“Richie is honorary. I don’t expect you to understand because you’re not black. But being a black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color. It’s about how you carry yourself. How you play. Where you come from. What you’ve experienced. A lot of things.”
I’m black. I understand. But that doesn’t make it any less short sighted.
The perversion of race into a fraternity creates a recalcitrant animal house culture. Clubs and organizations who recruit and accept based on a belief of race and/or religious superiority are on US Government terrorism lists. Black has become a mirage of indigence and anger exuded through blatancy. Tell me, how is this any different than a Klansman in full garb?
Segregation is segregation no matter who’s doing the segregating. This isn’t solely the myopic view of a few Neanderthaloid NFL meatheads, this is societal. This is communal. This is what it means to be black in America. Worst part? This is a plague we created and unleashed upon ourselves.
Diluting blackness into a basic compound of ones walk, talk, location of birth, and experiences instantly strips an entire race of individuality. The false ideal is that this brings about collectiveness. One in the same, with similar struggles, and a similar plight. Instead, this self categorization breeds prejudice. Prejudice breeds discrimination. Discrimination breeds injustice.
Jonathan Martin felt the full brunt of this societal nescience in an exaggerated environment of ridicule and perceived toughness. The Miami Dolphins players created a situation in which it was not only okay, but celebrated for those furthest from their skin tone to racially abuse a guy much closer to them in color.
Racial abuse is wrong no matter the pigmentation of the perpetrator. However, what speaks most to the cruelty of this travesty is that black players joined in, laughed, and defended Richie Incognito as he (and others) harassed and abused Jonathan Martin. So confused by the perversion of their race that they allowed the very insult (n-word) their ancestors stood up to eradicate.
Nearly all mass shootings have been executed by average-looking white males, yet “black” consistently portraying black as menacing ensures black is more feared. Equality is a responsibility equally shared. The use of the n-word in “black” music, movies, and comedy has done more to destroy MLK Jr’s dream than the bullet that killed him.
In said dream, Jonathan Martin would’ve been judged by the content of his character. His toughness wouldn’t have been in question simply for being soft-spoken, intelligent, and having Harvard educated parents. Martin was drafted to play football in the NFL after spending a college career protecting Andrew Luck as an integral part of his offensive line.
In said dream, Richie Incognito and the rest of those guilty of abusing Martin would’ve also been judged by the content of their character. Viewed for what they are: loud, angry, boisterous, immature men who don’t understand that different doesn’t equal weird.
In this dream, they’re the minority. Damn it’s so much fun to dream.
Before I began the process of discovering my individuality, I did what I felt was expected. I wore du-rags, XXL t-shirts, and listened to DMX loudly and religiously. Even then I was still ridiculed by members of my race for the proper/non-ignorant way I spoke and for laughing apparently more than I should. However, on the outside I was “black”. But I struggled with the stigma of the fraternity I had joined. Each time a woman clutched her purse, a teacher assumed I didn’t care, or a family crossed the street to avoid me…I hurt.
For a while I chalked it up to racism. Blaming others for not taking the time to see beyond the exterior and accept me.
But then I started to think, “Why should they?” The fraternity I was in had already sent them an informational pamphlet through music, movies, and other mediums of entertainment. That’s when I realized I was doing it all to myself. That’s when I decided to stop paying my dues and to seek my own identity.
Since shedding societal expectations I no longer use the n-word, I choose Pink Floyd over Jay Z, and my wardrobe might as well be sponsored by H&M. And now I’m told by both black and white (and everything in between) that I’m not really black.
Funny, my skin never lightened.
Jonathan Martin is smart enough to know a man can’t be judged so simply. It’s a damn shame his teammates aren’t. It’s even more of a shame that his coaches aren’t either. If Martin can’t play, that’s one thing. You cut him, release him, and sign a new guy. The crusade to ‘toughen up’ Martin came from the misguided belief that you’re not tough until you can weld metal with your breath while snorting sticks of beef jerky. Martin can play, he’s proven that.
This went far beyond hazing. The primary purpose of hazing is initiation. This was harassment, abuse, and extortion. Jonathan Martin was never going to be accepted no matter how hard he tried to assimilate. All because a guy didn’t/couldn’t pay the superfluous dues to become a part of the black fraternity.
And you wonder why gay athletes have come out in nearly every other major sport.