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Mike Freeman
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Mike Freeman

National sports columnist for CBSSports.com

Ignorance Personified

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When Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett's ridiculous and stereotype-enforcing Black Olympics video (video may be offensive to some) first surfaced it seemed like a horrid prank. Someone surely was impersonating Bennett, right? A virus had taken over his video equipment. Had to be. No African-American with a functioning cerebrum would ever purposely compose such a self-degrading, self-hating piece of tripe and then present it to the world.

Right. Right?

But Ashton Kutcher never bolted from behind a wall to declare that Bennett had been Punk'd. This was real. Unbelievably, this was damn real.

Did Bennett go too far with this video? Well, ah, yeah.

In the age of President Obama, in the supposed era of ethnic enlightenment and new racial horizons, here comes Bennett, pulling a Rush Limbaugh, sabotaging not just his own image but the image of his own people.

There's a fine line from bombast to buffoonery but clearly Bennett has crossed it with his recent and past videos.

When Jimmy the Greek stereotyped the black athlete, he was rightfully castigated. When Al Campanis claimed that blacks lacked the necessities to be managers in the Major Leagues - another stereotype -- he was justifiably publicly discarded. When Limbaugh made ugly comments about quarterback Donovan McNabb, he was fired from ESPN.

Bennett did an unfunny video bit he called the Black Olympics in which he competes against his brother, Michael Bennett, in a watermelon and fried chicken eating contest as well as a Kool-Aid drinking competition. For that piece of Uncle-tomfoolery, Bennett should be held to the same standards as those other misguided men.

Here's what you're going to say: Bennett's act was a joke; those others weren't. They all, however, have one thing in common. They served to reinforce ugly imagery that should've been buried right alongside a casket containing the N-word.

You're also going to counter with Dave Chappelle a frequenter of racial humor. Chappelle is funny. Chappelle is biting and brilliant. He used his racial grenades as a way to raise a mirror to society. Chappelle's barbs - or Richard Pryor's or Eddie Murphy's -- didn't possess the unfunny, non-lesson teaching sentiment of Bennett's blasts.

We all make errors in judgment; I've certainly made them. There's a learning curve though. Smart people don't repeat those mistakes or make excuses for them. Bennett does both. He was fined $22,000 by the Cowboys for an earlier video in which he repeatedly referred to blacks and gays with various slurs.

Then, on the Michael Irvin radio show this week, Bennett defended his Step 'N Fetch routine. "[There are] white comedians that do stuff like that all the time," he told Irvin.

Well, let those white comics do it. That doesn't mean Bennett must follow their lead. Besides, unlike true comedians, Bennett isn't funny.

In any way.

And if he keeps up these inane routines, he never will be.

By Mike Freeman  |  July 16, 2009; 7:25 AM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Barely got through half of the video. That's how boring it was. It wasn't offensive because it was just meaningless altogether. Yawn.

Posted by: forgetthis | July 16, 2009 10:33 AM

If a Chinese player spoofed a stereotype I doubt few Chinese would care enough to comment. It says something about the black man, and sympathetic whites, that we are all required to treat blacks with kid gloves.

Like women, they enjoy a special status in America. You demand it. You get it.

Posted by: ram_xxx_ram | July 16, 2009 10:36 AM

Wow ram_xxx_ram...'The black man'? Really? We not only all look alike but we all think alike right? I don't think this is anything to get riled up about and I happen to be black.

Posted by: 6thsense79 | July 16, 2009 10:42 AM

What kind of ugly imagery do people have from eating fried chicken and watermelon and driking kool-aid??
I am a white guy and I personally love fried chicken, watermelon and kool-aid. In fact I would say fried chicken is my favorite food.
My wife is Chinese and she always says everyone can find racism in everything if they look hard enough, but it is better to just enjoy your life and think the best of others.

Posted by: Iowahoosier | July 16, 2009 10:46 AM

Bennett is a "Cowboy", so what do you expect from that team and their fans. Oops, was that another "Stereotype". Can't we all just get along?

Posted by: JohnWWW | July 16, 2009 10:54 AM

Wow ram_xxx_ram...'The black man'? Really? We not only all look alike but we all think alike right? I don't think this is anything to get riled up about and I happen to be black.
Posted by: 6thsense79 | July 16, 2009 10:42 AM

===========

less look alike than think alike

Tiger Woods is more often than not called a black man when he's more Asian than African. that's some racist b.s. in my view. he don't look black.

though you are the only race or group of people that consistently vote 90% plus the same. you may not, obviously don't, but the loudest and most vocal view is pretty consistent

Posted by: ram_xxx_ram | July 16, 2009 11:05 AM

OK, I'm not black; I still have an opinion.

