I was surprised to learn this blog already had a "George Washington" tag. Of course the previous post had nothing to do with George Washington and was about a transgender basketball player. Here at BotB, we tackle the issues no one else will touch long before anyone is willing to address the issue. Today, possible editor-in-chief, but possibly not editor-in-chief so let's just keep wondering for another couple of years about it, of "The Undefeated" Howard Bryant says that Chip Kelly may not be racist. He just has the same cultural issue that George Washington faced during the Revolutionary War with the New Englanders. Bryant is clear in stating he's not wondering whether Kelly is racist or not, because that would be absurd, but the idea Kelly could have a problem with certain races is not absurd. Apparently that's different from being a racist by tying it into a broad cultural issue where Kelly suffers from the same non-racist semi-racist tendencies that the rest of society has.
FACED WITH A challenge far more grave than winning the NFC East,
George Washington was named commander-in-chief of the Continental Army
in June 1775.
"A challenge far more grave than winning the NFC East..."
Hey, George Washington never had to match wits with Chip Kelly, stop Odell Beckham Jr, shut down the Cowboys' running game or pretend to block so that Robert Griffin gets murdered by a pass rusher. Washington also never had to worry about his best general being lost for a year due to an ACL tear.
Before embarking on campaigns against the British, his first battle came
in taking command of troops he hated. Washington reviled Massachusetts
And just like how George Washington hated Massachusetts soldiers that he had no option but to work with, Chip Kelly deals with hating the players that he ultimately has a choice on whether to work with or not.
According to Edward G. Lengel's General George Washington: A Military Life, Washington "regarded the common soldiers of that colony as 'an exceeding dirty & nasty people.'"
Sadly, "Boston Strong" at one point wasn't an uplifting message of hope and unity, but a reference to the poor bathing habits of the Massachusetts colony.
In 1776, author David McCullough likewise writes that Washington
found New Englanders "to be men of a decidedly different sort than he
had expected, and he was not at all pleased."
You may ask, "What does this have to do with Chip Kelly?" Don't worry, it will never be made entirely clear as to what George Washington not liking Massachusetts soldiers has to do with whether Chip Kelly is a racist or not. It seems Howard Bryant just got done reading a few books about the Revolutionary War and can't wait to share the knowledge he's learned.
Reliance on a workforce has never required respecting or understanding it.
This is true. Most people who have a supervisor can agree they are relied on by their supervisor, but not respected or understood by this supervisor. While knowing reliance on a workforce never required respecting or understanding it, also know not relying on certain people in the workforce doesn't mean you don't respect or understand them. It just means you don't want them to work for you anymore.
Steelers corner Brandon Boykin
seemed to understand this about his former coach in Philadelphia, Chip
Kelly. Boykin's belief that Kelly had difficulty relating to black
players was met with the kind of disingenuous, passive-aggressive shock
that explains why the topic of race often feels so intractable in this
It's not all disingenuous, passive-aggressive shock necessarily. It's more, "Oh okay, so this guy says Chip Kelly is a racist. I'm sure that could be true, but his opinion doesn't necessarily serve as concrete evidence his belief is correct."
The public and the media machine largely dismissed Boykin's comments as
preposterous, a predictable reflex whenever a black athlete suggests the
white mainstream fails to understand the black experience.
I don't understand another person's experience in life, so I obviously don't understand "the black experience" which seems to be a collective experience of one group of people (a classification that I find to be oversimplifying things just a bit, but I get why it's done). To say "the white mainstream" fails to understand the black experience seems a little bit like Bryant is stating that just one group doesn't understand the black experience. I would bet that if an Asian group of people claimed to understand the black experience then Howard Bryant would think that's ridiculous. Yet here, he makes it "the white mainstream" as the group that fails to understand the black experience. This is a bit of finger-pointing at one specific group which is pretty lazy on Bryant's part.
Boykin then clarified his remarks, even though the Eagles provided all the necessary clarity in 2014 when they gave Riley Cooper a five-year, $25 million contract seven months after the receiver's use of a racist slur.
Again, I can't explain why the Eagles gave Riley Cooper this contract. Was it racism, was it the fact it wasn't a terrible contract for a 26 year old coming off a career year? I can't answer that and any attempt to answer this question is just speculation.
Boykin, the thinking went, could not possibly be correct because,
as a coach, Kelly leads dozens of highly paid black men, which is
nearly as absurd as saying the manager of a nightclub cannot be sexist
because the dancers he hires are women.
Any attempt to prove a point has to start with overstating your opposition's position. Bryant emphasizes "could not possibly" in an attempt to make it seem like Boykin's statements were taken as absolutely incorrect and not as potentially factual statements that simply lack any sort of evidentiary basis. Bryant overstates the thinking of those who don't immediately come to the conclusion Kelly is racist in order to prove that no one took Boykin's statement seriously. I'm not sure that was the case. The statement is taking seriously as an accusation, but an accusation that lacks concrete evidence, outside of Boykin's experience with Chip Kelly. Overstate the opposition's view in order to make yours seem more reasonable. That's the way to go.
