Why is “blackness” always up for debate? Soledad O’Brien addressed the complexities of racial identity in her documentary, “Who Is Black In America?” and days later, ESPN correspondent Rob Parker came under fire for chiding Washington Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) for not being black enough.

When asked about race and how it impacts his public image, RG III had this to say:

“I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that. [...] We always try to find similarities in life, no matter what it is so they’re going to try to put you in a box with other African-American quarterbacks – Vick, Newton, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon [...] That’s the goal. Just to go out and not try to prove anybody wrong but just let your talents speak for themselves.”

Rob Parker responded by questioning Parker’s “blackness”:

“We keep hearing this so it makes me wonder deeper about him. I’ve talked to some people in Washington D.C. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is he a brother or is he a cornball brother. [...] He’s black, but he’s not really down with the cause [...] He’s kind of black, but He’s not really the guy you want to hang out with. He’s off to something else. We all know he has a white fiancee. People always talk about how he’s Republican. There’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue.”

Parker’s comments define blackness by a host of arbitrary qualifiers like political affiliation and the skin color of who you choose to love. This happens too often in our communities. It’s as if there’s an imaginary list of characteristics every black person must adopt; and once you step out of that box, you’re viewed as a sellout or in Parker’s words, a “cornball brother.”

Black people are not a monolith. A man should be able to vote for the Republican party, marry outside his race and desire to be judged on his talent alone without being considered a traitor to the race and culture. Parker’s words are not only offensive to Griffin, but they limit us as a race of people with varied interests, beliefs and behaviors.

What are your thoughts on Rob Parker’s comments on Robert Griffin III, Clutchettes?

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    cut rob some slack……he’s not that smart

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    Half of the negroes in the NFL have white fiances..lol…not gonna defend him…

  • http://valsotherblog.wordpress.com Val

    This sort of thing happens in many communities other than the Black community. Most minority groups with histories of oppression deal with these sorts of issues. You should have heard the stuff Jews were saying about facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he married an Asian woman. It’s not just us.

  • Chrissy

    Wow. I am said that black people feel you are not being black when you act intelligent and marry outside of your race. I have so much respect for RG, he seems level headed. Hopefully he will not try to prove that he is down or black enough by doing something stupid (i.e. fighting pit bulls, shooting his girlfriend, getting drunk and driving, father mutilple kids with diffrent women, etc.) Lord please help our race.

  • Britt

    If Rob Parker wants to insinuate that just because RG3 has a white fiancee, then he’s not considered black enough, then he should apply that theory to the other pro athletes who are with white women. RG3 is definitely not the first black athlete to be with a white woman and he certainly won’t be the last. Why single him out? This just shows that people will always find something to criticize you about. If they can’t criticize your career, it’ll be your personal life.

    Also, Rob Parker is from Queens, NY and went to Columbia University. He should know that black people are not monolithic.

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