By: Terry Foster
My great grandfather Daddy Floyd Ratliff wasn't old enough to experience the horrors of slavery. However, he knew people who did and he passed along those stories to me while we sat on the porch at night or during walks to the penny candy store.
His words left behind an advocate who bristles when someone compares their lives to slavery. There are no comparisons, especially if you are an NBA player making millions to play a game.
Daddy Floyd said to make sure that people don't minimize what slavery was all about and to respect those who went through it.
He worked as a mail man in Hamtramck and he had minor complaints about the job like anybody does. There were cold walks in January as he went house to house to deliver the mail. There was the supervisor who wanted to change his route for no reason. But he never compared his plight to slavery.
Shame on Andre Iguodala for doing so while complaining that "master" gave him a day off from work. When asked why he was sitting out a game, he said, "Nope, no clue. I do what master say."
And shame on him for using the N-word in mixed company during an interview following Golden State's recent loss to Minnesota.
Iguodala, who has a $48 million contract, said he meant no disrespect. He said he simply let the world in on an inside the dressing room joke. He was frustrated following a one-point loss to the Timberwolves that included officials' calls that went against the Warriors.
"We gotta score more than the other team. Yep, they want dumb n-----s so I'm going to give y'll a dumb n----," Iguodala said.
Iguodala is not dumb. Yet he gave a dumb answer and introduced a word that confuses America. It is a word that everybody in that room cannot use without Iguodala blowing up and getting angry. Black people must constantly prove we got a brain in our heads, so why play up the stereotype of stupidity?
The N word is not offensive to black people, just as long as it comes out of the mouth of another black person. But if somebody white says it that marks the beginning of World War III.
In NFL dressing rooms you hear the word often as players banter back and forth. A few years back I did a story on white tight end Tony Scheffler who playfully called his friend and black teammate Louis Delmas the N-word. It made national news.
The Lions launched an investigation to see if I made the story up. And former wide receiver Nate Burleson initially said the players were pulling my leg and that the story was not true. The problem is that other players confirmed the story and Burleson backed down from his accusation. I still have not heard the final results of the Lions investigation.
Burleson later told me he had to speak out to maintain the integrity of the dressing room.
It was a big deal. That is how powerful the word is when it is used by the wrong people.
Iguodala muffed his attempt at humor and caused an awkward situation. And it forced head coach Steve Kerr to answer questions about their relationship.
"You guys just got Andre'd," Kerr said. "He sees a lot of hypocrisy in the world. He expresses his displeasure in strange ways at times. So he said what he said. I don't think it meant a whole lot. I wasn't offended by anything he said but he chose some words that were questionable and he's got to respond to that."
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