I’m not an avid follower of football. However, as a resident of Charlotte, it’s been virtually impossible to not be keenly aware of the image and hype of Cam Newton. The 2015-16 Panthers season has been nothing short of incredible. So much so, that even a semi-football-fan like myself has no choice but to be informed on the phenomenon of the team and Cam himself.
The Carolina Panthers 15-1 record has been accredited mainly to Cam Newton. He is a clean-cut, confident, charismatic, athletically gifted quarterback.
He’s also black.
“Playing the race card” (I despise that phrasing) here might seem out of sorts so let’s take a step back. There have been very few black quarterbacks in the league. In this case, Newton is leading a winning team, a record-breaking team.
This conversation didn’t begin after the Panthers solidified their spot in Super Bowl 50. Most will recall the outraged mother deeming dancing after a touchdown inappropriate and not reflective of a role model. We remember the rampant comments of Newton being a “thug,” which is, to so many ears, a word synonymous with the n-word. Remarks as petty as stating that his smile doesn’t seem “genuine” to stating how “arrogant” he is have followed him throughout his whole career.
These might appear to be isolated incidents, however, one just needs to Google his name and you can witness first-hand the praise but also the back-handed remarks and veiled racism. Right there. Front and center.
I’m here to pose the questions:
Why does this man being in this position make people so uncomfortable?
Why are people so afraid of saying it’s about race?
Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. It’s there. This uber-talented, charming black man leading a Super Bowl-bound team in the National Football League is provoking all kinds of emotions in the masses.
The usual condemnation for an opposing team is now laced with racial epithets and undertones. We can all read it. It’s not a figment of anyone’s imagination.
Adding more fuel to the flame, Newton himself is seemingly unaffected by the onslaught of insults, stating “too bad you can’t put a band-aid on feelings,” in this commercial.
— Beats By Dre (@beatsbydre) January 24, 2016
I am sure this will further instigate uneducated tirades from a wide range of internet savants. It will certainly cause others, such as myself, to cheer him on more. Make them mad. Make them deal with those undue feelings of rage.
But don’t let “them” get away from calling it what it is; emphatic outrage that this unapologetic black man is dominating in his field in unprecedented ways while making every single person deal.
To all of them, I say, “stay mad.”
Educator. Black. A woman. I’m an outspoken introvert. Consummate over-thinker. Sassy and simply complex with the courage of all of my convictions. I will debate you ’til the death and then hug you when it’s all over. A millennial who feels there are few things better than the ’90s. On the greatest of days, I manage to get all of it on paper.