Making the memes this week is a comparison of Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback who Twitter racists labeled a thug because of his un-criminal act of boasting about his recent game-saving play, and Bieber, the pop star who Twitter racists have been fairly quiet about since he cursed out the police after they arrested him in Miami for his illegal act of drag racing.
See meme in photo gallery below.
The meme rightly points out the double-standard that black and white celebrities are held to; a Stanford-educated, exceptionally skilled black football player is quickly denigrated as a gang-banger and troublemaker simply for being loud and proud, while a white pop star’s lawbreaking craziness is excused as him being just a mixed-up kid. To them, Sherman’s bragging equals incorrigibility, while Bieber’s antics amount to a cry for help.
To them, the Richard Shermans of the world deserve our condemnation, while the Justin Biebers of the world deserve our empathy.
But to me, the Sherman versus Bieber meme doesn’t just speak to a racial double-standard, but to the suffocating standards that many Americans still expect black men to adhere to no matter how accomplished they are.
Think about it.
All Sherman really did was crow about his victory over his opponent after he had played a brutal, bruising game in which his team wasn’t expected to win. That’s not thuggish behavior – and those who would call it that aren’t really responding to his bragging.
What they’re responding to is him being black and having the nerve to not be quiet and fade into the background after achieving something awesome; to not behave as background noise when he, in fact, brought the noise.
They don’t mind Sherman being black and smart and skilled. They just don’t want Sherman, a black man with dreadlocks and a Stanford degree, to verbally remind them that he’s, well, black and smart and skilled.