keshaperry

Hmmm, the “Black Olympics”

In The Black Man on July 17, 2009 at 10:30 am

Marty B (a.k.a. Martellus Bennett, Tight End for the Dallas Cowboys) and his younger brother Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks (both African Americans) demonstrated their athletic prowess in the Black Olympics, as presented by YouTube. Both Bennetts played upon traditional stereotypes associated with African Americans (the fried chicken, the Kool-Aid, and let us not forget, the watermelon). The two held “three” separate events in each category to determine a “winner.” While on ESPN2’s First Take, Stephen Bardo, African American sportscaster and former star of the Illinois basketball team of the 1980s, made a very poignant and thought provoking assessment not only of the Bennetts but of young African American males in the Bennetts’ generation. “I was incensed, I was infuriated when I saw this video…this is a generation just behind me…and so I think my generation has done a poor job of relaying our history to these young men. Because when you think that you can have a Black Olympics depicting this type of behavior, it takes me back to the Birth of a Nation…”

Have we (the all inclusive we, not just African Americans) discounted the past, the not so distant past, to the point that we think it’s not a problem to play upon such stereotypes? These images do nothing but harm the strides we’ve made as a collective community–as long as such images remain in the American psyche and the Net, racial tension will always be just below the surface in America. I can’t imagine what the response would have been if these athletes were not Black. The video is deplorable. I am reminded of a previous post of mine, Are Athletes obligated to lead Social Change???–We do look to our stars, whether sports stars or entertainment stars to be leaders, heroes, and role models. But before we automatically assume that these celebrities are the best examples, we may want to first look inward for our mentors and leaders; the everyday people who somehow manage to change the community and environment for the better.

As for African Americans, we constantly struggle with racism and stereotypes, but when we invoke these same misbegotten behaviors, can we really expect there to be a racist, discriminatory free society? Someday, Marty B and his brother Michael may look back to see how offensive and demoralizing such behavior is. And there are those who may say that it’s just funny, get over it–today is not like it was some 50 years ago. Yet again, we have had tremendous progress since my grandmother’s and mother’s generations, but this progress is almost happening incrementally. In order to have the transformative progress we are capable of, we all must refrain from the use of the N word and other stereotypes that for they act as plagues–these are not comical images–we demean not only the past, but the future that is still yet forming.

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