The Divide Within - Jalen Rose and Duke University Rivals
Ohio State University Football: Game 2
In a past documentary, "The Fab Five", Jalen Rose referred to rival team members as "Uncle Toms". Uncle Tom was a term used during slavery to describe a black person who was overly submissive and would do anything to be accepted by white people. The rival team, for which the term was directed, was Duke University whose roster included alumni Grant Hill at one time. The statement was made in reference to the recruiting practices of that university.
The star athlete believed that Duke avoided recruiting athletes based on their economic background. Jalen believed because he was raised by a single mother in a low-income neighborhood, that Duke never gave him or players like him, any consideration. Meanwhile, players like Grant, who grew up in a two-parent home in the suburbs were aggressively recruited. Since the "Fab Five" documentary aired, Jalen has apologized for the statement based on the reflections he offered to summarize his feelings during those old recruitment days. However, even with the apology, the Uncle Tom reference exudes a flurry of deep-rooted emotions.
Today it seems, as far as we have advanced as a nation when it comes to stereotypes there is still more opportunity for growth. It is disheartening, to say the least when the real issues in the community can become overshadowed by the use of timed references like Uncle Tom. Using names to decide a man's blackness doesn't solve the problem of how to encourage universities to broaden their recruiting scope. However, it does effectively divide our community in ways we cannot afford. The single mother is still struggling and the youth in the neighborhood are still searching for the dream that will include, encourage and inspire them. The problems that exist with unfair recruiting should not be shifted to the athlete being recruited. I disagree with the idea that a man's blackness can or should be measured by the limitations set by means outside of his control. Regardless of the neighborhood, you call home, you should not be overlooked for opportunities you have proven qualified to fill. At the same time, degrading someone for having access to options they were presented is simply not productive.
There are so many things lacking in our communities across the country, levels of blackness within a black man should not be one of the items up for debate. The term "Uncle Tom" is just another way to categorize and separate people when unity is needed just as much today as yesterday. It may be time to retire another hurtful word from our vocabulary. What do you think? Is it necessary to classify some black people as Uncle Toms? How can we begin to look beyond the negative stereotypes? The bigger vision is that one day we will accept the different facets of our blackness as one to continue forcing more dreams into a fierce reality.