Black Man’s Burden

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Bell’s testimony could revive aspects of racial sexual politics similar to those that occurred during the trial of the great Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight boxing champ. Johnson broke many white records and noses. But Johnson’s penchant for bedding white women created the most animosity toward him and led to his prosecution under the Mann Act.

(Bonds …one on a long list of persecuted Black super athletes beginning with the great Jack Johnson, shown right)

In America, Black men always seem to be on a collision course with the criminal justice system. And the same is true even if you are an entertainer or sports star. Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant are only the latest to be ensnared by America’s twisted jurisprudence. But historically, we also saw the trials of other prominent African Americans like: Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, and O.J. Simpson. Any time now we could be hearing another name: Barry Bonds.

Currently, Bonds is being investigated by Major League baseball and the federal government. And the smoldering racial angle to the Bonds soap opera may soon explode. Many have argued that the travails of Barry Bonds on the steroid issue have nothing to do with race. But if the government tries Barry Bonds on tax evasion charges and perjury, as is now being rumored, the issue of race will take center stage.

Kimberly Bell, a supposed former white mistress has written a book saying she had a nine-year affair with Bonds, and may testify in a possible perjurytax evasion trial. She alleges that the Giants star told her that he was using steroids because he wanted to eclipse the spotlight that Mark McGuire got in his record breaking year. Ms. Bell claims that she had been seeing Bonds since the divorce of his first wife, who was white. Moreover, she says that she was devastated when he married his current wife, who is Black. According to her, he said he couldn’t marry another white woman because of the negative image this would have in the Black community. These allegations, which have been percolating just below the surface, will arise if he is prosecuted.

And that means the verboten topic of interracial sex would surely come up. In fact, Bell’s testimony could revive aspects of racial sexual politics similar to those that occurred during the Jack Johnson trial. Johnson broke many white records and noses. But Johnson penchant for bedding white women created the most animosity toward him and led to his prosecution under the Mann Act.

Major League Baseball which has been feigning ignorance regarding steroids cannot like the prospect of an ugly media trial with racial and sexual overtones. Commissioner Bud Selig is probably having nightmares. Also, there are already those who are trying to force Bonds out of the game. And you can bet that if there is a trial things will go from bad to worse quickly.

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