Tuesday, December 18, 2012

6 comments Rob Parker Should Be Fired, Not Just Suspended

I tried to think of a catchier title than that, but in this case simplicity was the best move. I'm going to post MMQB tomorrow, but wanted to get this post up first. I think ESPN should fire Rob Parker. I don't think ESPN should fire him because I don't like what he said (which I don't) nor because I disagree with him (which I do). I think ESPN should fire Rob Parker because he is taking the issue of race, which requires nuance and an in-depth conversation, and turning into a talking point to draw headlines and get attention. Rob Parker is hijacking the discussion of race and doing an injustice to the topic by turning it into a divisive talking point. ESPN is now in the business of race-baiting. They hire Skip Bayless to race-bait, Stephen A. Smith clearly drops a racial slur on national television (twice), and now Rob Parker is questioning Robert Griffin's "blackness" from Parker's high authority as a black man who doesn't even know Griffin. ESPN is a joke because they are becoming more and more seen as tabloid sports journalism. More and more "First Take" is becoming the "Jerry Springer Show" where two sides with opposing viewpoints take part in a battle that is more about ratings and entertainment than real sports journalism.

Perhaps ESPN is fine with that, but they shouldn't be. Rob Parker should be fired because we as a public deserve a better discourse on television than Rob Parker questioning someone's "blackness" and hearing racial slurs dropped while the person who dropped the racial slurs denies what everyone knows he said. It does a disservice to any discussion of race and it does a disservice to the viewer. ESPN needs to move away from this race-baiting and tabloid sports journalism and firing Rob Parker for his comments would be a good step towards doing this. I know there is a point of view that instead of firing Rob Parker ESPN should learn to talk about race. That's not happening though because ESPN doesn't want to learn to talk about race on "First Take." ESPN wants ratings, which is why they won't fire Rob Parker. Why can't ESPN learn to talk about race, and in the first step towards doing this, fire Rob Parker to show they are dedicated to an honest discussion on race?

We live in a (hopefully) a post-racial America. Not only does Rob Parker not have the authority to question another black person's "blackness," but my question is why he even wants to do this? Why does he see a black quarterback play well and then want to say he isn't "black enough?" Isn't this counter-intuitive to the goal of racial progress in America? Rob Parker sees a successful, black quarterback and immediately dismisses him as part of the "black race" and for what reason? What purpose does this serve other than to draw headlines and start a debate? As much as hear and read that black quarterbacks are treated differently than white quarterbacks, why dismiss a black quarterback for not being "black enough?" It's irritating for me we live in a world where equality is being strived for, while some of those who strive for equality seem absolutely determined to divide as much as possible. A huge company like ESPN (and therefore ABC) can not allow their employees to take a complex issue like race and turn it into a simplistic talking point for debate.

Let's review what Rob Parker said so I can perhaps get my point of view across better. Parker was responding to a comment by Robert Griffin who said,

"I don't have to be defined by that (being African-American)." 

I applaud him for saying this. He's trying to break the chains that people like Rob Parker want to hold him down with and just become a person, not a (insert sub-category of race/ethnic/sex) person. I am white. I do not want to be defined as a white person, so from that point of view I completely understand how Robert Griffin feels the way he does. I don't want to be seen as a white person only. This isn't a "touching pee-pees, we are all fucking friends, peace on Earth" argument I am making. It's just simply a point ESPN is missing more and more. It's not about how these comments make us feel, but how these comments reflect the speaker's own view of race and how a person of a certain race should act, think or believe. I'm offended when Stephen A. Smith drops a racial slur on television. I'm offended when ESPN allows Skip Bayless to race-bait. I'm sure Rob Parker would say I have no right to be offended, but he is wrong. By not giving me the right to be offended he is taking away my right to look past race, and as an effect, creating stereotypes for how people of certain races should behalf. I'm pretty sure someone who thinks this way is a bigot.

Anyway, here are Parker's idiotic statements.

"I've talked to some people in Washington, D.C. Some people in [Griffin's] press conferences. Some people I've known for a long time

Notice how Rob Parker starts it off with using his "sources" who he has known for a long time to back up his statement judging Griffin's "blackness." Parker knows what he is saying is stupid, but he tries to back up his opinion with the opinion of others that Griffin isn't "black." So he tries to immediately paint himself as part of an idiotic group and not just the idiotic lone gunman.

My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is

It's a "straight, honest question" designed to begin a simplistic debate about race where there can be no winners. Rob Parker keeps trying to preface his statement with words to make it seem like he's just "being real" and getting to the honest truth, when he is race-baiting.

"I'm just asking a straight, honest question...are you less intelligent because you are Hispanic? I'm not being a racist, but just being real. You can't hate me for being real."

... is he a 'brother,' or is he a cornball 'brother?'

