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Riley Cooper's Comments Non-Issue for Current Black Plight

by Todd A. Smith

 

Maybe We Should Try Something New

            “I will jump that fence and fight every nigger here, bro.”

            Those words from Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper at a Kenny Chesney concert in June have lit a racial fire in the Eagles locker room and throughout the NFL.

            Understandably, many of Riley’s teammates have lost respect for him like running back LeSean McCoy, but should his hateful statements really be an issue for Black America as a whole?

            Throughout this summer, racial issues have risen to the forefront of American consciousness from rolling back key sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict; racial tensions have reached the boiling point.

            While activism and enlightenment should be applauded, it is important that Black America understands that it is a new fight and a new day and we must focus on the issues that matter and understand that we cannot tackle racial issues in the same way that we did in 1963.

            Cooper’s words were extremely hurtful and mean-spirited, but we must realize that the N-word has little power coming out of a bigoted mouth if we use our God-given rights to make positive changes in this country. 

Furthermore, we must understand the history of that word and do our part to totally eliminate it from the American lexicon.

            The true issues that have an effect on Black America is not some White guy using the N-word, but us not using our influence and power when it matters the most.

            Many have complained about the jury in the Zimmerman trial having no African Americans, but many African Americans find every excuse not to attend jury duty when they are called upon.

            Furthermore, many African Americans fail to vote when it is not a presidential election (that features a Black candidate), but complain about Stand Your Ground laws that lead to unnecessary murders of young Black men.

            Change will not come through marches and demonstrations like it did 50 years ago when we did not have the right to vote and other God-given rights. 

Imagine if someone tried to run a company using methods from 50 years ago.  That person would probably be out of business in 50 days because the world has changed.  We should not expect the methods of yesteryear to have the same impact that it did five decades ago in a new era.

True change will only come through the ballot box and courthouse, and we as a community need to make a concerted effort to do our part regardless of how small we think the election or court case may be.

We must also stop castigating Black Americans like CNN’s Don Lemon for pointing the mirror at ourselves and not blaming others for “all” of our problems.  The Black plight is not all self-inflicted, but the journalist is not totally off base because some of it is self-inflicted.

His statements were not totally accurate because nothing is totally black and white, but we do need to pull our pants up.  We do need to take care of our own neighborhoods.  And we definitely need to stop purposefully making babies out of wedlock, which contributes to the exorbitant amount of Black single parent homes.

Fathers need to be in the home as much as possible because having that strong male influence is crucial to a child’s development.

Although doing those things will not stop racism, does racism really matter all of the time? 

If we do what we need to do and what we are supposed to do, maybe the Zimmerman verdict would have turned out differently; maybe Stand Your Ground laws might not be on the books in so many states and maybe we could indeed make our own communities safer.

There were times when people like the Black Panthers stood up and protected their own neighborhood when the police would not.  Maybe we should do the same thing in 2013.

Furthermore, there were times when Black Americans would risk their lives to go to the voting polls.  Maybe we should do the same now.

In addition, there were times when Black people did not call each other the N-word.  Maybe, we should do the same thing now.

There was a time when we had pride in ourselves and did for our own community and people.  That pride is, arguably, not as prevalent anymore. 

Maybe if it was, then the ignorant words of some random football player would not even be news because we would already know that we were kings and queens, not niggers.  And somebody calling us a nigger would not mean a thing.

This article was published on Friday 02 August, 2013.
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