It's not funny. Fair enough. But people post non-funny skits like this on YouTube all the time and no one cares because it's not a famous person.

Is it stereotypical or racialist? Maybe. But it's making fun of a TRUE stereotype -- the African-American community has a problem with obesity. Making fun of negative behaviors should be a firewall against which accusations of either racism or self-race-degrading should be immune.

If someone made a video of white southern males eating potato chips, drinking beer and watching NASCAR, it probably wouldn't be funny either, but it wouldn't violate anyone's "isms."

Posted by: WmarkW | July 16, 2009 11:39 AM

xxx ram xxx wrote:
Tiger Woods is more often than not called a black man when he's more Asian than African. that's some racist b.s. in my view. he don't look black.
___________________________________

YOU are some racist B.S. in my view.

Posted by: distance88 | July 16, 2009 1:05 PM

How is this any different than:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/16/redneck-games-slideshow-v_n_235343.html

a stupid thing about rednecks games? I am sure white people don't get offended about that and I (a black person) don't get offended about the youtube video. I think it's stupid, but I am not offended.

Posted by: Serengeti | July 16, 2009 1:14 PM

The Bennett brothers have truly proven themselves to be buffoons. They have no concept of their people, their culture, or their community. Too many people struggled, fought, and died to allow these ignorant individuals to denigrate Black people with this foolishness.

Also, for everyone that feels that this is a harmless prank or just a joke, those same people would be up in arms if white people were portraying Black people in this way, so the same standard needs to be applied when one of our own perpetrates such stupidity. Hopefully, someone will sit the two of them down and discuss with them how unintelligent and illogical these types of antics makes one look.

Posted by: thhalejr | July 16, 2009 2:15 PM

It's "Step 'N Fetchit," Mr. Freeman, not "Step 'N Fetch."

Posted by: 7900rmc | July 16, 2009 2:59 PM

WTF? It was just a joke! I don't see it as all that self hating. Self spoofing, self deprecating, yeah - self hating...no. What would have been funny is if the tow did an impression of a white man competing in the black olymics! Oh, but how unocomfortable we would all be then.
Who the hell is anybody to "own" comment on others.

Posted by: over202 | July 16, 2009 3:44 PM

Now the liberals say that although they will acknowledge there is a double standard in the U.S. now where whites should be judged more harshly when they say something offensive because of past discrimination of minorities. In other words, it's now acceptable for minorities to be racist towards whites, make unfounded accusations and be given a free pass.

What in reality is ethnic disagreements have morphed into this exclusive "race" club that elevates Hispanics and blacks above all others. Hispanics were never part of the slavery and Jim Crow era. Theirs is an ethnic conflict but with racist groups such as LaRaza, taxpayer funded, they have weasled their way into the government proclaiming "racism" is the problem.

Irish and dogs not welcome, all Italians are criminals, etc.---remember those stereotypes-- were ethnic conflicts. You don't see them on the affirmative action welfare rolls do you ? How many more decades have to pass to keep this court sanctioned discrimination against all races except the two sacred cows ? Civil rights groups are nothing more than legal shakedown artists of taxpayers now.

While I often disagree with Chief Justice Roberts, he said it best when he noted how courts have created legal discrination for some races : "If you want to end discrimination, stop discriminating."

Isn't it sad that electing a black president seemed to signal to leftwing liberals that common decency and yes, courtesy, isn't required from anyone but whites ? All people deserve to live in a country that rises up against that politically motivated liberal race card playing.

Words and behavior from a minority is just as wrong and offensive. Making excuses for bad behavior and racism is just that---an excuse.

Posted by: tinyt55 | July 16, 2009 4:03 PM

x millions of $$$ entitles these arrogant fools to continue their nutty antics. MLK was a good man who would be disgusted with this behavior.

Posted by: pofinpa | July 16, 2009 5:01 PM

xxx ram xxx wrote:
Tiger Woods is more often than not called a black man when he's more Asian than African. that's some racist b.s. in my view. he don't look black.
___________________________________
YOU are some racist B.S. in my view.
Posted by: distance88 | July 16, 2009 1:05 PM

=========

Tiger Woods is a quarter Chinese, a quarter Thai, a quarter African, an eighth European, and an eighth native American. That makes him half Asian and only a quarter African decent.

