When Muhammad Ali bellowed “I am the greatest!”, he ingeniously left it at that.
He didn’t put any qualifiers on it like calling himself the greatest “Black” whatever.
He didn’t even call himself the greatest boxer.
He left it open.
But now, against the grim background of none other than Plessy v. Ferguson, Nike’s reintroduced a word that literally ceilings non-white expectations at the floor of white achievement.
What an ugly word.
Who on earth could aspire to “equality” as their highest achievement?
But that’s what Nike’s peddling to us and guess what? It’s using exactly the wrong people to push it on us.
Serena Williams and LeBron James?
Am I really supposed to believe that either of those two are seeking “equality” in their respective fields?
Of course not.
They seek, as all should seek, to be the best ever; to shatter records, to make you forget about past faves, to do to all that came before them and with them what Kendrick did to his entire peer group with that “Control” verse.
And that’s what everybody should seek.
If you’re out there seeking “equality”, you’ve already sold yourself short.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the struggle for equal rights.
Shit, equal pay for equal work is, chauvinist that I am, the one aspect of feminism that I fully agree with.
But when you use the word in this broadest sense, what you’re saying flat out is not only that you have to hope that white achievement remains static – meaning, if you’re shooting for where they are, they better not advance or the best you’ll get to is where they were – but that at your very best, the most you could hope to do is equal it.
And it’s this type of thinking that prompts ridiculous notions and statements like when Vince Young famously promised to be the “next Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl” – which he wasn’t, of course, Russell Wilson was – instead of simply promising to be the next quarterback period to do it.
It’s what causes idiot historians to label Negro Leaguer Josh Gibson the “Black Babe Ruth” while Josh’s 962 career home runs when compared to Ruth’s 714 should have, as the late, great Gloria Naylor pointed out, gotten The Bambino rechristened “The White Josh Gibson”.
On top of all that, the nerve to have as the theme song for this obscene commercial Alicia Keys reinterpreting Sam Cooke’s haunting “A Changes is Gonna Come” 53 years after Sam recorded it and 25 years after Spike Lee used it in Malcolm X is enough to make one imagine that change is never gonna come – if we’re still singing about it after all this time – and that we’d better get busy working on another plan as opposed to waiting or “change”.
Worse yet, who exactly is this commercial directed towards?
I’m actually growing to become sympathetic toward white men as I see them as they really are; powerless, ineffective, dorky dweebs blamed for all the ills and wrongs of society.
I hope we’re not expecting to change them because they’re already pathetic enough.
Are we then changing ourselves?
And if so, from what, to what?
Because if “equality” is our goal, what the fuck is Nike saying that we are now?