Sports

Emmanuel Acho is turning into the Black Will Cain

Emmanuel Acho’s public persona appears deliberately crafted to make white people feel good.

Emmanuel Acho’s public persona appears deliberately crafted to make white people feel good.
Photo: Getty Images

Emmanuel Acho is determined to live his life as the token Black friend in every all-white movie. He’s the new Donald Faison.

As the details about Richard Sherman’s arrest for “burglary domestic violence” continue to unfold, we are still left with more questions than answers. From what we know, and what Sherman has expressed, mental and emotional health is a major component of this story. It’s a tricky situation, especially given that an entity like law enforcement — with a long history of lying about and leaving out key details — is the lone source of information at the moment.

This is why it was so disappointing — again — when Acho took it upon himself to opine on the situation. And, as usual, he said a lot without actually saying anything.

“To my brother Richard Sherman, my athletes and all people. Remember this,” Acho tweeted last Friday, as part of a video in which he said this:

“Just remember that your occupation is what you do, and not who you are. Because if you let your occupation become who you are, then when you no longer do what it is that you do, you will have no idea who you are.”

That’s the dumbest sh*t I’ve ever heard.

I’m not here to put on a cape for Sherman, as I have no idea what he did or didn’t do last week, but if we’re going to discuss his occupation and who he is, let’s at least list some examples. And the facts are that Sherman is a really good football player who is also incredibly intelligent. There are stories written about his 4.2 high school GPA, photographic memory, and how he had a 3.7 GPA at a school like Stanford. So if Acho was trying to insinuate that the cause of Sherman’s situation is that he’s a “dumb jock” doing what (mostly Black) football players are lazily stereotyped to do, then he picked the wrong person.

However, there’s a pattern here with Acho, which is concerning, given that Acho — himself a former NFL linebacker — holds a bachelor’s degree in sports management and a master’s degree in sports psychology.

Remember what he said about Sha’Carri Richardson earlier this month?

“Legalizing weed in track and field competition is all good if you’re running a straight line. Legalizing weed in track and field is terribly dangerous if you throw the javelin. Where do we draw the line?” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet. After that he went on Fox Sports and talked about how the rules were “stupid,” but then said “you’ve still got to adhere to the stupid rules. … Let’s please not make this racial.”

It led to Acho making a video in which he finally did some research on how the conversation about weed in America was built on race. It was one of those moves that people do when they want to look smart to dumb people, not realizing that actual smart people can see right through them. Because if Acho wanted to truly understand the stigma around weed and Black people in America, he just needed to do a quick Google search on the subject. According to the ACLU, Black people are 3.64 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. The ratio in Kentucky is 9 to 1.

The visual of a former Black athlete disparaging a Black woman, who is the best in the world at her sport, for being human — smoking weed after she learned her biological mother died — was beyond foul, as it made you wonder what Acho actually learned in those “sports psychology” classes. On top of that, this is the same man that once told Rachel Lindsay — the first black “Bachelorette” who has since severed all ties with the show due to its overt racism — that he wants to “seek understanding first before we seek tension.”

Where was this understanding for Richardson?

If you didn’t know, Acho took over hosting The Bachelor’s “After the Final Rose” show due to the previous host doing and saying some racist stuff to Lindsay, as he defended a racist contestant that was on the show. According to the Washington Post, this is what Acho had to say about Chris Harrison, the show’s former host.

Acho noted that he and Chris Harrison have spoken “at length” over the past two weeks and added that “people need to give him the opportunity, the grace and the time to do the work. And then they need to receive the work he does.

Again, I ask, where’s the grace for Richardson and Sherman?

You won’t find it because Acho has none for Black people. He saves it all for white people that run to his show, Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man. It’s a social media series where he coddles white people, allowing them to freely discuss their white guilt and “apologize” for their willful ignorance. It’s a complete waste of time in the discussion around race relations, as it’s designed to make white people believe that “uncomfortable conversations” are the answer — not actions, legislation, or corporate policy.

For instance, Acho has had guests on his show including Chelsea Handler, celebrity pastor Carl Lentz, Matthew McConaughey, and white police officers. Somebody, please point me to a time in history where having conversations with white celebrities has ever made things better for Black people. And, at this point, talking to white people officers about “reform” is a lost cause unless the conversation is about obliterating and rebuilding a system that was started because slave owners needed an organization that would hunt and kill runaway slaves.

But, the most disturbing guest that Acho has ever had on his show is Roger Goodell, as the two had a chummy conversation about racism in America and kneeling during the national anthem. During the episode, Goodell says: “I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about, and what you were trying to bring attention to.” The audacity of the comment is that it was made just months after he stated that the league had “moved on” from Colin Kaepernick after he refused to take part in a sham of a “workout” the league planned for him at the last minute.

Apparently, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police “woke” Goodell up about why players were kneeling, even though players were telling him that this was their reason for the peaceful protest for years, all while Acho jumped at the chance to allow Goodell to “atone for his sins,” as Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid are still being blackballed from the NFL.

And if you’re wondering if Acho will have Goodell on again to discuss race norming, the answer is no. Because there’s no way in hell that a Black man like Acho would ever hold a white man like Goodell accountable for running a league that willfully adjusted neurological test scores to account for race so that they could screw Black retired players out of getting money for brain injuries they suffered while playing in the NFL.

There’s a line in Acho’s book, also titled Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, where he says, “I’ve been navigating the lines between whiteness and blackness all of my life.” He describes how growing up in a mostly White upper-class suburban neighborhood shaped him, as playing college football at Texas was the “first time I understood what it means to be a Black man in America.”

The Black experience in America isn’t a monolithic one, but in his own words, Acho has admitted that he showed up almost two decades late to the party when it comes to understanding what it means to be Black in this country. And instead of having conversations with Black journalists that have lived, covered, and written about these subjects like Bomani Jones, Jemele Hill, Errin Haines, Nikole Hannah-Jones, or even myself, Acho prefers to have these discussions with white people.

Why?

Because if that were to happen, he knows that the only person that would be uncomfortable is Emmanuel Acho.


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