On the way to a 15-1 regular season record and the team's first Super Bowl appearance since 2004, the team has had fun and has been fun to watch.A big part of this presentation is in the persona of current most valuable player, quarterback Cam Newton. Lawrence Ware elaborates for Counter Punch.
They have talked loudly, danced loudly and celebrated loudly. But they've done something significant along the way, too: The Panthers have embraced, demonstrated and exuded aspects of their blackness in a way that few predominately black teams have done in the past.
I think part of the reason why Newton draws the ire of so many is that he embraces black culture in a way that is subversively unapologetic. He does everything he is supposed to do: he answers questions at the press conferences; he gives credit to his teammates; he does charity work in the community, but he does it all his way. That is, he does not try to hide the fact that he was reared in a black, working class milieu.Mr Newton, before the game, sounded more like a big kid having some fun.
Newton’s blackness is unavoidable. He wears gators and uniquely patterned suits; he doesn’t engage in the code switching often used by other black professionals. If the press ask him a question, he answers them in a black southern vernacular that doesn’t try to hide Africanisms. As Bomani Jones said, he is the embodiment of everything black men are told you cannot be and achieve success. He is uninterested in being ‘respectable.’ He is not trying to prove he belongs. Cam’s authenticity is confrontational in how it forces white supremacy to come to terms with his athletic brilliance…and brilliant he is.
"We limit ourselves, by just labeling ourselves black, this, that and a third," he said. But Newton added that he hopes to use his influence as a star athlete to break down stereotypes, to allow people to live without being categorized.Perhaps so, but there's still a halftime show for the chin-pullers to deconstruct.
"It’s bigger than race," Newton said. "It’s more so opening up a door for guys that don’t want to be labeled."
White athletes are allowed to show joy and confidence without fear of condemnation. By comparison, the black body is always a threat in America. It has to be disciplined, controlled and regimented. Transgressions of those norms are punished and condemned. This is true from before the Founding through to the post civil rights era and the Age of Obama.That's the authenticity trap. "Code switching" is a euphemism for behaving diplomatically. "Authentic" sugarcoats underclass habits. Perhaps when there aren't enough White People In Authority to blame, the self-despising multiculturalists will figure it out. And perhaps they'll heed the words of Andrew Klavan, who saw Mr Newton's post-loss press conference in more universal terms.
Beyoncé performed her new song “Formation” during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. “Formation” is an unapologetically “black” (female) anthem of resistance with its imagery of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, allusions to white-on-black police violence, support for Black Lives Matter, and celebration of black style, fashion, love and speech. There is no code switching in “Formation”; it does not cater to or comfort the White Gaze.
Beyoncé’s new song may not be a form of “high” or “formal politics.” Nevertheless, its celebration of black folks’ humanity is a resistant and oppositional act. This is especially true in an American society where a basic claim that “black lives matter” is viewed by many whites as controversial, provocative and offensive.
Capitalism and race intersected at Super Bowl 50 as well. The dream merchants are adept at manipulating the forces of “racial capitalism” and “neoliberal multiculturalism” to advance the bottom line of corporate profit by manipulating the desires of consumers.
Ultimately, “black culture” is a commodity. It is used to sell products even while actual black people are often either not present or are depicted in stereotypical ways by advertising and commercials.
After the game, when Newton showed himself to be sullen and bitter in defeat, suddenly the Times caught on to the fact that this is a young man who (like most young men of every color) has a lot to learn about gratitude and humility.Put another way, the majority-minority or more diverse or whatever nation the United States is likely to become will benefit more rather than less from a common set of norms.