Cam Newton Angers Many Because He’s Not A Respectable Negro
Cam Newton is not a respectable Negro and that’s a problem for many. Black people are often told that the “respectable negro” will be given equality only when he dresses nicely, speaks politely, and respects authority. Racism is a thing of the past, and even its sleight existence can be overcome by the respectable negro who works hard to pull himself up by his bootstraps. This will not only ensure his survival in post-racial America, but his ability to thrive. The respectable Negro recognizes that he can reach the Supreme Court or even the presidency if he just stops playing the race card and takes personal responsibility for his own failures.
His success and the mainstream reaction to it is yet another test of the theory that post-racial America is “colorblind,” or in other words, devoid of racial discrimination and prejudice. Outrage over his touchdown celebrations and banner appropriation shakes the foundation that racism is something that should only be discussed in a historical context, and problematic societal issues should be addressed without involving the uncomfortable aspect of race. This is embodied by the belief that: “racism would end if we just stopped talking about it.”
Critics have lined up, dissing Newton’s touchdown dance known as “dabbing.” Parents have written letters labeling his dances “arrogant struts” and “pelvic thrusts.” Aaron Rodgers got commercials and wide acclaim for his arrogant, pelvic thrust known as the discount double check. A fan of the Seattle Seahawks dubbed Newton “Mr. Classless.” After Newton’s son was born on Christmas Eve, someone wrote into the Charlotte Observer, calling him a bad role model because he hadn’t married the mother of his son.
What about black people who don’t like Cam’s dancing and histrionics? Doesn’t that prove this isn’t about race?
Respectability politics are the attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous and compatible with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for its failure to accept the difference. I loathe this as it allows the majority to point towards those within these marginalized groups as agreeing with them that they are the source of their own subjection to inequality and injustice. Examples of this include black people whom were against the civil rights movement, and women who don’t believe in equality of the sexes (otherwise known as feminism).
Cam Newton realizes that being a “respectable negro” is as beneficial to him as a black man as engaging in respectability politics is to the cause of racial equality. I not only hope Cam continues to be himself, but I hope his newfound success enables him to steadfastly point out the criticism for his “behavior” is based, atleast in part, by racism.