After years of incidents, ranging from the “racially-charged” all the way to the “downright racist”, the National Football League has proven time and time again that the specter of the olden days, when quarterbacks were white almost by definition and the owners as well as most coaches didn’t even think Black folks were smart enough to play middle linebacker, would inevitably rattle its ghoulish chains in a mimeographed tribute to Old Jim Crow.
WTF is Race-Norming, Anyway?
Last week it was announced that the NFL would end its 31-year practice called
“race-norming”, the practice of adjusting test results based on the racial makeup of the test-taker, first used by the Feds in 1981 and banished in the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
38 states would use race-norming in their employment practices before a federal mandate abolished it. Race-norming supposed that aptitude tests were racially and culturally biased to guarantee racial balance. The practice compared scores based on racial groups.
For example, Black candidates would only be graded against the scores of other Black candidates.
This was a widely recognized practice in the NFL but it’s certainly a shock to those of us who are not in the “know”.
Indeed, we already know the NFL has its shortcomings but the more we learn about the NFL owners (Pro-Trump, Hidden Concussion Reports, Banned Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid for PEACEFUL protest), the more we see that Black players, who make up a whopping 70 percent of the league’s rosters, are literal pawns. To be moved, used, and exploited in whatever way they see fit.
Race-norming sets the floor of intelligence for Black players lower than that of their white counterparts, making it difficult for Black players to prove they’re suffering from a decrease in cognitive ability because race-norming artificially lowers the cognitive bar.
This means that many Black former NFL players who tried to get a piece of the $1 billion concussion settlement were turned away because, according to race-norming, the cognitive abilities of these deteriorating old warriors were indiscernible from their peers.
Thus making it next to impossible to prove one’s brain is indeed damaged.
But how much embarrassment, pain, lawsuits, and reports of bruised brains will it take before Americans divest entirely from the blood sport of professional football?
The “Science” of Black Athletic Prowess
Just 25 years ago, some scientists believed Black folks had an extra bone in their foot, an extra-long Achilles tendon, or some other nonsensical B.S.
Back in January 1988, Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder was fired by CBS Sports for suggesting slavery and selective breeding were the reason Black athletes excelled in professional sports and went even further when he said the only occupations left in sports for whites would be as coaches.
There’s also the 1992 copy of Runner’s Magazine, a supposedly scientifically vetted publication, that published the headline ‘White Men Can’t Run.’
In 1993, Michigan State University president Dale Lick got shown the door after positing, “The muscle structure of the black athlete typically is more suited for certain positions in
football and basketball.”
As flagrant and disrespectful as those headlines are they’re indicative of a broader American mindset.
A mindset that denies racism exists while perpetuating it simultaneously.
The news articles listed serve as prime examples of mass media serving up racism disguised as a scientific study.
What’s so racist about an article that affirms a biological advantage for Black-American athletes?
In the mainstream cultural sphere, all information bends toward the upliftment of the dominant societal gravitas.
Contextualizing an American Phenomenon
Anything positive one has to say about Black athletes, and Black people in general, can and inevitably will bend toward legitimization of a particular notion.
If we say that with any scientific certainty that Black folks are superior athletes by nature, then we are also supporting the immediate counterargument raised by racists.
That being that Black folks’ physiological gifts are balanced with a lack of cognitive ability.
The 1994 pseudo study The Bell Curve by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray concluded that individuals of Americans of African descent were less intelligent than Americans of European descent.
Comparing the tenures of Obama and Trump in the most rudimentary manner destroys that notion.
Trump, a man born into wealth and privilege, was outperformed by a Black man with none of the same advantages.
Yet, polite society wouldn’t readily claim this to be a clear indicator of the Black one’s “natural” dominance over the white one, nor should it ever.
Mental capacity and scholarly aptitude are far more difficult to quantify than physical attributes.
However, the arch of the mainstream bends toward the upliftment of one group to the detriment of others.
Race-norming is but the latest scenario in which the elite who run the NFL pretend they’re not racist while being full-on, balls to the wall, racist AF.