Sunday, February 23, 2014

How the NFL is Perpetuating Racism

A HuffPost article.

I've got to say a big thanks to the editors for not changing my "Blacks" to "blacks."

Here it is:

In a league that is built on the backs of Blacks, where one of its biggest stars came out and compared the NFL to "modern day slavery," it is no surprised that the NFL is trying to police a Black cultural expression (albeit one that is very controversial and divisive within the Black community).

The NFL wants to penalize players for using the N-word on the field.

The NFL is looking at first penalizing a player 15 yards on the first offense, followed by an ejection for using the N-word.

(You can still call someone the F-word, or B-word, or C-word on the field.)

I find it appalling that the NFL who has a whole team -- I repeat a whole team -- that is named after a racial slur against First Nations peoples, the Washington Redskins, is all of a sudden in the business of "politically correctness."

In terms of the Redskins, the NFL finds all kinds of excuses on why they should keep the name.

Last month NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell once again supported the Redskins and stated that "nine out of ten Native Americans" support the nickname.

In the same report, he also said that the name represents a "positive meaning" and is a "unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect."

The Redskins name is big business and the team's owner, Dan Snyder, argued that the name is a "badge of honor" and refuses to change it.

It is not as if the Redskins controversy is old news that people have forgotten about because of Putin's Winter Olympics. This is an ongoing debate with new stories coming out this month, especially those surrounding Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.

There is a whole lot of hypocrisy with the NFL and its policy towards "acceptable" racial slurs.

With the Miami Dolphins saga, you have a White man -- Incognito -- allegedly call his teammate, a Black man -- Martin -- the N-word and other derogatory terms in the locker room.

Moreover, back in November 2013, you had a Black NFL referee call a Black player the N-word (again, allegedly). In the end, the referee was suspended one game without pay. The irony of it all is that the athlete plays for the Redskins.

You think it would be acceptable if a First Nations or Native American athlete played for the Washington Redskins that a Black or White player or official called him a "redskin"?

Of course not.

Personally, I am not a fan of the N-word. I'm Black, but I'm not a n***a. Or a n****r. I don't see it as a term of endearment, nor would I call a fellow Black man or woman the N-word believing that it unites us in some form of racialized and oppressive kinship.

However, I do understand how Blacks use the word for those very same reasons. Furthermore, I will never stand on a pulpit and postulate that Blacks no longer have the right to co-opt a word that was used by Whites to ridicule, abuse, and confine those of a darker phenotype to a perpetual condition of mental and psychological slavery.

I will admit that using the N-word for Blacks and by Blacks, is a form of resistance.

So how does the NFL and its White commissioner have the right to tell Black people what they can and can't say when it comes to their race?

Has it ever stopped the many (White) music industry big wigs from selling artists (and making big money) like Trinidad James from using the N-word as a musical refrain? Or what about the pop culture cross-over star Nicki Minaj? Or half-Black/half-White Jewish Canadian rapper Drake?

(Drake uses the N-word the same way Canadians use the word "like.")

One answer is that the NFL is trying to cover its butt to avoid the (legal) ramifications of a White player calling a Black player a n***a. People love to sue, so why not put a rule in place that can avoid a potential future lawsuit.

The bigger issue is that this comes down to privilege.

White people have a privilege issue with the word:

They don't like that they can't say it.

They can't call a Black person the N-word, even though they hear it in the locker room day in and day out by their teammates, some of whom are good friends off the field. They press the mute button in their heads when their favourite Minaj song comes over the radio, while their Black teammates shout in unison that "they ain't no lookin' a** n***a." Unlike Riley Cooper, they bite their tongue when they have the urge to call a Black man that wronged them on the field the N-word.

Why?

Because they know better. They know you just can't use the word.

That being said, the NFL is like the kid at the playground who takes their ball home if they can't win, so that no other kid can play:

"If we White people can't call you the N-word because of centuries of slavery, colonialism, and racism, we're sure as hell going to stop you Blacks from saying it amongst yourselves."

It's funny how racism works in 2014, eh?

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