Richard Sherman and Race

It was probably inevitable that we landed here eventually.  And no, bringing up race in this context does not make me a racist, not when I can go on Twitter and search his name and find hundreds of people that watched a black athlete give a loud and boisterous interview and decided “nope, that’s all I need to see to judge this person” and let loose with the racial slurs.  And it’s easy to denounce the ‘nigger’-yellers as a clearly insane subhuman sect of the population until you realize that the last Gallup poll found that 4% of Americans would not, under any circumstances, vote for a black President.  That makes up at least 2.7 million people and that’s if you only count those who voted against Obama in the last Presidential election.  Roughly the population of Nevada if you want to think of it that way.

So yes, every time a black athlete does something notable and a bunch of people call him a nigger, race is a factor.  Every time a black athlete gets criticized for something that white athletes generally don’t, race is a factor.  Granted that last one often devolves into arguments about how close perception is to reality, but it’s still a major problem in how any minority that has become famous for any reason is covered by the media.

Today Sherman responded to a question asking if being called a ‘thug’ bothered him:

“The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays. Because they know.”

“There was a hockey game where they didn’t even play hockey, they just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that, and said, ‘Oh man, I’m the thug? What’s going on here?'”

Responses to this ran from “that’s bullshit and racist against people who use the word thug” to “ZOMG, he’s stereotyping hockey.”  And maybe Sherman’s wording was juuust poor enough to give Alleged Misogynist Greg Wyshynski some ground to stand on, but I felt that Sherman was less  painting hockey with broad strokes and more pointing out the different “rules” that black and white athletes often have to play by when it comes to how they present themselves.  The Tony Romo / Dez Bryant saga is a good example.

Racially charged language isn’t limited to racial slurs.  That so many people apparently don’t realize that, I think, was a large part of the blowback to Sherman’s comments today, and why they were so eagerly tabbed “reverse racism.”  But Sherman specifically outlined that his statement was his perception and not verifiable fact by saying “seems like,” but that went almost completely ignored.  And that the illumination of code words was held up next to real racism as an equal is nothing short of astounding.  Barrister probably said it best:

And last one (maybe) before I shut up… being told that your language has racist meaning is NEVER as bad as receiving that racist meaning.

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About Alex

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