Russell Wilson’s Blackness Should Not Be a Question
It’s troubling to hear reverberations from the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks’ locker room that quarterback Russell Wilson is at the center of a divide within the team because he’s not “Black enough.”
Being Black has no boundaries, and if some of his teammates take his insistence on not blasting rap music or not wearing his pants hanging off his butt or enunciating when he speaks or whatever else they conjure up as not being “Black enough,” well, that’s a case of us setting ourselves back.
Percy Harvin, a talented yet apparently volatile receiver, was traded last week to the New York Jets in a move that stunned most NFL observers. The talk from the Seahawks’ locker room (anonymously, of course) was that there was a rift between quarterback and receiver. Half the players sided with Harvin and others with Wilson. In the end, the team rolled with its quarterback who led them to the championship last year and traded Harvin and all his talent.
Last year, Black people went berserk when a white journalist said Colin Kaepernick was not fit to lead the San Francisco 49ers as quarterback because his body is laden with tattoos. But hardly is there a whimper from the Black community when Black teammates criticize their quarterback for being a polished young man. Something is wrong with that.
Wilson, in a weak press conference to try to diffuse the drama, said that Harvin is a lot like him and that the discord between the two and teammates was a media creation. Not true on both counts. This is what he said: “Percy and I never had differences. He’s a guy that, you know, we had a lot of similarities, probably, if anything. You know, guys that want to compete at the highest level, want to win every single time you step on the field. Want the ball in our hands, to make the big play and everything. So I’m not sure why the media tries to blow everything out of proportion, it’s part of it, I guess. You have to deal with it. But you also ignore it, too. Like I always tell you guys, ignore the noise. You know, Percy’s a Virginia guy and I wish nothing but the best for him.”
About all Harvin and Wilson have in common is that they are both from Virginia and they play football. And they are Black. That’s about it. And that’s more than enough. Neither is more or less Black than the other.
Being Black means being hip and corny, smart and not-so-smart, giving and greedy, thoughtful and selfish, articulate and mumbling, soulful and soulless, tough and weak, ambitious and docile … and on and on. When Black men call other Black men “not Black enough,” they point out the insecurities within themselves.
No doubt, if Seattle, which was predicted by some pundits to go undefeated this season, had not lost two games in a row, the tension within the team would be minimized. But adversity (losing) brings out the soul of a person and a team, and the Seahawks have to undergo serious self-examination now to hold it together.
Wilson, by most accounts, comports himself with respect, conveys his thoughts clearly, treats people with respect, works hard, leads by example. Seems “Black enough” to me.