Getty Images

Getty Images

On the field Cam Newtown might be a winner, but in the court of public opinion — well, we wouldn’t exactly call him a loser, let’s just say folks have a lot of contrary things to say. And while most of us would liken the outlandish criticisms he’s received for things like dabbing and being “unsportsmanlike” after losing a game to the reaction Serena Williams has received from the mainstream over the years, and recognize the common denominator (race), Newton thinks his backlash has nothing to do with that.

At least that’s what he told GQ in his latest feature with the magazine. And the answers even surprised writer Zach Baron who prefaced their discussion on race by saying, “Maybe today he woke up and felt like being just a quarterback, not a black quarterback. Maybe he feels fatigue at having to have this conversation with any random reporter who thinks he’s entitled to his thoughts on this subject. Maybe losing the Super Bowl, and hearing all the criticism of Cam Newton that poured out afterward, left him in a place where he just wanted to retreat, at least in front of a reporter, and for once in his life just not be responsible for explaining away the cruel and insinuating things that other people say about him. Maybe he just didn’t feel like participating in the whole economy of outrage that surrounds him today.

Actually, I know he didn’t feel like it, because this is how the rest of this conversation goes:”

Your now former teammate Josh Norman said last year, “I’m going to be precise when I say it: It’s hate.”

“His response may be somebody else’s response, but that’s not how I feel.”

Do you feel like football fans are racist toward you?

“It’s not racism. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion.”

So if it’s not that, what is it, do you think?

“I’ll let you be the judge. I don’t look at it like that. I look at it like some people have certain beliefs, and I have my own belief, and we can agree to disagree on certain things. But this is what makes sports so amazing, that we can start a discussion around a table, in the newspaper, in the magazines, that will get people’s attention. And that’s what sports does.”

In January, right before the Super Bowl, you said: “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”

“I don’t want this to be about race, because it’s not. It’s not. Like, we’re beyond that. As a nation.”

You really think so?

“Yeah. I mean, you bring it to people’s attention. But after that, that’s it.”

It’s a special day in mainstream media when a white man acknowledges issues of racial discrimination more than the black man who’s subjected to them. But in all actuality, these types of “special days” are becoming exponentially more frequent in relation to certain entertainer’s paychecks, fame, and perceived crossover appeal and acceptance (Isn’t that what they’re all after anyway?). I’d like to say I’m not mad at it, but actually I am.

No one in their non-white-washed mind could fail to see a correlation between Cam’s treatment as an athlete and the respectability politics brainwashing the black community is subjected to every time one of ours is detained or destroyed at the hands of police. Sure, the outcomes and implications are drastically different, but at the nucleus they’re just different levels of policing — all rooted in racism. And every time a famous person of color with a listening cross-cultural audience makes a laughable post-racial remark such as this, they set the movement that much further back. If he can’t even have an honest discussion about racism, what do we expect white people to do?

Cam wouldn’t even back up comments his father Cecil made to Ebony about his son asking the mag to photograph him in a hoodie like the one he’d worn during the Super Bowl press conference. According to Cam’s dad, he made the request because a hoodie “still points to the inequities that go on.”

According to summer 2016 Cam, “For what it’s worth, I really wear hoodies. Like, that’s a fact.”

But is that why he wanted to wear a hoodie for the photo shoot? Judging by this answer, we’ll never know. “I know why I do certain things, and it’s because how it makes me feel,” he said. “I’m comfortable in a lot of things that I wear, and wearing a hoodie happens to be one of those things.”

I really hope GQ was right about Cam possibly just not feeling like being a black quarterback that day. But next time he gets in one of those moods, I’d prefer he just say “no comment.”

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