You know I’m proud to be black ya’ll/And that’s a fact ya’ll” — Proud to Be Black- RunDMC
*Inspired by Michael Sam’s recent announcement that he plans to be the football’s first openly gay player, Tyrone “Mustafa” Jackson decided that he wanted to make history, too.
Yesterday, at a press conference, Jackson announced to the world that he wanted to be America’s first “openly black” hockey player.
While Sam’s announcement was met with cheers and letters of congratulations, Mustafa’s announcement was met with boos and “go back to Africa” tweets…
Although many folks have applauded Michael Sam’s announcement that he wants to be the NFL’s first openly homosexual player, one has to wonder what America’s reaction would be to an openly pro-black athlete.
Now, when I say “openly black” I’m not talking about “Barack Obama black.” I’m talking about “Huey P. Newton in a wicker chair with an African spear black”. No, I’m not talkin’ about “Bill Cosby black,” either. I’m talking about ” Angela Davis afro with the black fist afro pick black.” And I definitely don’t mean , Hip Hop artist, “Drake black”, I mean, ” 1990 Ice Cube Amerikkka’s Most Wanted black.”
Since childhood, most of us have been taught to be undercover black militants. We have been warned to keep the black rage that burns deep inside of us, on the down low. We cannot risk committing the unpardonable sin of offending white folk. So, we keep who we really are locked deep inside, only letting a little melanin leak out during Black History Month and Kwanzaa.
Black professional athletes are no different.
Now, there have been some overtly black professional athletes in our history, but it has been a minute. And one must admit, the pro-black jock wasn’t exactly met with open arms.
Your grandparents might remember when reporters refused to call the heavy weight champion of the world ,” Muhammad Ali” but insisted on calling him by his slave name,” Cassius Clay.” Or maybe they can tell you about the blacklisting of John Carlos and Tommie Smith for having the audacity to throw up the infamous Black Power fist during the 1968 Olympics.
Ask your parents about the time that Craig Hodges, of the ’92 NBA champs, Chicago Bulls, had the nerve to visit George Bush at the White House, sportin’ a dashiki and holding a letter complaining about how the Prez dissed African Americans with his domestic policies.
I don’t recall too many Americans calling these guys heroes and wanting to throw a ticker tape parade.
Let’s face it. America is scared of a straight up, no- holds -barred black man. While a Brotha showing his feminine side will be called a role mode, the Brotha that emits too much testosterone will be villainized as a thug, ala Seattle Seahawk, Richard Sherman.
And it’s not just mano-a-mano type action that gets love, either. Wilt Chamberlain was considered the Man of the Year, when he announced that he had slept with over 20,000 women. Also, how many reality shows have you seen with athletes talking about how they pop bottles and make it rain in the club. Our athletes are able to talk about any and everything except a black social, economic or political agenda.
Seems like many black athletes have chosen to keep their blackness locked in the closet.
We must remember that at one point baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, had a beef with Malcolm X. Also, while Muhammad Ali was denouncing Uncle Sam for his treatment of African Americans, George Forman was dancing around the ring with a red, white and blue flag.
We can’t forget that the greatest human to ever touch a basketball was often accused of not doing enough for “the hood.”
During the early 90’s Michael Jordan was accused of not supporting the Sonja Haynes Stone Cultural Center at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Also, when asked why he didn’t use some of his Nike money to support the NC black Democratic senatorial candidate, Harvey Gantt, he allegedly said that “Republicans buy sneakers too.”
Back during the reign of black boxing great Jack Johnson, white America screamed for a “great white hope” to defeat him. In, 2014, what we need is a great black hope to defeat our self-hatred.
We need athletes who are not ashamed of their blackness. We need sports heroes who will support a black agenda with the same force that others promote a homosexual agenda.
If an athlete can proudly sport a rainbow colored football helmet, we need a black athlete who will proudly carry a red, black and green hockey stick.
Since this is supposed to be Black History Month, wouldn’t it have been nice if one of the black Seattle Seahawks would have come to the post Superbowl press conference with a copy of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s Miseducation of the Negro? Or what would happen if at the, upcoming, NBA All Star Weekend, the African American players would host some Black Empowerment Conferences and strategize ways to pull their resources to help the little black boys and girls in the hood?
In all fairness, it’s not just the athletes that need to step up, but black celebrities, in general. During the recent Grammy Awards, Hip Hop icon Queen Latifah , helped to officiate a, partially, same sex mass wedding. We need some artists to step up and host a major event on the world stage to rebuild the black family.
We have enough Michael Sams and Queen Latifahs telling our children that it’s OK to be gay. We need some Jim Browns and Nina Simones to tell them that its OK to be, “young, gifted and black.”