Grant, Jalen, and Jimmy (Three things one black man can call another that might not go over so well.)

*Before reading this post please read Monday’s post The Things I’ve Said, which is related to this but not about basketball at all.*

During Sunday night’s 30 for 30 documentary about Michigan’s Fab 5 Jalen Rose and his college teammates referred to Grant Hill as a “bitch”. Hill and his fellow black teammates were also referred to as “Uncle Toms” by Rose and his teammate Jimmy King. These comments were spoken via the words and thoughts of 19 year old men who are now on the verge of their fourth decade. Jalen Rose did state the context in which his vitriolic comments were made and was preemptive in apologizing to Grant Hill via Twitter.

Jimmy King and Jalen Rose both received chances to voice their opinions about their comments on multiple occasions and yesterday, Hill took the time to submit an editorial containing his thoughts in op-ed pages of the New York Times.[1] After seeing comments throughout my timeline and hearing others by various talking heads wondering why Hill even bothered to respond I immediately thought about my favorite line from the Wire:

“Got to [respond], this is still America ain’t it?”

After reading Hill’s commentary yesterday I made a comment on Twitter to fellow blogger Gem of The Ocean, that every black-American male, from any socio-economic back ground will tell you that there are three things that one black man can call another that will cut deep:

  1. Uncle Tom
  2. B***h[2]
  3. F****t[3]


I don’t care if he is Colin Powell, Barack Obama, ”Coke can” Clarence Thomas, your father, Bill Cosby, or Man-Man, any of these three words historically have made black men feel “some kind of way” when they are on the business end of them. This is essentially the same thing as calling Marty McFly “chicken”. We may not outwardly respond but trust me when I tell you that any of these three magic buzz words will cut a little and we’ll make note of who said it.[4] Knowing these facts, I was amazed at how many other black men took Grant Hill to task for doing the very thing that they would have. The platform of the response would have been different but there would have been a response of some sort from most of us.

I read Grant Hill’s response and I was impressed. Hill’s response was lengthy and eloquent but I’m amazed how the man was vilified for doing something that we all have the right to do: Defend ourselves in the court of public opinion. Yet in the eyes of many he was still just a “b***h”.

I thought to myself is he really? Is he being a b***h because defended himself, his family legacy, and his peers from Duke? Isn’t that what a “man” does? Well isn’t it? I found the level of vitriol odd because in the aforementioned 30 for 30 special many of the same folks, who took Hill to task for responding, yet applauded Rose and his teammates for defending their reputations after receiving hate mail from fellow Michigan alumni. Please tell me the difference?

Whether you agree with a man or not, he does have a right to say his piece; it’s one of those inalienable rights that we have. Three black men, who are peers, had opinions. Two of them had specific thoughts about the other at a specific point in time and they voiced them. The third then voiced his, it was only fair.

I too hate Duke’s basketball team but I cannot hate another brother who plays there, no matter how blessed or charmed his upbringing may have been.[5] At the end of the day he’s a brother with a degree from Duke University and that impresses the hell out of me. More so than an NBA ring. That being said I hope Hampton upsets Duke in the first round which would be the most epic sports victory ever.

You may dislike Hill for playing for a team you hate. You may dislike him for marrying Tamia. You may dislike him for wearing Fila back in the day.  Just don’t dislike him for defending himself and speaking his mind.

Vaya con Dios.

[1] Rose and King both specified that their views were through the eyes of 17 year-olds. I’m not sure why folks are omitting that fact.

[2] “B***h”, in modern times is often used in tandem with words such as “n***er”, “a**”, with numbers one and three. (Think, “You b***h-a** Uncle Tom!” or “You ole b***h-a** f****t!”

[3] This stems from black’s ongoing issues with homophobia. Don’t sit there and pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about either.

[4] If Robert Mugabe were to call Barack Obama a bitch, Barack would note that. His response would probably have something to do with large men with guns who use lots and lots of hand signals.

[5] I hate Duke because I grew a North Carolina fan. UNC along with the College of Charleston are my squads. UNLV and The Fab 5 were fun to watch but I wasn’t invested in them in anyway except that I wanted them to ream Duke.


14 responses to “Grant, Jalen, and Jimmy (Three things one black man can call another that might not go over so well.)

  1. Very well stated. This was good!

  2. I’m amazed how the man was vilified for doing something that we all have the right to do: Defend ourselves in the court of public opinion. Yet in the eyes of many he was still just a “b***h”.

    YESSSSS!!! kudos on this whole blog post, homes!!! i wanted to write a post on this too, but i think you and the Champ covered it all quite nicely.

    thanks for sharing!! you really made it plain 🙂

  3. NubianEmpress

    Wu did you read the Jalen Rose response on sicklemaster?’s-op-ed/

    pure f*cking comedy…

  4. Great write.. and I endjoyed the comments also.

    Homophobia??? Are you saying that Grant’s easygoing personality, dress and non-violent mannerism have labeled him as homosexual in the eyes of many?

    • No, I’m not suggesting that anyone thinks Grant is gay but I added “F****t” to the list because we both know that our people are hypersensitive about homosexuality. Wean as a people also tend to be a little more homophobic. That’s why I added that to the list.

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