The most famous black college football player in the country this year is now a thug. And, the outcome of the rape investigation may not change that in many people’s minds.
Like it or not, the most famous, admired, high-profile and celebrated black men in this country are often athletes and entertainers. And, they’re not always paradigms of virtue.
Jameis Winston is special. This kid has it all: the look, the personality, the big smile, youth, charisma, leadership, and no doubt, talent. He’s done and said all the right things on and off the field and looked to be headed towards the Heisman trophy and possibly, an undefeated national championship.
I’ve been pulling for him to succeed, in part because of the spotlight he commands and his reach. I talk often about how important it is for us to have strong, positive images of black men in order to combat the omnipresent negative images and stereotypes that exist. I counted Winston as another opportunity to make positive strides.
You can talk that “innocent until proven guilty” stuff all you want, but truth is, there are now so many questions about how the investigation has been handled and even if Winston is 110% innocent, many right now view him the way people too often view young black men: as criminals, assailants, thugs. If he’s guilty, this is a different story, but if he’s not, he may never remove the stain of suspicion.
Guilty or innocent, he may have gone from the kid everyone can root for to just another black man that society should fear. And, that’s a damn shame.