In his great film Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee has a scene where one of the white characters is attempting to explain to Mookie, a character played by Spike Lee, how there is no contradiction between his prejudice toward average African-Americans and adoration of Black superstar Athletes. Having grown frustrated with the argument, the white character exasperatingly expresses, “You know! Like Michael Jordan is not a Nigger.”
Such is the contradiction of being Black in America. The alluded to contradiction is commonly found at this nation’s institutions of higher education.
So, I was not particularly surprised when Seattle Seahawk Defensive End Michael Bennett, a product of Texas A&M University, shared his experience of being a celebrated athlete while on the football field and ‘just another Nigger’ away from it.
During a yet to be released interview with Sports Illustrated, Bennett shared his experience on the Texas A&M University campus as being an unpredictable one that ranged from his being celebrated for his athletic prowess to being called “Nigger” and told to “go back home” from both students and College Station residents.
Make no mistake about it, Bennett’s experience is the typical experience for African-American students, regardless of their participation in collegiate athletics, attending predominantly white institutions.
Considering such, one should not be surprised to discover that the recent protests that occurred at the University of Missouri are desired by African-American collegians throughout the nation. Bennett related during the interview that if provided the opportunity, he would have participated in similar protest activities. According to Bennett, “Racism on college campuses, it’s pretty common. Look at most D-I colleges and look at the minority percentages – they’re small. Many of those minorities are athletes. A lot of these colleges are old schools in old towns.”
The pernicious obstacles of prejudice, discrimination, and racism that African-American collegians are experiencing at this nation’s predominantly white colleges and universities will hopefully spark serious discussions regarding the usefulness of such institutions in the development of the next generation of African-Americans. Unfortunately for our children who are largely helpless to defend themselves against the aforementioned attacks, I doubt that a leadership cadre that appears to be so focused upon being ‘politically correct’ has the courage to publicly discuss the obvious reality that the vast majority of our children would greatly benefit from the mentorship and care that are so commonly found on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.