NewsOne Featured Video
Michael Oher

Michael Oher #74 of the Ole Miss Rebels stands with his family during senior ceremonies prior to a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 28, 2008, in Oxford, Mississippi. | Source: Getty Images / Getty

White conservativesand white liberals too, for that mattercomplain incessantly about how “divided” America is. Republican presidential candidates are running on the promise that they will end racial division and unite the country in spite of the “Democrat agenda” to keep us divided. But most Black people know that when conservatives say they want to unite America, they really just mean unite the country under conservatism, which, in my opinion, means they want to return to traditional America, which, also in my opinion, means a return (or continuance, as it were) to white supremacy. Conservatives either don’t realize or pretend not to understand that their whitewashing of Black history and their narratives against “wokeness,” critical race theory, Black Lives Matter, diversity, inclusion and equity are also divisive as they alienate the strong majority of Black people and people of color.

But, again, it isn’t just white conservatives.

Recently, Dr. Stacey Patton wrote about how Jamie Foxx shouldn’t have had to apologize for saying, “They killed this dude named Jesus,” because, while white people, liberal and conservative alike, took it as an antisemitic sentiment, Black people’s use of the phrase “they killed Jesus” has never carried that same connotation because, when we say it, “they” isn’t a reference to Jewish people. That’s literally never the connection being made when “they killed Jesus” is said within Black households, communities, barber shops, cookouts, etc.

But that didn’t matter—because the mainstream narrative ultimately always defaults to whiteness

White people and Black people are different. Because of the differences in our histories, our lived experiences in America, our cultures and many of our core values, we are often having two completely different conversations regarding the same issue. When it comes right down to it, we’re fundamentally different and thus fundamentally divided. (*something, something, “not all white people/Black people,” or whatever*)

This brings me to the curious case of Michael Oher.

As you know, the former NFL offensive lineman whose life story was depicted in the Oscar-winning film The Blind Side, which is based on the book of the same title by Michael Lewis, says he genuinely believed he’d been adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who took him in as a teenager. Almost 20 years later, Oher says the Tuohys misled him into entering a conservatorship and signing away his legal rights. The Tuohys, of course, are defending themselves against what they have called “insulting” lies told by their estranged “adoptive” child.

White people are having the same discussion around Oher that they likely imagine everyone is having: Who’s right, who’s wrong and who has a legal leg to stand on? For them, it’s all about who to believe, and theysurprise, surprise—lean heavily toward the Tuohys.

Oh, and many of them are wondering why Oher isn’t grateful this generous white family pulled him out of poverty and made him the success story he is.

This brings us to the conversation Black people are having regarding Michael Oher and the Tuohys: The conversation about white saviorism. I’ll get back to that in a second.

Recently, TMZ published an article about how Oher “knew the Tuohy family were his ‘legal conservators’ in 2011, despite claiming in legal docs that he just became aware this February.” TMZ posted the article to its Twitter account under the caption, “Michael Oher has some explaining to do,” which is odd since the explanation is literally included in the article.

In Oher’s 2011 book, I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side, and Beyond, the 37-year-old made it clear that when he signed away his legal and financial rights to his “adoptive” parents shortly after he turned 18, he was intentionally put under the impression that adoption and conservatorship were essentially the same things.

“It kind of felt like a formality, as I’d been a part of the family for more than a year at that point. Since I was already over the age of eighteen and considered an adult by the state of Tennessee, Sean and Leigh Anne would be named as my ‘legal conservators,'” Oher wrote. “They explained to me that it means pretty much the exact same thing as ‘adoptive parents,’ but that the laws were just written in a way that took my age into account. Honestly, I didn’t care what it was called. I was just happy that no one could argue that we weren’t legally what we already knew was real: We were a family.” Oher’s petition to legally end the conservatorship says much of the same. “The lie of Michael’s adoption is one upon which co-conservators Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy have enriched themselves at the expense of their ward, the undersigned Michael Oher,” it reads.Couple this with the fact that Oher’s “adoptive” mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy, has, for years, promoted herself as Oher’s adoptive mother and has used her fame from The Blind Side to brand herself as an adoption advocate, and suddenly whether or not Oher believed he had been adopted in every sense of the word becomes a tedious and arbitrary argument largely based around semantics.

So, why is it white people are defending the Tuohy’s so fiercely? Well, that one’s easy: The Blind Side is white people’s feel-good story.

Now, we’re back to the part about white saviorism.

Ever since the trailer for the 2009 film first dropped, Black people were calling it the unremarkable white savior porn flick that it is. We already knew the movie was trash. A biographical film about noble rich white people who took an uneducated and dim-witted Black teen out of ghetto homelessness and charitably changed the trajectory of his life to make him a success story? Oh, that’s definitely not a film being marketed toward us. That’s a film made for white people, liberal and conservative alike, who get all warm and fuzzy inside at the thought of white people saving and civilizing negroes and calling it racial harmony.

And how dare Oher ruin their sweet Caucasian fantasy by sharing his own experience?

Of course, you can expect white people to either be offended or indifferent to what Black people think about this story, just as they have been about what Oher himself has been saying about his depiction in their favorite Miss Millie-approved love story for years. In 2015, Oher talked about how the movie ruined him and his career by depicting him as unintelligent and making it seem like he owed everything he accomplished to his parents who weren’t really his parents. But no, I’m sure white people are correct and Oher’s complaints about the film and his “adoptive” family came completely out of nowhere. You might even say they were all blindsided. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

Recently, Twitter exploded into a controversy (or non-troversy, actually) about whether or not actress Sandra Bullock, who played Leigh Anne in the film, should give her Oscar back. It wasn’t a real debate as most people, regardless of race, seem to agree that Bullock is not responsible for the real-life drama, only her part in the on-screen drama, and she shouldn’t have to turn over her award. Not that the academy would ever take an actor’s Oscar for that reason anyway, which is why it’s such a stupid argument to have in the first place. But I do think there was a missed opportunity to talk about how white actors like Bullock, who has exclusively adopted Black children in real life, jump to do films like The Blind Side to socially benefit themselves and white audiences who don’t understand that white saviorism is an off-shoot of white supremacy dressed up to look like some “Kumbaya” nonsense—and that’s exactly why these films win Oscars in the first place.

Of course, that opportunity was doomed to be missed from the start, because white people simply aren’t ready for that conversation.

And that’s why we’re divided.


‘N*gga Wake-Up Call’: Larry Elder Checks Charlamagne Tha God Over Joe Biden’s ‘You Ain’t Black’ Remark

How Trump’s Georgia Indictment Provides A Legal Path To Keep Him Off The Ballot In 2024

Ratifying The 19th Amendment: Celebrating Black Women Voting Rights Champions
Stacey Abrams/ #TheBlackBallot
10 photos