We all have our prejudices. I hate racism.
I thought Richard Sherman’s post-game NFC championship interview was over-the-top but I never thought people would get so damn mean and ugly.
I was that rubbernecker passing a bad accident on the I-5 through Seattle. I found myself devouring everything I could about the extreme reactions to his interview. How far would this go?
This blog post is a mash-up of what moved me. I’m calling attention to those in the media willing to use their reach to combat all that is wrong with racism. These are honorable people and quiet leaders — Richard Sherman included — and they deserve our recognition and praise.
Let’s start with cartoonist, Darren Bell.
I came across Darren’s work in The Seattle Times. This cartoon brings into razor focus the hypocrisy of calling Richard Sherman a thug. The juxtapositional use of Bieber and Grimm leave no doubt who are the real losers:
Let’s get to the writers that deserve our respect (these are all great reads):
As we try to sort out the histories of race and violence and the working of the media that have become tangled up in the Richard Sherman controversy, it is helpful to remember that Twain was insistent about turning the lens back on white America.
As he put it, “We white people are merely modified thugs.”
For all those who were made uncomfortable when Sherman’s so-called rant invaded their living rooms, a good next step might be to emulate Twain and take stock of our own capacity for thuggishness.
What Mark Twain Tells Us About The Super Bowl Controversy by Seattle Times guest columnist Russ Castronovo
I don’t think this is what people think when they see Sherman trash-talking. There’s some weird notion in our society that holds that trash-talking is for the classless and stupid. I don’t know what it means to be “classless” in an organization like the NFL. And then there is the racism from onlookers, who are incapable of perceiving in Sherman an individual, and instead see the sum of all American fears—monkey, thug, terrorist, nigger.
And then there is us, ashamed at our own nakedness, at our humanity. Racism is a kind of fatalism, so seductive, that it enthralls even its victims. But we will not get out of this by being on our best behavior—sometimes it has taken our worse. There’s never been a single thing wrong with black people that the total destruction of white supremacy would not fix.
This was a triumphant moment, and still to a lot of people there was something viscerally ugly about Sherman standing over a pretty blonde woman, yelling into our living rooms with an emotional mixture of joy, relief, and excitement, arrogance, and anger. Dude was turnt up.
Millions of Americans took to their cell phones, to social media, to the bar patron next to them, to cluck at Sherman. We called him classless, a bad sportsman, a troll. We called him a monkey and a nigger. We threatened his life. We said that he set black people and race relations back 30, 50, 100 years.
Richard Sherman gave one of the best NFL postgame interviews of all time to Erin Andrews, with the air of a pro wrestling heel. Some people didn’t like Sherman’s act, which is stuffy, but fine. But others didn’t like it, and to voice their displeasure, said some remarkably racist, vile things in public.
Just as a reminder, tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day in remembrance of the most famous leader in the African-American civil rights movement.
Dumb People Say Stupid, Racist Shit About Richard Sherman by Deadspin’s Samer Kalaf. The racist tweets that Samer cites are truly despicable. You are warned.
Why has Sherman’s infamous post-game interview stirred up so much discomfort? Easy: The nation sees itself in him.
But let’s face it. Richard Sherman is as all-American as all-American gets. Pick your American trope and this young man embodies it. Brash, cocky performer who craves the spotlight. Rugged individualist who pulls himself up by own bootstraps, fanatically prepared and self-reliant. Iconoclast who speaks his mind and wears his style without fear. Hard-nosed capitalist who works at the intersection of big dreams and big money. Budding celebrity who manipulates his public image to mask his actual smarts and savvy—and perhaps his actual appreciation for family, team, tradition, causes greater than himself.
As for my own legacy, know that I’ve grown as much as a man this season and specifically in the last month as I have in the last 10 years. I’ve figured out who I am, and the man I want to become, and the way I want to be remembered. I have to accept all of the outside pressures and all of the criticism and grow from it.
I write to process — maybe now I can get this off my mind.
What about you?
P.S. For background and context, click on Deadspin’s article: Richard Sherman Breaks Up Pass, Wins Game, Goes Nuts On Erin Andrews — for video of Sherman’s post-game interview and his game-ending tip that sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.