“There is no litmus test for racial ‘legitimacy.’ The only thing these ‘tests’ reveal is a window into the foolish psyche of whomever applies them.”

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Amidst brewing locker room trouble among the reigning NFL Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks, Pro Bowl kick returner and wide receiver Percy Harvin was abruptly traded to the New York Jets.

Coming as a surprise to most, speculations and rumors alike began to pour onto the web by way of both social media and sports sites. One piece that struck nerves was a Bleacher Report article stating that there was a feeling in the locker room that star quarterback Russell Wilson has been misrepresenting his race. 


In other words: Russell Wilson isn’t black enough.

While Harvin wasn’t (publicly) directly linked to the ignorant accusations regarding his now former quarterback, trading him to New York — from the outside looking in — seems to be a by-product of the dynamics of the Seahawks’ locker room.

One person who is very familiar with NFL locker room culture, 2x Super Bowl Champ with the New York Giants, Carl Banks, decided to speak his opinion on the matter of questioning the blackness of NFL players. Here’s an excerpt below:

In a society as race-crazy as ours, this sort of news is equal parts shocking and unsurprising. And — rumor or genuine story — it’s not worth anyone’s time or consideration.

In my 12 seasons as an NFL player, no one ever accused me of not being black enough. No one ever questioned my blackness because I had attained my undergraduate degree in communications from Michigan State University. No one accused me of being a sellout when I chose to invest my intellectual capital wisely, laying the business groundwork for my successful transition to life after football. And though there were undoubtedly those in my locker rooms who felt that way about me — players who occupied the same real estate as Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch, if they, in fact, do question Wilson’s blackness — no one dared say it to my face, or leak it to the media.

There is no litmus test for racial “legitimacy.” The only thing these “tests” reveal is a window into the foolish psyche of whomever applies them.

Unfortunately, discussions about race and the NFL are rarely nuanced and are usually counterproductive. Fans, pundits, and even players themselves regularly squander the chance to discuss race in meaningful ways. We are trained to talk around race, rather than about it, so we end up talking about “racial legitimacy” instead of deeper, real issues — like why the league’s perceived crime issues are viewed heavily through the lens of race.

Read the rest of Carl Banks’ “Blackward Thinking” HERE 

-Jamaal Fisher (@jamaalfisher)

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