My Dad forced all of my brothers and sisters to do well in school, but I hated it because of some of the other black kids in the school would call me an “Uncle Tom” behind my back because I did my work and didn’t get in trouble.
Many of the black kids who went to my high school did bad on purpose because it wasn’t cool to do well in school, if you were black. That’s why former NBA star and current ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose’s comments about the black players on Duke’s basketball program and Grant Hill in particular, hit home with me.
His comments were made in the Fab Five documentary which aired on ESPN this past Sunday. The Fab Five was a group of five African-American high school All-American basketball players, who all decided to enter the University of Michigan and play basketball there in the early 90’s. Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Rose were the three most popular names of the five.
The Fab Five had a hip-hop flavor to them with their stylish haircuts. They popularized the long baggy shorts which NBA stars wear these days. Their popularity amongst young African-American college basketball followers was off the charts.
Their arch-rivals during those days was the Duke team which was coached Mike Krzyzewski and led by Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and the aforementioned Grant Hill. Duke was the team that the entire country seemed to love. They were clean cut, disciplined and focused.
Here’s what Rose said word for word and you can see that he had a problem with the Duke basketball team and Hill in particular.
“Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me,” Rose proclaims. “I felt that they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms. … I was jealous of Grant Hill. He came from a great black family. Congratulations. Your mom went to college and was roommates with Hillary Clinton. Your dad played in the NFL as a very well-spoken and successful man. I was upset and bitter that my mom had to bust her hump for 20-plus years. I was bitter that I had a professional athlete that was my father that I didn’t know. I resented that, moreso than I resented him. I looked at it as they are who the world accepts and we are who the world hates.”
Rose voiced a sentiment that is found frequently in the black community. Many times African-American who try to live successful lives are hated and chastised by those of their own race. Rose’s comments pulled the cover off of some of the poisonous attitudes which are dooming African-American youngsters who grow up without their Dads, intentionally shun education, get in trouble with the law and go on to live their lives in poverty amongst crime and ruin.
Rose basically called Grant Hill an “Uncle Tom” because he came from a two-parent family and his parents were both successful and well-educated. For those of you who don’t know what an Uncle Tom is, it’s a derogatory name for a black person who kisses up to white people because they feel they feel inferior to them.
I understand how Rose felt when he was a young man whose father wasn’t part of his life, but he can’t stand by those feelings now. You could see that he was mad at his Dad, Jimmy Walker, who was an NBA player. Fathers, who aren’t involved with their children is a runaway epidemic in African-American communities.
I saw this face to face when my Dad would come into the locker room when I was playing in the NFL, he was treated like a star by the my African-American teammates because I talked about him and those guys were so surprised by the relationship we have with each other. He’s the person who has been the biggest influence on my life.
How could any black person in America criticize or disparage a black couple and their children because the couple got married and stayed together? I’ll tell you that the number one destructive behavior in Black America is out-of-wedlock births, which is now about 70% amongst African-Americans.
Studies have shown that the out-of-wedlock births promote poverty, crime, juvenile delinquency, drop outs, and many other community maladies. Before the studies were done the Bible said it was best to have one man and one woman have a family and stay together. A woman trying to raise kids on her own is tough and many times the kids pay a price for it.
I go to the Youth Study Center (a youth detention center) in Philadelphia two or three times a week and I talk to and counsel thousands of African-American youngsters who have no relationship with their fathers and no direction in their lives. Every week there’s another batch of youngsters who lack a decent education and have gotten involved in criminal behavior. It seems that a lot of these inner city communities are nothing but criminal factories.
Somebody explain to me what Grant Hill had to do with his parents getting an education, getting married and staying together. What does that have to do with being an Uncle Tom. Like most of the youngsters I meet who either don’t know who their Dad is or have never spent much time with him, Rose is really angry at his Dad for not being there for him, but he pointed his anger at people who have nothing to do with his predicament.
Donovan McNabb’s upbringing in a two-parent, middle class family was part of the reason he never became as popular as you would have thought in the African-American community. If a player gets in trouble with the law, like Michael Vick, it seems that the African-American community identifies with him better.
I understand this phenomenon because I see the extraordinarily high incarceration rates of young African-American males. In quite a few communities in Philadelphia going to jail for a youngster is like going away to college. It’s expected.
Checkout what Hill wrote on his website in response to Rose’s claim,
“It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me……..”
“In his garbled but sweeping comment that “Duke only recruits black Uncle Toms,” Jalen seems to change the usual meaning of those very vitriolic words into his own meaning, i.e., blacks from two-parent, middle class families. He leaves us all guessing exactly what he believes today……”
“I am beyond fortunate to have two parents who are still working well into their 60s. They received great educations and use them every day. My parents taught me a personal ethic I try to live by and pass on to my children. They remain committed to each other after more than 40 years and to my wife, Tamia, our children, and me. They are my role models and always will be.”
Single-parent families has become a dominant part of the inner-city African-American culture. They are now the norm rather than a rarity. Phrases like “my baby’s Mama”, “my baby’s Daddy”, are used rather than someone saying this is my wife or this is my husband. Many black kids nationwide tell their teachers that “black people don’t get married”.
The youngsters in the Youth Study Center ask me if I’ve ever done a bid, which is a stint in jail. When I tell them I haven’t they marvel. They think black men are supposed to go to jail.
Quite a few of these youngsters are raising themselves and their siblings at early ages. They don’t know who their Dad is and their mother is on crack, so they sell drugs to provide for the family.
It’s a sad situation and even sadder because there are millions of African-Americans who question the “blackness” of other African-Americans simply because they chose to get married, then stayed married and raise their children. If you’re not in jail or headed to jail or spent time in jail, you’re not a “real” brother.
If you weren’t raised in a one-parent family or are married to your wife and are raising your children, then you’re not really black. You’re probably an Uncle Tom.
Unfortunately in too many circles, a two-parent African-American family isn’t celebrated it’s disparaged. Going to school, not getting in trouble with the law is looked down upon. The drug dealers are portrayed as heroes by the rappers. The police are regarded as bad people in their raps.
It’s a cycle of poisonous mindsets that perpetrates bad behavior. Quite a few of the youngsters who enter the Youth Study Center are already parents, and many of them have more than one child. They don’t see anything wrong with it, despite the fact that they hate their fathers whom they barely know, while carrying the same behavior down to another generation.
That’s why it disgusts me to see our so called leaders criticizing anybody who is talking about sexual abstinence until you get married. Some think condoms are the answer, but why do you think a youngster is going to use a condom, when they’re irresponsible to begin with and look forward to having children at an early age. To them they see having children as being a real man.
I’m not saying I have been Mr. Pure because I haven’t but I can see what is wrong and what is right. There’s a great reason a person should stay out of that sack until marriage and that’s because of the jeopardy it puts the kids in if the Mom becomes pregnant before marriage. It doens’t take a genius to see why it would be best if these youngsters stopped jumping into bed with each other.
There’s a genocide going on with these kids having kids and perpetuating some of these problems. It’s not cool to see so many youngsters who can’t read at a fourth grade level, but already have three children. Some of them have no value for life and would think nothing of ending someone else’s life for any number of silly reasons.
These poisonous attitudes are the most destructive factors occurring in African-American communities throughout this country and they will destroy everything in their path until they are opposed and destroyed.
I believe the only real solution to these problems is for these youngsters to first of all learn their own value, then begin to value others. Somebody has to show them that they’re genuinely loved. We need let them know that somebody cares about them and that God loves and cares about them, as well.