Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel ought to know why he’s being asked about race
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By Jarvis DeBerry, MSNBC Opinion Columnist
Racism is still so prevalent in this If McDaniel thinks race is an absurd concept he’s right, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.
Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, hired by a team that’s been accused of discriminating against Black men, doesn’t describe himself as Black even though, according to the American rules of race, he is. McDaniel was born in the United States to a white mother and a Black father, which, according to the way race is understood here, makes him Black. That means that the National Football League can conceivably use his hiring as a kind of rebuttal to Brian Flores, the head coach the Dolphins just fired. Flores claims in a recent lawsuit that the NFL discriminates against Black men by rarely hiring them as head coaches and wrongly firing the few that they do hire….
McDaniel is one of those people who may have to tell you he’s Black, but, if his remarks Thursday at a news conference are any indication, he’s not going to. “It’s been very odd,” he said in response to a reporter’s question, “this idea of identifying as something. I think people identify me as something, but I identify as a human being — and my dad’s Black. So whatever you want to call it.”…
Amid complaints that the league is racist and that Black talent is valued on the field but rarely on the sidelines, did the “people don’t know this” part make McDaniel a more attractive hire to the Dolphins and the NFL? The NFL isn’t above cynical responses to complaints about racism. It’s a league that has had “End Racism” painted outside its end zones and has hired a few soloists to perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem, but somehow can’t find room on a roster for Colin Kaepernick or Eric Reid, two talented athletes who publicly protested racism….
McDaniel probably considers the concept of race absurd. It is. Race is a totally made-up thing. But the absurdity of it doesn’t reduce it to irrelevance. Nor does it contradict Flores’ argument that the NFL has been too slow to hire Black coaches and too fast to fire them.
My college friend Aaron, who’s Black with skin as fair as McDaniel’s, argues that there are three components to racial identity: genotype (what you are), phenotype (how you appear) and self-identity (what you say you are).
When people call out an institution for a history of not hiring Black people, we can assume that they’re demanding that the institution hire Black people who either appear to be Black or say they are. Otherwise, how does it meet the demand?
Aaron admitted Thursday to watching a clip of McDaniel at the news conference and feeling “deeply uncomfortable for him. You could literally see him squirming.” He added that even though McDaniel may be aware that the NFL is cynically using him as a response to Flores’ suit, he can’t call out that cynicism without turning down one of only 32 head coaching positions in the sport. And he couldn’t turn down such a position without joining Flores and Kaepernick, who, we can safely assume, won’t work in the NFL again….
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