Robert Griffin III, Rob Parker and the sad truth about our racial politics
As 2012 comes to an end one sad feature of our racial politics remains firmly in place:
It is still common for black conservative voices to be dismissed as traitors to their race, and the tokens of powerful whites. Any black person who is openly Republican or conservative in their beliefs is immediately viewed as suspect — ‘inauthentic’ a ‘sell-out’ and not true to the history of black struggle for equality.
This stubborn mind-set came to mind last week from a surprising arena – the sports world.
The nation’s fastest rising pro football star, Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, was publically disparaged as a “cornball brother” and “not one of us,” by a Rob Parker, a black newspaper columnist and ESPN analyst on December 13.
What did Griffin do to spark that attack?
The journalist said he heard that the 22-year-old Griffin is a Republican. He also said that Griffin is engaged to a white woman.
“My question, which is just a straight honest question: is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?” Rob Parker, a black journalist said on ESPN. “Well, [yes] he’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us…He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else.”
After making his remarks Parker tried to explain his comments, telling an interviewer that he didn’t mean to demean Griffin.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” he said. “We could sit here and be honest, or we can be dishonest… [People] look at who your spouse is. They do. And they look at how you present yourself.”
Wednesday, six days after the controversy began Parker, who has been suspended by ESPN officially apologized for his comments.
But despite his tardy apology, Parker’s original remarks make a good point that is worth discussing.
The sad truth is that being black in America still automatically places you in a box. Yes, there is rapid growth in America’s minority population. Yes the President is black.
But as Parker suggested, some black Americans still think they have to act, speak and behave in a certain way that conforms to the identity that a white, liberal media has created.