By: Mike Fisher
FRISCO (105.3 The Fan) – Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has, at just 28, “lived a life.” Highs and lows. Fame and failure. Wealth and poverty. Acceptance … and racism.
Bryant recently wrote about all of this – race in America – in a lengthy series of social-media posts.
His words: “First and foremost, I would like to say I do a great job of minding my own business, but it’s pressing on my heart to share my thoughts about white Americans and black Americans (racism).
“I saw a person quote Charles Barkley when he said, “We as black people, we’re never going to be successful not because [of] you white people, but because of other black people.”
“I hate to admit it, but I understand that quote.
I’ve been [racially] profiled on numerous occasions, but not once has it influenced an ill feeling inside me about anyone outside of that issue. REAL SLAVERY is different from what’s going on in our world now. We all (every ethnicity) have the opportunity to lead by EXAMPLE.
“Instead of making videos about the history of racism that get applause or people with influence merely doing things to post for social media, we should focus on individual accountability to be better as a whole.
“I recently ran into a guy I grew up with who spent his adulthood dealing drugs. While we were catching up, he shared with me that he wished that he chose a different and better path. He said seeing my success was inspiring and that it encouraged him to do better with his life.
“Real question: What is wrong with being sophisticated and black? Why do we associate those who choose the straight-and-narrow as not being “black enough?” Why was it that I was one of the first examples of success to my friend?
“We focus hard on fighting the realities that exist instead of creating our own reality. The ones who came (before) us (Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X) paved a new path for us to follow. The struggles and hurt they endured created new life for us today.
“It is not our job to carry the burden, but it is our job to lead by example.
“Not that my opinion matters, I’m just sharing my thoughts.”
Bryant’s opinion obviously “matters,” because it caught fire on social media and then in the mainstream media. National pundits found themselves especially inflamed. The comments were and are “fresh meat,” plump and juicy and primed to be skewered … and because in today’s 24-second news cycle there is apparently no time for reflection, The skewering was microwave-immediate.
Unfortunately, in the Skip Baylessization of the topic, in the commentators blowing it to Stephen A. Smithereens, the central point was lost: Dez Bryant is sharing his very personal views on a subject that, as he says, is “pressing on my heart,” a subject that is born from life experiences that are unique to him.
Bryant later tried to engage some of his critics in a civil exchange, writing: “I come from nothing. I want this generation and future generations who go through struggles to know… Never give up. You have to work, young man. You have to work, young girl. Or else you will remain in this cycle.”
But it was too late. The microwave had beeped. The skewering was done. Ours is a debate-plagued climate, where every discussion devolves into an argument, where every viewpoint calcifies into an unflinching “side” taken. But if we are interested in Dez’ thoughts – and the retweets and the ratings say we are – shouldn’t we at least listen to those thoughts, contemplate those thoughts, and let those thoughts marinate before we grill them to a crisp? Don’t we owe that contemplation Dez Bryant to as a reward for his honesty? Or, if we truly care about racism in America, don’t we at least owe that contemplation to ourselves … and to one another?