- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In On the Soapbox
Boxer Bernard Hopkins questioned NFL quarterback Donavan McNabb’s “blackness” and compared him to a house slave.
Please do not argue with the Sports Editor, it’s like letting a boxer with a criminal background be the spokes person for your race. It’s just not a good idea. Illustration by David G. Brown.
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
Boxer Bernard Hopkins needs to shake himself, because that guy is out to lunch.
For far too long African Americans have been unfairly defined by the lower class of the race. As if being black is to grow up in poverty and have a criminal background.
Usually those sentiments come from other races, but it has become too common for it to come within the black race.
A couple months ago Jalan Rose and other Fab 5 members, who were brought up in lower class areas, labeled Grant Hill, who came from a middle class family and had both parents in his home, as an Uncle Tom and a b****.
A week ago this issue resurfaced when Hopkins went on an out of the blue verbal attack of NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb. Why Hopkins decided to question McNabb’s blackness, who knows? But he dropped some bombs.
A few quotes from Hopkins:
“McNabb had a privileged childhood in suburban Chicago and, as a result, is not black enough or tough enough at least compared with, say, (myself), Michael Vick and Terrell Owens.
“Forget this (pointing to his own skin), he’s got a suntan. That’s all.
“T.O. (Terrell Owens) got [into] the boardroom and saw the way they talked to McNabb. Coming from where he [came from] -- that's strange to some white people, when a black man speaks. Owens [wasn't] used to this language. [He's] used to speaking up.
“Why do you think McNabb felt he was betrayed? Because McNabb is the guy in the house, while everybody else is on the field. He's the one who got the extra coat. The extra servings. 'You're our boy,’ (as he patted a member of the media on the back to illustrate his point.) "He thought he was one of them."
First of all, where does Hopkins get off defining who is black and who is not? Just because McNabb did not grow up in poverty means that he is not black? So that’s how little Hopkins thinks of his own race?
Does Hopkins really believe that being black means to grow up through a daily struggle of gangs, drugs, and prison?
As many blacks that have worked hard for years to make a better life for themselves and their community, Hopkins runs his mouth and defines us all by what we are trying to escape from.
It’s unfortunate that Hopkins had a rough upbringing in North Philadelphia. He was a product of the streets, where he began robbing people as a teenager. At the age of 17 he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for nine felonies, and that was after being stabbed three times.
Is that what Hopkins wants to define black people as? Street thugs who end up either dead or in jail?
It’s a great story that Hopkins used boxing to turn his life around. Upon his release from prison after serving five years, the warden told him that he’d be back, but Hopkins made sure that never happened.
Hopkins should promote his turn around, but instead he chooses to put down McNabb, who is a black man who has always taken the right path, and has given back to his community in many ways.
Hopkins has allegedly made statements suggesting incarceration over education for young black men. It worked for him!
Hopkins really needs to shake himself because he did his own people a disservice. And seeing that he moved his wife and child into the suburbs, he should really rethink his statement. He is quoted as saying:
"I moved out my family out of North Philadelphia and bought my own home in Delaware. The yard is bigger than my whole block in Philly.
Moving to a private location was freedom from the hardship and disappointment from the neighborhood of my youth. It was so different at first to see trees and single-family homes all over the place. But, believe me, it didn't take long to get used to living that way."
So does Hopkins believe that his child is less black then he is? He gave his child what McNabb’s parents gave him. That’s what all black people should strive for, and many are achieving that.
But statements such as the ones that Hopkins made make it seem like there are not very many black families who are successful.
The second issue with Hopkins’ statements is that it implies that players with rough upbringings have a greater chance of succeeding. He may not have been paying attention, but McNabb has been more successful than Vick and Owens.
McNabb led the Eagles to four conference championship games and one Super Bowl. Vick has only led a team to the conference championship game once, and that team was blown out by a McNabb led team.
Vick brought his problems from his childhood with him to the NFL, and it got him kicked out of the league and in jail.
Owens has been pretty much kicked off every team that he has played for. He gets credit for helping McNabb finally reach the Super Bowl, but Owens really did not have much to do with that.
The season that McNabb led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, Owens was hurt just after mid season, and he did not play in the Eagles divisional or conference championship game victories. The only playoff game that Owens played in that season was the Super Bowl, which the Eagles lost.
Vick and Owens have not been winners like McNabb, but Hopkins tries to make a case that teams win to a higher degree with them. Hopkins is just trying to rewrite history with that statement.
It’s probably safe to say that most Super Bowl winning quarterbacks have come from a middle class background. McNabb was three points away from winning the Super Bowl, while Vick has not come close to making it, and Owens has only made it because of McNabb.
Hopkins really needs to think before he speaks, and recognize all the great things that many black people have done. There is a strong black middle class and there is even a black upper class. All of them are just as black as he is