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Who the hell does Rob Parker think he is?
We are nearing the end of 2012. We’ve seen an African-American man get re-elected as President of the United States. We’ve seen NBA Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson become the first African-American owner in the history of Major League Baseball. More and more black athletes are becoming the faces of their respective teams, if not leagues. What possessed him to question Robert Griffin III’s “blackness” on ESPN2’s First Take today?
The genesis of this issue comes from comments that RGIII has made himself throughout the season as he’s been repeatedly asked about race. From what I can tell his answers have been very straightforward and non-controversial — answers that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would certainly be proud of. The Washington Redskins QB would much rather we judge him by what he does on the field instead of his skin color, which I believe is what all black people want in whatever career they choose. Griffin also loves and embraces the fact that he is a black quarterback playing in the NFL and understands the responsibility he has to be a positive role model.
But instead of applauding RGIII for his insightful thoughts, Rob Parker decided to use his airtime on First Take to depreciate what he’s trying to stand up for. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post put together a transcript of the roundtable discussion that occurred today, which included Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith and host Cari Champion. I read the whole thing, and it really hurt my heart — it takes a lot for that to happen to me. Here are some “highlights”:
“For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people. … And I’ve talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I’ve known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”
Strike one. I highly doubt that many of his black fans feel distant from him because he wants to break the mold of being a black quarterback. Also,”cornball brother”? Okay, that’s a new one I haven’t heard before. What’s that supposed to mean, Rob?
“Well, [that] he’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else. … We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.”
Strike two. First and foremost, what cause could he possibly be talking about? Did we get set back to 1952? I understand and am fully aware of the notion that black people are still not seen by some as equal to their white counterparts, but it seems that Griffin is among those who are trying their best to level the field … which Rob Parker would realize if he actually paid attention to any interview RGIII’s given in regards to race. Second, how does Tiger Woods compare here? He famously identified himself as “Cablinasian”; RGIII has shown himself to be proud of his skin color and heritage.
Skip Bayless went as far as to ask Parker about the man’s braids.
“Now that’s different,” Parker said. “To me, that’s very urban and makes you feel like…wearing braids, you’re a brother. You’re a brother if you’ve got braids on.”
Strike three, you’re out. Rob Parker, an African-American sports journalist, really said that. I’d have excused myself from the studio at this point because he might’ve caught a tire iron to the side of his head.
I must say, I was completely and utterly embarrassed by what Rob Parker did today. This is 1000x worse than Rush Limbaugh’s comments on Donovan McNabb back in 2005. Never in a million years would I ever imagine reading and hearing such disparaging comments about an African-American QB from a fellow African-American. It was a total hack job on Parker’s end, and he’s lost all credibility with me as a result. There’s no place in sports (or life in general) for anyone to have their “blackness” questioned, especially by a fellow black person. NONE.