The above linked articles are tree because they are the two best pieces of writing I’ve read on this situation. I’m not going to regurgitate these men, just share a few things I’ve been thinking.
“Richie is honorary,” a black former Dolphins player told Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero. “I don’t expect you to understand because you’re not black. But being a black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color. It’s about how you carry yourself. How you play. Where you come from. What you’ve experienced. A lot of things.”
Principle #1: There is no such thing as being “Honorary Black”. I don’t care what kind of music you like, how many tarts you have, where you grew up, how many bitches you’ve fucked, or how you play your sport. If a white person uses the word “nigga” in my presence, there will be a reaction. At the least, a brief conversation. At worst, a physical altercation. There is no situation in which the use of that word by a white person is acceptable. The Pouncey brother, and anyone else in the NFL who gave Richie Incognito a “pass” is dead wrong.
Principle #2: Jonathan Martin — nor any Twitter Bravehearts — needed or needs to punch Incognito in the face. When you carry yourself respectfully — you show it and receive it in return — it rarely even goes that far. Punching people in the face, or saying you will/would, does not make you a man nor does it make you tough, necessarily. Look around at the most respected people in your circle: how many times do they need to raise their hands to anyone? Not many. It’s the something-to-prove, chip-on-the-shoulder, live-wire ones, insecure in their respect level, who always end up fighting. Jonathan Martin, to be treated the way he was over an extended period of time, obviously indicated that the disrespect would be tolerated. Doesn’t make Martin a bad person, just the reality of the situation.
So, I’m not in the NFL and have never been in the locker room. Many players who have spoken up have used that fact to articulate that there are things that go on that none of us regular folks would ever understand. Cool. But here’s the thing: Locker rooms have leadership. where was the Miami leadership? Incognito was part of the Dolphins’ six-man “Leadership Council” that served as go-between from the players to the coaching staff. Who were the other 5 leaders? At some point, someone needed to step up, step the the fellow leader, and let him know it was time to fall back.
But maybe no one else knew what was going on. That’s possible. So here’s another thing: If there were 5 other leaders in the locker room, why did Jonathan Martin not see, in any one of them, someone he could speak to about the situation? If he were an outcast, none of the 5 “leaders” could reach him? Then that ain’t no leadership council, in my opinion. Everyone in football is tough, right, they all need to “man up”, right? There were 5 other men in there that did nothing. How is this possible?
The fact that I’m currently reading a book on the American prison system and how it has created a new way to population-control black men made Jason Whitlock’s opening paragraph touch me just that much more:
Mass incarceration has turned segments of Black America so upside down that a tatted-up, N-word-tossing white goon is more respected and accepted than a soft-spoken, highly intelligent black Stanford graduate.
And he’s correct. 100%. More from Jason:
I’m black. And I totally understand the genesis of this particular brand of stupidity and self-hatred. Mass Incarceration, its bastard child, Hurricane Illegitimacy, and their marketing firm, commercial hip-hop music, have created a culture that perpetrates the idea that authentic blackness is criminal, savage, uneducated and irresponsible. The tenets of white supremacy and bigotry have been injected into popular youth culture. The blackest things a black man can do are loudly spew the N-word publicly and react violently to the slightest sign of disrespect or disagreement.
As for the tough guys who say a punch or two would’ve fixed things:
[Martin] was raised to think and solve problems with his mind. He was savvy enough to figure out a physical confrontation with Incognito was a no-win situation. It wouldn’t curb Incognito’s behavior or change the culture inside the Miami locker room. It would confirm it. In order to win the fight, Martin would have to physically harm Incognito. It would not be a one-punch or two-punch fight.
Both of these guys may be done in the NFL. Incognito will not be accepted into just any locker room based on this faux “Honorary” status. There are plenty of black men in the league who want to punch him in the face right now. And they’re the leaders of there respective locker rooms.
Martin can learn from a Jay-Z line (sorry, Whitlock): “The label as a snitch is lifetime scar.” He snitched when things got hard on him (for whatever reason), and he — by leaving (he was a starter) the team and getting his teammate suspended — hurt the team at the same time. What NFL player can trust or respect him? Forget the snitching part, even. He hurt his on team with the way things have gone down. Every player can see that, regardless of your view on telling on others.
The only winners in this situation are the media: ESPN reporters, Stephen A. & Skip Bayless, Jason and Brian, hell, even me. We get mileage out of discussing it, TV ratings go up as everyone debates, and more eyes than usual will be on the Dolphins game today, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over the next week as he decides the fate of all principles involved. Two NFL careers may be over.
And nobody has thrown a punch yet.