“I knew that I lived in a country in which the aspirations of black people were limited, marked-off. Yet I felt that I had to go somewhere and do something to redeem my being alive.” ― Richard Wright, Black Boy
The Richard Shermans of the world know all too well about living a life that feels like any level of the supremely popular Candy Crush Saga game; for many their zip codes are the lone pieces of candy, and intermittent pieces of “candy” like gangs, poverty, low expectations, and limitations align these zip codes. Eventually this pulsating combination explodes into something ugly, or in the case of Richard Sherman, something beautiful.
And so I write about them.
I write about them because I imagine that if Sherman has ever read Richard Wright’s Black Boy (with his academic record, I suspect that he has), he can unequivocally relate to the above-mentioned quote; and, because I recognize that we still suppress the “alive” black boy because a dead one poses no serious threat.
I know that if they carry and dribble balls, or weave seamless lines of nouns, verbs, adjectives, metaphors, and similes, and create bountiful mounds of wealthy industries, the perception is that we don’t ever have to worry about them being great humanitarians, philanthropists, academics, or even good fathers and faithful husbands.
It appears that we want these men to become invisible, but still commit magical acts like leaping from VIP Boxes to dunk basketballs or catching a football pass moving 3000 miles per hour, but if the basket isn’t made or the ball isn’t caught, these invisible men become outcasts and labeled as visible failures.
There is no love for Black boys or Richard Shermans that express passion and confidence. The message is always “shut and play” or “shut up and rhyme” or “shut up and make me money!” And, it’s time we just shut up with these demands!
So today I write to thank Richard Sherman for advancing us in this crushing saga; I want you to know that I see you and you are not invisible to me, Mr. Sherman.
For most of my academic life, I was taught by strong, positive Black men. They enhanced my confidence because they were so; I have always wanted to be just like them in subtle and not so subtle ways. When my band teacher, Mr. Elston Fitzgerald, Jr. told my peers and I that we were the best high school band in Norfolk, VA, he affirmed our practice and skill as much as he affirmed what he had taught us. When he became angry at any semblance of doubt directed from others to us, he wasn’t ranting, he was being protective of what he had invested in our lives.
For all of my academic practice, the Black boys (my Big Sons) I teach are always allowed to be. However they come is how I accept them. However they leave is how I have groomed them. Whoever they become is what the Creator has established as their journey.
If Richard Sherman did not believe “I’m the best [corner] back in the game,” would it even be worth our time to watch him play? If he didn’t contribute to advancing his team to the largest event in sports outside of the World Cup, would we even care to know more about Sherman? Had he never given such an honest post-game interview, would the inner-bully ensconced in some of us ever had been revealed?
And so I write in honor of the Richard Shermans that are not too afraid to be visible, honest, and alive.
“I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I’ve tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied.” Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Excellent work and excellent perspective. I appreciate your insight. Powerful!
This was extremely good and I particularly like Richard Sherman. I feel he is confident in the game as a QB and “winning”. It’s a strategy he uses to push his team as well as his opponents. Yes, some may look at him as bragging but like the “Great” Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” Excellent work and perspective.
Excuse the error of QB I meant corner back.
Thank you sooooo much Sis, for 1. Reading my work, 2. Commenting on it in your Early Morning Arrival(lol), 3. For being my sister!
Bro. Carlos! Thank you so much for reading AND taking some time to make this encouraging comment. I truly appreciate it!
Absolutely brilliant!!! You captured perfectly
Thank YOU, Rasta!!! I appreciate your comment 🙂
While I expect nothing less from you, this piece was chilling in its accuracy and depiction of the current state of black athletes & black men, in general, within our American society! BRAVO, sis! BRAVO!
I don’t know what to say other than THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I am getting a little emotional because of the overwhelming response that I have received from this piece. I have gotten more new followers as a result of it; and, the encouragement, support and comments from primarily men, tells me that we need to be affirmed, as groups and as individuals.
Good job Zakiyyah!!!! I saw this link on Facebook and had no idea that this was your blog!! I thought I was reading an acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist until I gleamed over to the side and saw you cheesing. Lol. You did a good job of capturing the frustrations we as African American males feel when we candidly articulate our emotions; only to be misjudged or misunderstood by others who have no clue about who we really are.
I am just happy that Mr. Sherman was able to express his thoughts so intelligently in the subsequent interview because what he showed is that, he is a human being just like the rest of us!! He demonstrated that he is capable of being both passionate/confident in one instance and witty/intelligent in another. Once again good post Alley. Keep up the good work.
Wow, Chad!!!! Thank YOU for this super complimentary comment. I cannot stop smiling 🙂 I feel so encouraged and so humbled that you and others have taken your time to read my work and wave the pom poms for me. 🙂 ❤
This piece is well put together…Just goes to show the old themes in America are still prevalent…
Hey Ray!! Thank you, Brother! Old themes look to be here to stay. Smh.
Sent from my iPad
Interesting post. I agree with your general direction.