When I see major college football powerhouses like Alabama, FSU, and Auburn, I see the plantations that my forefathers slaved on all over again. Big time college athletics has become the latest reincarnation of chattel slavery. White men, exploiting the skill and free labor of strong black bodies to build wealth and power for the edification and glorification white institutions.
Take a look at any top five football team, or top twenty-five for that matter, the only things white are the multi-millionaire coaches, and the referees. This money grab takes place at the top, while impoverished black players have to hustle and steal for the pocket change necessary for dignity and survival. Across the collegiate football landscape, ninety percent of the skill players are black, save for a token white boy here and there just for the sake of reverse “diversity.” This overwhelming African American presence is a far cry from 50 years ago when white schools didn’t want the black athlete or the black student. Remember 1963, when then-Governor George Wallace stood on the steps of the University of Alabama blocking the entrance of two African American students. In the now immortalized words of the staunch segregationist, he defiantly threw down the gauntlet at the seat of perceived tyranny, and declared, “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.”
My, how things have changed! But how much have things really changed? I submit that the only difference between 1964 and 2014 is that they took the signs down that said “colored” and “whites only.” Overall, the racist attitudes of whites toward what Supreme Court Justice Taney called “that unfortunate class of beings that is enslaved for his own good” still remain strong. Ask Donald Sterling. The NBA and the NFL owners all share the same racist heritage and legacy. Sterling was not an anomaly. Professional sports teams are owned by wealthy white billionaires whose avocation is to make money off the skill and athletic ability of the black male. Do they respect the black athlete? No. Look no further than the cases of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Roger Goodell essentially did everything but call them n------s, especially after the winds of public opinion demanded a pound of black flesh for alleged offenses that white men have committed for years with impunity.
I long for the days when we had black football powerhouses like Tennessee State, Grambling, and Southern University. White professional scouts would camp out at black schools for the chance to draft the next Claude Humphrey, Richard Dent, or “Jefferson Street” Joe Gilliam. Now only the third and fourth tier black athletes attend black colleges, and consequently black collegiate athletics are only a shell of what once was a proud and storied legacy. The beneficiaries of this mass exodus of blue chip Black athletes has been the traditionally segregated white schools, which were built and financed by slave labor. How ironic is it that these wealthy institutions continue to prosper on the backs of blacks, while our beloved Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which educated and trained us when the white schools would not, are struggling to maintain students and keep the doors open. It’s a sad commentary.
Just imagine what would happen if our prized athletes were to return to our HBCUs, and the mass flood of black students flocking to the semi-segregated white universities were to come home? The fortunes and careers of our black athletes would still sky rocket. It’s talent that drives the NFL. The financial boon in revenue and income from athletics however would start to benefit black people and black institutions, instead of continuing to increase the wealth and supremacy of the racist institutions that keep us oppressed.
Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.