God damn, you'd think Richard Sherman was the coming of the anti-Christ. At least, that how many white folks reacted when the extremely talented and bright Seattle defensive back spoke his piece after a spectacular play which brought to a close the conference championship game with San Francisco. I'm not going into his comments here. It's been almost a week and half since them, you've seen them. You have probably even heard about a lot of the racist, white supremacist backtalk thrown his way since.
Nothing unusual really. Whenever a black athlete has the gall to speak out, to speak his mind, to not play the game the way the white folks and the media want him to play, they get hell. Then the media figured out that Sherman was an interesting story and the racist reaction wasn't really all that cool, and that calling him a thug was just another way of calling him the N word. So they started to back off. Instead they started honing in on his academic qualifications it seems to point out that while he looked and acted like a "thug," he really wasn't that "kind of a black person." They don't even get their own racism. Of course not.
At the Gawker this observation is made,
Serena Williams is a "ghetto thug" for arguing with an umpire—John McEnroe was presumably less ghetto and thuggish when he regularly berated refs throughout his career; LeBron James is a thug just because this sports fan says so, because "I just don't like LeBron James or the way the NBA forces himself upon us, the fans and the media."
(One would be remiss to not also note that murdered black teenager Trayvon Martin's body had barely been in the ground before people were slandering him as a thug who got what was coming to him.)
There are other ways people try and deride black athletes—and teachers and lawyers and presidents and students buying skittles—and their various behaviors, of course, including adjectives like "tacky" and appeals to class. Many said Richard Sherman is "classless," for instance, because he raised his voice and showed too much pride and too little sportsmanship.
America loves its black athletes. It loves to watch them jump high and run fast. It loves to watch them punch each other in rings and tackle each other on fields, occasionally so violently that they tear each other's ligaments and break each other's bones and concuss each other. America loves to do all of this so much that it's willing to devote innumerable hours and billions of dollars to the practice. But all that love can be abusive and fleeting, and woe be unto the black athletes who step out of line in America.
Yes, white America loves its black athletes, but only if they behave properly and no where to sit on the bus.
M. Shadee Malaklou writes at Racialicious:
White supremacist culture dictates who and who does not get to be human. In order for people of color to receive a Human Card, they must assimilate: they must not use slang. They must be quiet. They must not wear hoodies. They must not curse. They must be gracious at all times. They must enunciate. They must not talk about racism. They must not listen to rap music. They must not sag. They must not brag. They must not laugh in public. They must not take up more than one seat on the bus. They must not ever ask for more. In short, you must be perfect. Robotic. Even if you are a professional athlete who performs for millions of Americans, playing a game in which aggression, testosterone, and energy are rewarded (demanded)… you must be quiet, gracious, calm, unassuming. Unscary. To be black and also be regarded as human, you must never make a mistake in your entire life, ever—ever—or you are a thug. Ghetto. Other. Your Human Card is denied.
To be sure stepping out of line is a different thing for a black athlete then a white one.
Want to know a thug football player. How about Ben Roethlisberger? Name ring a bell? If not google him and sexual assault. How about most of the players in the NHL, who spend as much time beating on each other as playing the game. Lance Armstrong is a thug. Dodger pitcher Brian Wilson, following a ballgame gets to accost and yell at Giants CEO Larry Baer, without anyone daring to label him a thug. Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt to celebrate a soccer victory and everyone loved it. When the black men of the 2000 Olympics gold medal 4X100 removed their shirts in celebration it was termed a disgrace. It gets old.
Anyway,below is a post from our old friend Dave Zirn at Edge of Sports. You may want to go back and read his earlier article as well.