There was major controversy in Monday night’s game between the Seahawks and Bills. Right before halftime, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman jumped offsides on a field goal attempt by Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter, and in the process, ran into the kicker. Carpenter looked to be in pain and received medical attention, although he got up almost immediately.
After the game, Sherman, as is typical of him, defended himself in animated fashion. He stated his case, saying that it wasn’t intentional, and that it was within the rules.
“I went to block the kick,” Sherman said. “I’m not going to let him make a kick. So when they called offsides I’m not going to let them have their free play — that’s not how I play.”
“They didn’t blow the whistle, so I played until the whistle was blown,” Sherman added. “I went straight for the ball. I didn’t go for the kicker. I slid for the ball.”
Carpenter’s wife Kaela, however, took exception to what Sherman had done, and fired back with this tweet:
Many have simply taken her tweet on the surface thinking that Sherman is out of control, and that castrating him is somehow a funny or fitting form revenge or payback.
But there are many levels as to why this is tone-deaf at best, and perhaps even flat out wrong. Carpenter’s tweet has racial undertones that go back centuries. Black people have been called animals and treated as such for years. They've been lynched. They've been castrated. They've been skinned. They've been set on fire, and more.
It is amazing how she tweeted that, and has left it up for hours, despite other users attempts to get her to delete it.
In the summer of 2013, 66 years after Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball, Adam Jones had a banana thrown in his direction when the Orioles beat the Giants 10-2.
The Vogue cover of LeBron James from 2008 drew immediate comparisons to the original King Kong movie poster. In the photo, James was showing emotion as he held on to blonde supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
Sherman understands the history behind this and how deplorable it is.
Want @richardsherman response to Kaela Carpenter Tweet suggesting castration? Told me: "It's amazing how comfortable she is saying that."— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) November 8, 2016
She responded to criticism of her tweet on Wednesday, saying:
"My attempt at humor during a heated and highly controversial NFL game has not been received the way I intended. When I saw the out of control nature of the events that happened on the field, I jokingly wanted to relate it to life on the farm, where I grew up, and how it would have been handled there. Unfortunately, I did not realize that a tone of racism would dominate the response to what I intended to be a lighthearted defense of my husband. Regardless of the narrative that has been attached to my post, it was never intended to be related to race, or the disgusting hatred that creates the basis for racism."
Sherman responded on Wednesday and said he was disappointed, but not surprised.
“It's not surprising at all. This is a day and age you've got the Ku Klux Klan running around. People say whatever they want. There's very little consequence.
“For her to say something like that and then have a BS apology like she did, I mean, it's just the way of the world. I don't let it bother me. It's something that I'm very used to. It's just the way people are. The way people were raised.”
“Ignorance has always been in the world. The core of this country has a been built off slavery and people owning people,” Sherman said.
For many, Carpenter’s tweet was nothing more than “trash talk” or defending her husband. They see a disturbing comfort with, and lack of distance from, the brutally dehumanizing racism of the not so distant past.
Ignoring these elements of Carpenter’s comments is only part of the problem that we’re so desperately trying to resolve.
Her words are what we have been trying to escape for over 400 years.