Black Enough? Quarterback Russell Wilson Is Humanbeing Enough 

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The topic of race in 21st century America is like a deeply embedded splinter in your skin.

It’s painful. It’s swollen. There’s a good chance of infection. And for the sake of your healing, that splinter must be dealt with. It cannot be ignored. It won’t be wished away. Your wound will not get better on its own. Decisive and deliberate action is required, but that isn’t possible without a conversation. Before I can help you, we have to talk. Today, I want to talk about being black enough. For those who are black and reading this, you probably understand my words. For those who are not black reading this, you probably won’t understand – at first. Please read on.

The haunting question of being black enough is all around us. It occurs every day in American workplaces, schools, and universities. It occurs in sports, politics, and entertainment. Black Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, systems of faith, educational levels, and political affiliations face this question. It’s not a matter of it, it’s a matter of when.

An example of this in the sports world can be found in the locker room of the Seattle Seahawks. The NFL’s defending World Champions are – according to media reports – a team divided. The Seahawks’ All-Pro quarterback, Russell Wilson, allegedly is the flashpoint. Some of his teammates question if he is black enough. There is a lot of speculation as to how such a talented, intelligent, and hard-working black man who just led his team to the pinnacle of the National Football League would have this question aimed directly at him. Is it because Mr. Wilson identifies himself as being of mixed heritage rather than black? Is it because he speaks a certain way? How perplexing.

For another example of the black enough dilemma in the political realm, look no further than the White House (pun fully intended). President Obama has been a frequent target of the black enough query. His most vocal conservative enemies have alternatively accused him of being too black (ergo: too arrogant, too confident, and too imperial) and not black enough (read: half-breed, foreign, and colonial). It must be mentally exhausting for POTUS to have every word he utters, every action he proposes, and every sentiment he shares with the American public scrutinized down to the subatomic level. For some Americans, Mr. Obama will never be articulate enough, patriotic enough, or religious/spiritual enough. Which brings me to the heart of the matter.

Whenever a black person is faced with the question of being black enough, it’s not at all about skin pigmentation, melanin, or complexion. It’s much deeper than that. When an individual or a group of individuals insinuate that someone isn’t black enough, they’re implying that the person in question is substandard in some way. That person’s intelligence, moral compass, faith, work ethic, physical appearance, standard of living, background, and gender is being questioned. That’s why this particular question is so painful and so personal. It’s a right cross to a person’s mind, spirit, and body. Are you black enough is virtually identical to being asked if you’re good enough. Deep down, every human being on this planet struggles with that phrase. You know that’s true.

Can you imagine being judged whether you’re good enough based on who you love? You should, because you are. Can you imagine being judged whether you’re good enough based on which political party you belong to? You should, because you are. Can you imagine being judged whether you’re good enough based on what your job title is? You should, because you are. Can you imagine being judged whether you’re good enough based on the color of your skin? You should, because like it or not, you are.

Children face the good enough question on their playgrounds and in their classrooms. Adults face the good enough question in their boardrooms and in their courtrooms. Enough is enough.

I write about race because I can. I write about race because it needs to be talked about. I write about race because we’re all God’s children – created in His most holy image. That makes us all brothers and sisters. We’re all equal. Whenever I address the issue of race relations in America within my column, it’s never intended to make anyone angry. It’s never intended to stir up trouble or to force my beliefs onto anyone else. To paraphrase the villainous Ultron in the brand new teaser trailer for Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’: “There are no strings on me.”

That wooden splinter embedded deep in America’s flesh must be extracted. Removing that splinter will definitely hurt, but it’s the only way for healing to occur. Ladies and gentlemen, we are all black enough. We are all good enough. What more can I say? 


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