One of the most interesting and important books I’ve read during the past couple of years is Howard Bryant’s “The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism.” When the book came out in the spring I knew it would be a great topic for a Brain Food lecture because Trump had sparred with the NFL the entire previous season, and I knew he would not let up this fall. So having Bryant speak after the second weekend of the NFL would be timely.

But if you kept up with the news in Kenner, Louisiana (the place where the New Orleans airport sits), you know the Mayor decided to ban purchasing Nike gear for the rec leagues after they announced Colin Kaepernick would be one of the faces of the 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” ad campaign. After a week of protests and bad press, including editorials from radical HBCU presidents (guilty as charged), the Mayor decided it was best to withdraw his edict.

So Howard Bryant spoke right after this incident put Kenner on the map. I won’t cover all the points, and you need to read this book, but he asked a lot of great, rhetorical questions. The overall question was whether the black brain ever catches up to the black body, because America has always valued the black body over the black brain.

Bryant argued that the black athlete was the only rich person in America that is NOT allowed to speak. Hence, folks get mad when athletes protest (or as Ted Cruz said tonight they need to find another place to do it because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not disrespect the anthem like that!)

Which reinforces Bryant’s assertion that politics is when someone says something we don’t like, but patriotism is when we like what someone says. In the end, Bryant acknowledged that The Heritage is a burden, a club that you don’t want to join.

The Prez

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

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