I had to get this one out of my head while everything is fresh and the concepts make sense to me. Two days ago on April 29th, Jason Collins an NBA journeyman who has played on several teams and shared the NBA spotlight with his twin brother came out as a gay male to much accolades and support of sports figures and notable public figures. As some might have expected, but were unable to put a face to the detractors there were those individuals, who’s comments seemed to put a damper on the moment or come across as homophobic (enter ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Miami Dolphins WR Mike Wallace). Both Mr. Broussard and Mr. Wallace employers were quick to release statements saying that the views of these individuals did not reflect the views of ESPN and the Miami Dolphins respectively.
With this post it is not my intent to put a damper or a black cloud on this revelation of Mr. Collins but to pose a question and hopefully get a conversation started around Black masculinity and black male inclusion in mainstream society. Personally, I feel rather indifferent to Jason Collins decision to announce to the world he is gay, I’ve felt mainly indifferent towards a lot of people who reveal their sexual orientation, its never been something that got my attention because bills are to be paid and papers are to be written for grad school. However, one thing that gets my attention is how I’m viewed not only as a Black man in America but as a man without consideration for my racial make up, which brings me to the question I pose. Why is it that in America, the only time in which a Black man is given any significant amount of media attention, it because he is involved in some form of violence (Christopher Dorner), expression of misogyny (Rick Ross), or coming out of the “closet” (Frank Ocean, Jason Collins). The other notable time when a Black male is in the news is for his defiance of American political values and in need of a history lesson on how an American male is to act abroad and who he is to interact with (Jay-Z),
As of this morning, Jason has appeared on Good Morning America and been the topic of several late night cable news shows, as a long time fan of basketball I can’t remember the last time Jason Collins was interviewed on a meaningful post game stage, or interviewed on any sports show, that’s not to say that some tape doesn’t exist but, I don’t recollect any. Now, he seems to have captivated the attention of a good portion of America and the sports world, receiving praise from, Kobe Bryant, the president and the first lady, even the former first daughter Chelsea Clinton who went to Stanford University with Jason.
I challenge you to pick out the last time a black male was recognized by the mainstream media for any positive accomplishments in his personal life, celebrity or ordinary citizen…I’ll wait!! Did you think of any because I’m having trouble coming up with a name myself. What does this say about the media and the overall consciousness of America towards Black masculinity and the terms for inclusion in the overall society? Are Black men who disclose their homosexuality placed in higher regard in society than those who implicitly or explicitly express their heterosexuality? Is the constant coverage of Black males being aggressive, violent, misogynistic, unemployed and other negative portrayals a way of debasing heterosexual masculinity? Showing mainstream America what they should be afraid of while contextualizing a Black male “coming out” as the sole route to self knowledge and admittance to the American table for a slice of American pie. I ask myself this question as I watch the media fall head over heals to get an interview with Jason Collins or run his story on the beginning of their newscast.
Being a fair minded individual, I leave room for the belief that all this hype can be a result that Jason is the first human being regardless of race to make this revelation in professional sports, leaving me even more perplexed as to why there is a lack of media coverage for black males doing something other than questionable behavior or admitting to living a homosexual lifestyle. All that said, I’m glad to live in a country where I am free to express myself even if no one cares to pay attention.