I had every intention of taking a break from posting over the holidays. However, that was before I saw an article about the comments made by Rob Parker on a recent episode of ESPN’s First Take. On the show, he and a few other analysts were discussing NFL rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, an African American player out of Baylor whose electrifying play has taken the league by storm this season. But instead of talking about Griffin’s unprecedented success or the maturity he has displayed in the past months, Parker, an African American as well, decided to ask if RGIII was “black enough” or if he was “down with the cause”. Here are some of his comments from the show:
“I’ve talked to some people in Washington, D.C. Some people in [Griffin’s] press conferences. Some people I’ve known for a long time. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is … is he a ‘brother,’ or is he a cornball ‘brother?’ He’s not really … he’s black, 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’d want to hang out with. I just want to find out about him. I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. He has a white fiancé, people talking about that he’s a Republican … there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Tiger Woods was like, ‘I have black skin, but don’t call me black.’ People wondered about Tiger Woods early on — about him.”
Skip Bayless, Rob Parker’s partner on the show, then went on to ask: “What do RG3’s braids say to you?”
“To me, that’s very urban,” Parker continued. “It makes you feel like … I think he would have a clean cut if he were more straight-laced or not … wearing braids is … you’re a brother. You’re a brother. If you’ve got braids on.”
To me, these comments are absolutely ridiculous and uncalled for. I don’t understand why Parker felt it was necessary to make comments not only about Griffin’s race, but whether he should truly be considered a part of that race. With all of the amazing things that Griffin has accomplished on the field, there should be no need for Parker to be discussing the fact that he is black. Even another African American analyst on the panel, Stephen A. Smith, commented after Parker’s comments, “Well, first of all, I’m uncomfortable with where we just went.” In today’s society, we shouldn’t have to refer to a player’s race in order to analyze their play on the field.
Not only did Parker violate this policy, but he also had the audacity to question if RGIII was even black to begin with. I simply don’t understand this line of thinking, or what Parker considers to be truly “black”. ESPN has since issued a statement deeming these comments “inappropriate” and will hopefully take further action in the coming days. This action couldn’t come fast enough, and in fact I wouldn’t be upset if Rob Parker didn’t have a job at ESPN next week.