I was reading Jason Reid’s article in the Washington Post on the Fab 5. Ignoring all that Jalen Rose had to say, James Reid chose to focus on a nuance of Rose’s statements. The comment in particular was when Rose referred to the Black players recruited by Duke’s basketball program as, “Uncle Toms.”
Using that statement in isolation, Reid goes on to take Rose’s comments as an assault on the “blackness” of the Black Bourgeoisie. More specifically, Reid seems to take Rose’s comments as an assault on his own blackness. And worst, rather than seeing the context of what Rose was saying, we fall into the distracting argument of who is “more black” and, as Reid says: “What constitutes a ‘true’ black experience?”
We must be careful wit this because Reid made some assumptions as well. I just watched the documentary last night, for myself. And what Rose said was that coming from where he was from, i.e. “the hood,” and experiencing what he had experienced, i.e. poverty & a single-mother, the sentiment was that the Duke players were uncle toms…silver spoon sorts. His fuller comments were that the Blacks on the Duke roster embodied the types of Blacks that society didn’t mind (too much) having around. He and the rest of the Fab 5, however, embodied the segment of Black society that both uppity Negroes & Whites alike wanted to ignore, hide, &/or otherwise malign.
In his efforts to defend himself and justify (for himself) the choices that he made for his own life, Reid takes Rose out of context and actually proves the point Jalen Rose was making. It is this backwards thinking on us of the Talented Tenth that must be discussed. For in our feigned efforts at elitism we separate ourselves from and ostracize the 90th of our community.
You Can’t Run Away from Yourself.
It was not Grant Hill in specific with whom Jalen Rose had a problem. It was that segment of society that typically thumbed its nose at those in Rose’s position. It was that segment of society that wanted badly to prove to White society that they were not like those in Rose’s position.
There is an adage we have in the Church: “there but for the Grace of God, go I.” Now no, Reid and his wife cannot run from “being black.” But many of us run from being around blacks. Maybe not because we hate other blacks, or because we find ourselves better than other blacks. It might be because we want better than other blacks. Maybe it’s because we understand that mainstream society is quite comfortable providing less to, and expecting less from, the Black Community.
There is nothing wrong with wanting more…expecting more. And, we should not feel guilty for it. But, we must also be cognizant of the impression it leaves on those (especially the youth) who want more too, but do not have the means to “get out.” When we “get out” and never turn back, we engender the sentiment expressed by Jalen Rose. His comments were not misguided. Rather, they were a reflection of the residue left by those of us who fled – for whatever reason. And until we realize that old adage and remember that we are all connected, then Bob Marley words remain relevant: You running and you running, but you can’t run away from yourself.