Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Well, What a Surpise!

Are "Uncle Toms" white folks' concern?

Well, of course on a certain level they have to be, right? After all, the term Uncle Tom is used by black folks typically to describe another black person seen as a toady of white people, or a "favored" black person. So, on that level, you can't have Uncle Toms without white folks, and most of us surely know that the term was coined thanks to a book by a white woman.

That said, if a black person calls another black person an Uncle Tom, is that really something that white folks should be running around spouting their opinion on?

I raise this question because recently, Jalen Rose, a former NBA player and current ESPN analyst, made the comment during a recent documentary about his time at the University of Michigan as a member of the famed Fab Five. Rose wasn't calling anybody a Tom today, instead he was explaining how his teenage self viewed black players recruited by Duke University in 1992.

And his comments have ignited a firestorm.

I won't recap the back and forth, mainly because it's easily accessible for those of you who feel like trawling the web. Instead, I want to discuss the curious fact that this firestorm of discussion on what is really an issue about how black folks view blackness has been largely driven by white folks. White folks have ardently questioned Rose's comments, and what those comments say about the black community. They expressed outrage and disgust at his word choice, and as certain black folks have weighed in with their "I used to get teased for being smart and black" stories, the thing has snowballed.

Honestly, it pisses me off more than a tad.

I meet so many "educated" white folks who avoid racial discussion like the black plague. They have no interest in researching or discussing racial history, no use for in depth conversations about how we got to this point, but let a black man throw out the word "Uncle Tom" and they are all over it. They have theories, and extensive commentary, even as they profess that racial issues aren't typically their cup of tea.

First, that's incredibly arrogant. If you don't typically discuss or focus on racial issues, why would you think it's a good idea to pontificate and argue with those with more experience.? Why would you assume your opinions have merit simply because they are your opinions, regardless of the logical and factual fallacies they contain?

Second, white people jumping to the defense of a black person accused of being a Tom only increases the impression that said black person is, in fact, a Tom. White folks ain't rushing to defend black people they don't feel comfortable with or close to. And for black folks, any black person who is really and truly comfortable and accepted by white folks is automatically suspect. We can't understand any situation where you can gain that level of acceptance without displaying Uncle Tom behavior. That might not be true, but that's exactly how we think.

It's funny to me that white folks have so many thoughts on this topic and that they are sharing them so freely. Sadly, I don't think this will continue in a few weeks when a less juicy example of racism, one that doesn't involve black on black crime, pops up. Instead, I'm sure white folks will be too busy to weigh in.

It figures.



Dirty Red said...

I thought Jalen Rose was a mediocre NBA player any damn way. How can you call a Black Person an Uncle Tom just because he got recruited to an Ivy League School and you didn't? Ignorance is Bliss man. Pure unaltered bliss..

Bill said...

I did not know Duke was an Ivy League School. I wonder how these two men life would have turned out had been reversed. Jalen had two well off parents and Grant was from the inner city with only one. This is a story told by a teenager at the time of class, the have and have nots. Imagine if a majority of black kids could grow up in Mr Hill's environemnt. Just think about it for a while. Are you thinking??

Big Man said...

It's not a real Ivy, it's a Southern Ivy.
There have always been haves and have nots, Jalen expressed the common opinion of the have nots fairly well.
But, it wasn't just because Grant has a "have" that Jalen disliked him. I think it also was tied to the fact that Duke found him acceptable, and didn't feel that way about Jalen.
Jalen, like many black folks, had mixed feelings about another black man who was seen as preferable by white folks. I think that got glossed over.

Bill said...

I would think Grant Hill the young man who grew up with more privilages and opportunities would better understand where Jalen was comming from. I read the article by Mr Hill that was well written; however, I think he could have given the people of less fortunate opportunities more to dream for v/s letting everone know that your feeling was hurt. What Mr Hill did by running to the NYT a white paper and venting, is like a House Negro of old protecting the master's house. So, Jalen was correct in describing him as an Uncle Tom. (IMO)

KRStyle said...

I find it amusing and embarrassing that Hill, a GROWN ASS MAN, felt he had to deliver a response to what the TEEN-AGED Fab Five thought of him (and Duke) 20 years ago. Honestly, the Michigan players were not the only ones who felt that way. Hell, most (Black) folks I know, still think of Duke as a "whiteboy" school. I willing to bet the FF, didn't bother writing "rebuttals" to the people who sent them racist, hate mail, back then. Hill's skin needs to thicken up a bit.

