I support the cause of the black male athlete, which is why I created ALARM, the Athlete Liberation and Academic Reform Movement. Our work is designed to focus on the intellectual enlightenment of African American male athletes, helping them to understand that being a smart black man is far more important than being able to dribble a basketball or throw a football. The highly publicized cases of athletes going broke are perfect examples, since their grad school educated agents and business managers almost never go broke. The dividing line in this equation? Education.
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For all intents and purposes, Chad Ochocinco is…well…. a little ridiculous and ignorant. He represents the exact opposite of what ALARM stands for, since he presents exactly the kind of minstrel show that white America has always asked black men to become. With a big mouth full of metal, Chad reminds us of just how often black male athletes waste valuable platforms engaging in ridiculous and counter-productive behavior. Yes, Chad graduated from college, but as a professor, I can tell you that graduating doesn’t mean you were actually educated.
His most interesting action this week was when he chose only two black women to date on his new Vh-1 reality show. In fact, there are reports from an insider stating that he wanted to replace the black women with white and hispanic women who were extras. If these reports are true, they are certainly disturbing. This is not to say that Ochocinco (yes, the name change from “Chad Johnson” was stupid to me) doesn’t have a right to love who he wants. But he reminds us of all the other athletes who seem to avoid black women like the plague, always placing them second fiddle. His consistent rejection of the women who raised him is likely a reflection of his own internal self-hatred.
Ochocinco will be the man for a while, but his shelf-life was short from the minute he stepped onto the field. At the age of 32, he’s nearing retirement, and he has unfortunately shown us that his physical gifts are the most valuable asset he possesses. Unless there are additional auditions for “Dancing with the Stars,” Chad’s own star will fizzle, and he will disappear into mediocrity at best, and perhaps poverty. At that point, all the black women who adored him when he was younger will thank their lucky stars that he was never interested in them in the first place.
The buffoonery should end in professional sports. Black male athletes must be men, not walking cartoon characters. Our primary objective in life should not be to make ourselves into a laughing stock for others.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the Athlete Liberation and Academic Reform Movement (ALARM). To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.