We like our sports heroes a certain way. Do we not? For many Black folks, our heroes are held to a very high standard. They have to be able to say the right thing, when we want them to say it, and exactly how we wish for them to say it. The moment our heroes begin to stop talking in a manner we feel they should speak, many in the Black community will immediately eviscerate said heroes with all sorts of vitriol, primary among them being the dreaded “house negro.” But is it fair to react so vehemently when our heroes speak counter to our personal sensibilities?
After all, we love them for what they do on the field. In addition, there are many instances of professional athletes of African descent committing crimes, accidentally maiming people, and just being completely miserable people in general. Many are forgiven a season after committing whatever misstep placed them in the news.
Remember Pacman Jones was wildin’ out a couple years ago? Remember how everybody said he had to be out the league? Remember when he apologized? Remember when we forgave him? Remember when he banged Raiders rookie receiver Amari Cooper’s head against his own helmet just last week?
With the exception of Mike Vick, most trangressions are eventually forgiven.
As pro football had forgiven Jones, up until last week, so too will I forgive Richard Sherman for his words. Are we so narcissistic as to believe that grown men and women cannot express an opinion without first checking with the proletariat? Apparently so.
Recently, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s name was used to add false authenticity to a post on the website of self-important,pseudo-radical King Noble.
The post included an unauthorized picture of Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch with the caption: "When we gon Kill These KKKrakas bro."
Although individuals likely illegally use Sherman’s likeness online on a daily basis, especially so when considering the manner in which memes have proliferated the digital realm over the last couple of years, he chose to address this one directly. I'm not sure, but I do believe the NFL has channels to address these things. Maybe he really thought someone would mistakenly believe he was down with killing some “kkkrakas”, or maybe he thought it would somehow being taken out of context. That’s all I can think of. However, whatever the truth might be, he felt it necessary to come at the issue hard so nothing could be misconstrued. Thing is, if he hadn't responded at all, we wouldn't know about this picture. So, here’s what he said:
"I think that's the point that we need to get to, is we need to deal with our own internal issues before we start moving forward and start attacking other people. We need to solidify ourselves as a people and deal with our issues because I think as long as we have black-on-black crime and one black man killing another, if black lives matter, then they should matter all the time. You should never let somebody get killed. That's somebody's son, that's somebody's brother, that's somebody's friend. So you should always keep that in mind."
I have been writing positive pieces not only about Richard Sherman’s athletic ability but his Stanford-honed mind as well. It was my absolute pleasure to point to Richard as an example of a fine, upstanding man who used his talents as a ticket out of the hood. A fine example of a young man who had a better chance than his friends simply for the fact that his father lived in the household. Indeed, a Richard Sherman who expertly swatted away disingenuous newscasters, bloggers and social media who dared utter the word “thug” in the same direction. Oh, how eloquently did the brother dissect them as but so much fodder upon which his righteous indignation rained.
When it was found that Sherman's on the field cantankerousness with opposing receivers could only be matched by the ferocity with which he attacked the podium, it seemed that I had a brother in professional football whose compass was aligned with my own. Indeed, I have no right to expect anyone to align his or her thoughts with mine.
But I can point out the inaccuracies in a statement made by a public figure. Keeping in mind that Sherman’s statement was highly personalized in nature, his vocalization of support for the Black Lives Matter Movement was belied by allusion to a farcical notion that people of African descent are so dull as to be unable to concentrate on more than one issue at a time. Black-on-Black violence? White murder victims are killed by their own kind 85 percent of the time. The only Black murder victims are killed by other Blacks at a higher rate is because most Blacks communities are isolated away from White people, figuratively and literally.
A Black murderer will stumble across a Black victim more often than not, while a White murderer will come across a White victim. It's about the law of averages.
To prioritize one over the other is subversive to both causes.
He also disrespected the thousands of volunteer activists and organizers working hard to stop the tide of violence in the inner cities of America every day. Nobody was saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ because it was believed it went without saying. We know better now. Apparent in his words were the pain of losing a loved one, the personalization of that unfortunate event was likely a partial catalyst for Sherman’s life arc. Finding inspiration in pain is a quintessentially African-American trait and I definitively can’t front on his pain.
But he’s wrong. We are flexible enough, versatile enough and smart enough to do both, and more. He has underestimated us. That’s the disappointing part. One of the saddest parts about the whole matter is many mainstream publications are saying King Noble is a Black Lives Matter activist when he is nothing of the sort.
And while I cannot bemoan a man for having an opinion, the blue part about it all is the enemies of Black Lives Matter have already begun using it as a subversive weapon against a grand cause being waged in a grand tradition. However, in the end, the Black-on-Black dynamic in the entire matter cannot be overstated. Sherman is being double pimped, by Noble and the right-wing audience.