My friends, young Black men who excel at sports are not “Genetic Freaks!”
Young Black men who excel at sports are not Frankensteinesque “Freaks” who are created in some lab!
Further, young Black men who excelled at sports while overcoming poverty and life in high crime areas deserve the same respect and benefits of the doubt as young white men who overcame tough circumstances to excel at sports.
Friends, if you have watched NFL Draft coverage on ESPN or the NFL Network through the years, you may have noticed draft experts Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay calling young black athletes “genetic freaks,” “freaks of nature,” and “beasts,” terms that I am sure that they believe are compliments, but are nothing of the sort. My blood boils while watching these supposedly educated white men on air gleefully saying these terms while former NFL athletes and analysts who are black sit there mute and smiling while refusing to correct these dudes for being wholly inappropriate.
Whenever I hear white sports analysts and game commentators call a young black athlete a “genetic freak” or “beast,” the historian in me hears “Big Black Buck.” You see, a white analyst/commentator cannot drop that Triple B phrase without running the risk of being fired like former CBS NFL commentator Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder was back in the 1980s for his less than artful description of the so-called superiority of black athletes. Said “The Greek”:
“The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade … the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid.”
Even reading “The Greek’s” words almost 30 years after first hearing them makes me want to throw up. Mayock, Kiper and McShay are old enough to remember what “The Greek” said and how he got fired. They are also old enough to remember how Howard Cosell went into retirement not long after saying “that little monkey got loose, didn’t he” while referring to black Washington Redskins receiver Alvin Garrett during a 1983 game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. Both “The Greek” and Cosell swore to their dying days that they meant no harm, but the awful legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in America is that black men were never viewed as men, rather, virulently racist white males consistently demeaned the same by referring to them as “apes,” “gorillas,” “monkeys,” “coons,” “shines,” and “niggers” instead of Negroes, and “boys” when such clearly were men.
Now, I do not know Messrs. Mayock, Kiper or McShay personally, so I cannot brand them as racists. But I do brand their use of “genetic freaks,” “freaks,” and “beasts” as coded racist words; I call upon each to cease and desist from such immediately. Oh, and for those who will dismiss my concerns by saying that some black athletes like Jevon Kearse and Marshawn Lynch have referred to themselves as “freak” and “beast mode,” I counter by reminding that “he did it too” never prevented me from getting an ass whoopin’ for misbehavior as a kid, and more seriously, one of the most deleterious aspects of slavery and Jim Crow is how some blacks have appropriated the vile words of white racists as terms of endearment, an appropriation that woke black folks continue to address–with love–among our Brothers and Sisters who still slumber.
I also would like to take a moment to point out to Messrs. Mayock, Kiper and McShay the subtle racism of lauding Garrett Boles, a white athlete from the University of Utah who overcame growing up the son of a drug addicted mother, being arrested himself and also being kicked out of five schools, as a “feel good” story, all the while pushing the narrative that Dalvin Cook, a talented black athlete from Florida State University who overcame similar issues to dominate the sport, as having “red flags” while further implying that Cook is some type of thug. I submit that you all should treat both athletes the same, or avoid discussing the topic of their past misdeeds altogether, because when the white athlete is praised while the black athlete is pilloried, such is even more prima facie proof of a form of racial bias that has ZERO place in the sporting world in 2017.