Point of View Columns

Being Black in America and Mixed Messages

The recent Super Bowl highlighted the fact that this game was the first time that two Black quarterbacks faced each other. It is also important to point out that during this past season ten out of 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL were Black.

Meanwhile, in another part of the American universe 6 of the Fortune 500 CEO’s are Black.- another way of looking at this picture is that 30% of the quarter backs in the NFL are Black while barely one percent of the chief executive officers of the Fortune 500 are Black.

For decades the NFL and major college football programs would note place Black players in the quarterback position because — pick one – Blacks cannot think properly – Blacks cannot engage in useful executive decisions on the field — Blacks cannot successfully fulfill leadership positions — White players would never follow the lead of a Black quarterback.

The irony is that the ownership of the NFL has never been known as being progressive or inclusive. The ownership of the NFL has never been known for respecting the rights of non-whites or women. Indeed, the ownership of the NFL is still in the Stone Age when it comes to hiring Black head coaches.

But when we speak about the Stone Age, Corporate America is in the Paleozoic Era. The fact that only six Black people are considered to be worthy of being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Meanwhile 5.6% of the Fortune 500 CEO’s are Asian American and 3.4% are Latino.

Keep in mind that during that at the beginning of this decade the white population in America is less than 60%. That percentage will never be larger. Within the next few decades America will no longer be a majority white nation.

Also it is important to note that the canard about Black men and women not being “qualified” to lead a Fortune 500 company is not even close to being true. During the past four decades thousands of Black men and women have graduated from the School of Business at Harvard, Stanford, New York University, Stanford – the list goes on. Yet, somehow, some way, in the first quarter of the 21st century, it is impossible for Fortune 500 companies to find a way that only one percent of these companies could find a Black man or Black woman to be the CEO.

In the wake of the Super Bowl, the irony as the bastion of racism that is the ownership of the NFL is comfortable with Black men holding what is arguably the most important position on the teams that they pay billions of dollars to own – the boards and shareholders of Fortune 500 companies cannot get comfortable with 1% of the Fortune 500 chief executive being Black.

It is a shame that here in the 21st century, Black people are still judged by their physical capabilities instead of their intellectual capabilities. It is reminiscent of the American traditions that go back the centuries of American traditions of racism and racist behavior.