During the slave trade the ONE DROP RULE was implemented which basically said if you have any black blood then you are black.

Calling Tiger Woods a black man is adhering to the ONE DROP RULE. It is racist.

Why not Chinese-American? Why not Thai-American? He's more Asian than African.

You, my bigoted friend, are the racist. What's more you are too ignorant to know it.

Posted by: ram_xxx_ram | July 16, 2009 5:34 PM

Mike, chill. You telling me black people don't drink Kool-Aid? Or eat fried chicken? (I draw the line at watermelon, probably because of the stereotype.) My white ex-gf and I would ruminate on how there's not much difference between soul food and southern cuisine. So I fail to see how this is "reinforcing ugly imagery". When they get to the molesting white women event or shuckin and jivin at work event, holla at me then.

Posted by: gbooksdc | July 16, 2009 6:07 PM

One other thing: people trying to be funny have the right to be unfunny. Just like you, Mike, have the right to be a mediocre and sanctimonious columnist (and I've read several of your CBS columns; I now avoid them as a waste of time).

Posted by: gbooksdc | July 16, 2009 6:09 PM

C'mon...2 guys just goofin around. I hope they make more just to p-ss you off...If your offended by this, build yourself a stronger character. Way to many real things to be offended about than to guys making a harmless video.

Posted by: DD163 | July 16, 2009 6:33 PM

Beneath sophomoric. Beneath moronic. What's the desciptor that I'm looking for? Self-loathing starts to get me there. Blacks are their own worst enemies, eh "niggaz?"

Posted by: JohnBrown08 | July 16, 2009 8:35 PM

I don't think anyone should be offended by this low-class, idiotic and ignorant attempt at satire despite the fact that these guys can neither define nor spell the word. These guys will end up in the dustbin of mediocrity. What I think is more offensive to African-Americans is 1. that these guys have a video camera and are allowed to show their ignorance to the world; and 2. all football players (black and white) should be forced to learn proper American English before they are able to earn any money at all. Unfortunately, education has never been a factor in professional sports. What is far more offensive to African-Americans is that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court whittling away at years of African-American struggle to gain civil rights. This is offensive. This is evil.

Posted by: bob2davis | July 16, 2009 8:42 PM

Two men trying to do their amateur best at a Dave Chapelle take on black stereotypes. The skit is more sad than anything else, because the two seem to enjoy just enacting the stereotypes rather than doing anything thought provoking with them.


The OP calls for the castigation of the two because wrong is wrong no matter the race, but he ignores the long history of discriminated upon groups embracing (and sometimes making light of) derogatory slang and stereotypes as their own. Of course I never thought firing people for saying things (that most of us think but don’t say) is the way to change anything.

Posted by: moebius22 | July 16, 2009 8:44 PM

I am a black man and I am not offended by what these clowns had to say. I get offended when people who should know better say or do things that aren't true about a group of people. These guys don't seem to know better, lucky they are football players. One other thing, I am more offended by Mike for taking these clowns seriously. Once sense of humor tells you about a person’s level of sophistication on that measure these guys are immature brats. Need I say more.

Posted by: jcitygy | July 16, 2009 10:01 PM

Absolutely boring and without value. Its only an item because of a slow news day, I guess.

Yawn.

Posted by: AWWNats | July 16, 2009 10:51 PM

After a few beers it did get funnier...it also made me hungry.

Posted by: DD163 | July 16, 2009 10:55 PM

all i read in that article was a big baby crying

Posted by: obblehit | July 17, 2009 12:44 AM

Have you liberals now become the Humour Police? Would you advocate for the president to appoint a 'Humour Czar" so that we can be protected from all such tasteless and unfunny attempts at humour? Should the perpetrators be sent to sensitivity reeducation camps? Jeez, do these atheletes right to engage in parody and free speech go away because they might offend your delicate sensibilities? So, yeah, it wasn't funny to me. So what? To me, your columns are boring, trite, offensive and you are a sanctimonious preener. Should I report you to the "Bad Sports Column" czar and have you arrested? No. I have learned simply not to read your column anymore. If enough of us do that, the market will have spoken. End of story.

