What Do Barry, O.J., & Mike Have in Common?

By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Updated: November 20, 2007

NEW YORK — I talked to a guy from a network yesterday about Barry Bonds. They were going to have me on the show to discuss whether or not his recent indictment for obstruction of justice and perjury has anything to do with race.

Unlike other networks I’ve worked with, NPR is one of those places where the commentator is asked to use more than one brain cell when processing his analysis. Had it been CNN, I would have given a couple of sound bites. Had it been Fox, I would have given a one sentence answer, “No thank you”.

I explained that Barry’s situation is highly connected to race, but the connection is so indirect that most Americans won’t ever get it. This sort of racism is the kind of thing that you only understand if you’ve lived it everyday for at least 35 years.

I also explained that it’s not a coincidence that the most hated athlete in America is almost always black: Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, O.J. Simpson, Ron Artest, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Latrell Sprewell, Muhammad Ali, Jack Johnson, the list goes on and on.

The attacks on athletes tend to include some discussion about the individual having poor character, linked to the perceived cultural inferiority of black people. Of course, this trend has NOTHING to do with the fact that America has spent 400 years prosecuting, persecuting, vilifying and murdering black men who didn’t “know their place”.

People seem to think that it’s all just one big coincidence — the uppity negroes “just happen” to be the ones who always end up getting screwed, while the Happy Negroes get extra cookies.

With that said, it’s clear that O.J., Vick and Bonds are in the same category. They are in the Most Arrogant Negro (MAN) Club. Membership requirements: White America judges your character, decides you are a bad person, and then uses whatever resources it can find to bring your arrogant black ass to the ground.

Membership has few privileges and I’m not just the president of the MAN club, I am also a client. I’ve gone through it myself at my own university.

Let’s be clear: O.J. may not go to prison for recent events because he did something wrong (maybe he did, but then again, he waaaas stealing back his own stuff….does that count?). He will go to prison because he pissed off white America. People have been waiting for this guy to fall since 1994, and finally they have their chance to get him.

Never mind the fact that he and his wife were heavily involved in the drug game and Nicole’s murder easily could have been a contract killing. It’s much easier to believe that this big black man was enraged over the loss of his precious blonde spouse.

But as an ex-drug dealer friend of mine in L.A. told me, “It’s normal for washed-up celebs to serve as drug mules to maintain their standard of living. Do you think O.J. got the money for two expensive homes and five top-notch attorneys from his five-minute roles in Naked Gun films? “

Michael Vick learned that, apparently, the only thing worse than hurting a white female is hurting a dog. So, in spite of the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of people who shoot deer in the head and stuff them on the mantle,

Vick has been painted as a monster for engaging in dog fighting. As a result, he will lose everything, and America sees no problem with taking it from him. After all, he was in the MAN club.

Barry Bonds’ case is a little more subtle, yet not as complex as we might think. Let’s be clear: The government did not spend three years and millions in tax payer dollars because they truly believe Bonds’ alleged crime was worse than anyone else — even child molesters don’t get this kind of attention.

They did it because people feel that his record is tainted, that he cheated and that his attitude needed to be adjusted. I recall watching several executives from the tobacco industry declare under oath that they truly believed smoking was not harmful to your health.

So, there are a lot of people who’ve been equally shifty in their government testimony. Other questions remain as it pertains to Barry Bonds.

Question 1: Is there any conclusive evidence that Barry Bonds took these drugs in the first place? No. In my opinion, there is no more evidence in his case than in the case of Lance Armstrong.

Question 2: What is a performance enhancing drug, exactly? The definition is not all that clear, and it changes from one person or official to the next. Major League Baseball did a Helen Keller imitation all through the 90’s when it came to steroid use, mainly because all those homeruns were filling up the stands.

One thing we do know for sure is that Bonds is not the only person in the league to take this stuff. He just had the misfortune of going to the lab that was raided.

Question 3: Why were we spending government resources on hearings for a steroid probe anyway? Aren’t there more important things going on in the world? I don’t know…maybe that little war across the world where thousands of troops were sent to die because someone lied to the American people, how about that that?

I am continuously amazed that a man could go to prison for lying about steroids, when there is not a single person in the Bush Administration held accountable for lies that led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in financial loss. There are at least a hundred other issues that would have been far more worthy of a congressional hearing.

At the end of the day, America’s selective morality always comes into play: Dog fighting makes you a monster, but deer hunting makes you an American. Bonds lying about steroids is horrific, while lying to kill Americans in Iraq for oil money is just a mistake.

Public lynchings of high profile black athletes occur annually and won’t stop anytime soon — they are as American as apple pie and crappy inner city schools. The rapper E-40 might have been right when he used these lyrics in a song: “They’ll find a new nigger next year.”

Given that most of these guys were once highly respected, you truly never know who that person is going to be.