Race and class divisions

On The Daily Show Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore have one of their periodic discussions on the state of race relations in America and how black Americans who become successful (and in the US this means rich) are confronted with having to deal with conflicts that set their personal financial interests against taking a stand for what is right.

(This clip aired on November 6, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

We see this race-class split on display in the NFL Incognito-Martin hazing case where even some black players are siding with Incognito even though he made blatantly racist remarks against Martin. This may be because may want to preserve their positions in the NFL by not speaking out against the brutal hazing culture that exists within it. (Thanks to commenter Pierce R. Butler for the link.)

Another wrinkle in the Martin case may be jealousy and class resentment against Martin who goes against the stereotype of the dumb football jock because he “didn’t drink, carouse, use racial epithets, get into fights with waiters, and generally behave the fool (like allegedly harassing women with a golf club to their private parts) like Incognito.”

As NPR’s Mike Pesca points out:

Well, first of all, Jonathan Martin was heavily recruited. He went to Stanford. He was a classics major. He was considering going to Harvard. If he had gone, he would’ve been the first ever fourth generation African-American at Harvard. His great grandfather went there.

Incognito, on the other hand, he had to transfer schools. He was suspended and dismissed from every school he went to. Got in fights, voted NFL’s dirtiest player. There’s a long laundry list of things that he’s done in terms of getting suspended, getting in trouble with the law.

In my experience of hazing in Sri Lankan universities, some of the harshest treatment was aimed at those who were thought (for whatever reason) to consider themselves ‘above the rest’ who needed to be humbled and brought down a peg and made to realize that they were no better than the rest. They may have said or done nothing to deserve that judgment but were condemned just for their background.


  1. Acolyte of Sagan says

    He was considering going to Harvard. If he had gone, he would’ve been the first ever fourth generation African-American at Harvard

    Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … voted NFL’s dirtiest player.

    Imagine the competition for that (dis)honor.

    Was the voting done by players, coaches, refs, fans, or reporters?

    What does the trophy look like?

    Does anybody have a video of Incognito’s acceptance speech?

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