Over 30 years ago, Muhammad Ali branded Joe Frazier an Uncle Tom prior to their epic battle. Three decades later, another former Philadelphia Icon, Donovan McNabb, is feeling the same wrath. Ali’s allegation was based on the fact that he felt that Frazier was the chosen Son of the Establishment while the Greatest had been fighting the cause of the disenfranchised throughout the world.
The problem with McNabb is that he comes from a middle class background and he had the nerve to try to become a pocket passer, very unblack quarterback-like. First there were the verbal jabs from ex-teammate Terrell Owens. Then there was the venom spewed by blowhard Rush Limbaugh during his short stint as an ESPN analyst. Even the former President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the NAACP proclaimed that McNabb was losing his “blackness” because he was trying to become a pocket passer. Now we have the WBC Light Heavyweight Champion, Bernard Hopkins, taking shots at the beleaguered signal caller again.
Hopkins is now preparing for his May 21st title fight against Jean Pascal. After one of his workouts, he went on a lengthy diatribe against McNabb. How McNabb’s name came up when Hopkins should have been focusing on Pascal is another matter. Hopkins put McNabb on blast during the QBs’ one sided war of words with Owens back in 2005. On Thursday, Hopkins questioned McNabb’s mental toughness and then went on to say that McNabb was not black enough mainly because he was raised among a privileged background and not through the tough ghetto streets like most African American professional athletes. Now you can debate until the cows come home about any athletes’ heart and courage. But what gives Hopkins the right to question the degree of blackness of any individual among the African American community?
Jalen Rose caused quite a stir when he stated that in the ESPN documentary, The Fab Five, that he considered Grant Hill an Uncle Tom because he went to Duke and was raised by two successful African American parents while he was raised by a single mom and had very little contact with his ex-NBA player father, Chet Walker. Rose would later state that those were his thoughts of a 17 year old inner city youth who was shunned by Duke and other institutions that were considered elitist by him and his peers. Some might look at this as a petty issue among African Americans but it is much more than that.
This is among the dirty laundry that negatively impacted the African American community for centuries, the old divide and conquer issue from within. Back in 1712 slave owner, Willie Lynch, addressed a slave owners’ convention where he released a manual on How to Control Your Slaves. Without going into most of the gory details of his findings, one of the topics he broached was how to divide and conquer. He told the attendees to separate their collection of slaves. You might want to consider having house-slaves, working in the master’s home, and those who worked in the fields. He also told them to treat light skin slaves better than the dark skin ones. Treating one group better than the other was a key principle in creating animosity among the entire group. This would lead to mistrust among the groups dampening any chance of the slaves uniting and rebelling.
For those who are not familiar with Lynch’s principles, try Googling him and tell me how many of his principles are still in play today. Lynch’s manual was the blueprint for slave control, the Jim Crow Laws and even Apartheid. Now you may say that comparing some of Hopkins’ statements to Willie Lynch’s 1700 ideology is a bit of a reach, but think about it.
There has been a twisted view of late where some folks believe that one is “more black” if they came from an unprivileged background and had to struggle just make ends meet. And some feel that if you speak proper English and carry yourself in a dignified manner that you are trying to be white. Are you trying to tell me James Evans of Good Times was more black than Heathcliff Huxtable of the Cosby Show?
This is just another case of the Divide and Conquer Principle that Ole’ Willie laid out 60 years before the Revolutionary War. That principle was also behind the fabricated East Coast-West Coast BS that virtually caused us to loose two of the movement’s biggest Hip Hop icons.
I have always had profound respect for Bernard Hopkins as an athlete and individual. The man ascended from a prison stint to become one of the boxing industries biggest stars over the last decade and a half. And at the age of 47, he is still on the top of his game but he is way off base here. It is fair game to debate if McNabb is worthy to be considered a top flight QB. In my humble opinion, he is. But no one should question his ethnicity. I hope that someone pulls Hopkins to the side and tell him the error of his ways. Ignorant statements like that hurt us from within while providing ammunition to those who refer to African Americans as some kind of side-show.
McNabb has performed and carried himself in a professional manner. I know that he has to be thinking, “Why is everybody picking on me?” Maybe folks would leave him alone if he would fight back every once and while. That is not his nature but like Hopkins, he should throw a few counter blows of his own. As far as Hopkins and those who think along the same lines, I hope that you become part of solution and not remain part of the problem.