They are viewed as national heroes today, but Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali were all hated by a large amount of White Americans during their prime. A Gallup poll conducted in 1964 revealed that over 75 percent of White Americans viewed King as a nuisance and believed that he was “pushing integration too fast.” X was viewed as a Black racist for merely speaking on the mental and physical abuse that Blacks endured due to racism. And Ali lost his championship belt and was viewed as un-American because of his refusal to participate in the Vietnam War.
Cam Newton brought up an interesting point during a press conference on Jan. 27. While speaking to the media, Newton said, “I’ve said it since Day One, I’m an African-American quarterback that might scare some people, because they haven’t seen anything they can compare me to.”
Newton has yet to create the revolutionary change of King, X, or Ali when it comes to this generation, but he made a powerful point about race.
There has always been a segment of White Americans who have feared defiant Black men. Black athletes who are not docile are often vilified by the media and some White fans. Newton has received hate mail from fans and backlash from the media for doing the Dab dance and handing footballs to kids after scoring touchdowns.
However, Aaron Rodgers has the room to perform his championship belt celebration and pelvic thrust; Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals) can motion for opposing fans to perform a lewd sex act on him; and Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs) can hit the Quan dance without much of an uprising. Apparently, when White athletes decide to express themselves after a touchdown, it’s basically viewed as, “boys being boys.”
Beyond touchdown celebrations, the reality of race will play a major role in Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning will be viewed as the All-American quarterback who represents proper values. Former NFL player Brian Urlacher recently said that Newton should be like Peyton Manning and have more class. But Manning, not Newton, is the Super Bowl QB who is being investigated by the NFL for illegally using HGH.
Regardless of Manning’s potential wrongdoings, Newton will be treated as anti-establishment. It’s the only way that some Americans know how to treat the defiant Black male.