Leonard Pitts Jr.: How black is black enough?

BY LEONARD PITTS JR. Published: January 16, 2013
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But apparently, that's only when white people do it to black people. When black people do it to black people, it's called assessing your blackness, making sure you aren't some “cornball brother.”

How enlightening to learn that. It is even more enlightening to discover that we have such easy-peasy rubrics to go by. You can't be black if you are a Republican? That means Colin Powell isn't black. Neither, if published reports are to be believed, are rappers LL Cool J and 50 Cent. Who'd have thought?

Poor Frederick Douglass has a double whammy. He was a Republican and had a white wife. Who'd have thought this former slave, one of the towering heroes of African-American history, wasn't black enough?

It is this kind of bold insight and trenchant analysis ESPN loses in sacking Rob Parker. What is the network thinking? Parker, who also contributes commentary to WDIV television in Detroit, defended himself in an interview with the station that aired just before ESPN dropped the ax. He pronounced himself shocked by the fallout and suggested his comments were taken out of context.

“You can't be afraid to talk about race,” he said. He's exactly right. In discussing race, we must be fearless. We must also be thoughtful. And informed. And exact. And alive to the ramifications of what we say.

Surely, Parker knows this. Or if he didn't before, he does now.

As for being black enough, he is probably a greater expert than he was before. He is, after all, a man out of work. It doesn't get much blacker than that.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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