Mandingos vs. Activists: Why the NFL embraces Reuben Foster after domestic violence allegations, but Colin Kaepernick is still out
This week, the NFL once again confirmed that their value system – as an organization – is a dumpster fire of every problematic, misogynistic, and deeply racist stereotype you could think of, covered in glossy veneer of “Make America Great Again” style patriotic messaging.
In a recent appearance on “The Real,” Atlantic writer and former ESPN anchor Jemele Hill sat in as a co-host, and during a segment discussing her docuseries, “Shut Up and Dribble” she informed the other ladies on the panel that, “If Colin Kaepernick had put his hands on a woman, he’d be in the NFL.”
And even though many found that declaration jarring, it turns out Hill was right.
According to the Tampa police, Saturday night, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Rueben Foster was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery after a woman said he “pushed her in the chest” and “slapped her with an open hand.” He was released from jail Sunday morning.
On Tuesday, he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, meaning he couldn’t play until the NFL reached a disciplinary decision in his case.
And by Wednesday, Washington Redskins senior VP of player personnel Doug Williams confirmed the team had decided to sign him, despite the pending domestic assault charges against him.
This brother literally went from a jail cell to a new job in under 4 days.
Maybe I missed something but, if the NFL is so concerned with upholding family values and standing on a soap box to ice out “troublemakers” like Kaepernick for politicizing the sport – how is a man who allegedly pimp slapped the taste out of a woman’s mouth on Saturday, already receiving his new hire packet from the Redskins by Wednesday?
By this point we’ve dissected the story of Kaerpernick ad nauseam, including all the arguments being made about why he should or shouldn’t be allowed to play for the league.
The Left says he should be allowed to stand for – or in this case kneel for – the rights of all the people in this country who are being unfairly targeted due to systemic racism. While the Right says that the National Anthem, much like American football, is a symbol of everything good in this country so it’s disrespectful NOT to stand for it.
Oh and let’s not forget the troops!
Somehow, a Black man expressing his First Amendment rights is allegedly disrespectful to the troops. Which has always been an odd argument to me given that many members of the armed forces are also people of color.
So wouldn’t that mean Kap was kneeling out of respect for them too? Or is that sort of intersectional mentality simply too sensical for the anti-Black Lives Matter crowd to grasp?
Anywhoo, at this point the line has been thickly drawn in the sand, Kap’s been blatantly blacklisted from the sport that he so loves – specifically for his political views – and according to all the pundits on Fox News, the NFL has now morphed into some sort of flawed moral authority that can remove you from the field if your personal beliefs don’t sit well with their audience.
Ok, fine. The teams are privately owned and in a country that was built on capitalism, I could arguably agree with their right to protect their interests by keeping their puritanical advertisers happy.
But, if that’s the case, and we are now meant to believe there is an implied morality clause in place for players, how then, does one explain the curious (and disturbing) case of alleged woman beater Foster?
Because if Foster really did what he is being accused of, that would mean the NFL embraced him back quicker than that poor lady’s bruises could even heal!
Meanwhile Kaepernick, who has donated more than $1 million of his own money to communities all over the country, stood up for the lives of Black and brown people globally, and as far as we know has never laid a hand on a woman, is still technically unemployed and sitting on the side lines.
In the words of our prodigal son Kanye, “How Sway?!” How does that make sense?
Well, the answer is a tale as old as time, and a song as old as Jim Crow: the NFL may not have room for civic minded activists, but it has never (and probably will never) have a problem embracing Mandingos.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a Mandingo is a Black male stereotype invented by white slave owners who espoused the concept that male African slaves were animalistic brutes by nature.
Back in those days “massa” was always quick to tell folks that unlike their gentile and refined white male counterparts, Negro males were irrationally overtaken by their “passions, emotions, and ambitions” and that “oversexed Black males” had no control over their innate and primitive desires to be violent and aggressive.
This clever bit of 20th century propaganda is where we get a lot of our modern day beliefs about the Black male physique which include the notion of Black men all having “oversized macrophallic penises.” It is also the origin of why so many people – particularly white women, have been socialized to flinch or grab their purses when a Black male enters their personal space.
The brilliance of racism is that unlike prejudice, it isn’t ever about an individual act, but instead a systemic attack on the identity and value of a group. Our mainstream beliefs about Black manhood were quite literally spoon fed to us for centuries until we all became convinced they were facts and then used our own anecdotal wisdom to turn those fake facts into self full-filling prophecies.
And outside of the prison system – there is arguably no place in this country where the “Massa and his Mandingo” archetypes play out more clearly than the NFL.
Unlike the NBA where contracts are guaranteed and therefore vocal mavericks are more financially empowered to speak up, in football a group of rich white men (Massas) literally own franchises (plantations) where they seek out the biggest, most aggressive and athletic Black men they can find (Mandingos), to play for them so that they can continue to get rich. And they even hold drafts (slave auctions) where they can barter with other affluent white men about trading live stock.
Why do you think Diddy was shut down so thoroughly when he wanted to buy an NFL team? It’s because a Black man isn’t supposed to own a plantation. That’s not how this works.
And if my Slavery/NFL analogy is true (which, seriously guys – do your research, cause the similarities are quite stunning), then suddenly it makes total sense why a Mandingo, who beats up a woman, is allowed to get back on the plantation while the siddity Negro who had the nerve to get mouthy with Massa is publicly chastised and berated for getting too big for his britches.
Slave masters have always made an example of Black men who didn’t know their place, and since lynching Kaerpernick is out of the question, blacklisting him and hanging him out to dry in the court of public opinion is the next best thing.
Bruh. This Kaepernick issue has snowballed about so much more than just kneeling.
And for all the people who get exasperated about my constant mentions of slavery and historical analysis during conversations about pop culture and current events, I leave you with one more analogy: Asking a person of color to stop talking about racism in Trump’s America, is like telling a drowning man to stop asking for help while he’s still in the water.
How are we supposed to “get over” something as it’s very actively trying to kill us?
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric