OPINION: Quinn Ojinnaka Offers Another Blow to Fragile Black Athlete Image

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On Saturday morning, Georgia police released NFL player and Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka on bond after he was accused of engaging in a fight with his wife.

According to Associated Press reports, Ojinnaka’s wife confronted Ojinnaka about his activity on Facebook involving another female. Police say that Ojinnaka eventually ended up tossing his wife down the stairs and proceeded to throw her out of the house.

If these allegations are true, how boneheaded is this guy?

I will never understand acts like this; acts so stupid and violent that they do nothing, nor anybody, any good. Now Ojinnaka, a man of youth, wealth and privilege by virtue of being a heavy-set man who knows how to block a defense tackle, is going to spend the next several months, if not years, paying for his transgressions via his money, his time and maybe even his freedom.

What a shame.

Of course, you can’t feel sorry for the guy, because he is exactly the reason black athletes, especially those in the NFL, get a bad wrap. A while back, there was a magazine cover with several faces of different athletes who had gotten caught up with the law prior to the magazine’s publishing. All of them were young, rich (more or less) and black. Some might point to that cover and say that it’s racist because it didn’t portray white athletes that had been involved with the law. Others, such as myself, would look at it and see that the cover did a remarkable job of depicting the reality of the situation: that there are far too many black athletes doing the wrong thing.

Such broad statements, by that magazine and many other news articles like it, are shining a light on an area that needs some. While unfair to athletes who lead good and respectable lifes, the fact is that when one black athlete makes a mistake, it makes all of them look bad. Sorry to say it, but it’s the truth. You can call it racism, or you can call it what it actually is: “a connecting of the dots.” If someone is reading the paper and sees a story about a 25-year old rich, black, male athlete hitting a woman, and then that same person reads the paper the next day and sees the same story about a different black athlete, it’s only natural for that person to start drawing a correlation between black athletes and illegal behavior. That’s certainly not fair, but it is what goes on. And whether the correlation is the result of causation or not is irrelevant to most consumers of news.

Yet despite the awareness of the negative perception many black athletes face, there is always another fool who continues to perpetuate the stereotype. Perhaps we have yet another black face to carry the torch for the Pacmans, Mike Vicks and the Plaxicos of the world. Quinn Ojinnaka, if guilty, has taken privileges life has afforded him for granted, which will likely lead to the Falcons taking his talent for granted and cutting him from the team. And if that happens, maybe we will find out whether his riches turned him a foul, or if his alleged violent behavior was innate.

Either way, guilty or not guilty, true or untrue, strike another tally in the rich, violent black athlete column, because in the minds of the people who control the sport, this is yet another black eye for the black athlete.

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