This isn't a straight, honest question. This is race-baiting and the type of thing that ESPN needs to distance themselves from as quickly as possible. Yes, they suspended Parker, but this is punishing him for saying the wrong thing when they need to fire him and start "First Take" all over since the environment the show creates is part of the problem as well. This type of statement by Parker is not acceptable when stated by any person, no matter the race of that person. It's irritating to me in hearing Rob Parker question the "blackness" of an NFL player. How is making a subjective judgment about a person being "straight" or asking an "honest question?" It's not. Parker is being "straight" from his point of view, but his idea of honesty is better kept to himself from now on.

He's not really ... he's black, but he's not really down with the cause.

Griffin isn't "down with the cause." I'm sorry I thought Rob Parker worked as a journalist for ESPN. I guess I had him all wrong and he really is a member of "the cause." I'm sure questioning a black man's "blackness" is a central tenet of "the cause." Because this cause is apparently all about equality for "real" black people and not asshole cornball brothers like Robert Griffin. Those cornball brothers can burn in hell for daring to break out of the mold of what Rob Parker thinks a black man should act like. That's not closed-minded at all.

He's not one of us.

Race-baiting at its best. Kudos ESPN, you allow bigots to work at your network. You must be really, really proud. Sadly, ESPN probably is very proud.

He's kind of black, but he's not really like the guy you'd want to hang out with.

This is as opposed to Rob Parker who is a real cool chill guy to hang out with as long as you are "really" the race your skin color shows you to be. Otherwise, Rob Parker will be straight with you and make a subjective judgment on how you should act based on his own bigoted impression of your race.

I don't know what this "cause" Rob Parker is involved with, but if there is a cause that looks down on black people who are educated, intelligent, good athletes and good people then that cause isn't worth a shit. In fact, by saying he is affiliated with "the cause," and Griffin isn't because he has these "non-black" attributes, Rob Parker is taking a huge shit all over the cause he claims to represent. Parker is keeping down those same people he claims to want to help.

I just want to find out about him

This comment makes it worse. Rob Parker doesn't even know Robert Griffin, but he claims to know enough to know Griffin isn't black enough. What a terrible person Rob Parker is. The next time he writes an article about a knucklehead athlete who gets in trouble with the law I hope he remembers how he treats a good person like Robert Griffin. He pushes Griffin away because he doesn't meet the standard to be black when he doesn't even know Griffin.

He has a white fiancĂ©, 

I'm not going to do the whole reverse this situation thing because I know any smart person is already doing that on their own. So basically Robert Griffin is not black enough because he dares to marry a white woman and doesn't meet the imaginary criteria of being "black." I'm not going to say Parker is racist, but he is a bigot. He publicly classifies people purely by stereotype. This just doesn't have a place in today's heterogeneous society. I love R&B and not in the "that white guy who says he likes that one Sam Cooke song or listens to John Legend" way, does that make me less white? I hate sweet tea, does that make me less Southern? I hate mayonnaise, does that make me less white? Anyone who tries to define a person simply by race, gender, or ethnicity simply has no place on television.

ESPN fired Rush Limbaugh and another network employee (when discussing Jeremy Lin) for making rude comments about race or ethnicity. Rob Parker gets suspended and I can't see how he keeps his job. What's so irritating is how ESPN doesn't get out in front of this issue and address the actual issue, which is the race-baiting that goes on at the network in a desperate grab for ratings. ESPN could make a bold move and revamp "First Take" entirely, (the horror!) getting rid of the contrived debate format that embraces the controversial for the sake of being controversial, and get control of the debate and discussion at their network. Get in front of the issue and get rid of those causing the issue rather than punishing them for doing exactly what you are encouraging them to do. I'm not stupid. I'm screaming into a void and ESPN won't make any bold moves this ensure comments like this aren't spoke again on their network.

people talking about that he's a Republican ... there's no information at all.

What does it matter if he is a Republican? Does this make him non-white? How dare a minority be a registered Republican! Rob Parker is so open-minded he will only allow non-black people to be Republicans. The idea that Griffin is a Republican and this makes him not black is bigoted, as well as incredibly infuriating.

I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue


Then Skip Bayless chimed in with,

"What do RG3's braids say to you?"

What is this, CSI: Bigots?

RG3's braids tell me that he likes to wear his hair in braids. What does it matter what this says about him as a black or white person?

"To me, that's very urban,

To me, this conversation is all very stupid and has no place on a sports network.

"It makes you feel like ... I think he would have a clean cut if he were more straight-laced or not ... wearing braids is ... you're a brother. You're a brother. If you've got braids on."

So black people wearing braids are not clean cut. It's good to know the rules. So does Griffin's braids make him a "real" black person or is this just a part of the facade of being a black man that Griffin is dangerously trying to sell our nation on him being? 

