“There were some points…that were relevant and I could agree with, but there were also obviously some ignorant points in there”
That was Richard Sherman’s quote discussing a purported rebuttal to King Noble (a jackass claiming affiliation to Black Lives Matter and the movement) and his use of Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch’s image to promote an all out war of violence on police. This is also a quote that can easily be used to describe Richard Sherman’s response to the whole situation.
The invoking of “black-on-black crime” is far too often lazily used to tell black and brown people to clean up their own house before other people are expected to value their lives. The term “black-on-black violence” in itself is a problematic misnomer that ignores the facts that debunk its suggestion; black people are the only people that kill themselves. Is there work to be done within the black community on how we treat and value each other? Absolutely, we all have work to do. ALL. OF. US. But the manner in which Richard Sherman invoked that point, only lends to let non-blacks off the hook for the work they need to do as well in addressing the issue. The fact that the praise for his words are coming from what is essentially a side of the issue that normally remains dormant (predominantly white, Seattle sports writers), is an indication of the context in which his words were received.
Imagine all the times you’ve seen a man telling a woman all the things she needs to do with regards to her self-worth and value, before he should have to value her life as well. All the things she needs to do to earn the right to speak out for her own worth when mistreatment occurs. All the times you’ve seen a man lamenting about how she needs to dress, how she needs to conduct herself, how she needs to play a certain role in maintaining her value, so that men can then decide it’s OK to do the same. It’s a rather disgusting thing to see every time you encounter it. Now imagine all the times you've seen that train of thought publicly coming from a woman when addressing other women, and all the ways in which men use that moment to justify numerous faults on their end and absolve themselves of the responsibility and need to do better. Well unfortunately, Richard Sherman was that woman this afternoon.
You would think a week after seeing James Blake being thrown to the ground while standing outside the rather overpriced and undersized Grand Hyatt Hotel, a black man would be a little more cognizant of the idea that we need to, as a community, “establish” our worth before anyone else can honor it and expressing that thought to the media. There is no suit, no tie, no decorum, no anything, that is going to dissuade those who actively benefit from the white supremacy in which Black Lives Matter serves to combat, or the passive benefit of that same supremacy that many in the very room he spoke in, benefit from by playing ostrich. Sherman posted earlier this week on Twitter that we should “be stronger than our excuses”. Well my brother, there’s no excuse for your misstep today. You should, can, and I hope will be stronger than that in the future.
I love Richard Sherman like hell, and I hope he continues to speak out more and encourage other athletes to do so as well. It would be a great departure from the Michael Jordan era and more of an affirmation of the LeBron James era. I hope he allows people to educate him on a topic that seems simple on the surface, but is unfortunately highly nuanced for no real good reason. I understand that he may have been emotional speaking about his friend being killed by two black men back in Compton, and that may have colored his perspective and views. But today, he got caught slipping. Much like Stedman Bailey got behind him and caught him slipping on Sunday.