You keep using that word, thug. I do not think it means what you think it means.
So, I’m a 49ers fan, but my second favorite team is the Seahawks. You can see the problem I faced on Sunday. In those last seconds, as Mr. Crabtree jumped for the ball and Mr. Sherman made an AMAZING tip that lead to the interception, my heart dropped but then rose again. The Niners wouldn’t be going to the Super Bowl, but the next best team would be.
As Mr. Sherman walked off the field, he ran up to Mr. Crabtree and smacked him on the rear, then stuck his hand out, as if to say ‘good game.’ Now, I know that these two men dislike each other immensely, as Mr. Sherman would soon show in his post-game interview. So I have a VERY hard time believing that in that moment, Mr. Sherman had any goal other than antagonizing Mr. Crabtree. My husband disagrees, and that’s fine. I also think Mr. Crabtree was WAY out of line in literally shoving Mr. Sherman away from himself. I took to Facebook and posted something to the effect of ‘great play Sherman – why ruin it by being a jerk,’ referring solely to the ass slap and (seemingly) faux attempt at a ‘good game’ when Mr. Sherman should have known that it would not have been well-received. This comment went up BEFORE the immediate post-game interview that is getting so much coverage.
It soon became quite clear that I’d need to delete that post, lest it mistakenly get added to the cacophony of racism that Mr. Sherman’s post-game interview brought out from White America. I wasn’t commenting on that interview; my post was about that ass tap (heh). I do think his comment about Mr. Crabtree being not a good player is factually inaccurate, but other than that? He just won a giant game by making a sweet play. Is it how I think I’d react? Probably not. But I’m not a sports superstar, so who knows. Maybe I’d be even MORE pumped up.
But here’s the thing – that doesn’t matter. What I’d do isn’t important. Neither, frankly, is any commentary from the sports punditry, or from the jackasses sitting in San Francisco, nursing their wounds, choosing to use the dog whistle euphemism of ‘class’ to suggest (sometimes outrightly) that Mr. Sherman’s post-game interview meant he’s a “thug.” Which, as we all know, is how so many White people think any passionate black person should be characterized.
It’s disgusting, and even if not surprising, it’s such a pointed reminder of how White America expects Black men to act. Any display of passion means he is a ‘thug.’ Even the folks coming to his defence keep saying that hey, this guy has a Stanford degree; obviously he’s no thug. You know what? He doesn’t need a degree from a fancy school to deserve to be treated as a human, not a caricature. Black men are not just ‘respectable’ or not. They aren’t the generic personalities the sports media have assigned to Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson. From everything I’ve heard, off the field Mr. Sherman is a pretty awesome man. And on the field he’s clearly a great player. White people need to stop deciding that Black men must be quiet and reserved to be worth any respect. It’s embarrassing.
On February 2, I’ll be rooting for the Seahawks, and come fall 2014, I’ll be rooting for the 49ers. I hope that between now and then the racist jerks making ‘thug’ comments about Mr. Sherman – or any Black man expressing anything other than ‘yes ma’am’ in the media – get some much-needed education.