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Touchdown/Point After

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by William Broussard and Robert Brown

Should Seminole County Fire An Irresponsible White Person?

In Season One of The Boondocks, Huey Freeman levels a cutting and loaded criticism at his teacher, Mr. Uberwitz, who allows him to put on a Christmas theatrical production entitled “The Adventures of Black Jesus.”

He calls Uberwitz “an irresponsible white person” and cites it as the reason he was later fired from his job.

Recently, in a column by Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel entitled “One nasty word can ruin a career,” the story of an irresponsible coach making an irresponsible comment invoked a question many have asked and few have answered with finality and exactitude: Just who can and who cannot say the word “nigger?”

Seminole High School Head Coach Mike Cullison is under fire for uttering the “N-Word” to assistant coach Ronald Moore in reference to students at the school, and he is in jeopardy of losing his job and ruining his reputation as a winning coach and as an individual who never seemed to care about the race or cultural affinities of his players, so long as they worked hard and came to play.

He was the first white head coach at historically black Jones High School in Orlando and won a 2008 6A state championship at Seminole High, coaching all players and respecting all students regardless of their ethnic background. And Shannon Owens, also of the Sentinel, notes Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans, who played for Cullison at Orlando-Olympia High School, defended him, stating that he reached out to all players and still serves as an advisor to him (http://bit.ly/gjK3Gl).

These accolades and his history of reaching out to young people of all ethnic backgrounds and cultural affinities do not excuse his actions. He was wrong to say what he did, and will probably attest to that. But those accolades and that history serve as a context. If Cullison truly has a problem with young black people, one so severe that it leads him to discriminate against them in the classroom and on the field, one so deep-seated that it predisposes him to demean and ignore the humanity of all of his black students, then yes, he probably could not serve the community of students at Seminole High, and should be fired.

However, there is a significant difference between an awful person and an awful word. For all we know, a tremendous man had a bad morning and expressed himself inappropriately. In such a case, a man should not be fired, he should be reprimanded and given an opportunity to atone. This is the same opportunity that should be afforded any student in the school who made a genuine mistake.

The investigation may tell us differently, that Cullison has had an extended history of making such comments that point to a man who possesses true racial animus. But if the decision comes down to this one utterance, of one word – albeit perhaps the most damaging and awful word in the English language – the right decision is not to terminate his contract. The right decision is to secure a commitment that this behavior will be terminated.

As for Assistant Coach Ronald Moore? Huey Freeman’s little brother Riley may want to have a talk with him about snitching.

When keeping it “White” goes wrong during the post-racial era

Mike Cullison is more than a football coach. Florida high school football coach, Mike Cullison, is a teacher mentor, and father figure to his team of mostly Black players. But after reading the article written Mike Bianchi , the story of Mike Cullison using the ‘’N’’word in front of his Black players makes coach Cullison fit the stereotype of “old white man attempting to be cool”. The now glorified ‘’N’’ word has been made into a term of endearment, greeting, and badge of honor by my generation and younger. Basically, if you aren’t Black, the word is off limits. A stupid double standard viewed by many, but an unwritten law amongst the Black community. So, what exactly was coach Mike Cullison trying to prove by uttering this word amongst his team of majority Black players?

He already has the respect of his players by being the older, authority figure. What’s his motive? Mike Cullison is simply another example of a white person attempting to be ‘’down’’. He wasn’t trying to be offensive, he wasn’t trying to stir up emotions, he was trying to be cool. Through life, we’ve all seen examples of someone trying to fit in with the other crowd. Some people are effective in this quest, while others lack what it takes to be accepted by the masses. Cullison thought that by being an older, White man and saying the word ‘’nigger’’ would make him appear to be funny, maybe even edgy amongst his Black players.

But, what Cullison wasn’t expecting was for the pain, and anguish that is attached to that word to come out and almost cost him his job. Mike Cullison isn’t being criticized for just saying a bad word, he’s being criticized for lacking common-sense, and that is the real crime in this story. A man in his 40’s not only should know right from wrong, but he should also know “what and when”. When going to an Asian restaurant, I would not walk in calling my servers, ‘’chinks’’ or ‘’slant eyes’’. Not only would that gaurantee me bad service, it would also show poor judgment on my part for using words that I know are offensive to another race of people.

Since Obama has been in office, political pundits have marked this the “Post-Racial Era”. But, with incidents like this, the issue of race still and will always exist. Hopefully, this incident doesn’t cost Cullison his job, but if he is to face termination, it won’t be due to race, it’ll fall in the category of poor judgment. Time away from football should teach Mike Cullison a valuable lesson in knowing when to play “peer” and when to be “coach”.

The next time Cullison wants to appear to be cool, just do what all White people do, misquote Lil’ Wayne. Of course, he should bleep out any use of the ‘’N’’ word.

William Broussard, Ph.D. is an asst. professor of language and communications and Robert Brown is a senior journalism major at Northwestern State University. They both apologize, on behalf of all black folks, for Wiz Khalifa.

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Written by demon53

January 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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