By Leonard Pitts Jr.

How Black Is Black Enough?

January 13, 2013 5:59 pm Category: Memo Pad, Politics 31 Comments A+ / A-
How Black Is Black Enough?

I suddenly find myself concerned about my blackness.

It had never occurred to me to worry about it before. Then came the incident last month on ESPN’s “First Take” program that initially got commentator Rob Parker suspended and then, last week, fired outright. It seems Parker, who is African-American, analyzed what he saw as the insufficient blackness of Robert Griffin III, rookie quarterback for the Washington, D.C., football team that is named for a racial slur.

Having returned their team to relevance for the first time since the Clinton era, RG3, as he is known, can do no wrong in the eyes of Slurs fans. But Parker, saying that the young man’s fiancée is (gasp!) white and that he himself is rumored to be — cover the children’s ears — a Republican, found him lacking in the area of authentic blackness. “My question,” he said, “which is just a straight, honest question: is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother? He’s not really … OK, he’s black, he kind of does the thing, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really like the guy you really want to hang out with…”

That explosion you hear is the sound of my mind, blown. I’m left second-guessing my own blackness.

I mean, I listen to Bruce Springsteen, for crying out loud! There’s even a Dixie Chicks album on my iPod. Should I download more James Brown and Al Green to save my, ahem, soul?

And I read books sometimes, man — even when no one’s making me do it. Some of them are thick as bricks. Some aren’t even about African-American themes.

It gets worse. I have no natural rhythm, no criminal record and can correctly pronounce the word “ask.” I don’t curse nearly as much as I ought to. Oh, and I went and married my baby mama.

Obviously, my blackness is on life support.

Many of us have been taught that it is demeaning and delimiting when someone presumes to say who you are, how you will behave, what you think, what you like, and how intelligent you are, from the color of your skin. We have been taught that such behavior abridges the other person’s individuality.

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How Black Is Black Enough? Reviewed by on . I suddenly find myself concerned about my blackness. It had never occurred to me to worry about it before. Then came the incident last month on ESPN's "First Ta I suddenly find myself concerned about my blackness. It had never occurred to me to worry about it before. Then came the incident last month on ESPN's "First Ta Rating:

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Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/rogerowengreen Roger Green

    Pitts recently did a great article about how stupid race is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sherleye.thomas Sherleye Thomas

    IT WAS NO REASON TO FIRE THE MAN, I THINK WHAT RG3 SAID IS MORE, PREJUDISE THAN WHAT THE COMMENTATOR ROB PARKER SAID AND RG’S COMMENTS AFTERWARDS, TRULLY EXPLAINS EXACTLY WHAT HE (ROB PARKER) MEANT. RG3, COMMENTS ARE RACIAL THAN ROB PARKERS EVER COULD BE, RG3 STATES, HE’S NOT IN JAIL, MEANING, ALL BLACKS HAVE RECORDS, HE CAN’T DANCE, MEANING ALL BLACKS CAN DANCE, HE MARRIED HIS BABYS MAMA, MEANS THAT NEVER HAPPENS WITH BLACK RACE, ONLY WHITE HAS THE MONOPOLY ON THAT, AND HE CAN CORRECTLY PRONOUNCE THE WORD ” ASK” AS IN ASSSS…KEE, AND NOT THE AXE. AND HE DOEN’T LISTEN TO BLACK MUSIC, ALL THESE THING HE HAS LISTED OF HIMSELF IS WHAT HE GRADE AND VALUE AND OBVIOULY WHAT HE USE TO DEFINE HIMSELF AND OTHERS, ACCEPTABLE FOR THE WHITE RACE,OF WHICH HE OBVIOUSLY THINK IS A SUPERIOR RACE THAN HIS OWN. HE IS VERY STUPID YOUNG MAN, NOBOBY IS SAYING THAT YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO BLACK MUSIC OR ANYTHING ELSE, BUT WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO TELL YOU IS WHAT PEOPLE TRIED TO TELL TIGER WOODS, DON’T STAND IN PUBLIC AND DIS YOURSELF LIKE THAT. HE TOO SAID HE WAS NOT BLACK NOR WHITE, TO WHICH I DO NOT UNDERSTAND, AS HIS BELOVED FATHER WAS BLACK AND HIS MOTHER, ASIAN, I NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHERE WHITE CAME INTO PLAY IN THIS ONE. AND WHEN HE WENT TO REGAIN HIS HEALTH, AFTER HIS WHITE WIFE BEAT THE CRAP OUT HIM, IN THE TRUMP HOME, ( BECAUSE REPORTLY, HE FELT MORE LIKE A FATHER TO HIM). I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND WHY NOT HIS MOTHER. WAS THERE A PROBLEM, YES, THERE WAS AND STILL SEEMS TO BE, YOU CAN NEVER DISOWN WHO YOU ARE AND BE COMPLETELY HAPPY. PS. ARE YOU SURE YOU MARRIED YOUR ONLY BABY’S MAMA, OR ARE THERE, LITTLE RG3,4, AND 5, RUNNING AROUND WAITING ON THEIR MAMA’S WIC CARD TO COME AROUND TO FEED THEM. NEXT TIME CHECK YOURSELF, BEFORE YOU DIS YOURSELF.

