We periodically point out the most obvious person in the news who exhibits the sense of self-loathing that we lovingly call "tomming." By definition an Uncle Tom is: a black who is overeager to win the approval of whites (as by obsequious behavior or uncritical acceptance of white values and goals) - meanspirited? Maybe, but we think of it as our brand of tough love.
A MOMENT OF TOM-FOOLERY
Starring in this installment of “Tom-Foolery” is ESPN commentator and analyst Rob Parker.
Parker, who appears largely on ESPN’s “First Take” program with the much maligned and often ignorant Skip Bayless and the often more maligned Stephen A. Smith, has been part of this long-running – “dumber and dumber” routine for quite some time.
However, it was Parker’s comments earlier this month that allowed him to pull off the complicated double-suplex of all racial infractions – the self-loathing, ignorant, inverted Tom maneuver.
Never heard of it?
Well, it’s a tricky maneuver that resides somewhere between militancy and Tom-dom and usually starts out when one member of the race attempts to debase another by proclaiming that one is not “black enough.”
Still not familiar?
Well, check out Sarge in a Soldier’s Story when he talks about Geechies or maybe that diatribe from the police officer in Menace to Society – I think you’ll get the picture.
As is usually the case with the ignorant or confused, somehow the antagonists proclaim they possesses the key to true racial identity and therefore have been empowered to decide who and what defines racial purity.
Where the Skinheads have a test for Aryan blood, we just compare perceived actions with things we grew up around and judge.
So Parker, broke out some test, maybe the “paper bag test,” the consumption of Kool-Aid test, the how little money one possesses test, or maybe the “how ‘hood was your ‘hood” test, before judging the 22-year-old Griffin.
All of Parker’s bucking and shining occurred during a Dec. 13, 2012 episode of the ESPN show, when he proclaimed Griffin was a “cornball brother and not one of us,” after the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner was quoted not wanting to be defined only by his ethnicity.
On that day Parker decided Griffin’s comments suggested he wished to distance himself from his racial identity, but somewhere along the way he ended up performing a few verbal backflips enroute to impugning the character of one of the NFL’s most exciting stars – Robert Griffin III.
Griffin, one of the top quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft this year, graduated from Baylor University in three years and with an almost perfect GPA. On top of his academic accolades, Griffin also has developed into one of the country’s top collegiate quarterbacks, with a style that married an ability to run with a laser-like accurate arm.
Dubbed, “RG3” Parker tossed all of those accomplishments in the can and instead decided to focus on what he did not like about the young man’s lifestyle, ability to speak and political affiliation, despite appearing to have never personally met the young super star.
“My question, which is just a straight honest question, is he a brother or is he a cornball brother?” Parker queried on the air. “Well, he’s black…but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else.”
Because nothing exceeds like excess, Parker went for the Tom double-suplex and limberly opened his mouth wide enough to fit his foot.
“We could all sit here and be honest or be dishonest,” Parker said. “(People) look at who your spouse is…and they look at how you present yourself.”
As chance would have it, Griffin happens to be engaged to someone who is not African-American, and as for presentation of self, I don’t know, he’s shown himself to somehow be the class of the NFL, in just his first season.
Surprisingly, it was Stephen A. who had to reign the panel back in and return the broadcast to professional standards.
Maybe Griffin didn’t know the secret handshake or something, but it sounds like good old fashioned ignorance to me.
Parker’s dumbass was suspended for 30-days for his role in the verbal mishap.
The Entertainment Sports Network stopped just short of firing Parker.
Instead, ESPN issued a statement regarding Parker’s suspension: “…Our review of the preparation for the show and the re-air has established that mistakes both in judgment and communication were made. As a direct result, clearly inappropriate content was aired and then re-aired without editing. Both were errors on our part.”
Griffin went on to lead the Washington Redskins to the playoffs for the first time in 5-years by winning the NFC East crown – what a cornball.
Parker has issued an apology via Twitter:
“The failure was in how I chose to discuss it on First Take, and in doing so, turned a productive conversation into a negative one. I regrettably introduced some points that I never should have and I completely understand the strong response to them.
“I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry,”Parker continued. “The attention my words have brought to one of the best and brightest stars in all of sports is an unintended and troubling result. Robert Griffin III is a talented athlete who not only can do great things on the field, but off the field handles himself in a way we are all taught – with dignity, respect and pride.”
However, at the end of the day, we’ve learned something new about being a “Tom.” It’s not just Tom-like to hate on your fellow brothers in the hopes of gaining a favorable nod from your oppressor, but it may be even worse to attempt to debase a successful young, brother by criticizing his accomplishments, especially when athletes like Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and others have already uttered similar phrases in the past.
Conservative journalists used the incident to solidify their theory that most African-Americans are almost forced into negative financial and educational circumstances by groups of oppressors from inside their ranks. These people are obviously those who force the masses to be poor and under educated – err, side-eye to that theory.
Simply put, Parker seemed to impugn RGIII’s the character, not because of his exemplary quarterback play, but instead because he didn’t appear to know how to speak the correct dialect of “Jive.”
As Q-Tip once wrote: Black is Black is black is black is black!
During these last few days of your suspension, I hope you consider these things and stops breaking off a little something for massa. Your antics have caught our ire as well as eye and earned you our last “Moment of Tom-Foolery” for 2012. Aren’t you special?
Now get out of our sight. Don’t you have a spittoon to clean or a cockfight in which to compete or something?