I know, I know...Why must I make everything about race?
Because it’s fun!
“Jagged Little Pill” was my shit, but I hooped and hollered when Hootie and the Blowfish bested Alannis Morissette for the 1995 Best New Artist Grammy. Even though Naomi Osaka represents Japan, don’t tell me you don’t root for her when she’s playing against tennis players not named Serena Williams. And, whenever I watch a football game between two teams I have no interest in, I use the ranking system employed by all of black America to determine which team I want to win:
- The team with the black quarterback
- The team with the black head coach
- The team from the blackest city
- The team with two black cheerleaders (NCAA and NFL rules have a two-negro cheerleader maximum.)
- The team with the most players wearing dreadlocks
If we’re being honest, we all subconsciously choose sides and there’s nothing wrong with rooting for people who look like you. Now that everyone besides Georgia and people who enjoy coughing to death is locked in our homes with no other sports besides Instagram battles, The Root thought it might be fun to imagine a few matchups pitting the people who dominate sports against the group who usually own the teams.
Keep in mind that these matchups will probably never happen. But until Dr. Anthony Fauci informs us that outside is no longer on a murderous rampage, we can at least imagine what these battles would look like.
If there were a competition between boy bands, we’d have to let the white people have the Beatles, even though they basically stole and whitewashed the blues. In spite of me not being able to sing a single Beatles song, they get the best of the Temptations because, despite what he might say, ain’t nobody came to see Otis.
But New Edition would beat N’Sync like they stole something and you’d probably have to turn away from the television set when Boyz II Men dog-walked New Kids on the Block. When Jo-Jo starts wailing during the Jodeci versus Color Me Badd matchup, will the referee have to step in and stop the fight?
Wait...I just thought about the Jackson 5 against the Osmonds and started crying.
Tito, get me a tissue.
Tiebreaker: The Blues Brothers vs. The Five Heartbeats
If the black games faced off against white games, we know Spades would have a tough time against Poker but could Tonk beat Go Fish? And what happens when Dominos faces Jenga? Who will face Double Dutch? Hopscotch or Charades? We will have security posted so violence doesn’t break out when Hot Hands (or “slapsies”) faces the Circle Game but we will also allow betting when Darts goes up against Cee-Lo to a tiebreaker.
When it comes to Uno, the competition committee has decided that Black Uno will have to face off against White Uno because the Caucasian competitors might not know what to do when your cousin Sheila lays her Draw Four on top of Hayleigh’s Draw Four and waits patiently for the next person to pull eight cards from the deck.
Sleeper Matchup: Hide-and-Go-Seek vs. Hide-and-Go-Get-It.
Here are the preliminary matchups of female pop stars who are somewhat alike:
- Round 1: Barbara Streisand vs. Aretha Franklin (White Icon vs Black Icon )
- Round 2: Celine Dion vs. Mariah Carey (They gon’ be sanging)
- Round 3: Madonna vs. Janet Jackson (I’m not nasty so I don’t call her “Miss Jackson”)
- Round 4. Amy Winehouse vs. Lauryn Hill (Lauryn would still arrive later than Amy)
- Round 5: Shania Twain vs. Erykah Badu (Queen of Country vs. the Queen of Neo-Soul)
- Round 6: Britney Spears vs. Mary J. Blige (Dancing will not be judged)
- Round 7: Lady Gaga vs. Alicia Keys (You need some time to go to the refrigerator)
- Round 8. Katy Perry vs. Rihanna (makeup will not be judged)
- Round 9: Adele vs. Whitney Houston (I know it’s two different eras, but the matchup, though…)
- Headliner: Beyoncé vs. Taylor Swift (Lemonade vs. Crystal Light)
Tiebreaker: P!nk vs. Toni Braxton
Does everybody hate Chris more than they love Raymond? There’s only one way to find out.
Of course, Friends would get murked by Living Single, but what happens when they put Seinfeld up against Sanford and Son? I’ve been waiting for George and Weezy to go H.A.M against Archie and Edith. Where would you rather hang out: In The Pit on A Different World or at Arnold’s on Happy Days? The Fonz was probably cooler than Dwayne Wayne, but why was he hanging around high school students all the time? Did he even have a college degree?
We’re probably gonna need Theo, Denise, Sandra, Vanessa, Olivia and Cousin Pam if we’re gonna have any hope against The Brady Bunch. Shit, we may even have to call in Cockroach to help out.
Sleeper matchup: The Simpsons vs. The Boondocks
Speaking of sitcoms, which theme songs slap the hardest?
I’ll be honest, the theme song from Golden Girls might get Good Times in the first round, but it’s gonna be tough to beat The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Jeffersons back-to-back. They’re gonna have to come with something hard like Cheers or Facts of Life (The refrain slaps.)
In fact, we already have a tournament lined up.
