Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

By Walik Edwards
Updated: August 26, 2006

Before I begin, I want all of the black folk to walk to the nearest mirror in the area.

Now stare deeply at the person staring back, and repeat these words: I’m sorry, Bryant.

If we can find another contingent to throw into the mix of the creation of the new Bryant Gumbel, it is the black people of America.

I’ve been sitting on this for a bit since things were unleashed, all I’ve seen were talks about free speech, whether or not the players of the NFL are being treated fairly, black-on-black crimes (even if just verbal), etc.

Gumbel has become a man on a mission to become one of the strongest black voices in America.

From his quote about the Winter Olympics not being black enough and why he wasn’t going to watch it, to this week’s roundhouse at NFLPA head Gene Upshaw’s head, Gumbel has transformed into a whole new kind of monster – one created from reaching a breaking point.

Bryant Gumbel has been good a great scratching post for those cats, who for years have been hunting down those they felt were not black enough, or those black people who were “being white.”

Jokes on top of jokes, on top of jokes, from black comedians to TV shows have been the norm for years regarding Gumbel’s blackness.

A prime example made its way to me through my magic picture tube in a scene of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Carlton, a character continuously trashed for not being “black” or “black enough” said that one of his idols was Bryant Gumbel – and the laugh track button was pushed because we understood why that was supposed to be funny.

Gumbel had the bevy of blonde arm candy, including his wife, the manner of speaking that wasn’t “black enough” (oh my, that good diction), and all of the other things African-Americans picked him apart with to prove him not worthy of the dark skin.

I am part of that blonde-haired partnering with the decent diction fraternity, along with – and you might know these two guys – Charles Barkley and Quincy Jones. The deal with us three (and it is amazing that I can roll with Sir Charles and Q for a nanosecond), is that we are, in one respect or another, have our names connected to something black, and we are genuinely sincere about it.

Gumbel’s ambition has been trying to make his way to the heights of the TV world. After moving from NBC Sports to their “Today Show,” and subsequently bottoming out as a co-host for the morning show at CBS (who would be better off showing old reruns of “Captain Kangaroo,” the last morning show at the eyeball anybody cared about), he now blows to a minimal TV audience for HBO.

My bad, it’s not TV, it’s HBO.

But if it’s not “The Sopranos,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Entourage,” “Deadwood,”and a couple of other programs, then it’s not going to be preached about. “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” gets its props from the sporting community and gets its share of quality awards during Emmy time, but it’s not where Bryant Gumbel was supposed to be here in his 50’s.

He should be the anchor of the CBS Evening News, or the host of “The View,” or something!

Bryant Gumbel has the reputation of not being a generally nice person, so expecting mouthy, blowhard comments from him isn’t that unexpected – but his blackness had been scrutinized too long by his own people, and it came to a point where he just blew.

You can say a man is an Oreo for so long before he loses it, and you have to deal with the damage when it comes, and be honest when it’s time to take some accountability for why something’s in shambles.

Gumbel is a hurricane right now, and if he gets canned from his upcoming announcing gig with the NFL Network, things are not going to be pretty. It’s going to be Ang Lee’s “Hulk” ugly.

Whether or not he is misinformed like former NFL player Robert Smith said, or is trying to be heard, like former NFL player Robert Smith said, or is jealous of Gene Upshaw’s power, like former NFL player Robert Smith said, the point is a creature has been unleashed and his name is Bryant.

This isn’t just something for black people to heed as a lesson, but all who have been given that power in their minds to chastise others, probably to make themselves feel a little about their own lives, because that’s where most constant criticism comes from.

Now once again: I’m sorry, Bryant.

Maybe a little too late, but at least you should be feeling better that you tried, right?