Posted by: MarcJMilzman | July 17, 2009 6:27 AM

seriously, people need to lighten up. People get soooo riled up about certain stereotypes because there is always some truth behind them. I'm Japanese, I loooove everything rice and smelly raw fish. If I were to make the Japanese olympics I would have, Sashimi, Mitsuya Cider and Nasu (Asian Pear). Why? because I sincerely enjoy those foods because that is what I grew up on and it is a part of who I am. Many black americans grew up on fried chicken, kool-aid and watermelon.... my knowledge of this fact is not from assumption or stereotype but from spending time with, eating with, many black americans from all over the US. No, not all of them love fried chicken and kool-aid. In fact, I would argue that next to sashimi, good southern fried chicken is my next favorite food. As a side note, did you know that here in Japan for Christmas dinner it is customary to come home with a bucket of KFC? Let's be real, the black olympics is totally on a different level from using the "n" word. A word that was/is used to oppress and abuse african americans. A spoof about eating chicken and drinking Kool-aid? Absolutely harmless in my opinion. The Bennet brothers did it because those are the foods they enjoy. If you get your panties in a bunch over that (regardless of what race you happen to be) you need to take a step back and think about what's really important in life. It's obvious the Bennetts enjoyed making the video and that is just what they do... no harm here.

Posted by: Samuraise | July 17, 2009 7:11 AM

All I have to say is that Mike Freeman is a very small man to get so upset with something like this.

The Bennetts seem very comfortable with who they are. Maybe Freeman (who I'm sure likes chicken and watermelon, who doesn't) is the self-hating black man....

Posted by: ghokee | July 17, 2009 7:19 AM

Bad video? Yes. Offensive to some? Sure.
Important issue? No.
Now I will generalize, and paint with a big brush:
Athletes are not statesmen. The NFL is chock-full of guys not forced to grow up. Their much admired, and rare skills make people give them a free pass on adult behavior in many ways that most of us cannot get away with. This near-worship of the fans has the effect of making these guys think: they are important to the workings of the world, they are funny, they are beyond reproach. So, although their are some great men amongst the NFL players, most are arrested development boys in men's bodies. So we are shocked when one of them pulls something like this? Why?

Posted by: blackmask | July 17, 2009 8:27 AM

As a black man, I can tell you this is not an issue. I know many folks are uncomfortable with the imagery surrounding black folks eating chicken and watermelon, but there are bigger fish to fry (not trying to make another off color joke).

People make fun of their race, gender, religion, etc. all the time. Jeff Foxxworthy made a career out of it. I'm actually pretty sure many other similar spoofs have been done before. This guy is getting exposed because he's in the NFL and its a good media hit.

Posted by: DCResident1 | July 17, 2009 9:34 AM

What did Limbaugh say that was so offensive? All he said was that Donovan McNabb isn't that great of a quarterback, but people say he is because they want a black quarterback to succeed. That might not be accurate, but it's not racist.

And besides, Limbaugh was at least half-right. McNabb is not going to the Hall of Fame. He belongs in the Hall of Pretty Good.

Posted by: wapo9 | July 17, 2009 9:46 AM

Where's Al Sharpton on this one?

If it were a couple of white guys that produced this very same video, he'd be strutting around, chest puffed out, in a picket line outside Google headquarters for allowing such a 'hate filled video to be displayed on their website.'

I think that's where the problem lies. Another commenter brought up Foxworthy and the 'redneck jokes.' The difference is he laughs at himself on behalf of rednecks everywhere, --regardless who is making the joke-- self-admitted-redneck or not. It seems in some cultures and circles it's only a joke if it came from within; from without - it's a vicious bigoted racist attack.

Double standards at its finest.

Posted by: cschetter | July 17, 2009 10:10 AM

A more accurate depiction of a "Black Olympics" would include people running and winning gold medals.

Anyway, I'm not offended by the video, but I do think Bennett and his brother are stupid. Oh well, that's to their own detriment. The world is filled with idiots and Youtube is filled with idiots who own video cameras.

Posted by: tootincommon | July 17, 2009 10:38 AM

Oh good Lord. We're getting our panties in a twist over this?? Look, I am a white woman from the midwest and I grew up on fried chicken, watermelon and kool-aid. Can I compete next year? I bet I can kick both their asses in the watermelon event.

They haven't pulled the video yet and I hope they don't. Nope, it wasn't terribly funny, but they seemed to have fun making it. Good on ya, boys - and go Seahawks.

Posted by: dannyboyzmom | July 17, 2009 11:04 AM

Oh my god. Who cares!

They are just 2 dumbasses who happen to be famous. I stopped after 15 seconds.

Let's just say that they should stick to NFL as long as possible because their career as comedians is not going to fly high.

Posted by: trumeau | July 17, 2009 1:37 PM

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