One Last Thing - Richard Sherman

Every Saturday at 4:50 pm, I share "One Last Thing" on Hoffman and Platt. It's an essay on a topic that caught my eye during the week. This week I chose to close a week of conversation on Richard Sherman. Listen to Hoffman and Platt Saturdays at 2 pm on 103.3 FM ESPN.

This week an older man named Jack called into Friedo and Fitzsimmons on the topic of Richard Sherman. "I didn't like what he did with his crazy hair and his crazy eyes" was the gist of his call. I cringed. The underlying racism eats at me. The crazy hair is Richard Sherman's dreads, a hairstyle worn predominantly by black folks and it has nothing to do with who he is.

However when discussing the call with someone later, I brought up the first thing I thought of when Jack described the crazy eyes. It was Marshall Henderson. The volatile shooting guard from Ole Miss whose eyes are crazy by the description of his own coaches. The response - "Yeah, but Henderson's one of the blackest white guys out there."

Which leads me to a simple question - what the hell does that even mean?

Race means the color of your skin. If we talk about Marshall Henderson or even if we go further down the "black white guy scale" to say, Eminem, we're still not talking about someone who would have had to pee in the "colored" restrooms in the 1940's. Not jarring enough? If this was the 1830's, there's no way Eminem could've been enslaved.

We'll never take the next step of having intelligent discussion on race in this country until we disassociate characteristics from skin color. Someone who speaks well is articulate, not white. Someone who listens to hip hop and maybe even can dance with some soul and rhythm isn't black, they just have some rhythm and soul.

When the Texas job was open, there were people who didn't want Charlie Strong to get it because he is black. Not because of any other reason. No personality trait. Not his skill as a football coach. Because he was black. That kind of racism I don't know what you do with because there's no advanced thinking there to be had. Quit being an ignorant tool. That's about all I got. 

But for the other kind. Characteristic racism if you will, it's time to grow up. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. 

If you say you didn't like what Richard Sherman did because barking in a camera about your own greatness isn't how you think someone should act - you prefer a winner with grace - then fine. Say that. Don't call him a thug. He's not a thug. He's loud. He's brash. And while some people will still see that through racial glasses, you've made your point without using race and hopefully meant it. 

Which leads to the final problem. There's got to be a way for the majority, in this case white people, to say something about a minority, black or otherwise, that is critical without the minority playing the race card. I agree with Sherman that some people were being racist cause I saw the tweets that used the N-word and, like Sherman said, some people used thug in replacement of it. You'd have to be beyond naive to think race was an element for some here.

But there were also people who just didn't like what he did and it had nothing to do with race, which is typical in these kinds of things. The racists are always going to come out, but it's not everyone.  If I think a black athlete does something wrong, I shouldn't have to fear being called a racist if I criticize him on nothing to do with race.

It's a group effort. People need to be smarter about what they say. A lot smarter. Quit insinuating racist things and instead say what what you really mean. Then it's up to the "attacked minority" to quit trying to tie them back together. It's a group effort and I'd love it if we could finally start.