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Rob Parker on RGIII’s blackness
Dec-13-2012 1489 0


Robert Griffin III has been asked about his race repeatedly this season. He has not, to my knowledge, ever brought the subject up himself. Every time he’s been asked about it, he has managed to appear thoughtful and considerate without possibly offending anyone.

I’m not sure he’s ever handled the race question better than on last week’s Comcast SportsNet special, when Chick Hernandez talked about being a black quarterback in D.C.

“Whenever you can relate to the population of the team that you play for, I think it makes it that much more special,” Griffin said. “I don’t play too much into the color game, because I don’t want to be the best African American quarterback, I want to be the best quarterback.

“But to the fans, and to the fans who think that way and look at me as an African American, it’s important that I succeed, not only for this team, but for them,” he continued. “Because it gives them that motivation, that hey, you know, an African American went out and played quarterback for my Washington Redskins. So I appreciate that; I don’t ever downplay anything like that. Whoever I can go out every week and motivate to do better and to try to go after their dreams, I’m up for that.”

Again, I don’t know how he could possibly have handled that issue — which he did not raise himself — any better.

But people keep asking. The rookie was asked about race yet again on Wednesday, this time by an ESPN reporter. He delivered a similar answer. It was an answer that showed he’s actually thought about the issue, but it was steadfastly non-controversial.

“I am [aware] of how race is relevant to [some fans]. I don’t ignore it,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I try not to be defined by it, but I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. So I understand they’re excited their quarterback is an African American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. So I understand that, and I appreciate them for being fans.”

Well. This led to a Thursday discussion on First Take, ESPN’s abysmal debate program. Panelist Rob Parker was asked, ‘What does this say about RGIII?”

“This is an interesting topic,” Parker said. “For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.

“I understand the whole story of I just want to be the best,” Parker continued. “Nobody’s out on the field saying to themselves, I want to be the best black quarterback. You’re just playing football, right? You want to be the best, you want to throw the most touchdowns and have the most yards and win the most games. Nobody is [thinking] that.

“But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him,” Parker went on. “And I’ve talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I’ve known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”

What does that mean, Parker was asked.

“Well, [that] he’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us,” Parker explained. “He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else.”

Why is that your question, Parker was asked.

“Well, because I want to find out about him,” Parker said. “I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.”

Then Skip Bayless asked Parker about RGIII’s braids.

“Now that’s different,” Parker said. “To me, that’s very urban and makes you feel like…wearing braids, you’re a brother. You’re a brother if you’ve got braids on.”

Then Stephen A. Smith was asked for his take. He exhaled deeply.

“Well first of all let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with where we just went,” Smith said. “RGIII, the ethnicity, the color of his fiancée is none of our business. It’s irrelevant. He can live his life any way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that’s his business, that’s his life. I don’t judge someone’s blackness based on those kind of things. I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.

“What I would say to you is that the comments he made are fairly predictable,” Smith went on. “I think it’s something that he may feel, but it’s also a concerted effort to appease the masses to some degree, which I’m finding relatively irritating, because I don’t believe that the black athlete has any responsibility whatsoever to have to do such things.

“Let me say this clearly. I don’t know of anybody who goes into something trying to be the best black anything. We understand that. That’s a given,” Smith said. “But I do think it’s important to acknowledge a level of pride and a feeling of a level of accomplishment for being somebody who happens to be of African American descent, who competes and achieves and accomplishes things on the highest level while also bringing attention – to some degree anyhow – to the pride that they feel being black. Because they’re allowing themselves to be a reminder to those who preceded them, who worked so hard, accomplished and achieved so much, but were denied the accolades that that individual is receiving.”

Later, Parker was given an opportunity to clarify whether he was judging Griffin’s blackness.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he said. “We could sit here and be honest, or we can be dishonest. And you can’t tell me that people in the barbershops or people that talk, they look at who your spouse is. They do. And they look at how you present yourself. People will say all the time, you’re not gonna get a job in corporate America wearing those braids. It happens all the time. Let’s not act like it doesn’t, because it does.”

The only conclusion I’m willing to make about all of this is that the show would have been much more thoughtful had Griffin been on the panel. Or had he replaced the panel.


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Police responded to a report of officers shot at a location on Airline Highway near Old Hammond Highway around 9 a.m., WAFB reports.

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Authorities talk to the driver of a car near an area where several officers were shot while on duty less than a mile from police headquarters, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.© AP Photo/Mike Kunzelman Authorities talk to the driver of a car near an area where several officers were shot while on duty less than a mile from police headquarters, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.
Baton Rouge has been filled with tension since the July 5 shooting of a black man pinned to the ground by white police officers.

