Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rivalry Revisited


ESPN recently aired their latest 30/30 documentary about the famous/infamous Fab 5 team from Michigan. Their rivalry with Duke was by necessity a major area of focus. Jalen Rose talks about (and as producer he could of course include and exclude whatever he wished) his impression at the time that Duke recruited black players who were “Uncle Toms.” This didn’t go over well with at least one of those former Duke players – Grant Hill. So there was a little back and forth between them, none of it actually face to face, much of it sent indirectly towards the other rather than naming names. On Twitter Jalen wrote: “I didn’t say anything in the doc that I didn’t say to a players FACE”. Okay, not sure how this excuses the idiocy of his thought process. At best it gives him more “street cred”, something that a so called Uncle Tom would of course be sorely lacking. Jalen continued: “For those MOANING about how something or someone was portrayed in the doc note that it was FRAMED from 1991-1993 not 2011 #quit crying.”

The moaning Jalen Rose referred to was an Op Ed piece written by Grant Hill and published by the New York Times in rebuttal to characterizations made in the documentary. He speaks eloquently for himself so I won’t bother to do much summarizing - [Hill's own words]. Bottom line, Grant Hill does not agree with nor appreciate what Jalen Rose had to say. No surprise there. But what I did find somewhat alarming was people taking sides on Twitter, with a surprisingly robust amount on Team Rose. I’m not talking about people who thought Hill overreacted because Rose was expressing the way he felt in the distant past as a teen, not his current opinions as a grown man with public platform. It’s not entirely clear to what degree Jalen has changed his tune but I’ll take him at his tweet that the mentality was “framed from 1991-1993 not 2011”. No, I’m referring to people who believe that what Jalen Rose said and felt in 1991-1993 was then and is today still valid. Certainly if they think Rose was accurately describing Hill then they themselves describe countless African Americans in such manner. For what sins? Growing up in a two parent home? Getting a college degree? Or perhaps a degree is okay but better not be obtained from too “white acting” a college. Having a corporate job? Speaking in grammatically correct sentences? Writing eloquently? Marrying a white woman? Wait up, Grant Hill didn’t even do that last one. But surely he intends to one day dump Tamia for Kim Kardashian. That’s what Uncle Toms do, no? Perhaps I should have picked someone less ethnic than Kim to make a stronger point. Dame Judi Dench?

Grant Hill’s response may very well have been overkill, but I know why he reacted strongly and I’m glad he did. His rebuttal was not merely directed at Jalen Rose but at everyone who ever thought of him (or any other black person) in such a manner, including all those tweeters I just mentioned. What I read in his words is what I’ve always believed in my heart. There is no right or wrong way to be black. There’s no one way to be black at all. There’s simply being human in the best manner you can manage, regardless of your particular set of window dressing. Be who you are and don’t quietly let anyone disrespect you on account of it. But when they inevitably do, it will always say a whole lot more about them than it says about you.

Below are some thoughts I expressed on the matter one tweet at a time, with a few retweets of sentiments expressed by others sprinkled in. What’s your take?

Didn't see the Fab 5 documentary, just tweets about it. Only catching up now to controversial remarks by Jalen Rose & Grant Hill's response.

The concept that if u aren't "keeping it real", speaking mostly slang, dressing 4 opposite of success, classifies u as "Uncle Tom" must die.

I'm tired of black people beating up on black people for not being "black enough". Progress impossible if holding your own self back

The most devout Jew doesn't criticize another for being less Jewish. Super Italian doesn't diss another for not being Italian enough. But blacks…

Complexion adds a whole other layer of complexity. U can wear dashiki & afro & keep fist raised in air all day, but u light skinned? Denied.

As if people are selecting how much DNA from which branches of the humanity tree they wish to have. That's 5 yrs down the road, minimum

Melanin argument is at least tangible. Retarded, but tangible. Calling someone "not black" because they like to read & excel at math? WTF?!

No people are more bigoted against black people than certain black Americans. There, I said it. It's factual. I see proof on here EVERY DAY.

Just let people be whoever it is they happen to be. If they're not personally f'ing with you, their mode of existence isn't your concern.

p.s.- White people are way less preoccupied w/ keeping blacks down than you may believe. Most people of all races are simply looking out for selves.

And by "selves" I don't mean members of same race. I mean you look out for your own damn self, then your family, then out from there.

You give the biggest white bigot a choice between doing something racist for hell of it or accepting $100, cash gets snatched 9 of 10 times.

And that's the biggest bigot I'm talking about. Most of you have been lucky enough never to have actually met that A-hole, whoever he may be.

So in the words of my man Spike Lee - WAKE UP. After that, get smart & get paid. After that, give back to your community & world at large.

And as you'll see if you check out tweets by @
ClarenceGaines2 most know zilch about Uncle Tom & are insulting incorrectly. READ A BOOK!!!

Surely there are black men out there named Tom who have nephews & nieces. Does this pose a problem for them?

RT @ToureX Grant notes that in the doc Jalen leaves it unclear what he now feels about Black Dukies. His tweeted "clarification" isn't clarifying much.

RT @rodimusprime: Uncle Tom thing is more abt class at this point than it is about race.
To which I replied - Name 1 white man not named Tom ever called Uncle Tom

Fact: No man of any race ever felt badly about being called an Uncle Nate Dogg. Simply implies improved quality by mere presence.

RT @LLCoolChels Bottom line is GH has a right to respond and defend who he was THEN and where he came from just like JR has a right to tell his story.

There is no intelligent explanation for an ignorant opinion. "I was young & misinformed" is the best anybody has ever come up with.

I'm older but not any wiser is a particularly poor argument.

Calling someone an "Uncle Tom" is not matter of perspective (as I just saw somebody categorize it) in most cases, just plain wrong.

RT @Brandale2221 As a Person who has been labeled BOTH an Uncle Tom & a COON .. both by black folks...IMO the problem is how we label ourselves.

To all those tweeps out there raising your kids in two parent households or being raised in one yourself, keep Tomming.

RT @BritniDWrites Folks shld be happy Rose is able to articulate his past hurt & isn't knocking somebody upside the head cuz he can't express his emotions.
To which I replied - Interesting point. I suppose a documentary is slightly less blunt than a bat upside the head.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the Fab 5 documentary. So much so, that I watched it twice.