So it would be unsurprising if Chip Kelly were a racist, or if he were
simply uncomfortable with young black men. It would be equally
unsurprising if neither of these things were true,
But remember, we are working under the assumption that out of these two equally unsurprising things one of them is more likely true than the other. They are equal, except the assumption leans towards one conclusion over the other. I'm not sure that's the definition of "equal" or not.
but the anxious
instinct to suggest Boykin was speaking irresponsibly ignores the fact
that the tension he described between him and his white boss was unremarkable.
What? It was normal tension that results between a boss and an employee? But of course, it can't be normal tension because Boykin was being treated differently by Kelly. The assumption of being treated differently must stand. That's how it has to be if the equally unsurprising conclusions that Kelly is or is not racist leans in the direction Bryant feels it does. He has a conclusion he must reach.
There aren't any employees in this country -- even among the white males
who represent the default position of American leadership -- who
haven't had at least one boss who didn't "get" them.
What if I told you that my employer doesn't "get" me because I'm a male? What if I told you that mostly females are hired by my employer and it only furthers my belief this is true? I'm sure Howard Bryant would think it's absolutely ridiculous that an employer would seem to favor one sex or another and dismiss my feelings. Because I'm among the default position of American leadership, so my irresponsible feelings are just the result of disliking being on an equal playing field with others and not a result of an actual true belief I have. The bottom line is people will believe a side of the Chip Kelly "is he racist or not?" story and then make up reasons why they believe it from there. It's how it goes and this includes Howard Bryant as one who does this.
An "Is Kelly a racist or isn't he?" narrative is just the lazy
masquerading as the profound, especially when Boykin never actually
called Kelly a racist.
Bryant can decorate it however he wants with a discussion of George Washington, but "Is Kelly a racist or isn't he?" is essentially the conversation he is having in this column.
The NFL already has a problem with black people, the ones who don't stay
in their lane, the ones who talk. The problem is true of football, just
as it is with Major League Baseball and dozens of other industries
across America, including the media.
I have found major sports have a problem with any person who doesn't stay in their lane and who talks too much. I'm sure since Howard Bryant has worked in dozens of other industries across American (eye roll) he knows this to be true. I can say that other industries have a problem with any person who doesn't stay in his/her lane at work and gives their opinion more than it is wanted. I understand this is a part of Howard Bryant's experience, but rest assured, this is also the experience anyone who doesn't stay in their lane at work has as well. Sometimes in an effort to be treated more fairly, it's necessary to understand that the treatment you are receiving, even though it may not seem that way, is in many ways how others are treated as well.
Every black person in America knows he must learn to navigate the white
world to advance -- but that world needn't know very much or anything
about him. It's the price of being a minority. Life isn't fair.
I can't argue with someone else's experience. Though again, I think Howard Bryant is going back to the "Is Kelly a racist or isn't he?" well and covering up for it by claiming systemic racism. Bryant is essentially making the argument Kelly is a racist because on a macro-level there is systemic racism. That's a whole other discussion that probably has very little to do with George Washington's feelings about the Massachusetts colony during the Revolutionary War.
It is why the four most important teams in the history of baseball --
the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals and, yes, the Dodgers of Jackie Robinson
lore -- have never hired a black manager.
To call these four teams the "most important teams in the history of baseball" seems to be confusing "important" with successful. It's how "fame" and "notoriety" seem to get confused at times as well.
If these dynamics were not at work, neither the NFL nor MLB would have
to force teams to interview minorities whenever a job comes open.
Yes, if the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Cardinals would just hire a black manager sometime soon then MLB and NFL could do away with any type of initiative intended to help minorities get interviews as a team's head coach/manager.
What coaches don't have a problem with is Boykin's talent. There are 32
NFL teams and almost zero white starting running backs or cornerbacks.
As I said before, the whole "Well, Kelly HAS to work with these minorities because there aren't any white running backs or cornerbacks" position for why Kelly may be racist doesn't always work well for me. Yes, Kelly could still be a racist and sign or trade for non-white running backs or cornerbacks, but the point still remains that Kelly coaches these players and looks for a certain type of non-white/white running back or cornerback for his team. Kelly is looking for a certain type of running back or cornerback for his system. He's notoriously picky about players who buy into his system.
Washington disliked his workforce, but he needed it to win the war. Same goes for the NFL.
Great tie-in here. Because Washington can not choose his workforce, while Kelly has the ability to a greater extent to choose his workforce. That's what Kelly is doing and whether Kelly is choosing African-American players he can "control" or those who fit his system and personality is up for debate. Just know statements from ex-players that Kelly is sort of racist should be taken with the same grain of salt as evidence from ex-players that Kelly isn't racist. The conclusion you want to draw without further evidence one way or another is your own. Just don't draw your conclusion on this issue and act like the equally as unsurprising other conclusion is simply not just as likely. That's what Howard Bryant seems to be doing here.
Kelly might have an issue, he might not, but the routine reflex to
dismiss the obvious historical reality that people from different
racial, cultural and class backgrounds might struggle to understand one
another in the workplace is a much bigger problem than Chip Kelly ever
So the conclusion is that people in a workplace won't always get along? Howard Bryant has to go so far back as to use George Washington as an example of this? Anyone who has a job knows this is true. It turns out that everyone who doesn't understand someone else in the workplace because of a different background may or may not be racist. It's funny, because I don't understand people who come from my same background either. It's almost like people are different from each other and every misunderstanding can't be placed into a little box with a convenient label.