Cam Newton isn’t blind. Cam Newton isn’t stupid. And based what he said in the interview with GQ, Cam Newton isn’t asleep on the racial issues that permeate American society. What is Cam Newton then: he’s afraid. His stature is such that he now has the privilege of navigating around the ugly underbelly of our country, never having to see filth. He is the living version of NBC’s coverage of the Rio Olympic Games, showing the beaches, the monuments, the people, the culture, and conveniently ignoring that the “City of God” slum is a real place.
If you look back to what Newton said, “some people will always be uneasy with the thought of a black quarterback,” then you can only conclude that he has made the calculation that being apolitical is a better route for him. Obviously, Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony’s call for athletes to speak out didn’t get through to him. Or maybe they did and he is running away from them as fast as he can.
Just as Cam is not blind to America’s continued struggle with racism, we are not blind to the reasons why Cam is doing whatever he can to remain neutral on this most controversial subject: Money. Although he lost the Super Bowl, his star is as high as ever and should continue to rise. He plays in a conservative state and for an owner who is very conservative. He knows America is an unforgiving place for black people who agitate the system from what they perceived is a high perch.
Cam is “woke” but has decided that the path of advocacy is too much of a burden and would rather walk in the shadows of Michael Jordan, who coincidently is now trying to step up his social awareness game. It is the wrong move because it comes off as weak. That is a strong word but it is apt because we know Cam knows better. If he were a foreigner he’d get a pass. Hell, if he were Dennis Rodman he could get away with this along with wearing a wedding dress (I’ll deal with his pants in another post.)
There are ways to stay “neutral” without looking like a yellow belly chicken running from its shadow. There is a way to feign ignorance, blaming it on the relentless preparations and training in preparing for the upcoming season. I’d rather he whiff on the discussion, act like the dumb jock who is uneducated about current events and guide the interview back to football and why his insist on showing his ankles (again, I’ll deal with this in a future post). I can live with that, but trying to convince us that he doesn’t see race as an issue isn’t going to fly.
Cam Newton is not blind. But I don’t think he sees the problem his unforced error has created and how it is going to impact his reputation.