SPECIAL NOTE: Thank God I was born a Chinese, though a very poor one and raised by poor farmers! Here is Michael Bennett, a famous football player in America…you see, if you live here in America, you will see many black people are good in sports, in music, in dancing, in singing…they are good in ENTERTAINING THE WHITE AMERICANS…and the white Americans love you, adore you, admire you, but…but the moment you walk the streets in USA, you are just one of the NIGGERS…and the Whites are afraid of you…of what you might do to them…Michael Benneet says it well at the end of his book, and he is being very honest to say this: By the conclusion of his book, Bennett has delved into all the hot-button issues his title suggests. “I’ll be a football player for just a few more years,” he points out, “but I’ll be black forever. When I’m driving with my family down the street in a nice car in a nice neighborhood and the police see us, they don’t see Michael Bennett the college graduate, the husband or the loving father. … They immediately see a black man who could possibly be dangerous.” What he says is true, once you walk the streets of America, nobody cares who you are, you are just of the black Niggers…dangerous to the society! I am glad my skin is dark, not black because I am Chinese…still I do not go around shouting, LOOK AT ME I AM CHINESE…THERE ARE TOO MANY rednecks in America, they hate you, Brown or Black or Yellow…and that is what stupid Trump is doing to America…if you are an immigrant, stay home, don’t come to USA! Read Bennet’s book of you can get a copy of it…THINGS THAT MAKE WHITE PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE…he should know, because he is black! I should know because I am yellow! Steve, USA, August 8, 2018 email@example.com blog: https://getting2knowyou-china.com
I’m a Pro Football Player Now, but I’ll Be Black Forever
By Justin Tinsley
• May 16, 2018 New York Times
THINGS THAT MAKE WHITE PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE
By Michael Bennett and Dave Zirin
220 pp. Haymarket Books. $24.95.
Part of the mythology of sports, according to Michael Bennett, the Super Bowl champion defensive end, is that sports make society more equal. “That’s miseducation,” he writes in “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable.” “The only thing that’s going to make us equal isn’t sports. It’s going to be people realizing we’re all human.”
One of the raging debates of our times centers on social justice — and, in particular, the political views of athletes in the age of President Trump. Near its epicenter is Bennett, now a Philadelphia Eagle, who as a Seattle Seahawk sat during the national anthem last season to protest systemic inequalities. He is now fighting assault charges after being accused, unjustly he argues, of injuring an elderly woman while rushing through the crowd after last year’s Super Bowl to congratulate his twin brother, Martellus, on the Patriots’ win.
Bennett’s worldview and understanding of race has been intensified by experiences like these. Wasting few words and fewer emotions in this memoir (written with Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation), he starts by examining the brutal realities of both collegiate and professional football.
The former Texas A&M Aggie includes poignant descriptions of his undergraduate years, noting that racism was at the center of his college experience. He also explains how post-traumatic stress disorder triggered in high school and college can follow athletes long after the stadium crowds stop roaring. As an Aggie, Bennett explains, he was “half god, half property,” subject to so many restrictions that he was socked with a one-game suspension for leaving campus to attend his 2-year-old daughter’s birthday party. Bennett still resents going undrafted in 2009, the result, he believes, of his inability to live by the advice given to athletes: “Stick to sports.”
Asking the N.F.L. “to lead on social issues sometimes seems like asking a dog to meow,” he remarks early on. But he’s also found football’s brotherhood invaluable, forming bonds with his former coach Pete Carroll, as well as Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Cliff Avril, Justin Britt, Albert Haynesworth and the late Cortez Kennedy. At the same time, the physical toll football has taken isn’t an inheritance he wishes to pass along. If he were to have a son, Bennett says, he wouldn’t let him take up football. The fear of dying while playing is very real, something Bennett carries onto the field each Sunday — not necessarily because he’s afraid of death but because he’s aware of the crater such a loss would leave in the lives of his three daughters and his wife, Pele, whom he credits with helping form his compassionate worldview.
Activism is important to Bennett. It’s why he’s involved in eliminating food deserts in black communities. It’s why the death of Charleena Lyles, shot by the Seattle police after she called to report an attempted burglary, tied him to the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s why he’s uncomfortable merely calling himself a feminist, deciding to act on his beliefs by helping provide science, technology, engineering and math programs to young women of color. It’s why he’s adamant about taking inspiration from the June 1967 meeting of pro athlete social activists that’s come to be known as the Ali Summit. And it’s why Colin Kaepernick, still in exile from the N.F.L., has his lifelong support. The conversation Kaepernick’s actions helped ignite, Bennett believes, was more valuable than any of his own paychecks.
That conversation — illuminating systemic racism — is the most important “thing” that makes white people uncomfortable, as his title has it. An admirer of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Muhammad Ali and many others, Bennett is an agent of change. Faced with apathy from white athletes and fans, he urges them to take action. “Don’t feel guilty,” he writes. “Do something to make it better. Help us heal by standing — or sitting — alongside us.”
By the conclusion of his book, Bennett has delved into all the hot-button issues his title suggests. “I’ll be a football player for just a few more years,” he points out, “but I’ll be black forever. When I’m driving with my family down the street in a nice car in a nice neighborhood and the police see us, they don’t see Michael Bennett the college graduate, the husband or the loving father. … They immediately see a black man who could possibly be dangerous.”
This book is the necessary prelude to the serious work of Bennett’s life, which will take place once he’s done with football. “If you don’t ask why, you’ll never be attacked or criticized. No one is going to go after you or your family,” he declares. “But if you don’t ask why, nothing, not a damn thing, is ever going to change.”
Justin Tinsley is a sports and culture reporter with ESPN’s “The Undefeated.”
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A version of this article appears in print on May 20, 2018, on Page 9 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Sit Down, Don’t Shut Up. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe