Today in Post-Race History: Super Bowl, Super Conundrum
Note: Late week, Professor Cohen had a talk about the Black Youth Project, including the blog, on campus. I just want to say thanks to the folks who complimented me on my writing here. It means a lot, and I want to express my deepest gratitude. I’m sorry that I was socially awkward. I had hoped to engage with you better, but I’m a dork. That’s why I prefer to write.
Also, a special shout out to my friend, Rosa for suggesting I write a post on the Super Bowl.
I just don’t know how Chris Matthews does it! My experience at last year’s inauguration–a.k.a. the second biggest event in black history, just one acre and half a mule behind freedom–left me cold, irritable, hungry, and so over the large crowds only hours of attending rap concerts with my homegirl, Maegs helped me successfully navigate. I lost Hope at the Silver Spring metro station, but, encouraged by the sight of all those black folks draped in American flag-inspired fashions, I did stash a little post-race elixir in the glove compartment of my car, only to freak out when I got pulled over by a Pennsylvania state trooper, and demand that Maegs toss it out into the darkness of the Keystone State night. Since then, I’ve become even more obsessed with blackness. So much so that I can’t shake this feeling that somehow I must have mistakenly taken the red, black, and green pill instead of the blue one like I had intended. (Morpheus is such a trickster!) As a result, I’ve spent the last year haunted by race, becoming more racially paranoid than an octaroon at a Mississippi Klan rally.
Indeed, it has been an astonishingly tough year for race women such as myself. I’ve tried my damnedest to overcome my melanin obsession, and just get over it like the rest of the nation seems to have done. Yet, as soon as I stop noticing race, I notice that I’m not noticing it, and then I notice it again. Like the other day, when I looked at the calendar and realized it was almost February. It was a totally benign observation until I started thinking about Black History Month and all the things George Washington Carver could do with a peanut. How does it feel to be a problem? not to have such problems, if for only an hour and prompted by a big-eared quasi-black guy standing in a (parted) sea of whiteness? Is there a CliffsNotes version of post-raciality? I must know, and I must know quickly. If I don’t find help soon, I’m afraid that I’ll be unable to be post-racial long enough to choose and stick with a Super Bowl team. I will be in crisis long before I ignore The Who’s halftime show. A [souls of black folks] divided cannot stand. Abe Lincoln ain’t never lied.
Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints face off in the 44th Super Bowl, and I just don’t know who to root for. Generally, I cheer for the underdog, but both teams were the number one seed in their respective division, so I’m forced to delve a little deeper for a reason to support one squad over the other. I’m not sure why I need to justify my Super Bowl favorite. I wish I could get over it, but efforts to do so have done nothing but further exacerbate my mental angst. Admittedly, I need Dr. Drew to host a fan narcissism rehab show or something. Until then, I’m stuck outlining the pros and cons of (not) backing the Colts, er, Saints.
Option One: Which team has the black quarterback? (God, I’m so shallow!)
Damn. That’s no help. Moving along.
Option Two: Root, root, root for the home team.
Since I was born and raised in Indiana, I should root for the Colts, right? After all, I’ve loved them since they sucked. Growing up, my stepdad and I used to watch them lose every Sunday; the first game I ever attended was the Colts vs. Browns in the old Hoosier Dome. Our seats were in the middle of the Dawg Pound. I silently and shamefully watched the Browns beat up on my team. The shit was traumatic, not because of the loss or anything, but because, dog ears or not, being surrounded by a bunch of drunk white guys with brown and orange “war” paint on their faces is scary to a young black girl.
Then again, Drew Brees is a fellow Purdue alum. During his tenure, Brees made the lowly Boilermaker football team worth watching for a few years, eventually leading them to the Rose Bowl. They lost. I need Mr. Brees to make up for that heartbreak. A Super Bowl win would definitely do the trick.
Option Three: More colors. Who has a black coach?
Score one for the Colts! Not only do they have a black coach, but their former coach, Tony Dungy, is black–light-skinned, but black nonetheless. In an era when NFL teams consistently spit on the Rooney Rule, the Colts seem to take seriously the idea of a diverse workplace. What’s more, they didn’t wait until their team sucked really bad to give a Negro a shot. (America, I’m talking to you.) Yet, the Saints wear black jerseys, and sometimes they rock black socks. And what they lack in a coaching staff they make up in their Negro dialect-inspired chant–Who dat say they gon’ beat dem Saints?–and an all-black receiver corps. Seriously, does it get whiter than Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark? What kind of quarterback to receiver combination is that? Ever heard of Young to Rice? Bradshaw to Swann? Brady to Moss? The white guy throws the ball; the black guy catches it and runs really fast. What’s this Manning-Clark tandem? Some sort of affirmative action?
Option Four: Who needs it more?
Sure, the Colts represent my home state, but it’s New Orleans! How can anyone with a soul root against New Orleans? Yes, Peyton Manning, who is from New Orleans, needs to solidify his legacy by winning one more title, and I’m for that, but the Saints have never been to the Super Bowl. You can’t root against New Orleans! You can drink on the street there. The accents! The beignets! The hurricane! You can’t go against the people of Katrina! That would be akin to wishing that George W. Bush could have served a third term! However, the Colts have Pierre Garcon (who seemed to want to produce only when he was on my fantasy team’s bench)! You know the deal: Black dude + French name = Team Haiti. And cheering against the team with the player who will probably drape himself in a Haitian flag as his quarterback screams, “I’m going to Disney World!” would be like making my own deal with the devil. Will the people of Haiti take a respite from rebuilding and watch the Super Bowl? Maybe, maybe not. Does that mean we implicitly cheer against them while they’re not looking? I don’t think so. I’d probably feel less guilty about the whole thing if I hadn’t thought bad things about Wyclef every time I’ve seen him on television here lately. To be clear, said bad thoughts have nothing to do with his charitable efforts. However, ‘Clef’s television appearances remind me of that horrid duet with Mary J. Blige (Feel my body gettin’ cooold!) and his overall (atrocious) rap skills. #Fail. I can’t help it, and you can’t blame me.
So what do a I do? Rooting for the black coach is rooting against the people of New Orleans which is rooting against Haiti. What is my problem? Why can’t I forget the symbolic meaning of a game for four hours? Why can’t I just get drunk off of spinach dip and hot wing sauce, and enjoy the game? N is rooting for the Saints because they have cuter players, and because she’s had a crush on Drew Brees since we saw him and his offensive line having dinner across the room from us at a NOLA restaurant. (It was the same night homeboy on the acoustic guitar decided to serenade the diners with a rendition of Juvenile’s “Slow Motion,” but that’s another story.) Indeed, Darren Sharper is a beautiful man–no hetero–and my other boy crush, Chris Paul, plays point guard for the Hornets. I could just root for the cute guys. However, is such surfaced-based admiration worth being disloyal to the blue and white?
No matter which side I choose, if I don’t learn to just watch the game and not notice that all I’m doing is just watching the game until just after the game at the soonest, I’m going to be guilt-plagued from the singing of the national anthem through at least a week of SportsCenter highlights. Maybe I should just flip a coin. That seems to work for the NFL.
Please, somebody get me Chris Matthews’ number…or just put me out of my racialized misery.
Who dat say they gon’ beat dem Colts?