I used to say the most influential leaders of Black America were Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. Since David Stern hit Roy Hibbert with a 75K fine, I haven’t heard the term “No-Homo” come out the mouth of any of these neo-indentured servants, pause.
For those who don’t know, “Pause” and “No-Homo” are adolescent games that have become contagious vernacular. Kobe Bryant was fined 100K for using the F-word in a more traditional (non-literal) way. Though this cease-and-desist language and dress code supports a psyche theory of industrial plantation in sports, I’m not that mad at it. I’m mad at the fact that a Black athlete respects a contract more than they respect themselves or others.
Name any respected Black leader or figure; if they ask a Black athlete not to use the N-word, F-word, or whatever, that athlete would roll their eyes. It could be a request from their own mama and they don’t care because they’re getting paid more in a year than most Blacks see in a lifetime. But when a commissioner calls, it’s “yes massa.”
We may differ in opinion about the slave mentality in sports but it’s an understandable general philosophy. You might not agree with my deep analysis of Dan Gilbert’s post-traumatic slave master syndrome after LeBron James left Cleveland or why some NFL teams didn’t want Myron Rolle, but the foundation of the analogy is ostensible.
I would love to do a social experiment where professional teams sent a letter of interest to high school prospects that contains code of conduct guidelines of language. That experiment, however, would be a waste of time because we know the outcome like we know the chances of Roy Hibbert saying “No-Homo” again. I’ll take it a step further, if David Stern said the NBA will no longer play any music, clean version or otherwise, that contains the N-word, guess what would happen?
Recently, a sleeveless Riley Cooper was caught on tape saying the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert and it definitely wasn’t a sing-a-long. He said it to a black security guard. Sidebar, having a big black guy as security is the cultural equivalent to having a Jewish lawyer. Anyway, Cooper would’ve been better off using the F-word because now he was to go to work and “fight every nigger” like he said he would. Did he say “yo” at the end of his comment? Ha!
Here’s the thing, what if a Black athlete was caught on tape calling a white person “cracker?” What about them calling another Black person, “nigga?” No matter how affectionate, that Black person might be highly offended by that word, but most consider that out of the realm of possibility.
I have mixed feelings on language “control” but it’s really about what’s appropriate in a public setting. Since an athlete is the only career where your salary is based solely on your talent and performance; when it comes to their faux pas in plainclothes, I pity none of them – except Mike Vick.
T. Better Baldwin is a creative mercenary and ethical lobbyist who was born, raised and resides in New York City.