By Randi Crawford
We have lost the opportunity to be a great individual in this country and I’m going to use a recent example to make my point. It used to be that you hated me for my color, religion, gender or sexual preference. Today, you love me and show deference for the same reason. Whatever happened to letting me be me and you liking or hating me because of me? I believe that we’ve overcorrected for our sins of the past.
I just read the story about University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who told The New York Times and ESPN that he is gay and that he plans to become the first openly gay player in the NFL. “I am an openly, proud gay man,” he told ESPN. So I ask myself: “Why does Michael Sam need to announce his sexuality to the world?” I don’t have a problem with his sexuality. What he does is his choice, but why does it have to become a political issue? I just don’t get it. Does he realize that he’s no longer going to be looked at as Michael Sam, a defensive end eligible for the NFL draft, but rather the gay NFL player?
There’s a Texas sportscaster, Dale Hansen, who gave a phenomenal speech on-air in support of Sam. He was pointing out how as a society we accept disgraceful behavior from other athletes (i.e. abusing women, drugs, etc.), yet we continue to look up to them and take them as top picks in the NFL draft. But, he said, “You love another man, now you’ve gone too far. It wasn’t that long ago when we were being told that black players couldn’t play in our games.”
While Hansen is spot-on in his assessment of how we idolize and reward disgraceful behavior from professional athletes, I still can’t stop asking myself why. Why did Michael Sam have to make this announcement? Until recently, if you were a gay person, you were hated for being gay without the other person ever knowing you. (Disgusting.) As that (gay person), you must ask, “Why do you hate me when you don’t even know me?” Then the evolution took place. Today, we like you and tread water around you because you are gay, even though we do not know you.
If we look past our prejudices (gays, Italians, Irish, blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Muslims, women, etc.) and look at the person: We love you, like you, or hate you because of the person you are, what your values stand for and your personality. The evolution is complete when we get to that stage. We are not there yet. We are not even close.
Today, I read part of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He said, “Americans today are too sensitive about race.” He was speaking to a group of college students in Palm Beach. “My sadness is that we are probably today more race- and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up. Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out. That’s a part of the deal.”
Sometimes I feel like the only safe thing to discuss with people is the weather, so I don’t offend someone. I can’t wait until the pendulum swings back around and we can actually like each other for our values, and not what someone deems politically correct.
What say you? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.