SOMETHING I SAID
By Dwight Hobbes
Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson sustains America’s history of extraordinarily privileged Black men with no regard for their forebears’ suffering. He joins egomaniacal entertainer Prince and former St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder Curt Flood to insult the memory of Africans who suffered slavery’s cruelty.
Peterson’s reckless, self-serving tripe claiming that the wealthy football players’ lot, ensconced in luxurious gated communities with more money than they’ll live long enough to spend, is comparable to the forced bondage by which, among other atrocities, families were ripped and torn apart, limbs were lopped off to stop runaways, and women were raped at will, is an abysmal affront to their own African American ancestors.
This is exactly what Prince did with his self-righteous bellyaching that Warner Bros. Records, which signed him to a $100,000,000 deal (if that’s slave wages, sign me up) and expected him to be accountable for the quality of the product he delivered, treated the pampered narcissist like a slave. What on earth would this spoiled, middle-class-spawned egotist know about servitude at all, much less being treated like a beast of burden, no less chattel than livestock?
He even had the gall to go on television at the American Music Awards with “slave” scrawled on his face. It is what Flood did, earning $90,000 a summer and grousing that, because he had to abide by a lucrative contract no one put a gun to his head to sign, he was oppressed. It can at least be said to Curt Flood’s credit that, asinine though his comparison to slavery was, he stuck to his guns, didn’t show up for work in 1970, sat the season out, and the next year, rather than give in on his fight to be employed where saw fit, quit the game of baseball.
Peterson has not the first idea what even mere hardship is, let alone the brutal misery of subsisting in a dirt-floor shack on pig guts and other slop, wearing rags and being whipped worse than a dog if he so much as behaved like a self-respecting man. He doesn’t desperately hunger for freedom; he arrogantly expects to have his behind kissed.
Pro footballers are angry about the owners instituting a lockout to rein in the outlandish salaries to which Peterson and others feel absolutely entitled. This is not to say a single owner is in any danger of ending up in the poorhouse.
Fans who pay exorbitant ticket prices actually have the most at stake. Bottom line, it’s a labor dispute between employers and employees, one that has not gone the way employees wanted. Not by a long shot.
Fine, Peterson. Sit in your Jacuzzi or your Jaguar and talk to your accountant about what kind of financial shape you’ll be in if you don’t earn yet another annual 10 million dollars or so this year. That is idiotic enough. That is being greedy enough.
But do not, especially in front of Black youth who look up to you as some kind of hero, unconscionably trash the history of tragic anguish that characterized countless lives before you came strutting along into insulated celebrity. Do not slur the sensibilities of African Americans who have enough decency and common sense of honor their predecessors.
Do not, in fact, disgrace yourself with such blatantly bogus posturing. Get in the real word. And, then, apologize.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.