Tiebreaker: Sopranos vs. The Wire
This 10-round matchup goes:
- Chuck Taylors vs. Stan Smiths
- Keds vs. Air Force Ones
- Cowboy Boots vs. Timberlands
- Vans vs. Shelltoe Adidas
- Crocs vs. “house shoes”
- Platform flip flops vs. Timberland Heels
- Stacy Adams vs. Florsheims
- Church shoes vs. Boat Shoes
- Doc Martens vs. Air Jordans
- Birkenstocks vs. Adidas Slides
Tiebreaker: Louboutins vs Gators
This one might be a little too high-concept but it’s an interesting idea:
What if basslines from black music faced off against the greatest riffs and guitar solos ever played by white fingers?
You know how we get excited when we’re reminded that Cash Money took over for the 9-9 and 2000s? Well, white people feel the same way when they hear the opening to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Is the opening of “For the Love of Money” better than the opening of “Smells Like Teen Spirit?” Shit, they’d tell you that the bassline in “Give the People What They Want” doesn’t hold a candle to the guitar solo in “Stairway to Heaven.” As long as they didn’t get to use “Another One Bites The Dust,” I’d take Bootsy Collins, and forgotten classics like “Act Like You Know,” and let them have all the white guitar players who ever strummed.
Tiebreaker: “Smoke on the Water” vs. “Billie Jean”
I know you think this is a no-brainer, but how do you know that you don’t like raisins in your potato salad until you try it?
But that’s not what this is. This battle would pit our favorite foods against theirs. For instance, your Aunt’s Marvell’s macaroni and cheese would have to go against an Italian mother’s spaghetti. I volunteer to judge when lemon pepper wings from Magic City faces a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich. I might even participate in the dressing vs. stuffing round but I’ll have to sit out the rumble between green bean casserole and gumbo.
Now I know some people will argue that there is no such thing as “black food” or “white food.”
“Some people” never tasted Karen’s potato salad.
Tiebreaker: Kale vs. Collards
Nah, not that.
I’m talking about attending a white church versus a black church. This may seem like a no-brainer at first, but white churches only pass the collection plate once and their deaconry doesn’t even have to wear church shoes. Plus they are out of church every Sunday by 12:19 p.m. Of course, we’d win the head-to-head choir battle because they read their gospel songs out of a hymnal and rarely feature tambourinists as talented as this guy:
But aside from the music, the battle would be pretty intense. For instance, pipe organists at white churches don’t seem to be prepared with a selection of shouting music when the Holy Ghost comes. And have you noticed that white churches have better air conditioning? It’s always a balmy 69 degrees in places where white people worship. Even though I have no idea what it means, I’ve been told a million times that “black people draw heat.” I think it’s a conspiracy between the church fan industry and the funeral home lobbyists.
Or maybe the Holy Ghost can only come when the temperature is above 86 degrees.
Tiebreaker: The Lord working in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform vs. Him being good all the time and all the time, Him being good.
This is the hardest one of all.
Would you rather have an invitation to the proverbial cookout or a seat at the infamous “table?”
Before you make your decision, there are a few things you must consider:
- Who invited you? I always wonder why anyone would want to eat with the people who have barely offered us table scraps for 400 years but then again, you might not be a first-tier cookout guest, meaning you have to eat “light bread” with your hot dogs and hamburgers.
- How is the food? I have a theory that the amount of seasoning used at dinner is inversely proportional to the exclusivity of the guest list. That’s why the best food is served at cookouts and family reunions while the chicken at a State Dinners or anything called a soiree” usually tastes like it was seasoned with multiple-choice questions from a 7th-grade social studies quiz.
- Who all gon’ be there? No matter how successful you are, you are equal to everyone else at the cookout. Barack Obama’s cousins would roast his ass to death if he wore those high-waisted slacks to a black kickback. The people who already have a seat at the table will treat you with polite respect but they will slit your throat if they have the chance. And they make terrible spades partners. They always renege.
- What happens there? Why are we just now discovering this table? What were they saying before we obtained our seat? I know white people’s imaginations run wild about what goes on at “the cookout,” but we mostly just learn line dances while your aunt reminds you about that one night 16 years ago that you did something seriously stupid when you spent the night at your cousin’s house.
- Does your attendance mean anything? Imagine living in a society so inherently tilted against you, the powers that be pretend you don’t exist unless you are sitting right in front of them. Imagine being so desperate, disillusioned or brainwashed that you began to think you could have the same power and control if you could just be seated in the same proximity as your oppressor.
Now imagine being a part of a people with a history and culture so thick and bitter and syrupy sweet that it can make a time machine out of a song. And even when that rhythmic art is played through shitty speakers into a shitty microphone and relayed to even shittier smartphone speakers around the world, it still made you dance. It still made you smile. Even in the scariest time of your life, as death lurked outside your windowsill and lingered in the air you breathed, that cultural muscle memory still evoked joy and laughter.
Why the fuck would you ever want to sit at another table?