Of course, previous to being suspended Rob Parker refused to back off or clarify his comments. In a statement so full of irony it blows my mind, Parker said his critics are "uneducated" and "silly." So by judging a Griffin solely on how "black" he is, despite not knowing Griffin at all, Parker is just being "straight" and "honest" with the audience by making a value judgment based on ignorance. Those who dare question Parker's value judgment are the ones who are uneducated and silly because they have enough sense to know how full of shit and bigoted Parker's comments truly are. I would leave a question mark after those sentences but those aren't questions, but are statements, because that seems to be how Parker truly feels.

I don't spend my time calling for people I disagree with to be fired nor am I easily offended. I'm more infuriated by the constant race-baiting that ESPN allows its employees to participate in while making a grab for ratings. If ESPN wants to not be a punchline they need to get in front of this issue, fire Rob Parker and turn "First Take" into a show that doesn't resemble a sports version of "The Jerry Springer Show."

ESPN needs to fire Rob Parker in an effort to move away from the destructive path "First Take" has led the company down. I'm not optimistic it will happen because ESPN seems to enjoy the culture it has created since it results in good ratings, which are all that really matters to ESPN. It's best to distance themselves and "First Take" from comments such as this, but it is impossible for ESPN to distance themselves when this type of comment is what "First Take" is all about. The show is about creating a reaction from the audience. It isn't about an honest discussion of race or any other sports issue.

I understand the point of view of those who believe ESPN should just suspend Rob Parker and help start an honest discussion about race, but I don't see how ESPN begins to start this discussion with race-baiters like Skip Bayless on the payroll and Rob Parker judging the "blackness" of certain athletes. It's time to get rid of the clowns. Firing Rob Parker would be the first step to ESPN showing the world they won't accept simplified discussions being boiled down into 10 second soundbites. It's sounds harsh, and it is, but ESPN can't help create a society where athletes have to act like a certain race or are judged "white/black/Asian" enough. Letting Rob Parker off the hook with merely a suspension for this value judgment about Robert Griffin would be sending a bad message to athletes who dare not to stay in the box the sports media so desperately wants to place them. Comments like those Rob Parker made about Robert Griffin are destructive, ill intentioned, and only go to further set the discussion of race back in a post-racial society. ESPN should want to do better.


rich said...

he's black, but he's not really down with the cause.

Good breakdown Ben, but here's the thing I've never understood - why do African Americans care how "black" someone else is? RGIII is an alleged Republican and is engaged to a white woman... I honestly don't know if either of those things is something to get upset about.

The fact is that if going to a good school, graduating in three years and starting a graduate degree while excelling as an athlete and being classy as any player in the league is "not down with the cause," then maybe Parker should re-evaluate what "the cause" is.

How anyone can look at RGIII and not want their kid to grow up to be like that is insane. Shit, I hope if I have kids the grow up to be half as successful, intelligent and thoughtful, but I guess anyone a white guy like me can relate to isn't "black" enough.

I honestly don't know what Parker thinks is though. Is it Burress? Vick? Who exactly does Parker think is "down with the cause"? Because if there's a "cause" that RGIII isn't for, then there should be a massive introspection by the group with that cause.

How Parker still has a job is beyond me. Rush lost his job after saying McNabb was overrated and protected because he was black. Don Imus lost his job because he called the Rutgers basketball team "nappy headed hoes," but Steven A Smith gets away with a racial slur and now Parker's situation.

HH said...

if there is a cause that looks down on black people who are educated, intelligent, good athletes and good people then that cause isn't worth a shit


Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I agree with you on that. I think Parker is the one who is off-base. He needs to re-evaluate the cause he thinks he is fighting for if he doesn't want more African-American quarterbacks like RG3.

For me, it isn't a black/white issue as to why they kept their job. The forum is why Imus/Limbaugh lost their jobs and Smith/Parker did not. It seems "First Take" encourages this type of behavior and discussion about pro athletes. Limbaugh was on an NFL pregame show and Imus had a (somewhat controversial) radio show, but the format of the show wasn't the trolling format that "First Take" has become.

ESPN needs to look hard at this situation because Rob Parker is supporting a cause that I would believe the majority of those people he believes he speaks for would not agree with.

HH, it's true. He's doing more damage to those he claims to want to support. He's tearing down a guy who is successful and refuses to be defined by how he looks. What's so funny is that is the supposed goal of post-racial America, but yet there are still those who can't stand to not classify an athlete in this special box, where that athlete can stay easily defined. I find it to be bigotry.

jacktotherack said...

Am I the only one who might be more offended by Bayless' "What do his braids mean to you" comment than Parker's idiocy? That ESPN allows a show to exist that actually allows a conversation like this to occur should be an embarrassment to the network.

Snarf said...


I'm assuming it's not really hitting anyone due to its relative tameness in comparison to Parker's comments. I get what you're saying, though.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I don't know if it is a matter of being more offended more than I am used to shit like that from Bayless.

You are 100% right the fact this conversation occurs should be an embarrassment to the network. Today, Parker apologizes and we are all supposed to move on.

I'd like to hear what RB3's braids mean to Skip. I'm sure that would be interesting to hear.