Is ESPN article racist or just poorly written?

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Howard Bryant wants us to believe in what he calls a “code of black masculinity.” Is this guy kidding, because if he isn’t, Bryant comes off sounding bitter and racist, in his article about Jonathan Martin in this month’s ESPN The Magazine.

Howard Bryant, via: businessinsider.com

Martin’s problem, according to Bryant, isn’t that he was bullied by teammate Richie Incognito or that his coaching staff apparently missed what appears to have been an ongoing issue between two Miami Dolphins players. Rather, Martin just doesn’t understand this bizarre black code that Bryant claims rules NFL locker rooms and society.

Bryant says that black men must behave differently while “navigating the white world,” and he further absurdly insinuates that a smart and articulate black athlete is subject to ridicule for being “soft” (his word). Bryant’s support for this asinine idea is that Stanford-educated Martin was viewed as weak, while white Stanford athletes like John Elway and Andrew Luck are not.

Hey Howard, did you ever consider that a quiet, aloof offensive lineman might be viewed differently from an outspoken, high-profile quarterback, who is, by the nature of his position, viewed as a leader? Is it possible that Martin’s issues are only about Incognito and ignorant teammates and coaches and not at all about your made-up code?

In his most abject statement, Bryant summarizes his ludicrous article this way:

“This represents the ultimate victory of racism: the belief that exists among both whites and blacks that being educated, being articulate, having manners, is the sole province of being white. This is why Jonathan Martin appears so foreign, so threatening, to his teammates, and why a nothing like Richie Incognito makes them feel right at home.”

In the end, it appears possible that Bryant’s point could be that Richie Incognito is taking far less heat for his egregious behavior, while the media focuses on how Jonathan Martin allowed this to happen.

Maybe I’m giving Bryant too much credit. I’m offended that a purportedly intelligent national writer would wildly insinuate that intelligence and manners are “the sole province of being white.”

So, I put the question to you: does Howard Bryant’s article smack of racism, or is it just poorly written?

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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