Does Hating Cam Newton Make Me a Racist?

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SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 18: Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 570176333 ORIG FILE ID: 493267298

Does Hating Cam Newton Make Me a Racist?

I swear I’m not a racist.  Ok, I know that sounds racist as hell, but seriously, I swear I’m not.  I know claiming you aren’t a racist is usually as telling as the guy who claims that he couldn’t possibly be racist because of his one black friend, Marcus.  It’s like when someone says to you, “Now I personally have nothing against black people, but…”.  You know some racist ass shit is about to fly out of their mouth and you brace yourself for the blow.  Just because you have one minority friend does not mean that your ass isn’t a racist.

But, in exploring the counter-positive of that statement, disliking one black person also does not implicate you as a racist.  Or at least it shouldn’t.  But that has become the seeming suggestion brought on by race shaming in the modern era.  It’s scary to be a white person these days, folks.  We all know racial hatred is intolerable, but can’t a brother dislike someone based upon the merits- you know, hate just for the sake of hating?  Do I have to have the race card thrown in my face just because I question the character of someone who happens to be black?

This issue of race shaming has bubbled to the surface with the recent comments from Super Bowl 50 star quarterback, Cam Newton.    A lightning rod for attention since he entered the NFL in 2011, Newton has seen his fame grow even wider this year as he has led his Carolina Panthers to a 17-1 record and an opportunity to win it all, largely due to his MVP-caliber performance.  His play has been undeniable, but Newton earlier this week responded to criticism of his on-field celebrations by suggesting that they were racially motivated, “(I’m) an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”  Sorry Cam, but I have plenty of players to compare you to, and I believe I still have the right to form my own damn opinion, thank you very much.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I applaud much of what Newton stands for.  He has never been arrested for an off the field incident or had significant legal action taken against him.  I’m not sure when this came to be the preposterously low ethical bar for professional athletes, but hey, let’s give the dude some credit.  His work with charities has been commendable.  And who can seriously disparage giving balls away to children?  Ok, perhaps Dick Cheney, but I meant someone who isn’t evil incarnate….

Sure, Newton is likable on some levels, but I must admit I am not a fan of the showboating he does after every touchdown, big play or even first down, for crying out loud.  Shit, this guy does a celebration dance for adjusting his jock strap correctly.  And while I understand rejoicing after a crucial score, Newton has a tendency to go over to a camera, grab the spotlight, and make self-glorifying gestures that put the focus on him and him alone.  He is not clapping teammates on the back and giving high fives; rather, he is making sure everyone knows about him.  With Cam, it’s always about him, and that’s where I, and many others, take issue with Cam Newton.

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Does hating these pants also make a racist?

It is not, as some say, racially influenced, but some folks, like The New York Daily News’s Chuck Modiano, have gone out of their way to convince us it is.  They suggest that our distaste for Newton’s antics are different than they would be if Newton were a white quarterback, but former Steelers cornerback Ryan Clark said it best when he suggested that it isn’t race that stirs angst with Cam Newton; it’s cultural difference.  I agree, and just because I accept everyone’s right to their culture, doesn’t mean I have to like every aspect of their culture.

Just because I accept cultural differences doesn’t mean I have to like the mistreatment of women that is part and parcel of Arab cultures. Taking issue with the machismo of many hispanic cultures also does not make me a racist.  And god knows no one should have to feel bad about having a particular aversion for the fake breasts and steroid muscles of the Jersey shore.  Likewise, I don’t have to like the flash of a new age of players where they gloat when they win and pout when they lose.  I remember my dad talking to me about showing up other players after one of my little league games as a kid, and I echoed the same sportsmanship to my players when I coached hockey years later.  I’m just old school like that, I guess.

But that’s not a racial bias.  How do I know?  Because I dislike that quality in white players as well.  Take that jackass Johnny Manziel.  Just the fact that his nickname is “Johnny Football” should tell you all you need to know about this clown.  Well before his off-field partying got him into so much trouble and derailed his professional career, I didn’t care for the way he carried himself while at Texas A&M.  Like Newton, it was always about him, and that to me defeats the very things we are supposed to be teaching our kids with sports: teamwork, sportsmanship and respect for others.

Cam Newton may want to make this about race, and say we haven’t see anyone like him, but haven’t we seen a mobile African-American quarterback playing in the Super Bowl the last two years?  His name was Russell Wilson.  Oh yeah, but all he does is keep his mouth shut, focus on the team, and win ballgames…. which is a lot more than I can say about Cam Newton.

Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works.  Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 words or less every TUESDAY and FRIDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com

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