Keepin’ It Real: “Corn-ball Brothas” (Dedicated to Rob Parker, formerly of ESPN)

There is such a thing as “real brothas” and “Corn-balls.”  Rob Parker of ESPN was recently suspended for 30 days for what the network deemed irresponsible comments regarding Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins.  Parker’s comments were: “Well, he’s Black, he kind of does his thing. But he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us.”  Shouldn’t we be pointing out Blacks who are not really “down for the cause”?  The cause, of course, being restoring pride and uplifting the Black community.  Embracing Blackness has nothing to do with where you are from or what predominately white high school you went to.  You can grow up surrounded by white people and still have a strong commitment to know Black history and embrace Black identity.  Hip-Hop music, excessive drinking and smoking, and making it rain is not what makes one a “brotha.”  Being Conservative and dating white women does not make you a “corn-ball.”  What makes the difference is resenting being Black and an attitude that ignores or fails to make uplifting the Black community is what makes you a “corn-ball,” hence, Parker’s “he’s not really down for the cause.”

It’s fine if you want to be the best at what you do.  But you don’t have to shed your “Blackness” to do it.  Do I want to be the best professor in the world? Sure.  Does that mean I have to stop being a Black professor or no longer speak or teach about Black issues? Absolutely not.  Does RGIII have to not be a Black quarterback in order to be the best?  What people who feel the need to shed their Blackness are really saying when they say they want to be the best at what they do is:  “I don’t feel like I can be the best athlete/ quarterback/ artist/ comedian/ teacher, etc. if I’m known as the “Black” one.”  Ultimately, one cannot be the best and Black at the same time in post-racial America.

So who is real and who’s fake, or a “corn-ball.”  Real “brothas” love being Black.  We embrace and love our Black identity, community, history, and the promotion of Black values.  Fake, or “corn-ball brothas,” could care less about their Black identity, act ashamed of it, and have no desire for uplifting and representing the Black community in a positive light.  They embrace and transform to white culture (see Usher, Ne-yo, and the majority of other Black artists today) and ultimately see Blackness as detrimental to their progress, aka, their ability to make money.

Is everybody who is Black dedicated to Black causes and uplifting the Black community? No.  And no matter what profession, Blacks don’t and shouldn’t owe allegiance to anyone just because they are Black; we have a history of sticking up for members of the Black community regardless of their behavior or detriment to the group – we must stop. What Black America needs is more Rob Parkers who say “if you don’t want to embrace you being Black, good riddance.”  When you are no longer rich, famous, or a star athlete that makes money for a white owner or CEO and white society spits you out and disregards you (which they ultimately will) good luck!  The Black community has enough Clarence Thomas’, Herman Cain’s and Allen West’s, in addition to pompous rappers and entertainers who denigrate and disrespect Black culture.

If we had more “real” brothas and less “corn-balls,” Black America would be much better off.  You want to be critical of somebody? Stop buying Lil’ Wayne and Usher cds and then come talk about who is real and who’s a “corn-ball.”  Stop going to shows and promoting artists whose EVERY song is about money, sex, drugs, and violence.  Rob Parker didn’t offend anybody.  He pulled the cover off and exposed the reality that more and more Blacks really don’t care about being Black (which they should!), and just because you’re Black and wealthy or of a first class profession, does not mean you’re “down for the cause.”  And it doesn’t mean you should get a pass for wanting to transcend your race.  The fact is that there are “corn-ball” brothas out there… A LOT of them.  If you don’t think there is such a thing, you just might be one of them…

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