Many people tune into ESPN wanting to watch sports and sports commentary. What they instead get with “First Take” is a racially motivated program that puts into question the ethics behind everyone involved in the show. “First Take” has gradually made more topics around race with Stephen A. Smith being the catalyst behind these discussions. Many times race will be inserted into a discussion to the point it is questionable journalism. Case in point being the very recent guest of Gabby Douglas who is an American of African descent who recently won a gold medal in London. Instead of speaking about sports she was badgered to talk about her views on her race. She handled herself in an admirable way, but I am sure she was confused as to why she was answering these questions. When a program decides to focus on race to increase ratings it lets itself become a forum for off color comments. Whatever comments that occur are the fault of the network for allowing an atmosphere that encourages vague racial discussions.
All of this has led up to the most infamous incident that occurred on thursday. Once again the topic of discussion was centered around race as they spoke about Robert Griffin’s statement that he does not want to be defined by his skin color. Rob Parker took RG3’s comment to mean that he is not a real black man because he is against the cause of black people as a race. The idea of questioning someone’s blackness is not a new phenomenon, in fact there is a term commonly used dating back to the 1800’s by the name of an “Uncle Tom.” This is the name that fellow african americans use to describe someone who is too quick to be subservient to white people and white culture in general. To denounce someone as an “Uncle Tom” as Rob Parker has done is a pompous move that honestly takes quite a bit of Gall. Someone could very easily point the finger back at Rob Parker and call him the same. Here is a man who pretends to be the judge of all real black people and yet he is part of the elite media and working for a company worth over 50 billion dollars. The program if anything helps divide the races as it puts everything into racial terms. How exactly is he helping and not hurting race relations by being part of this commercialized television program?
I also take issue with the ignorant politicization of Rob Parker as well. He first showed his own racism by condemning Robert Griffin for being engaged to a white woman and then took issue with him being Republican or maybe even just for knowing a republican . His assumption being that these infinitely wealthy Democrats do indeed have the back of “his people.” Quite a preposterous thought of pure ignorance to top off his calmly stated rant to put it into the hall of fame of bonehead comments. His comments wreak of so much ignorance he can almost come off as a sympathetic figure. Stephen A. Smith further complicates things by also politcizing this program by makings sure to have pictures of politicians on his fanpage. I thought this program was supposed to be about sports?
Because of the terrible nature of slavery it has taken a very strong affect on the society we live in. As there should be, there is sensitivity when speaking about race in the United States. This same sensitivity that whites must use in our unwritten rules of society do not go for Americans of African descent. This is the result of many white people with guilty consciences giving African Americans more of an opportunity to express their feelings on race than their white counter parts. Whether this is good for society or not I am unsure. What I do know is that it opens the door to programs like “First Take” to exploit it to garner ratings. I do not expect ESPN to make intellectually stimulating programming all the time, but they do need to escape the low brow barber shop nature of this show and usher in programing with an essence of integrity.