It’s funny how during the week of the Fourth of July, three news stories broke out that question freedom of speech, expression and religion.
Chris Rock, who was hailed the funniest man alive…by white America, no less, sent out a Fourth of July Tweet wishing Happy Independence Day to white people.
"Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed fireworks."
What is a comedian to do? I can see Chris bored out of his mind at a cook out; not even an old school barbecue with ribs, potato salad, and baked beans with the Gap Band music blasting in the background. Chris was probably at a new-school cook out under a tent with grilled chicken breast, vegetables, and fruit salad. He looks around at the crowd and decides to crack himself up along with his Twitter followers. Next thing he knows, the media is up in arms about his comment. He’s only the funniest man alive when he’s not reminding Black and White America of our history. Just because you’re eating watermelon balls in an interracial group doesn’t mean you can really say what you think.
Olympic star Michael Johnson thought he’d do more than just give credit to his trainer, his old P.E. teacher and his parents for his success has an athelete. He took it back to slavery. Here’s the theory from one of the greatest Olympic sprinters of all time:
"All my life I believed I became an athlete through my own determination, but it's impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn't left an imprint through the generations. Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me. I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us. Over the last few years, athletes of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals. It's a fact that hasn't been discussed openly before. It's a taboo subject in the States, but it is what it is. Why shouldn't we discuss it?"
According to the response from a lot of Americans, it’s okay to discuss it, just not publicly. Whether you’re Michael Johnson or the late Jimmy the Greek who got fired from his job as a sports announcer for pretty much saying the same thing, you can only say it at home. I wonder what will be remembered as the worst offense: Michael Johnson’s comments about slaves being better athletes or Carl Lewis’s horrible rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” (Google it, it’s hilarious.) By the way, who do you think would win between a fair foot race between a slave and slave master? Did I actually use the word "fair" and "slave master" in the same sentence?
And finally, from my home state of Alabama, this story:
A three-day whites-only religious conference — which will conclude with a flaming cross — is being held in Lamar County, Alabama. The invitation to the annual pastors’ conference made it clear that it was an all-white affair. And here’s a quote from the Christian Identity Ministries: "Yes, we believe that the Europeans and their descendants are the chosen people of God."
That’s what they believe. Are we mad because they believe it or mad because they’re bold enough to admit that that’s what they believe?
I don’t have an answer. I just know that as long as we deny having an ugly past, we can’t move past it. If Chris Rock and Michael Johnson can’t openly acknowledge that slavery existed and the reality of what impact it’s had on us mentally and physically, why can’t white people make the same comments? They can. But just like Chris Rock and Michael Johnson, they have to take the heat when they do. I personally think that it goes beyond having the right. Sometimes it goes to common sense. Yes, Jay-z’s cd is called "'N****s in Paris." And yes, it appears to be a double standard when rappers use and comedians use the "N" word, but a white person is liable to get villifed or worse if he or she does the same. When Jay-Z’s fan and friend actress Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted that “N” words in Paris for real,” she abslolutely had the right to say it, and you had the right not to like it. Speech may be free, but apparently, we all have to pay a cost if it rubs someone the wrong the way.
This is a debate that we’ll be having for generations to come and I’m not sure if we’ll ever have a solution to whether certain topics and truths should be taboo. But for now, I’d rather we spend our energy getting people fired up about the November election. If you know someone who isn’t registered to vote, tell them to call 1-866-My-Vote-1. It’s okay to get mad if it gets you motivated. Let’s go!