The League

Dawn Knight
Author

Dawn Knight

The author of Taliaferro: Breaking Barriers and a high school English teacher.

Ignorant or Uplifting?

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Had I been there, I probably would have advised the Bennett Brothers not to broadcast their Black Olympics video to YouTube (may not be suitable for some audiences). First, it is more disgusting than funny, what with all the greasy chicken and juicy watermelon dripping from their mouths. More importantly, it was based on ignorant racial stereotypes, which are certain to offend. But, I wasn't there and apparently neither was anyone else with common sense, so the video was released online -- to humor, disgust or offend, - depending on how one looks at it. I'm not sure if I can pick just one.

On the one hand, I think the Bennett Brothers show either a blatant lack of respect or ignorance of history in broadcasting the video. Are the Bennetts unaware of the fact that it was not that long ago black football players like themselves were kept out of the NFL and off of college campuses? In 1946, Kenny Washington, Marion Motley and Bill Willis broke pro football's color line, but they dealt with racism constantly, both on and off the field. By 1951, there were still only 15 black NFL players, 6 of whom played for the Los Angeles Rams, earning the team the nickname the "Black Rams." Like Jackie Robinson, players who crossed football's color line dealt with racial epithets and stereotypes, violence, and isolation. Perhaps they deserve more respect from today's players, for whom they paved the way.

Still, I wonder if their lack of tact suggests that they do not see the harm in their Black Olympics -- that maybe they have not been injured by these stereotypes the way generations before them were? Maybe their video simply points to a positive change in our society, that this generation of Black Americans is not only less encumbered by the oppression these stereotypes bring, but has even gone so far as to make them their own?

I like to see myself as an optimist, so I want to believe these two men could be a part of a new generation that is not haunted by racism. As a high school teacher, however, I can't get past the lack of either respect or historical sensitivity the video brings with it. Do I think the Bennett Brothers meant any real harm? No, I think it was youthful stupidity, but most young people don't broadcast their stupidity for the world to see.

By Dawn Knight  |  July 16, 2009; 8:08 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , Race Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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So no one has seen Carlos Mencia's stereotype olympics before?

http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=91783

Posted by: abcd4 | July 16, 2009 10:07 AM

Dawn,

Based on what you are saying here, "Still, I wonder if their lack of tact suggests that they do not see the harm in their Black Olympics -- that maybe they have not been injured by these stereotypes the way generations before them were? Maybe their video simply points to a positive change in our society, that this generation of Black Americans is not only less encumbered by the oppression these stereotypes bring, but has even gone so far as to make them their own?"

I could not disagree with you more. Your thinking perpetuates the mindset of many whites who are disillusioned about the topic of race relations in the United States. I will answer your question about whether or not we (blacks) are still being discriminated against--in public places, in the workplace, etc. The guys who posted the video are just too plain ignorant to know any better than to do what they did. Please, take it from me, blacks are not over racism and/or discrimination in this country. I've had my first experience with racism at the age of 9 at summer camp and even more so to this day--which is ironic because I was raised by immigrant parents to love everyone regardless of color. In fact, they told me that they didn't even know what racism was about until they moved to this country. What a shame!

Posted by: writer_33 | July 16, 2009 3:48 PM

I'm white.

When I lived in Puerto Rico my U.S. federal GI bill money was withheld illegally by a racist Puerto Rican. At univesity I had a 4.0 GPA but fail to complete the semester and had to live off mangos for weeks to survive.

When I lived in Oakland, CA I was jumped by three black thugs for walking down the wrong street. Their primary motivation was racial. They nearly killed me.

Close to LAX I politely asked a black man for directions and in return I got back a hostile stare. A friendly hello or similar displays of kindness to black Americans are freqently rewarded with hostility or indifference -- perhaps as much as 50% of the time.

Shopping at K-mart in Oakland if you pick a line with black women tending the cashier it is not uncommon for them to take an attitude with you.

Taking the bus black youths blatantly talk drugs and other offensive and inappropriate behavior.

Don't talk like black are the only ones subjected to racism in America. In addition we get bombarded with 24/7 political correctness in the media. CNN and other networks have become little more than re-education mechanism to brainwash Americans raised on Jerry Springer, Oprah, and MTV.

Posted by: ram_xxx_ram | July 16, 2009 6:15 PM

Good lord! Blacks tend to be their own worst enemies, don't they?

Posted by: JohnBrown08 | July 16, 2009 8:32 PM

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