I Know WTF Happened to Cam Newton
My classmates used to unaffectionately call me an "Oreo brotha." Thus, having started out in life with only half a black card, I am especially empathetic to someone who has had his black card revoked in the name of "the struggle." What does it mean to be told that one is black on the outside but white on the inside, anyway? What does it mean to question a person’s allegiance to one side of the race equation or the other? It seems the idea of race has gone far beyond skin tone or the one-drop rule. Perhaps therein lies the crux of the racially charged issues we face today.
After reading some recent articles on The Root’s website, I was struck by the smack-down that Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton received for speaking out about two issues at one time. The contributors on The Root didn’t mess with Shaq too much, though they said that he had gone on Fox News recently, to shuck and jive. This was in response to Shaq questioning Colin Kaepernick’s protest methods on the network that most blacks are led to believe is unfriendly to them.
If only those attacking Newton and Sherman had as much respect for free-thinking black people who don’t march in lock-step with them as they do for the gang leaders who are raping inner-city communities all across the nation. Everyone knows that drug pushers, wanna-be pimps, stick-up kids, and real-life bullies are destroying black lives with impunity; yet those who stick their necks out to challenge them, even in coded language as Newton and Sherman did, are suddenly not black enough? One is only black enough and down with the struggle if he speaks out against police violence and has mad love for "street soldiers," saying nothing of their actions?
Imagine if we actually listened to the substance of each other's comments and abandoned the racial litmus test that has polarized and failed us for far too long. What would happen if we simply cleaned up the streets? Gang bangers, drug dealers, murderers, crooked cops, and crooked politicians would have no place to hide. They do now. Some of them are hiding behind our banners as we march against "the man."
One of The Root’s senior editors, Stephen A. Crockett, Jr., criticized Cam Newton in his article entitled “WTF Happened to Cam Newton?” Crockett stated, "It’s odd watching a flamboyantly dressed man who plays with reckless abandon become so docile when discussing the deaths of black people at the hands of police?” Newton’s offense? He commented on the September 20th killing of Keith Lamont Scott by a Charlotte, NC, police officer, stating, “I’m an African American. I am not happy how the justice has been kind of dealt with over the years. The state of oppression in our community. But we also, as black people, have to do right by ourselves. We can’t be hypocrites.”
What is odd is the fact that Newton’s remarks seemingly didn’t pass Crockett’s blackness test. What is odd is that Crockett is selectively bothered by Newton’s comments and silent about the full extent of the oppression in our communities, which Newton mentioned. Newton didn’t excuse the officer’s actions, nor did he place full blame on the black community or divert attention from police brutality to black-on-black crime. He simply stated the obvious. When did it become acceptable for right and wrong to be arbitrated along racial lines? Cops behaving badly are wrong. Black people, white people, or green people behaving badly are wrong as well. Wasn’t that the struggle, that all men should be judged by the content of their character?