An Open Letter to Rob Parker

Robert Griffin III (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Robert Griffin III (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Are we still measuring one another's blackness? asks Huffington Post contributor Shane Paul Neil. In response to Rob Parker's attacks on Redskins player Robert Griffin III, Neil writes an open letter to the now-suspended ESPN pundit.

The conversation you attempted to have on national television is one that has been pervasive within the black community for generations. The idea of the house negro, the Uncle Tom, the sellout or, as you so eloquently put it, the "cornball brother" has led our people to judge and grade each other's blackness. It is a conversation that puts our people in a box and limits our potential. It presumes what we are and can be, then penalizes those who attempt otherwise.

I started to write this letter as a defense of who Robert Griffin III is perceived to be. That would have been a mistake. Mounting a defense and quantifying blackness only legitimizes questioning blackness. I have had to learn these lessons personally and often painfully. I have had to defend my fair skin; I have had to defend my intellect; I have had to defend the company I keep in the name of blackness. I speak from experience when I say it's a tired conversation that has never done anyone any good.

Even Stephen A. Smith, who has on many occasions discussed controversial topics, including race, declined to involve himself in what was a conversation with no merit. Skip Bayless, on the other hand, let you hang yourself further (pardon the expression in this context) by asking you about Griffin's braids. I appreciate Bayless for further showing the depths of your ignorance.

Read Shane Paul Neil's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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