How White Are You? And What The Heck is a “Cornball Brother”? Important Questions in Sports Journalism
By Nate Thayer
This will be my one and only venture into sports journalism.
An American sports journalist for ESPN, Rob Parker, got fired for comments he made calling into question exactly how black the Washington Redskins football star quarterback Robert Griffin 3rd is, calling him a “Cornball Brother.”
Parker accused Griffin of not being black enough: “Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother? … He’s not real. OK, he’s black, he kind of does the thing, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he’s off to something else.” Parker also raised the issue of Griffin’s white fiancée and reports he may have voted republican.
These comments did not go down well, in general. Parker was fired.
Now this immediately perked my attention on two key issues.
First, what the hell is a “Cornball Brother”?
This then raised the alarming question of: “How white am I?’
So, I found just the tool that will let me know at http://howwhiteami.com/where one can take a simple yes or no answer quiz and bingo!….it tells you how white you are.
I took the test and scored 62% white.
I think I could do well at howblackami.com too, but I haven’t taken that one yet.
I bet a score pretty high on how much I think like a girl, too, and am eagerly awaiting someone to come up with a simple test I can take for that.
I could not find a similar test for how Asian I am.
Parker’s comments came after Griffin, who has said he doesn’t talk about “race, religion or politics”, said: “I am [aware] of how race is relevant to [some fans]. I don’t ignore it. I try not to be defined by it, but I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. So I understand they’re excited their quarterback is an African-American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. So I understand that, and I appreciate them for being fans.”
Well, as it turns out, I am not alone in my ignorance of what a “Cornball Brother” actually means. It became an entry in the Urban Dictionary only recently, apparently not by coincidence.
- A classy, intelligent African-American athlete. The kind of guy who dominates his enemies and doesn’t fall in line with the opinion of douchebags–a freethinker and warrior.
2. n pl Cornball Brothers (kôrn’bôl’ brəT͟Hər)
a. An African-American male who chooses not to follow the stereotype. This includes, but is not limited to, being educated, well spoken, a role model, a leader, selfless, an upstanding member of the community and above all – humble.
b. life choices include marrying white women, being republican, and not being “down with the cause”.
c. a rare breed of African-American males who should be praised, not chastised by their own race.
d. a term where MLK would be rolling over his grave for
“Dat RG3 got himself a Becky. He a cornball brother (brotha) – na’mean?”
3. A black person who acts white, is possibly Republican, marries white women, and graduates from college with Honors. This person is not down with the black cause of ebonics and the hatred that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson often spew.
“Robert Griffin III is a smart, educated man, and he likes white chicks, what an a$$hole cornball brother! “He’s not one of us”, says the moronic sports analyst Rob Parker from ESPN (a Disney Network).”
4. A brother who has balls made out of corn.
“You won’t be having kids if you hook up with my brother, he’s a cornball brother”
On December 13, 2012, an ESPN commentator broached the subject after Robert Griffin III made comments at a press conference on December 12. In the press conference, Griffin was asked about his race and being a quarterback in the NFL. Griffin said: “For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin. You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I strive [for]. I am an African-American, in America, and that will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.”
Sports journalists being, well, the idiots they generally are raised the topic on ESPN and “journalist” Rob Parker was asked, ‘What does this say about RGIII?”
“This is an interesting topic. For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people. I understand the whole story of I just want to be the best. Nobody’s out on the field saying to themselves, ‘I want to be the best black quarterback.’ You’re just playing football, right? You want to be the best, you want to throw the most touchdowns and have the most yards and win the most games. Nobody is [thinking] that. But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him. And I’ve talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I’ve known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?” ”
“Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother”, and then proceeded to state Griffin wasn’t “down with the cause.”
His colleague sports journalists thought this was an important topic and asked Parker for further explanation:
Cari Champion: “What does that mean?”
Skip Bayless: “Explain that.”
Parker: “He’s not real. OK, he’s black, he kind of does the thing, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black but he’s not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he’s off to something else.”
Champion: “Why is that your question?”
Parker: “Well because that’s just how I want to find out about him. I don’t know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about how he’s a Republican, which, I don’t really care, there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods was like, ‘I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black.’
Then Journalist Skip Bayless asked about the quarterback Griffin’s hairstyle, which involves braids:
Parker: “Now that’s different. To me, that’s very urban and makes you feel like…wearing braids, you’re a brother. You’re a brother if you’ve got braids on.”
Parker continued to put his foot in his mouth. “We could sit here and be honest, or we can be dishonest. And you can’t tell me that people in the barber shops or people that talk, they look at who your spouse is. They do. And they look at how you present yourself. People will say all the time, you’re not gonna get a job in corporate America wearing those braids. It happens all the time. Let’s not act like it doesn’t, because it does.”
ESPN first said the comments “were inappropriate and we are evaluating our next steps” and shortly afterwards announced that Parker has been suspended “until further notice.”
It seems that football player Griffin’s reply– a sport not exactly recognized for its high IQ averages—was comparably more elegant than the observations of Parker, who was trained in the art and science of communication at Southern Connecticut State University and Columbia University for graduate School in journalism. Previously, he worked for The Detroit News ,The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, The Daily News in New York , The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Newsday in New York.
This concludes what will be the sum final total of my career contribution to sports journalism.