Over the past week or so, there have been many of people who have come to the defense or the condemnation of Richard Sherman. The common factor between all of those comments seem to be center on his race. If you aren’t aware by now, Richard Sherman is the Cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks who made the game winning defensive play against Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree that sent his team to its second ever Superbowl. He came under scrutiny because of his post game interview with acclaimed reporter Erin Andrews in which he sounded enraged and irate while taking verbally shots at Crabtree calling him “garbage” and “mediocre”. Seeing that this was on live television, the internet went into a frenzy over the exchange.
We got to know a little more about Richard Sherman’s past. He was a kid from Compton who graduated from Dominguez High School and the first athlete from that school to be accepted to Stanford University. While at Stanford, he was a perennial honor student and graduated from the school with a 3.9 GPA. He is a
BLACK man who has overcome all his adversity to make it into the National Football League.
We also dove deeper into his disruptive history on and off the field. We’ve analyzed his run-ins with Quarterback Tom Brady and Defensive Tackle Trent Williams, there have been personal shots at players and coaches alike and a tendency to instigate confrontation on the football field. He has been label a “goon”, a “thug”, a “pariah” and a poor representation of
BLACK culture. Whether we are talking about the Stanford Graduate or the “goon” from last Sunday night, why should anything Richard Sherman does be a representation of black people as a whole?
This isn’t 1930 Mississippi, so it is not fair to pretend that racism as well as it was back then, but it is very much alive in a new way. There seems to be no individuality in the portrayal of African-American people.
It is as if we are all defined by the actions of a certain individual in our race while each individual is constantly being defined by their race.
Damien Wayans feels Richard Sherman set black people back by thirty years because of his explosive outburst on Sunday night. That can be his opinion but it does not make it valid. You can agree with Sherman’s remarks on not, if you are an African-American how does he represent you in any way other than pigmentation? The same goes for the reasoning that since Sherman is an intelligent
BLACK man who went to an amazing school and earned amazing grades, that it is somehow more acceptable that he berated another human being. What if Richard Sherman was a BLACK man who went to Florida A&M and got in on an athletic scholarship, does that suddenly make him a thug? Does that make his comments on Sunday night any less agreeable?
No matter where the pendulum swings race appears to always lie in the middle. New age prejudice is far less hateful than its origins but just as ignorant. The fact that BLACK people get grouped as one entity creates unrealistic expectations and stereotypes for the individual. On one hand, it’s expected that
BLACK people conduct themselves in the most respected and honorable way possible, while on the other hand its assumed that BLACK people are not naturally that way. This has been a problem for decades now. Either you are Barack Obama or if you have even one moment of weakness you are Richard Sherman.
One of the most damning revelations is that this new aged racism is not simply a white on black issue, in reality;
BLACK people are some of the biggest perpetrators in their ideology about BLACK people. In African-American communities, themes of being “lesser” than their white counter-parts are often pushed on youth. Such as the idea that BLACK people have to work harder than white people indicates that they are inherently at a disadvantage; in many cases this may be true but this is not factual. When BLACK people reach a level of success it is believed that it was obtained because their skin color, which was supposed to be a detriment. Imagine working so hard to achieve a goal because it was told to you by your own people that you had to, then finally achieving that goal while it was perceived that you only got there because of your skin color.
America has a way of reminding
BLACK people that they are BLACK. When I look at someone like Karen Civil, I am proud of the role-model she has been for young black women. In the same breath it also bothers me that her skin color gets put on the forefront. I feel like her story and her success can be an inspiration to any woman of any color. She should be getting more recognition from Headline News, Huffinton Post and ABC and not just VIBE, BET and HOT 97. This is not to say that Karen does not have or receive mass appeal (because she does) but it seems like it is expected for her to be exclusive to an ethnic community. A BLACK friend of mine recently took a trip to South Korea (to visit his white girlfriend who currently lives there for a student program) and mentioned to me in amazement how they treated him as if his skin color was transparent. He walked the streets with his girlfriend and people approached them both, excited to be speaking with Americans. He never heard the phrase “African/ BLACK-American”.
When I look at Richard Sherman, in a way I see a bevy issues
BLACK people have to deal with. The way that he acted is in no way acceptable, and I say that because if you had a child who played a sport and they watched his post game interview, you would not encourage them to behave in the manner that he did. Just because he went to Stanford and had a near 4.0 GPA does not mean his actions are any more tolerable. It is basically a defense that because Sherman is smart he does not have to conduct himself in a professional manner. The backlash that Richard Sherman has received is also completely unwarranted. Why is he being called a “thug” and “classless” because one thirty second outburst in which he did not use profane language or attack Erin Andrews. Erin actually came forward to say that she was not intimidated in any way when lots of people expressed that she was “frightened” by Richard Sherman. In any moment of rage is it just customary call a BLACK individual a Hooligan when they show even the slightest bit of emotion? In either of those cases, BLACK people are being judge by their race, there is a prejudice that simply comes with being BLACK whether you are at the top of the food chain or at the bottom of the map. A part of racism is defined as “discrimination or prejudice based on race”. With everything that has transpired over the past few days, can you honestly tell me that race has nothing to do with it? There has been a heap of support and attacks on Richard Sherman but he is only being defined by his race, it is the first thing that people see and the last thing they remember. As long as this ideal remains in American culture, we are doomed to be morally flawed.
Writer’s note: I stylized “Black” as “
BLACK” because it is always the elephant in the room. No one ever wants to believe that race could be the underlying issue in a controversy but it always seems to be there; the biggest thing in the room. Also, sometimes race is not the issue at all, but that Elephant always gets invited to the controversy taking up space. Whether you want to ignore it or acknowledge it, race is always there. That to me is one of the biggest tragedies in our country today.