Stephan A Smith is a sports commentator who is prominently featured on various sports television networks. Smith was extremely vocal earlier this week in criticizing former professional U.S. football quarterback Colin Kaepernick for how Kaepernick chose to engage his private workout that took place last week. The National Football League (NFL), the professional league that has kept Kaepernick out of a job within their league for three years because of his courageous on the field protests against police terrorism, suddenly wanted to play the mediator by staging a workout for Kaepernick to demonstrate whether he still has the skills to pilot an NFL team. Kaepernick, understandably, doesn't trust the NFL. So, he changed some of the ridiculous terms the NFL had imposed on his workout. He even changed the location, who all could be invited, and how the workout was filmed. He did all of this because he had no interest in being used by the NFL just to make themselves look just and honest at his expense. Anyone with a basic ability to read and comprehend material at a 5th grade level should be able to understand the reasons why Kaepernick took the steps he did. Regardless, Stephan A Smith took to the airwaves immediately after the Kaepernick workout to loudly criticize everything Kaepernick did and when the general African public, and even some people connected to professional football - like former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens - chimed in suggesting Smith was behaving like a house slave, Smith had the audacity to react as if he had been mortally offended.
Just for the record, let's state loud and clear that Stephan A Smith is without question a house slave. And clearly, he has plenty of company. Jason Whitlock, another sports commentator, was quick to parrot Smith's talking points on Kaepernick and obviously this entire society is filled with house slaves on imperialist television networks, Instragram, Facebook, etc. Since speaking for those who oppress us is such a common and normalized condition for these types of African people, its necessary to clearly define why we accuse Smith, and all of you who agree with people like him on issues like this, as house slaves.
There are many house slave moves Smith and others made this past week, but there are two egregious things that cement house slave immortality for him. And these two things are essential because the only way they work is if enough of us sign on to them, consciously or subconsciously. First, Smith talked repeatedly about the disclosure agreement the NFL offered Kaepernick in order for him to conduct the workout. Smith's gripe was that Kaepernick refused to sign the disclosure. To Smith, Kaepernick's refusal represented an example of Kaepernick's refusal to be agreeable. Before we even discuss what was in this disclosure, I would need to know what idiot would openly trust an organization that has clearly colluded against me because I took a principled stand and that organization was only concerned about how expressing that stand would/could impact their profits? I heard Smith say multiple times that the disclosure was a standard agreement. We know now that it wasn't, but even if it was, what free thinking person doesn't ever have the right to decide whether they want to accept terms on an agreement or not? The NFL made Kaepernick a "free agent." The very definition of that classification means he's free to decide to agree on whatever he wants. Only a true house slave who has accepted the logic that the master is always the only entity that has the right to challenge and/or change terms would suggest that whenever we decide to exercise our rights to decide on our destiny, we are automatically being disruptive. This is classic house slave thinking because what it suggests is any attempt we make to think for ourselves that doesn't fall under the approval of the power structure will be defined as us creating a problem. In other words, the problem isn't the slave burning down the plantation in order to be free. The problem is the slave causing the master to lose property.
The second and even more serious offense Smith committed was making an issue on Kaepernick wearing the Kunte Kinte tee shirt during his workout. This one was very triggering for me because I often wear clothes with politically charged messages. And, I wear these clothes in my own time as well as to work. I do this because I wish to challenge the contradictions that live side by side in this society everyday. Every second of our lives, we are told that we have freedom in this country to do whatever we wish. And, that the U.S. military kills millions to secure those rights for us. Of course, all of that is complete nonsense and the fact wearing a Huey P. Newton hoodie, or Assata Shakur tee shirt is something that can generate sentiment that you are being disruptive is obvious clear proof of the lies. For me, I accept the risks. For many of you, going along to get along is all that matters, but honestly, I have complete contempt for that behavior which I deem to be complete cowardice. I realize that's a strong sentiment, but our ancestors had no luxury of "going along to get along" and our rear ends would not have that luxury today if they hadn't sacrificed so much, including their lives, for our dignity. So, the least I can do is honor them by displaying their images and words. That, I consider to be the bare minimum of my commitment and that's why I understand why Kaepernick wore that tee shirt. He wants to let the NFL know that even though he's interested in doing what he's dreamed about and prepared for his entire life - play football - he is only interested in doing so while respecting his dignity and the dignity of his people. This man has already proven to the world that he is willing to sacrifice his ability to play football for what he believes in so anyone paying even cursory attention shouldn't have any difficulty understanding this point.
The reason why Smith - the house slave - didn't understand it was because in his way of thinking, we do any and everything we have to do to secure positions, even if doing so compromises our integrity and dignity. The position is more important than our essence as human beings. This is the part that is completely unacceptable. The message this sends to our youth is that they have to spend their entire lives doing everything they can to fit into the racist European paradigm that shapes this capitalist society. Since no matter what they do, they are never going to fit, what they end up taking from that is that something must be wrong with them. This dysfunctional training has resulted in unquestionable harm to the psychology of African people everywhere. People like Franz Fanon wrote about this going on 60 years ago. The only way we can stop this dysfunction is by claiming our dignity, not being a grinning slave just to get a job on the plantation.
The worst aspect of this isn't people like Smith, Whitlock, Shaq O'Neal, and other house slaves. Those people are doing what they are going to do, serve the master and receive their payouts for good service. The most disappointing part is how many of us sign on to this sellout behavior as if it has legitimacy. No wonder so many of our youth demonstrate no respect for us elders. We are teaching them to continuously bow down and be slaves to material comforts when even they know the wealth we are seeking was stolen from us in the first place. And, that most of the time, even bowing down 100% still doesn't bring relief from this oppression. This is disgraceful and from my standpoint, the youth should continue to disrespect any elder who promotes this cowardly behavior.
I myself have no issue with being disrespected by youth because I promote an entirely different message to them. Dignity or death. Or, as James Brown sang in "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud - we're people. We like the birds and the bees, but we'd whether die on our feet than live on our knees!" House slaves like Smith, Whitlock, etc., and so many of you wish to live on your knees. As long as your knee pads are made with expensive materials (sown by some of our own people in sweatshop conditions) you are absolutely fine with that. Its time for those of us not fine with that to stop being silent or co-signing with this absurdity.