The recent debate on the whole Grant Hill vs. Jalen Rose issue has brought me nothing but joy in the last few days because it takes on an issue that needs to be discussed and addressed in Black America. In Black America, there is always a characteristic we’ll find to separate our given accomplishments. This is not just in sports, this happens in education, social groups, industry, and culture. Then funny enough, there are external groups of black people living in America, who do not want their kids to identify with any part of African American culture. [That’s neither here nor there, I can address that in a different post.]
For those reading that still do not know what I speak of, essentially what happened was that during a ‘Fab 5’ documentary about Jalen Rose’s collegiate career, Rose recalls being 17/18yrs old and playing a ‘polished’ Duke team featuring Grant Hill. Michigan, Rose’s school, had an all black starting line-up of freshman [1st time in College Basketball] and Duke, Hill’s Alma Mater, featured a majority of white players and black kids from suburbs or recognized prep schools. 38 yr old Rose then recalled thinking of black Duke players as a bunch of “Uncle Tom’s.”
This happens too frequently in black culture, where we see other black folks doing well or doing something different, and we label them something anti-black.
Man Law: If you don’t know who Harriet Beecher Stowe is, you can’t call another black man Uncle Tom. If you don’t know the difference between “Uncle Tom” the character and “Tom Shows” ‘based’ on the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, STFU. Uncle Tom actually refused to snitch on fellow escaped slaves in the book. Non-‘Uncle Toms’ now wear ‘stop snitching’ shirts [irony].
Anyone that plays a sport and has options outside of that sport, knows how real and intense, yet fun and educational it is to play with those who have nothing but ball. I was opportune enough to go to a high school with various cultures and ethnic backgrounds. On the court, if you knew how to hoop, regardless of race, grades, or wealth, you got picked first. I played and was serious about school like Hill, but the attitude was so Rose [in my mind]. Our team was all black with 2 white players. Black teammates playfully teased the academic grind, but respected the athletic grind.
College was a different story. There, I encountered several inner city peers that would discount my game just from knowing the name and location of my high school. Minds didn’t change until the game was played, and even then there was a sense of separation. We were not enemies, but this was real life. We’d be in student organizations together in the name of unity, but we stayed closer to those of our own background. We still battle with this humongous façade in the black community. And this is at the collegiate level, much less than the professional level of Rose and Hill. Hill Response
At the end of the day, hooping is hooping and these are two rich people arguing about the merits of their work. Its like a sports version of W.E.B DuBois vs. Booker T. Washington.
What I take issue with is that Duke does recruit certain types of players. In recruiting, the goal is to sign players that fit your program and meet the school requirements for the most part. Lets break down Duke v. Michigan.
Both schools are considered top university with quality sports programs [sans Duke Football]. Both have high SAT requirements, national titles in various sports, and multiple top-ranked graduate programs.
However, Coach K has been known to recruit players who come to play without feeling any ‘external pressures.’ External pressures would be any real life situation that can make a student-athlete leave school early. These ‘external pressures’ tend to occur more with lower socio-economic status[SES] kids. You can’t fault Coach K for not living like John Calipari [King of one and done student-athletes; sans Marcus Camby]. For as we now know, many kids are leaving school early for NBA riches.
In 1990, Rose and Hill were both top prospects in the country. They were the same height, had similar capabilities on the floor, were both sons of former pro-athletes, and honor roll students. The only thing separating the two was SES and geographical location. Hill came from a 2-parent ivy-league household and attended an affluent public school in Virginia, while Rose grew up in a single-parent household in one of Detroit’s roughest neighborhoods. Coach K never recruited Rose. In a sport where certain schools get who they want, why would Duke not pursue the best guard prospect in the class of 1991 in its quest to capture Coach K’s second title?!
Rose will admit jealously towards Hill in that he had his father to raise him and lived a more ‘polished’ childhood.
That is only where the root of some separation within black America originates. Men, black men especially, need to raise their kids. The absence of a male figure for a child spurns so much hatred and perpetuates a vicious cycle that destroys the inner workings of Black America. Despite disparities, we are getting older and more educated as a community and so has Rose. 38 year old Rose knows Hill is not an ‘Uncle Tom,’ but he is very right in that Duke should give more lower SES prospects a chance. If Notre Dame can recruit players like Tim Brown out of Dallas Woodrow Wilson or Jerome Bettis out of Detroit, why can’t Duke recruit people of the same circumstance? If Elton Brand is the only player we can name from a tough circumstance in the 20yrs since Grant Hill stepped on the Duke campus, that speaks volumes.
ESPN analyst and insider Chris Broussard eloquently put this situation into perspective.
I dig this, because to me, it is a direct message to the youth. 17yr old Rose did not know any better, and I’m positive there are plenty more 17yr olds now having the same uneducated and ignorant perceptions of higher SES black people. The cycle must stop and here is some proof. I will compare Rose and Hill’s careers, and you can decide who you would rather be or want your kids to be. It would not be right if I did not mention that Jalen Rose is currently building a charter prep school that caters to inner city kids like him in his youth. He obviously wants his kids and those attending his school to have Hill’s adolescent privileges. Now its time for Black America to accept progression and do the same.
Rose: 1991 McDonald’s All-American, 2 Final Four Appearances, 1993 2nd Team All American, #13 Draft pick (1994 Draft), 2nd Team NBA All Rookie, 2000 NBA Most Improved Player, 13th in 2000 NBA MVP voting, 13 seasons in NBA, amassed roughly $102,438,250 in his career.
Hill: 1990 McDonald’s All-American, 2 Time National Champion, 1993 3rd Team All American, 1994 1st Team All American, 1994 Duke University Graduate, #3 Draft Pick (1994 Draft), 1995 NBA Rookie of the Year, 1st Team NBA All Rookie, 5 time All NBA Player, 7 time All-Star, Finished 3rd in 1997 NBA MVP voting, 17 seasons and counting in the NBA, amassed roughly $134,379,650 thus far in his career. Oh! His wife is her: