positive rating on the blackness scale is a ridiculous statement. It has no relevance whatsoever to ANYTHING. And why does it matter if his fiancé is white? He has a right to love and marry whomever he wants, just like anyone else. But I guess people like Parker believe that he go around getting random women pregnant left and right, would that be more “black” of him Rob?
The topic of being progressive and stopping racism, profiling and stereotyping comes up a lot more often in 2012 than many of us would like, but the fact of the matter is it isn't going anywhere and I understand and accept that. Some people are ignorant because of the environment they grew up in and others are ignorant because they simply choose to take a narrow-minded approach when it comes to dealing with people who are different than they are. But for those of us who know better, we have to step it up. All of this self hating has to stop. How can we expect the rest of the world to love and accept us if we don't even love ourselves?