    • Vance P. Frickey

      Ma’am. sorry to contradict you, but RG3 didn’t say all those things about himself. Leonard Pitts, the guy who wrote this article, did.

  • Edith Harris

    While I agree with your basic premise, I quibble with one point: being a Republican in Frederick Douglass’ day was the functional equivalant of being a Democrat today, and virtuaually all blacks who could vote were until FDR came along, because it was the antislavery party and the party of Lincoln.

  • awakenaustin

    Leonard Pitts, Jr. is one of the finest newspaper columnists writing today. This column is another example of his ability to see clearly into areas which are difficult for us to discuss and speak openly about. After reading his work, I often realize what my position on many issues confronting us would be if I could think and write as well as he does.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1613527178 Omar Dearal Collins

    There are two sides to EVERY race

    And to the author its called Uncle Tom

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dallas-Gard/1496336754 Dallas Gard

    What exactly is “blackness” and why does it really matter in the larger context. Why is the squeeze of NBA players even mentioned. How does that move anything forward. Why not focus on character rather than color. Allen West is an embarrassment; J C Watt is not. It takes all kinds. Some should be embraced; some not. And color should not be a consideration. It is character that matters. I think most Americans understand that. It is why we elected and re-elected Barack Obama to be President. We weren’t voting on color; we were voting on character and ideas. That is as it should be.

    • lana ward

      Omuslim is an embarrassment, Allen West is not

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7DKWSXHQIDBW5PUAPZ2HZAYYUY Baron Cormac

        So the guy who was told “retire or we’re gonna Court Martial you”, who keeps embarassing himself and the rest of Florida Republicans every time he opens his mouth is NOT an embarassment? Dude, you need a severe reality check.

        • lana ward

          So the he she omuslim who sends MILLIONS to mosques around the world and gives the UN BILLIONS when America is broke, and LIES everytime he she speaks, is not an embarrassment?? Ma’am, you need a severe reality check.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5JUTQKIGLBCXZMXGU5WU3TENAI C Williams

    I am tired of white’s trying to tell blacks who is black and who is not! And the parties have fliped! Blacks vote DEMS and racist whites vote GOP! FACT

    • lana ward

      Racist blacks vote dem, patriotic whites vote GOP! FACT

      • http://www.facebook.com/warren.nicholson.77 Warren Nicholson

        Bull shit! You are not Patriotic! Sock puppet with the rich mans hand Up your A. H.

        • lana ward

          Black patriots vote GOP. Black communists vote dem. White patriots vote GOP. White communists vote dem. No, the rich (dems) hands are up omuslims ass. And the queer loves it!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GCXB2EABXANRR2IK7QHS3TAPOU ROBERT C HASTINGS

    The only criticism that can be legitimately made regarding RGIII is keeping himself in the game and blowing the Redskins out of the playoffs.

  • Vance P. Frickey

    Does this work in reverse? Was Bill Clinton REALLY America’s first black president? After all, he’s a Democrat, he’s been out of work since January 2001, and… you get it. By those standards, Barack Obama could be the Klan’s second black member after that guy in Canada. This is a defining point in racial discussion. DNA doesn’t count as much as behavior, apparently, which is great, ethically – you shouldn’t be judged by anything as much as what you do, right? Wait, though! Are we really returning race to the “personal worth” shelves?

    After years, and years and YEARS of telling each other and ourselves that race doesn’t matter? I certainly believe that, from fifty-five years of personal observation. Condoleeza Rice, who is one hundred percent more black than Barack Obama, is also arguably even more intelligent, moral, and all the other things we ARE supposed to care about. But who’s President? The electoral lottery takes no notice of blackness, merit, goodness, or anything but guile.

    But Mr. Pitts, sorry, you don’t get to claim unemployment for black folks. White guys have pioneered the field of unemployment since the REAL Depression, when selling apples on street corners was enough to take you off the unemployment statistics (in an uncanny prescience of the rules Obama’s Bureau of Labor Statistics follows to determine who’s “unemployed” in Obama Nation, and co-incidentally, keep the unemployment figures in single digits since the One took over).

