For a couple of years now, I have watched and cheered for Lamar Jackson. I pretend that he is my adopted grandson. My own mixed race grandson played some high school football and is only a year younger than Lamar. I watch Ravens' games faithfully and despite being a 77-year-old white woman, I read the sports section in The Baltimore Sun before the front page news.
I also follow WJZ-13 on Facebook. It was there that I encountered interactions that even now bring me to tears. A banner post by the TV station included a photograph of Lamar and a solicited quote from him about the current news.
It read, in part:
“Being honest, we haven’t discussed what went on yesterday. When I got up this morning I saw on social media her (Taylor) not getting no justice …” Beneath the post were the usual tallies of response emoji for “Like,” “Love” and “Laughter.” Hundreds had clicked on “laughter,” as if his feelings and opinions were a joke.
Some then posted attacks on his voicing his opinion, saying that he should just “shut up and pass the ball” (His opinion had been solicited by the reporter, and still he gets criticized for having answered?). Others criticized that he hadn’t seen the news until the “morning after” it was published. Putting in his grueling day’s work and then daring to rest makes him ignorant, right?
But then the posts got uglier, attacking his “grammer” (sic) and then echoing each others' posts (One dissenting person did challenge the haters by asking them if they could read an NFL playbook).
As I see it, the self-certain privileged are not even aware of the several “languages” that the Black community speaks. Indeed, my mixed race Penn State graduate granddaughter learned of them in her high school English course. There is the “street savvy” lingo of buddies, the “casual” speech among family and classmates, and the “interview” speech used when talking to professionals. And there is often an ability to slide gracefully from one to the other. I am sure that in any circumstance set before him, Mr. Jackson would not be at a “loss for words.” But I am at such a loss — for everything that he has accomplished that he would be belittled because he used the dreaded double negative.
When I witness people saying “This is not who we are!” after encountering racism, I reply: 'Wrong. This is exactly who we are and have been for centuries." I point to the “laughter” on posts supporting racial equality as my case-in-point. Black opinions matter. And our children are watching, reading and listening.