Some people shouldn’t trip over themselves to defend the privileged over their public displays of prejudice.
To the disappointment of many, I am not the biggest football fan. But, as native Houstonian, I have at least been rightly conditioned to dislike all things Dallas — especially the Dallas Cowboys. Recent headlines involving Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones prove that I was raised right.
Yes, I recall Jones taking the knee in 2020 — years after Colin Kaepernick was blacklisted from the NFL for doing the same thing in similar protest — but NFL owners are not known for their progressive views by race. You can tell by the number of Black coaches they hire. There are many other signs to be sure, but that example is by and large the most visibly glaring.
As reported in the Washington Post’s ongoing series about the league’s decades-long failure to hire Black head coaches, Jones may be innovative in revenue models for his team but he is unimaginative in terms of the personnel he hires for it.
Biases like that don’t appear out of thin air, so they warrant interrogation.
For Jones, here’s a novel revelation from their report that offers some insight into the sort of events that offers some insight into what events may have helped shape his worldview:
On the first day of classes at North Little Rock High, a crew-cut sophomore named Jerral Wayne Jones found his spot among a phalanx of White boys who stood at the front entrance and blocked the path of six Black students attempting to desegregate the school.
Included in the report is a photo of a then 14-year-old Jones “standing a few yards from where the six Black students were being jostled and repelled with snarling racial slurs by ringleaders of the mob.”
People can change, but this sounds like a nice foundation for the kind of man who may not be racist the way a lot of Americans see it, but nevertheless, arguably hires like one.
Others feel differently, and regrettably, some of them are Black and very loud about their opinions.
ESPN host and commentator Stephen A. Smith defended Jones during a recent segment on First Take — partially arguing that the intent behind the story is to get Jones “canceled.”
“I’m pretty pissed off. I’m pissed off but not for reasons people think. I am very, very fond of Jerry Jones, and I’m not hiding that from anybody. Is his record perfect? No, but I’m pissed off because he doesn’t deserve what just happened. He doesn’t deserve it. One report, our report, said he was 14 years old. Another report said he was 15 years old. At minimum that’s 65 years ago.”
The photograph was taken on Sept. 9, 1957 at North Little Rock High in Arkansas, so it is indeed old enough for retirement and certain discounts.
However, what exactly has happened to Jones other than his old racist act being reported on?
Smith, who counts Sean Hannity as his friend, continued.
“You gonna bring up a photo of Jerry Jones standing at this protest, no question what was happening, it’s not something that anybody as a Black person should be appreciative about. We had six students at that particular North Little Rock high school, that was trying to desegregate the school. Nobody should be okay with that, we understand that, we get all of that. … Racism is a live and well, bigotry and prejudice is alive and well. We get all of that, but you gonna bring up a photo of him when he was 14, 15 years old? 65 or 66 years ago.”
A teenager is old enough to form a point of view about a litany of subjects — including desegregation — and the issue is whether or not someone of Jerry Jones’ age, race, and background has changed over time and how. As for why he was there, well, that’s up to Jones to explain. Is it the end of the world that he has to?
As Smith sees it, publishing the photo is “making an attempt” to bring “cancel culture” on Jones.
Jones has addressed the photo — claiming he was “curious” about what was going on.
“I didn’t know at the time the monumental event really that was going on,” Jones explained to reporters. “I’m sure glad that we’re a long way from that. I am. That would remind me [to] just continue to do everything we can to not have those kinds of things happen.”
I don’t believe Jerry Jones, and if he is not telling the truth, that will soon be revealed because he has enticed reporters to follow up.
Regardless, Jones is not the victim Stephen A. Smith is making him out to be.
Cancel culture is a figment of fragile people’s imaginations.
Nothing is going to happen to Jerry Jones. He still owns his team. He’s still rich. He’s still white.
And he still hasn’t hired a Black coach.
As for an actual victim of unwarranted attacks, in an interview with CNN, Little Rock Nine member Ernest Green had this to say about the photo:
“My view is that Jones has an opportunity to make that picture have a different ending by pursuing diversity and inclusion and involvement of the African-American community, and people of color all throughout this country. Dallas Cowboys is an institution most Americans know something about. Professional football is an entity that everybody has some interest in, and I think that rather than talk[ing] to Jerry about what happened in 1957 let’s go forward and see what we can do this year.”
In other words, if Jones wants to prove he has changed since then, he can prove it now by using his power as owner of the Dallas Cowboys to provide opportunities to Black people — the ones he tried to help deny in that photo and the Black coaches he continues to deny now.
Jerry Jones having to answer for his past mistakes in the context of his role in present mistakes being made throughout the NFL doesn’t make him a victim.
Anyone hollering otherwise is both wrong and embarrassing.