Thursday, March 17, 2011

Let's talk about our Uncle Tom

There has been a lot talk lately about the phrase "Uncle Tom" and how it is used. Let me begin this by saying that this blog is not about taking anybody side. What has happened with this controversy is that we have fell for it again Black America. We are divided over an issue instead of having some real talk about the subject. Because honestly in the black community we do have some class resentment and negative things are said about each other on both sides of the coin. Just as quick as people from the inner city may see suburban blacks as sell outs or Uncle Tom's, it is not unheard of that middle to upper middle class blacks(excuse me African Americans) call others ghetto or assume they are uneducated because of where they come from. Neither is right and causes our community to grow further apart then together.

Let me introduce Uncle Tom
Uncle Tom was brought us by author Harriet Beacher Stowe in June of 1851 in the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Ironically the character in the novel is actually the complete opposite of how is described today. In the book Uncle Tom is an black man who retains his integrity and refuses to betray his fellow slaves at the cost of his life.
Some blacks at the time the book came out opposed the book, seeing Uncle Tom's character as being too submissive and criticized Stowe for having her strongest black characters emigrate to Liberia. For better or for worse Uncle Tom has became the villain of Black America. After a many years this has been our go to term for someone who is not true to his or her identity. If you have been called an Uncle Tom at sometime in your life there is an 85% percent change that you were misjudged. That being said we can not act like Uncle Tom's are a figment of our imaginations.

For The Record - These things do not make you an Uncle Tom
1. Dating someone from another race
2. Having money or coming from a family that is affluent
3. Coming from a 2 parent home
4. Not listening to Rap music
5. Because you use correct grammar
6. Attended a prestigous private university

Here is an example of an Uncle Tom - Meet Juan Williams

Maybe you are not familiar with our friend Juan Williams. He is Fox News go to black man to make them feel like they are not pushing racist rhetoric.

The Fab 5 Documentary During the Fab 5 documentary that aired on ESPN last week that chronicled their time at the University of Michigan. Jalen Rose during that documentary stated that when he was at Michigan that they hated Duke. Duke did not recruit players like him and he thought that they only recruited black players that were Uncle Tom's. This was wrong for him to say yes but he was speaking for 17/18 year old Jalen Rose.

(Above is a short video so you can judge for yourself)Notice that all of his comments are past tense. He was speaking for the 18 year old Jalen Rose. Apparently this pissed off the sports media. Especially the white sports media. I did not know the term "Uncle Tom" was so offensive to people who can not possibly relate to the issue. Jalen as much admitted that he was wrong for having that view but people decided to run with the Uncle Tom thing. Why because it pushes radio and TV ratings and no one wants to address some real issues.
If you don't believe that Duke only recruits a certain type of black player then you are crazy or not paying attention. They do not recruit players from the inner city especially if they come from single parent homes. There is a myth that just because people have these circumstances they are not good kids. The Fab 5 disproves this because they were all good kids who attained their educations from a prestigious university like Michigan.
Understand that Duke is a private institution and can do what they want but they have to take their medicine when people can clearly see whats going on.

(further clarification) The crazy thing is no one was upset over the fact these kids received hate mail from their own alumni. It was not an outrage that these teenagers have been called thugs by mainstream media. These kids did not have criminal records but because they are young, black and have tattoos and earrings they are thugs and criminals. But I guess that doesn't upset mainstream media at all.

The Grant Hill Response

Here is the link to the article to judge for yourself... Let me begin this portion by saying that I have the utmost respect for Grant Hill and his family. (don't people always say that before they rip somebody up but not this He was and is still one of my favorite NBA players. Especially admire his will to comeback from an ankle injury that would have ended most players careers. That all being said I feel like he was way off base in his response piece. Although it was a well thought out and well written piece it was off base.
I feel like Grant Hill did not see the piece himself or if he saw it he still let the media use him. Jalen Rose acknowledged that his view of Grant Hill as an Uncle Tom was wrong. The Grant Hill response sounds like a man who had been called Uncle Tom a few times before in his life and just had enough.
Listening to the locals sports talk show here in Atlanta and they called former Duke player Jay Williams. Appartently Jay was not willing to go in on Jalen and actually had a real life conversation with him about the issue. Which made me wonder a guy like Grant has to know how to get in touch with Jalen Rose, couldn't he have had a real conversation with him about this.
So the media needed a black player from Duke to tell Mr. Rose how he was such a bad person. Thank you, Mr. Hill for helping America stay off point. I understand that you are proud to be a Duke Alum and you shouldn't be ashamed of that or your families roots. His listing of black Duke basketball players and their accomplishments still does not take away that Duke only recruited what some may call safe black ball players. At the end of the day and hopefully this may still happen but both men sit down face to face and talk about whats real.