Steph and Alysha Curry have each encountered racial pushback — but not from whom you would expect. (AP photo — Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Recently 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman talked about sports how, in these troubled times of racial unrest, they can be an example for the rest of the country. That the locker room is a place where racial divisions are, at the very least, much less prominent.
“You kind of get lulled into the belief that everyone has torn down those stereotypes and those walls,” Sherman said. “And everyone is treating each other equally.”
But it is pretty clear that athletes are experiencing the same kinds of questions and problems with racial identity. In this week’s Press Democrat column we discuss the curious case of a talk show panelist, Rob Parker, who calls out Steph Curry for being a “Harlem Globetrotter,” not an NBA star.
Surely no modern NBA player would want to be tagged as a Harlem Globetrotter. That’s the old racial model for black players, happily touring the country, clowning around, and putting on a show.
The shaky part of this is that Parker has a history of this kind of thing.
Back in 2012, he took on then-Washington quarterback and NFL-player-of-the-moment, Robert Griffin III, asking if he was “a brother or a cornhole brother. Because, Parker said, “He’s not one of us. He’s black, but not really.”
Parker’s reasoning? Griffin was dating a white woman and there were rumors he was a Republican.
It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that Parker was saying, Griffin wasn’t authentic enough to pass the racial purity test.
Parker lost his job on ESPN for the Griffin flap, but now he’s back with this out-of-nowhere attack on Curry.
And it once again raises the question, mentioned by both Draymond Green and Matt Barnes, of what Curry has to do to prove his authenticity. Because, as Barnes has said, Curry has “the light skin thing. People have problems with that.
It’s something Curry has dealt with since he came into the league. As Green said, “Steph is light-skinned, so people want to make him out to be soft.”
And it goes further. Curry’s wife, Alysha, said in an interview with Working Moms Magazine that she feels caught between groups.
“I feel like I’m too black for the white community,” she said, “but I’m not black enough for my own community. That’s a hard thing to carry.”
Of course, this is nothing we are going to settle here, or anytime soon. But it does make an important point.
We all have work to do on this issue.