An Attack on Richard Sherman

I enjoy watching football every once in a while, especially when my favorite team – the Giants – is not sucking.  Even though they weren’t playing the Super Bowl this year, I watched a little bit of the game and saw when the Seahawks won.  I missed the very short interview that Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman had with Erin Andrews (a Fox News sports reporter), though, which was also apparently very news-worthy.  Although the clip was extremely short, a frenzy erupted from it.  Andrews asked Sherman, moments after he blocked the 49ers from scoring a touchdown (which helped his team win), to replay the moment.  (watch the video here)  His response was loud, excited, and powerful, which is exactly what you’d expect from someone who just won the Super Bowl… right?  

Wrong.  Richard Sherman’s comments were described as classless and reeked of bad sportsmanship.  Some people even called him a monkey.  Once again, a connection was drawn between a black man and an animal (this relates back to the Eberhardt article we read).  Other posts on social media sites claimed that Sherman’s behavior was completely the opposite of progressive.  All of a sudden one man represents the entire black race, which is completely unfair and furthers ridiculous stereotypes about black people.  Although it should be obvious that one person’s actions or behavior do not represent an entire group, it is not.  It’s easier for people to make comments like this about black people because minority races are not viewed as normative.  Sherman’s behavior was attributed to his blackness, not his present state of emotion.  If a white man had done the same thing, I do not think the public would have reacted quite so disapprovingly.

The article I read about this mentions these injustices and how people put racial spins on Sherman’s actions.  The second article I read discussed the fact that Sherman was yelling in front of Erin Andrews – a tall, blonde, white woman – which made his offense even worse in the eyes of critics.  I believe his actions were intensified and made to seem worse because he appeared to be screaming in the presence of a white woman.  Some people went so far as to say that Andrews seemed scared during the interview, even though she later said that she was not afraid whatsoever and wished more athletes would be in-the-moment like Sherman.  I am glad Andrews reacted in this way because I think it may have quelled some people’s concerns and, hopefully, made them rethink their criticisms.  I’m curious as to what other people think of Andrews’s comments about Sherman’s reaction: were they helpful or hurtful?  Or would you describe them in another way?

4 thoughts on “An Attack on Richard Sherman”

  1. This makes me think about the post that Rachael made about the scene in Crash where Sandra Bullock grabs her husband when they pass 2 black men. There’s this belief that white women are frightened by black males. After the Richard Sherman a reporter or journalist tweeted something along the lines of “I would have been frightened if I was Erin Andrews tonight!”. An article discussing the racist responses to the interview quoted the her tweet and as I scrolled through the comments I found a comment from her stating that race had nothing to do with her tweet and that she wished for it to be removed by the author of the article. The tweet could have easily been a microinsult attributed do her implicit thought of black people as more dangerous or animalistic.

  2. I really like this article, especially since ESPN is my second favorite channel. They were talking about this on the show first take when it all happened and a lot of your argument I saw in the show. I think you are right, in regards to your last comment. We often blame society because it is harder to directly blame and call out a person. But as individuals we HAVE to do better when it comes to dealing with issues of race and bashing a person of color, yet giving other races paces. This was around the same time of Justin Biebers issue and a lot of people gave him passes and even blamed the culture of rap for his actions, yet didn’t give a pass to Richard Sherman.

  3. I feel like “society” or “how we are socialized” are always what we blame for the “ism”s (racism, sexism, heterosexism, agism, ablism, classism, etc.), which is true. But people make up societies. Individuals need to take responsibility for contributing to and enforcing (or breaking down) societal norms. All of the people who called Sherman an animal or said that Andrews looked scared are perpetuating racism. So I agree, I do not think it is fair to put all of the blame on Sherman; one person is not representative of an entire group and it’s unfair to say so. The people who made the stereotypical insults and accusations are to blame, in my opinion.

  4. I think the result of Sherman’s interview is a perfect example of how pervasive race is in our society. We are so conscious of race and it’s social implications that we may overlook more simple (and potentially more valid) explanations of one’s behavior, such as Sherman being excited that he just won the superbowl! We ignore personal motives in favor of highlighting ones that relate an individual’s behavior to a social group, especially when that group is marginalized or oppressed. A white person would not be called out on being white for being excited, but a black person WAS called out for being animalistic, a trait classically relegated to blacks, when he was reasonably excited during an interview. You could never blame Sherman for his reaction and I think it is unfair to place the blame on him – can we blame society for how we reacted? Is that where the true blame lies?

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