ESPN Commenter Parker made the remark that Robert Griffin (RGIII) wasn’t black enough and the Stuff#*@ hit the fan. As a celebrity, he’s now a proud member of the “Black, but Not Black Enough Club” joining the likes of POTUS Obama, Tiger Woods, Clarence Thomas, and OJ Simpson. Comments flew from outraged people from both sides of the fence; some were agitated that ESPN would censor the black commenter from speaking his mind and others incensed that we’re still talking race in 2012. Robert Parker called out Griffin on the air, asking: ”Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?” Some of Parker’s rationale for calling RGIII “NOT black enough” was his engagement to a white woman, talk of him being a Republican, and that he was “not real.” One African-American person commenting on the ordeal on www.yourblackworld.com responded:
“Being Black is a matter of political reality that affects and is affected by the words, deeds, actions, and experiences of other black people. That being said, EVERY black person that is a part of that experience has a right to an opinion. That includes “how black” somebody else is or isn’t based on how they conduct themselves, what they say, and what they are about. Ali understood this. Jim Brown understood this. Hell even Doug Williams understood this.”
In closing, the conversation may begin with the question “What is Black Enough?” But, personally, I don’t think that is the right question to ask. We need some honest education, engagement, and intelligent conversations around this emotionally charged issue of race. It has become intertwined with culture, nationality, and ethnicity. As a society, we pretend racism doesn’t exist. Some even block it out all together. I’ve been told, “I don’t see your color.” But, my color is part of me although it doesn’t define me. Let me explain it this way. If I were a red rose in a vase of white roses, my color would be a beautiful attribute of my identity and I would be contributing to the beauty of the bouquet by being noticed. First and foremost, I’d still be a rose, equal to all the other roses and not some other minor specie. The key is to get to the point where we recognize color but don’t judge by it. I’ll sum it up in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who dealt with race and identity on a daily basis, but still understood the most important criteria for identifying a person was by their character.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Christopher Peterson after addressing this issue about character in Psychology Today sums it up with: “Perhaps Dr. King’s dream would be realized if we choose to look at actual people and not the demographic groups in which we so conveniently and carelessly place them. Good one, Christopher! While many might assert that this is a “non issue,” apparently it is a an issue and a big one for millions. A quick google search came up with the following hits in less than a minute: 817,000,000 results (0.32 seconds) on the term “Black Enough”, 7,510,000 results (0.42 seconds) on the term “Black Enough Griffin” and 255,000,000 results (0.46 seconds) on the term “Black Enough Obama.” Hundreds of millions of people are searching, thinking, and interested in this term. So I ask you three questions, 1) “What does it mean to be black enough?” 2) “Who gets to define what black is? And, 3) “How, where, and with whom do we address the question of race once and for all? (Please comment!)