Rev. Arthur L. Jones III
Last August, I wrote an op-ed entitled “We need to talk.” It was a heartfelt piece underscoring America’s desperate need to deal openly and honestly with the topic of racism, along with the rampant indifference which always seems to enshroud said topic. Ladies and gentlemen, we still need to talk. Now more than ever.
The entire Richard Sherman controversy convinces me of this. For those of you who don’t know, Richard Sherman is the All-Pro left cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. Sherman is a 25-year old black man who happens to be one of the premier defensive players in the NFL. He’s a well-known philanthropist who gives generously to many charities without fanfare. As a highly decorated scholar/athlete at Compton’s Dominguez High School, Sherman excelled athletically and academically, finishing second in his graduating class. He’s a graduate of Stanford University, one of America’s finest institutions of higher learning. He grew up in Compton, Calif., – a suburb of South Central Los Angeles notorious for gang activity, violent crimes and corruption within its local government.
Last Sunday night, Sherman deflected a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree which sealed the NFC Championship game and sent the Seahawks to Super Bowl XLVIII.
To be fair, Sherman has been known throughout his career to be loud, confident in his own abilities and fearless. Immediately following the 49ers-Seahawks game, Sherman verbally berated Crabtree in an on-air interview with Fox Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews. In the 24 hours following Sherman’s comments, he was referred to as a “thug” 625 times throughout American media outlets, according to Deadspin and IQ Media. That word was used more times in one day against Sherman than at any other point against anyone in at least three years.
Is Richard Kevin Sherman a thug? He said this on the topic: “I know some ‘thugs,’ and they know I'm the furthest thing from a thug. I've fought that my whole life, just coming from where I'm coming from… to have it come back up and people start to use it again, it’s frustrating.” Yeah, we still need to talk.
Ted Nugent’s recent comments compel me to report that America’s chat about race is long overdue. In a Jan. 17 interview with guns.com, Nugent commented: “I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not sham enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist raised, communist educated, communist nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.” Nugent went on to call for the president and other liberals to be jailed for treason, although he never spelled out exactly why. I have never heard anyone refer to the president of the United States as a mongrel — or to the secretary of state (Hillary Clinton) as a chimpanzee. Free speech in America is one thing, but verbal self-immolation is an entirely different matter. We need to have a sit-down. ASAP.
Joshua Black’s ridiculous assertions warrant Americans getting together and talking. Here’s what Black posted on Twitter about the president last Monday: “I’m past impeachment… It’s time to arrest and hang him high.”Last Monday was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Black is a Republican candidate for the Florida House District 68 seat. A Republican not liking President Obama isn’t surprising. Such comments coming from a black man is somewhat surprising, but not shocking. Such comments coming from a pastor? That’s not only shocking, it’s very disappointing. Black’s fellow Republicans in Florida — including embattled Gov. Rick Scott — are setting speed records distancing themselves from him. The Secret Service have already paid Black a visit. Congratulations, sir. If you wanted a national audience, you succeeded. Unfortunately, all those people have arrived just in time to see your political career phase from a solid to a liquid to a gas.
Madonna’s recent head-scratching incident on Instagram defies common sense and denotes the indifference towards racial inequality in the United States. Madonna has had an enormously successful career as singer-songwriter, musician, actress, author, director, entrepreneur,and social icon. She’s walked on the razor’s edge over the years, but calling her own 13-year old Rocco the n-word on Instagram is especially troubling because it was deliberate on her part. Reinvention or reprehensive? Either way, Madonna’s apology fell flat.
Folks, we still need to talk to each other about race. The sooner we talk, the better. Frequent outbreaks of overt racism inform us that something must be done. Black History Month begins Feb. 1. What better place than here? What better time than now?