Saturday, November 19, 2011
White Men Can Play - The Jordy Nelson Story by Gregory Gee
What’s wrong with stereotyping someone or something? Is it a form of racial profiling? Does it limit our thinking about possibilities and potential of ourselves and others?
We all form opinions based on looks or attributes commonly associated with a group of people or situations.
For example, here are some popular culture stereotypes:
If you're black, chances are you have rhythm; and if you’re a black youth, chances are you’re into hip hop. If you're white, chances are you do not see Malcolm X as a great American. If you’re an Asian student, chances are you’re a good student and if you're Latino chances are that you are illegal.
These stereotypes are far too often the definitive way we see each other and far too often we draw false read conclusions - to our detriment - by solely relying on our preconceived notions.
Case and point from a story from the Press Gazette:
Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who is white, has become one of quarterback Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets and believes his skin color has been somewhat of an asset.
Other Packers receivers joke that Nelson is the beneficiary of being the only white receiver on the team, suggesting opposing defensive backs don't think of Nelson as a big a threat.
Nelson tells the Green Bay Press Gazette that he's used this racial bias to his advantage. "Honestly, I think it is (a factor)," Nelson said. "As receivers, we've talked about it. I know (cornerbacks coach) Joe Whitt tells me all the time, when all the rookies come in, he gives them the heads up, 'Don't let him fool ya.' That's fine with me."
Packers teammate Greg Jennings, who is black, believes Nelson isn't like other white pass catchers who've played in the NFL. "It's easy for someone to say, 'Oh yeah, he’s like one of those other white receivers,'" Jennings said. "He's not. I'm sorry. He's not. He knows how I feel about it. Maybe I'm a little biased because he is a teammate, but from watching him day one to right now, totally different player."
Among the top 15 NFL wide receivers in yardage, only New England Patriots star Wes Welker, the league leader in receptions and yards, is white. source
We are human, hence we all have tendencies to form ideas and opinions without having the full scope of the picture. But for our society to grow, we should always strive to “judge” based on facts and with what we learn from facing the individual/situation and not only on what we think we know.
If black defensive backs think they “know” Nelson because he is white, then apparently they have not watched enough tape to know that this receiver can do damage.
I may be wishing for a Star Trekian/Utopian society - where we are all equal and racial bias is considered an embarrassing chapter in our history. However, realistically speaking, I’m only suggesting that in order to get to a better society we need to be honest with ourselves about our own misconceptions based on stereotyping.
Stereotypes cannot be shattered unless the individual acknowledges they exist and a conscious effort will be made not to let racism/biases box our minds.
For more on debunking stereotypes, read:
Drug abuse is less likely with black and Asian kids, says study
Three black teens become chess masters