The Outrageous Reaction to Black NFL CB Richard Sherman's Victory Interview Is More Proof America Is Far from Being 'Post-Racial'
For four quarters, America (and some around the world) tuned in as theSeattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers obliterated each otheron the gridiron. It was truly a sight to behold. A no holds bar brawl that resulted in the Seahawks making their grand step towards Super Bowl XLVIII. In the final moments of the game, Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks' cornerback, secured the win for his team. He was clearly still in the heat of excitement when he was interviewed by Fox's Erin Andrews. The result? The rant heard 'round the world.
Here's the transcript:
I'm the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like [Michael] Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me."
When Erin Andrews asked who was talking about him, he replied, "Crabtree. Don't you open your mouth about the best or I'm ma shut it for you real quick. LOB [Legion of boom, the nickname of the Seahawks secondary]!
People took to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook instantaneously. They were fired up about his remarks. Deadpsin compiled a sampling of the most heinous Twitter reactions, including those calling Sherman an ape and using the n-word. There were things like this:
And images that started circulating shortly thereafter such as this one, implying that Sherman's behavior was somehow reflective of something sinister.
First and foremost, there wasn't a curse word in sight. The messaging was clear, succinct, and direct. Let's talk about what the true issue is. Richard Sherman and other NFL players are allowed to put their lives, bodies, and mental stability on the line every time they step on to the field. But the moment the helmet is removed, they are instantly supposed to be reminded of who they are, the skin they're in, and the people who are watching. Shame on him and other athletes for allowing their decorum to delay for a few moments as they are reveling in a victory. Does authenticity not count for anything anymore?
How long will we let race dictate our reactions to how people should behave? Why are we quick to offer concessions for some and shame others? Why are we so caught up in the fact that as a competitor you should always assume you're the best, but when an athlete speaks with pride and ego, we are quick to call it a sense of entitlement?
Humility doesn't win games. Professional athletes in leagues like the NFL are paid millions of dollars to show up, entertain us, and win. Rants are pretty standard. You have to be fired up.
And the fact that Sherman is a Stanford University educated man apparently still can't trump his blackness. People were quick to assume he was just a black man from the hood. So here's the real question: when is this post-racial America going to show up? Because it seems that being aggressive, strong, self-sure, and athletic can only happen when it's in service of the bottom line, that bottom line being capitalism and comfort.
If it makes you money, and makes you feel warm and fuzzy, then it is OK. The moment the narrative shifts, there is hell to pay.
Race relations have been killing America since its inception. We have traveled down a road so far that I'm terribly afraid we've lost our way. We've allowed something as simple as skin pigmentation to create a caste system that is an ever-looming reminder of our historical skeletons. And instead of acknowledging the bones in our closet, we walk on them daily like eggshells.
Sherman is simply excited and proud. As well he should be.