Anonymous said...

Imhotep said...

What up Big Man, In my mind whenever a white person comes to the defense of a Black person who is labeled as an uncle tom, that mere act of coming to the defense heightens if not confirms my suspensions. We certainly don’t see white people speaking out about police shooting of Black unarmed citizens. Or the high levels of Black unemployment. But they will protect that Uncle tom.

I’ve not read the article, but I would side with Jalen for the most part. But really, I don’t think Jalen have much of an argument. So he went to the lesser of the two white schools, and yes Michigan have a more progressive history. Jalen needs to ask himself why he and his 4 buddies did not take their arses to HBCU?
If the fab 5 take their talents to Southern U or Morgan State, they would win the conference, get the tv money that benefits all the teams in the league, they would play in the tournament, and still have gone pro. Instead he takes his ace to Michigan, and Michigan gets the tv money, and revenue from merchandise. And the HBCUs go begging.

Big Man said...

I started having some of the same feelings about Grant Hill. The tone of his response and the manner in which he responded made me question him some more.
I wouldn't call him a full on Tom, but I will say he has some mindsets that have Tom elements.

KRStyle said...

@Imhotep- Let's be realistic here. A HBCU does not have financial resources that predominantly white institutions have because the HBCU funding has been put into the physical plant of the university, to renovate dorms, class rooms and laboratories, as opposed to the emphasis in athletic venues. Predominantly white institutions are able to pamper their recruits with state of the art facilities, dormitories, huge football stadiums and basketball arenas and nationwide exposure to NFL/NBA scouts. The Fab 5ive wouldn't have had access to the same level of competition that they had in a bigger school. I doubt if any of them would have been drafted into the NBA at all going to Morgan or Hampton.

Imhotep said...

KRstyle, I’m being realistic. Players get drafted out of high school, from Europe,South America and Asia, because they have talent or potential, not because they set foot on a college campus. As far as the talent level at HBCUs not being good enough, that’s because all the brothers are attending white schools. If HBCU’s talent is not good enough, well, what’s the talent level like at the high school levels? These days players do a one and done and it’s their talent and potential that will get them into the league. The business of basketball don't care where you go to school.

We can agree that the white institutions have the money and the backing of the white establishment, but should we continue to build their empire at the expense of the HBCUs? Those dorm, and stadiums and facilities at the white schools are paid for not so much by gate receipts, but by tv money, not exclusively but in large part. In sports tv goes where there is excitement and winning. Notice the Cavs are not on the tv much this year? And that the Clippers are on more than in the recent past. As teams fall out of prominence they get less coverage, and as teams emerge and especially if they are exciting, they get both print and electronic coverage. And TV will pay for the rights to broadcast your excitement.

The fab5 would bring winning, and excitement, heck may have even encourage other young ballers to break the mold and attend a HBCU. I’m not saying that every Black baller have to attend a HBCU, but lets not abandon them and remove them from consideration and the opportunity to earn some revenue and build a new science lab or one of them fancy gyms you talk about.

uglyblackjohn said...

Break it down Imhoptep.
(I hate Duke because they beat UNLV back in the day.)
But yeah, you're correct.
Mr Rose isn't mad at the system he's mad because he didn't get the best from the system.
All of the untra-Black brotha's could go to HBCU's and create new life on those campuses.
Everyone is Afrocentric until it is seen as having a negative effect on their own life.

The funny thing is, Jalen's kids will be a generation of Grant Hills.
Will he hate them as well?

uglyblackjohn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Imhotep said...

UglyBlackJohn, I too have bitter memories of that game between Duke and UNLV. The Running Rebs were undefeated going into that title game. Once Greg Anthony fouled out (on a charge call) that was it, cause Anderson Hunt could not run the point. Your comment about Jalen’s kids are poignant indeed. Lets see how that in fact work out.

Allen said...

Jalen's recent comments are here:

KRStyle said...

@Allen- Thanks for posting that! I guess that answers the ? about his kids.

Anonymous said...

Jalen Rose is a whiny jealous punk! So what is Grant Hill supposed to APOLOGIZE because he had a better life?! This is crabs in the barrel at it's worst and even if he did say it 20 years ago he shouldn't be bringing it up now. It's not for Grant Hill or ANY successful black person of privilege to 'save' the Jalen Roses of the world. Maybe he should have that resentment for HIS parents since they are the ones who failed him.

Raving Black Lunatic