Right now I feel like speaking on something that really disapointed me the other day from someone who I have defended to others (not that he needed me too) and who has changed my perception of him. Earlier this week, All-pro cornerback Richard Sherman spoke about the Black Lives Matter Movement and said, while he supports it, he believes that black on black crime is more the issue. Now this can be taken many ways, but the way in which I'm percieving his comments are that the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community in general need to focus on what's going on amongst our behavior concerning each other before we worry about how anyone else treats us.
Initially, that doesn't sound to bad and seems to make some sense. That's if you're taking the approach that we should first respect ourselves if we expect anyone else to respect us.
But when you think about those comments and disect it more, accompanied by an analysis of what Black Lives Matter is protesting and what the African American Community faces everyday, I would have to disagree with him. Much of what goes on in Black America happens because of the structural racism and conditioning that many have endured. This does not excuse black on black crime as I believe we need to take ownership of that as well, but it does serve as a guidline to understanding what is happening in our communities.
Part of what Black Lives Matter protests is that very same structural racism that lies with in our every day lives and criminal justice system, not just police brutality. Richard should have an idea of what the structural racist system is because he experienced it himself in front of the whole world after he went on his rant several years ago following a game winning defensive play against the Forty Niners in the NFC championship game. At the end of the game, full of spirit, and hyped from a tremendous win, a news reporter started to interview Sherman and he went on a rant about how he was the best corner in the league and that's what happens when he is disrespected by his counterpart, Micheal Crabtree.
Now I, along with many African Americans saw nothing wrong with his post game interview. In our minds, culturally speaking, it's perfectly normal and in good competitive spirits to trash talk during or at the end of a game. It's all in fun as along as you don't get overly insulting or talk about anyone's family. Well the rest of the world didn't see it that way as the backlash Sherman got from this was tremendous.
All over social media and the press, White America was talking about how shameful he was, calling him a thug and a criminal. They made it seem like he was uneducated, ignorant and a horrible example to children. Well, none of them ever stopped to notice that not once did he swear or get degrading in that post game interview.
Also while they were busy calling him a thug and acting like he was some ignorant black gangster or criminal, none of them did their research which would reveal he is a very intelligent man with a degree from Stanford, comes from an upstanding family, graduated with a high GPA and has never been in any trouble his entire life. Nope, all they did was judge him and label him with the label all black folks get when we don't fall into that humble box that White America wants us too.
When African Americans don't behave in a humble manner or we behave as is if we belong (Because we do!), then we're called arrogant and haughty. When we are brash or aggressive then we are thugs and criminals. Nevermind the many White Americans that behave the same way. They are just given labels as fun loving or high energy or someone who "has a back bone". You see, there are different standards for how African Americans are expected to behave and Richard forgot that.
Just like he forgot that it wasn't black on black crime or the black community that piled on him when White America did. We actually supported him, defended him, and bolstered him up.
The treatment Sherman was given at the hands of White America after his rant several years ago, is the exact same treatment that Black Lives Matter is protesting. It's protesting the racist power structure that allows such different or preferential treatment to the dominant white culture versus the black culture. But I guess he forgot that because as what usually happens in America, you're able to somewhat blend in as if you're apart of the dominant culture when you've achieved some amazing feat through professional sports and gotten big pay raises via his performance on the field and product endorsements.
The money and fame has Sherman feeling safe and accepted by the same folks that slandered him and he seems to have forgotten the struggle that the rest of us without the pro football career and million dollar endorsements have to face.
But I wonder if Richard would once again remember when he does something else that White America isn't accepting of or if his career took a turn for the worse and the money was gone. I don't know, but I hope he figures it out soon. Don't bite the hand the feeds you and support those who have supported you. Black Lives Matter may not have been in existence two years ago but I bet those same folks involved in the movement were supporting him while his name and reputation were being dragged through the mud.