    Run the numbers for unemployment today, and I would bet that total white unemployment comes very close to outnumbering black population in the United States, just by an accident of the relative total population figures for both ethnic groups. That proportionately more blacks than whites are unemployed is even questionable today – since the agency we once trusted to tell us such things has changed its method for determining “unemployment” not long after Inauguration Day, 2009.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7DKWSXHQIDBW5PUAPZ2HZAYYUY Baron Cormac

    Leonard, once again you nailed it. Why is it that one black person can fundamentally define the blackness of another. By Parker’s definition, someone like Ice-T is not “black enough”, which is something I am sure Mr. Morrow would dispute.
    So, I guess all Black mMen (and women) can only have Black spouses, must be Democrats, cannot attend college on Academic Scholarships, and when they need to know something, they gotta axe you a question. Or at least in Parker’s mind.
    What does he say about White people who admire and adopt Black culture? Is it still acceptable for me to listen to Jazz and our old “Blue Note” albums but not Rap or Hip-Hop? Armstrong, Basie, Ellington and Hampton are ok, but what about Run DMC, NWA, or the afore mentioned Ice-T? Is Motown off limits to me? Can I watch movies with Halle Berry but not with a darker skinned black actress like Nichelle Nichols?

    • Vance P. Frickey

      Baron, great question! Were Southern Trekkies really pioneers in racial equality? I ask because all of a sudden, as a pre-teenager living about 30 miles in the swamps outside New Orleans, I noticed that I and all my friends were UTTERLY FORBIDDEN, on pain of a belt-whupping, to watch Star Trek. Of course, now, that first interracial kiss between William Shatner and Nichelle Nicholls is tame stuff, but then? Whoa.

      I also wonder about Ice-T himself. As a former cop, I didn’t much care for a guy who made a dirtload of money from a song called “Cop Killa.” Now he’s making a dirtload of money PLAYING A COP. Making snap judgments about people was so much easier before they stopped caring what other people thought about them. I hope that RG3 shrugs off all the criticism about not being black enough or deciding to go for the brass ring in the playoffs. It’s his life, y’all.

  • Vance P. Frickey

    Martin Luther King, Jr. carried the tradition of the black Republican bloc long after FDR died. And in the South, Democrats kept segregation and virtual apartheid alive into the 1970s. Republicans sort of EASED into the “racism for fun and profit” business, and even today racism is a highly bipartisan, equal-opportunity-for-all endeavor. Just read the letters here.

  • Vance P. Frickey

    And even that odium has to be shared with Mike Shanahan. Last time I heard, the COACH can pull even a franchise player out of the game.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/X6HJQJHOEW5IRETSXQR6QZRKDY yahoo-X6HJQJHOEW5IRETSXQR6QZRKDY

    I dont know who voted to bring bachmann bach to congress.go get a life and back off from obama.u will never be president of america.u are jealous of the god gifted youg man

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GN3QKAPG42A6QDXFQV66LDZONY JOHN

    This Parker (ESPN) flap was a great source of comedy. Under Obama and the Dems, wealthy blacks MJ, LeBron, JayZ, many NFLers and NBA players will have to pay more in taxes. Heaven forbid RG3 leans toward the GOP mindset of wanting to keep more of what he earns and have Washington DC spend less.

    At least RG3 uses his brain – many blacks just follow the Dems like a bunch of lemmings. Yep, wealthy entertainers, rappers, NBA and NFL players – get ready to fork over more cash to the big spending liberals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Kay/100000559247894 David Kay

    I know what you mean. Some of my baby lambs are white. Some are black. Usually the silly sheep don’t care.

    But one really smart sheep knows the difference between her black babies and white babies and only looks after her black kids and rejects the white ones. If you bribe her with grain though she will let the white one suck. (She even comes running looking for the grain, but then runs away if no grain bribe, no milk for free for whites)

    We should be proud of my racist sheep, just as we should be proud of those who vote for a guy because he is black or because he is white.

    • Vance P. Frickey

      I can’t think of a more profoundly immoral way to think. Predictably, it’s given us a United States of America from which people run to Russia for political asylum.

  • sunliteco

    Blackness is when you go into a lighted room and there’s a black shadow on a white wall.

  • allbymyself100

    First, Frederick Douglass was a great man but he was no God and he did have his faults just as people like Thomas Jefferson did. Who knows why he chose the white woman after his first black wife died. He could have well been out of self-hate.

    Second, Parker should have never been fired. Period. Uncle Toms and self-haters exist and they have behaviors which unfortunately mirror RG3′s. Sue me.

  • brendon garner

    Why must an african american male be questioned for being something other than what you expect him to be?

  • mojo1996

    Your condescending against black people, insinuating that they don’t marry and are jobless criminals. Look at your own faults before critisizing other’s Leonard Pitts. Shame on you!

  • Søren Damby

    Sharp, witty, and on the money!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vmjmurphy Vincent Murphy

    Well said, Mr Pitts.

  • sunliteco

    On the darkest night when a person can’t even see his own hands in front of him, when a blind person can not see or sense the presence of light, when infrared scope can not detect anything moving, only an atomic scope can see my friend Harold running around with full football gear. I guess that is black enough.

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