A firestorm of discussion is happening after Grant Hill’s response to the comments made by Jalen Rose in ESPN’s tremendously engaging documentary “The Fab Five”. During the documentary which highlighted the University of Michigan’s dynamic freshman five of Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson, Jalen Rose stated that during that time in his college career, he viewed Grant Hill as a “bitch”. He also stated that he viewed Duke as an organization that only recruited blacks of the “uncle tom” variety. Ouch!
Much like HBO’s documentary Running Rebels of UNLV which happened to air the night before, The Fab Five addressed the issue of black identity; particularly that of young black males, in raw form. A worthy issue of conversation regardless as to the time stamp on the comments made by Rose.
People are passionately choosing sides. Some are stating that Grant Hill is confirming his “uncle tom” and “bitch” status by ignoring that the comments were made by a much less mature Rose and “bragging” about his background. Others are commending him for defending himself and turning the situation into an opportunity to address a bigger issue. Both sides of the issue have rationale for their feelings but what has thus been lost in the discussion, is the issue. The issue of jaded views of black identity and the perception of young black males in America in particular plays out in classrooms, job interviews, relationships and many other social intersections in this country daily. One is hard pressed to find a segment of this world’s population that carries such a blinding, negative social caste than young, black American males. This dynamic is compounded by class-based inner fightings within the black community so explicitly demonstrated in this documentary. Folks are taking sides. One side emphatic in their defense of Jalen’s honest transparency, the other equally at Grant Hill’s articulation and effort to rise above the fray. BOTH sides missing the bigger picture and opportunity to frame the discussion around what matters most.
So perhaps I can help divert this discussion away from who is “bitchmade”. Or who “missed the point”. Or who was willing to take the high road by writing the letter Grant Hill perhaps should have considered writing instead;
Like many people Sunday night, I highly enjoyed ESPN’s Fab Five documentary. The program highlighted a great team made up of players I am proud to say were associates, and friendly competitors of mine. During the broadcast, some of the narrators reflected on disparaging comments and perceptions of myself; largely driven by my association with Duke University as well as my educational and family background. These reflections compelled me to address the sentiments shared by players on the Michigan team at that time, and many young, black males today.
I view myself as extremely fortunate to come from a middle class background with both parents. I know that many who share my skin color were not as fortunate. However, perhaps the most frustrating aspect of conversations on this topic is the continued association of black culture and identity, to poverty and struggle.
I commend Jalen Rose’s willingness to discuss this issue openly and candidly. I do not think topics such as racism and inclusion are addressed enough in a serious manner. These issues remain a concern for myself today. Perhaps the best thing about the comments reflected upon by Jalen Rose is that it gives us an opportunity to reflect on ignorance and false perceptions we all have towards one another oftentimes based on nothing more than a lack of understanding.
The ignorance that tells a young, black urban male that a black male from a 2-parent, middle class home is some how less black.
The ignorance that tells a middle aged white male that a young black male from the inner city would some how not fit into a particular organization.
The ignorance that tells many men to question a woman’s dedication to her career simply because of her gender.
More than anything, this wonderfully put together documentary on something as meaningless as basketball, helped spark a conversation on on something far more important.
But just in case Jalen Rose or Jimmy King may have forgot, this “bitch” still bested the great “Fab Five” in every meeting. =)