I have come to understand that even a modicum of fame provides individuals who are totally unqualified for the duty to speak either to or on behalf of the race. Unfortunately, our people will appear in droves to hear a famous person, regardless of the basis of their notoriety, who is as the old people used to say, “all sizzle and no steak” in their analysis of present-day politics or African-American History.
One of the usual suspects involved in such matters is ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith. Rest assured that it is Smith’s “fame” and notoriety that flows form his reputation of being a controversial sports commentator that has paved the way for him to give presentations like his recent speech at the University of South Alabama over “The Legacy, History and Impact of the African-American Athlete.”
Let me first say that I most certainly have no problem with Smith speaking on such a topic, he is a sports commentator after all; during such moments, Smith is firmly in his area of expertise. It is only when he strays away from sports that Smith finds himself in deep waters that he is incapable of navigating. Previous forays into areas of Race and Domestic Violence definitively prove Smith’s ineptitude in regards to topics that extend beyond sports.
Unfortunately for Smith, he miserably fails, once again, while attempting to traverse across terrain beyond the sports world.
Although it is obvious that Smith has a surface-level understanding of racial matters, don’t we all, the absence of depth in that area is in a word; stupefying.
During a most unfortunate moment in his aforementioned presentation, Smith admonished the youth that were hanging upon his every word with the following litany:
“Racism doesn’t exist. Obviously, I’m lying. Of course it exists, but not for you. See, you don’t have to go to the back of the bus. You’re not denied the opportunity to eat at restaurants, or to enter night clubs, or to patronize businesses. You have the right to vote. You’re not being lynched. You’re not being hung. You’re not going through the trials and tribulations your ancestors, recent and far beyond recent endured so you can sit here today.”
Unfortunately, Smith was headed for trouble the moment he exited his area of expertise. And therein lays a major part of the problem facing Black America, their willingness to listen to ‘famous people’ who have little knowledge of what they are speaking of. Clearly, Stephen A. Smith’s understanding of racism is as feeble as his understanding of prejudice and discrimination.
Apparently Smith believes that the three terms are synonymous. Although it is true that African-Americans’ can now patronize businesses and sit wherever they desire on public transportation, the decline of such discriminatory practices has done absolutely nothing to confront, let alone subdue, the racism that ‘white privilege’ rests upon. The ability to patronize white businesses has in actuality made the emptying of Black pockets by whites more efficient.
Although I agree that many of the more public forms of discrimination have been confronted and subdued, however, the real power, structural racism, not only remains undisturbed, but also unchallenged by the majority of Black America. Amazingly, notable individuals such as Smith not only fail to address this matter, but also are totally oblivious to its existence.
And it is for that reason that yet another ‘Black History Month’ has evaporated like vapor and Black America remains as clueless about the source of their oppression as they have ever been.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016