When President Obama won a historic victory in 2008 and rode to the White House garnering more than 90-percent of the black vote, many wrote off African Americans’ overwhelming support of President Obama as just a black thing.
Despite many being proud to see the first African American man in the nation’s highest office, voting Democrat isn’t new for black folks and President Obama enjoyed the same support most Dems receive. But many, especially Obama’s detractors, chalked it up to folks voting along racial lines and supporting the President because he is black.
But was it?
Recently, sports commentator Skip Bayless waded into the racial waters when he said that he hoped promising rookie Quarterback Robert Griffin III would get a fair shake by Washington Redskin fans despite being a black man playing for a team whose fans are majority white.
Black QBs in the league have faced an uphill battle for years. In the past many teams were slow to give black quarterbacks a chance, often times funneling them into other positions on the field. Quarterbacks have always been seen as “smart” and able to handle the ever-changing conditions on the field, and it was once thought that black men didn’t possess the mental fortitude to handle such a job. Sadly, much of that sentiment still carries over to today. Black QBs are often touted for their speed, agility, and athleticism, not their on-the-field intelligence and critical thinking skills. But does race really matter to fans?
Bayless thinks so. After Griffin, the reining Heisman Trophy winner, turned in a lackluster preseason performance, Bayless—who has been critical of the Redskins for drafting backup QB Kirk Cousins, who is white—said that he hoped Redskin fans wouldn’t turn on Griffin and “root for the white guy,” Cousins, instead.
“I’m going to throw it out there. You also have the black-white dynamic and the majority of Redskins fans are white. And it’s just human nature, if you’re white to root for the white guy,” Bayless argued. “It just happens in sports. Just like the black community will root for the black quarterback. I’m for the black guy. I’m just saying, I don’t like the dynamic for RG3. It could stunt his growth in the NFL.”
While Bayless’ comments may not be PC, they got me to thinking. Is there something inside of us that makes us root for those who share our same skin tone?
I think back to the Olympics and the overwhelming pride most of us felt watching Gabby Douglas go for gold. While it certainly was a great win for team U.S.A., it also made the hearts of black folks swell to see Douglas make history. I wonder if we would have been so pro-U.S.A. had Aly Raisman been standing atop that podium instead.