Posted on May 18, 2011

Stop the Black-on-Black Hateration

Michel Martin, National Public Radio, May 16, 2011


Hopkins [Bernard Hopkins, a Philadelphia boxer], for reasons that aren’t clear to me even now, decided to tee off on McNabb [Donovan McNapp, a pro football quarterback] before an audience of reporters. He called McNabb a house slave. Which is, if you’re not familiar with the lexicon of black insults, about as low as you can go.

Hopkins implied that McNabb’s relatively privileged upbringing–McNabb grew up in the suburbs, attended Catholic school and later did well at a fine university–somehow set him up for disappointment later in life, especially when he was traded from his longtime team.

Hopkins said that McNabb felt 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 serving.” Hopkins went on to say that McNabb has “a suntan, that’s all.” Which is to say that’s he’s not really black. Which is also, in the lexicon of black insults, about as low as you can go.

Let’s set aside the idea that any slave, in the house or not, had any grand time of it. {snip} [It’s] the second time in two months that a prominent black athlete has made headlines by teeing off on another one, questioning his racial identity because one was raised in a functional environment–the kind most Americans aspire to–while the other was not.

Two months ago, this black-on-black hateration went viral because of The Fab Five documentary on ESPN, in which former University of Michigan basketball star Jalen Rose said that back then he considered former Duke University star Grant Hill, along with other black Duke ballplayers, to be Uncle Toms.

This, too, was all over the sports media and the blogosphere, culminating in an elegant rebuttal by Hill in The New York Times, where he took Rose to task for implying that educated people raised in functional households are somehow sellouts, whatever that means.

{snip} [We] probably should not because African-American athletes, Barack Obama notwithstanding, are still such prominent symbols of black life that people like Hopkins cannot be allowed to perpetuate the myth that blackness equals dysfunction, poverty, lack of academic achievement and success.


Who are the people who finance these films that sprout at least once or twice a year where any black person with a college or–god forbid–professional degree is set up as the buffoon, only so that he or she can be taken down a notch or two by ostensibly more authentic blue-collar kin? {snip} And why does every kid TV show seem to have an overly loud, shucking and jiving black sidekick whose job seems to be to show the white kids the latest dance move? Who’s greenlighting those? And while we’re at it, how long are we all going to stand by while youth sports are corrupted by sports pimps who only care about kids as their meal tickets to the pros?


Sure, the idea that you have to be a thug to be cool or to be respected has more currency in some places than others. But I guarantee you that that idea is coming to a schoolyard near you if it’s not there already. {snip}

Hopkins Still Thinking About McNabb

Marcus Hayes, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 11, 2011

Just days before a title bout that could eclipse the miracles of George Foreman, ageless phenomenon Bernard Hopkins addressed what really matters:

Questioning former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb’s blackness and mettle.

According to 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, himself, Michael Vick and Terrell Owens.

“Forget this,” Hopkins said, pointing to his own dark skin. “He’s got a suntan. That’s all.”

Hopkins also implied that, while Vick and Owens remained true to their roots, McNabb did not, and that McNabb was rudely awakened when the Eagles traded him to the Redskins last year.

“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,’ ” Hopkins said, patting a reporter on the back in illustration. “He thought he was one of them.”

Replace “guy in the house” with “slave in the house,” then replace “on the field” with “in the field,” and Hopkins’ message is Uncle Tom-clear.


Yesterday, unprovoked, Hopkins fired again and again, using as ammunition McNabb’s 2007 interview with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” in which McNabb addressed the problems for black quarterbacks in the NFL.

“He goes on HBO and talks about [being] black. He was right, but it was the wrong messenger. He was right, but [he doesn’t] represent that,” Hopkins said. “The only reason he spoke was because he felt betrayed: ‘I thought I was one of y’all’s guys. I thought I was the good one. Y’all told me this.’

“And they did what they always do, kicked his ass right [out of] there.”

Hopkins’ time line is a bit skewed, since the Eagles traded McNabb three seasons after the HBO interview. But then, Hopkins has plenty on his mind.


The Eagles traded McNabb to the Redskins last year. Vick eventually won the Eagles’ quarterback job. Owens had a rough relationship with McNabb in his two seasons as an Eagle.

“McNabb? Great. Skills? Throw the ball? Great. But there was something missing,” Hopkins said. “Vick? He understands. And T.O.–same cloth.”

Owens, said Hopkins, was taken aback at how assimilated McNabb was: “T.O. got [into] the boardroom and saw the way they talked to McNabb. Coming from where he [comes from]–that’s strange to some white people, when a black man speaks.”

Here, Hopkins’ publicist, who is white, gasped a little. But he was not to be deterred:

“When T.O. walks in the boardroom with the Eagles suits, he’s like, ‘What the heck? I ain’t used to this language. I’m used to speaking up.'”

So, too, is Hopkins.