At a three-hour service Friday, mourners paid their respects to 37-year-old Alton Sterling, whose shooting outside a convenience store began a tumultuous week in race relations in America.

Last week, police arrested and identified three young people who they say plotted to kill Baton Rouge cops using guns stolen from a pawn shop. Law enforcement said at a conference they believe it to be a substantial and credible threat on police officers in the Baton Rouge area.

On Friday, grieving residents of Baton Rouge honored an appeal at the funeral of Sterling to celebrate his life rather than demonstrate about his death.

"If you want to protest, please leave now," Gary Chambers, master of ceremonies for the funeral, said at the beginning that the event at Southern University.

A steady stream of mourners filed past Sterling's casket, which was adorned with music notes and a smiling photo of the man. Sterling was selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart store, as he had done for years, when he was killed by police responding to a call of a man threatening someone with a gun. Police have said they found a gun in Sterling's pocket.

Sterling's death was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely on the internet. His death, along with another fatal police shooting in Minnesota last week, sparked widespread protests. Then the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas by a black sniper heightened tensions even more.

Sterling's death heightened tensions in Baton Rouge, where about 200 protesters were arrested over the weekend. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office reviewed initial police reports on 185 arrests between July 8-11 and determined it will not prosecute roughly 100 of those cases.

Moore said they involve protesters who were arrested only on misdemeanor charges of obstruction of a roadway or public passage. DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, was among them. Moore said his office is reviewing the rest of the arrests, which include allegations such as resisting arrest, carrying guns or some "act of violence."
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SHEILA BURKE Jul-16-2016 169 0
A former Vanderbilt football player was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of taking part in the gang rape of an unconscious female student.

Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins handed down the sentence for Cory Batey after the victim in the case said her life has been shattered as a result of the rape.

The woman was a neuroscience and economics major when she was assaulted in a dorm on the Nashville campus in June of 2013. In all, four former football players were charged. The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault.

The players used their cellphones to take pictures of the rape. One also videoed it and sent the footage to friends as it was happening.

The victim said she learned of what happened to her when detectives showed her the graphic images retrieved from the phones.

During her victim impact statement, she described the horror she felt seeing the images of herself.

"I've seen with my own eyes what I was when Mr. Batey was done with me: a piece of trash, face down in a hallway, covered in his urine and palm prints, a photograph he took himself," the woman said. "There are no words to describe the horror of the images from that night and how it feels to watch yourself be dehumanized."

She wept throughout much of her statement as she described how her life and her belief in the fundamental goodness of people were both upended with the discovery of what happened to her.

The victim has had to testify at multiple trials, and Batey's high-profile status and the international attention the case received left her in constant fear of being known as the victim. As a result, she said she feels the attack on her continues throughout every new court proceeding.

"Everything the defendant has done in this case and the media circus surrounding it have been a continuous disruption, repeatedly dragging me back every single step I try to take forward," she said. "I can only feel that the defendant has intentionally wanted this to be as tortuous for me as possible."

The sentencing comes amid widespread furor over a Stanford University swimmer who was sentenced to six months in jail for a similar crime: sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on a college campus.

In Tennessee, the judge did not have the discretion to give Batey a lighter sentence. Batey was convicted in April of aggravated rape, which carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum, saying the crime was particularly egregious and that the punishment would send a message about campus rapes.

Prosecutors have said Batey urinated on the woman and made a racial statement at the end of the attack. Batey is African-American and the woman is white. One of the four former players is also white. They did not say what the statement was.

The victims said Batey violated her sexually in multiple ways, but it didn't end there.

"Mr. Batey continued to abuse and degrade me, urinating on my face while uttering horrific racial hate speech that suggested I deserved what he was doing to me because of the color of my skin."

Batey, a 22-year-old who grew up in Nashville, apologized to the victim and to his family and mother. He also apologized to Vanderbilt University. He testified at one of his trials that he was drunk and blacked out at the time of the rape.

"My mother and family did not raise me in any way to mistreat anyone, let alone a woman, as I have been raised predominantly by women," Batey told the court. "I hope that if not today, maybe one day, you will find it in your heart to forgive me for any damages that I may have caused."

Batey and Brandon Vandenburg were convicted last year, but the verdicts were tossed because a juror did not reveal he was a victim of statutory rape. They have both been convicted a second time. Two other players are awaiting trial.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Watkins said the case stood out among the thousands he has seen in 32 years of practicing law.

"I've seen so many cases, and this is one of the saddest," Watkins said.
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