Robert Griffin III is the star Quarterback for the Washington Redskins and a major phenomenon in the NFL, often touted and praised for his passing ability, and prowess on the football field. He’s as fast as Michael Vick but he can make all the throws that Peyton Manning can make and he can make all the reads Tom Brady can make, according to one prominent sportscaster.
Recently Griffin made some controversial comment's that have caused quite a stir in both the sports world and the African-American community. In an interview Griffin has been quoted as saying,
“I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that…We always try to find similarities in life, no matter what it is so they’re going to try to put you in a box with other African-American quarterbacks Vick, Newton, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon…That’s the goal. Just to go out and not try to prove anybody wrong but just let your talents speak for themselves.”
Griffin who also identifies as a Republican, and is engaged to a white woman has also said that when he was growing up African-American girl's would not give him the time of day, and that he was often rejected. It was inevitable that this his political affiliation, and choice in a mate would be scrutinized in some circles.
It is quite admirable to seek self definition, and in a perfect world maybe African-American's would be able to define themselves. But we live in a world that is far from perfect, and while this young man has made a choice not to be defined by race. The bottom line is, he will be defined by the fact that he is African-American whether he likes it or not. He is not the first famous Black man who has tried to transcend race, and he probably won't be the last. The fact of the matter is that America will let an African-American live under the illusion of inclusion until they cross the line. Once that line is crossed their transgression's become a life-long scarlet letter, an albatross by which they will always be defined. Their "exceptional negro" status is long gone, and the depth of passion by which they were loved is quickly eclipsed by an even more passionate hatred. Michael Jackson, and O.J. Simpson are classic examples of that. Both were found not guilty, both were convicted by the court of public opinion, and neither of them was ever able to overcome the stigma that dogged them.
The irony in Griffin's desire to not be defined by his race is the fact that he plays for a team which defines itself by racial degradation, in calling themselves the Washington Redskins. But I guess what the team calls itself is not a matter of principal for RG3, as long as they pay him a hefty sum to overlook what he believes. If his attempt to be known as just a great quarterback as opposed to a great black quarterback was truly a matter of sincere principal why would he allow himself to be identified as a "Red Skin"? Black people in this country do not have the luxury of defining themselves outside of their racial identity, because that is how society at large defines us. This is not to say that we cannot be exceptional or magnificent at whatever we do, it just means that who we are is too deeply intertwined in what we are to be ignored. I believe that being a great African-American Doctor, Lawyer, teacher, quarterback or anything, should be a source of pride given our heritage, and the legacy of discrimination in the United States. No matter how we see ourselves, America at large will see us as a black doctor, a black lawyer, a black teacher, and of course a black quarterback.
I do believe however that this young man has the right to marry whoever he wants. But I also believe that if he feels as if he has to defend his choice he should not do so by holding African-American women accountable for his preference. The very idea that he does so, reeks of animosity,
I would respect him more if he just came out and said that he likes white women more, instead of saying that he essentially turned to dating outside of his race because no black women wanted him. If Griffin had half as much courage off the field as he had on the field he would at least make the transition from a delusional black boy to an adult African-American man with both feet planted firmly on the ground, and rooted in reality.