First Take’s “embrace race baiting” movement continued today. The show’s producers poached an innocuous Robert Griffin III quotation. Willing hack Rob Parker ran with it and, as is his wont, made an absolute ass of himself.
The segment led off, after Parker hitting on Cari Champion, with the following quotation from Griffin USA Today.
"“I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that…We always try to find similarities in life, no matter what it is so they’re going to try to put you in a box with other African-American quarterbacks – Vick, Newton, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon…That’s the goal. Just to go out and not try to prove anybody wrong but just let your talents speak for themselves.”"
Parker led off claiming this quotation was evidence of RG3 “distancing himself from black people.” He asked whether Griffin was “a brother or a cornball brother.” He brought up the skin color of his wife, though failed to interpret what the Bentley meant.
"We keep hearing this so it makes me wonder deeper about him. I’ve talked to some people in Washington D.C. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is he a brother or is he a cornball brother”"
"He’s not really. Okay, he’s black, but he’s not really down with the cause…"
"He’s kind of black, but He’s not really the guy you want to hang out with. He’s off to something else."
"We all know he has a white fiancee. People always talk about how he’s Republican. There’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue."
Parker defended himself later, justifying the tenor of his earlier comment by claiming this was what “real people” were discussing in “the barbershop.” Even if that is the case, that somehow makes it appropriate discourse for purportedly professional journalists on a television program? This is not First Take’s first time using race to inflame debate. It’s not the first time that tenor has led to an embarrassing on air incident. It is far from the first time Rob Parker has said something profoundly stupid.
Race is a societal construct. Pigeonholing an individual and ascribing certain characteristics said individual has or should have based on their skin color is racism. First Take is not only tolerating it. It is provoking it deliberately as part of a broader strategy to appeal to the “barbershop” demographic. Once merely a silly annoyance, this show has become repugnant.
Perhaps “trending on twitter” or feeding the “wildly important goal” of improving ESPN2’s ratings is all that matters, but one would think that ESPN, a company that has been relatively progressive in a number of areas (putting women in consequential positions during sports coverage), would be embarrassed.