RGIII, ‘Cornball Brothers,’ and the Blackness Code
The new enforcers of racial authenticity use racist logic to define blackness.

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III


Lee Habeeb

You would have thought Cosby would be celebrated for the speech, and for the courage it took to make it on such a big night.

But no. Out came the Blackness Panel’s chief enforcement agent. In a New York minute — or a Philadelphia nanosecond — University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Eric Dyson challenged not only Bill Cosby’s comments, but Bill Cosby’s black bona fides.

“All who have made it need not have ‘Afroamnesia,’” Dyson told a University of Michigan audience, referring to successful blacks such as Cosby who forget where they come from. Dyson described the subsequent speeches Cosby made in defense of his original speech as Cosby’s “Blame-the-Poor Tour.”

Dyson even managed to mock Cosby’s successful TV series for not being black enough. It pandered to whites, he said, because the show was about an intact black family — father and mother together — living a traditional, upper-middle-class life.

How utterly unblack!

Dyson wrote the book Is Bill Cosby Right? to offer a counterpoint to Cosby’s speech. In it, he attacked Cosby’s character — and his heart.

“No matter how you judge Cosby’s comments, you can’t help but believe that a great deal of his consternation with the poor stems from his desire to remove the shame he feels in their presence and about their activity in the world,” he wrote. “There’s nothing like a formerly poor black multimillionaire bashing poor blacks to lend credence to the ancient assaults they’ve endured from the dominant culture.”

Like Cosby, Tiger, Barack, Condi, and Colin, RGIII will hear more challenges to his blackness in years to come. Luckily, he has his priorities lined up. When recently asked by a sports reporter what his biggest fear was about coming to Washington, D.C., to be an NFL quarterback, RGIII had a simple answer: “You try not to fear too many things. I fear God.”

After receiving an outpouring of support from African Americans all over the country, and white Americans as well, RGIII had this to say to his fans on Twitter about the whole ESPN incident: “I’m thankful for a lot of things in life, and one of those things is your support. Thank You.”

Pure class. He never bothered to dignify the claims of his critic, whose shrill commentary is a reflection not of Griffin’s blackness, but of Parker’s refusal to respect the rich diversity of his own people and the choices they make.

Blackness enforcers such as Parker are the ones fixated on race as America lurches forward to a truly post-racial society, one in which black people fall in love with white people and get married and few people care.

Just the racists — white and black alike.

— Lee Habeeb is the vice president of content at Salem Radio Network, which syndicates Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and Hugh Hewitt. He lives in Oxford, Miss., with his wife, Valerie, and daughter, Reagan.