In a remarkable and controversial response, newly named New England Patriots’ coach, Jerod Mayo, responded to the question of race by stating emphatically that he “does see color.” The provocative statement, which made waves across social media platforms, was Mayo’s response to a reporter questioning him about being the first black coach in Patriots history.
“It is not a case of not seeing color, it’s a case of acceptance and acknowledgement of differences that exist in race, color, and even disability,” Mayo asserted during the press conference, next to team owner Robert Kraft. He continued, “To truly understand people, you have to recognize their color, and recognize the issues that come with it, so as to harmoniously work towards resolving those issues.”
The internet subsequently went up in a flurry as the clip of Mayo went viral. A host of reactions followed – some praising Mayo’s stance, others criticizing it. Among those lauding Mayo was former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III. In his commendation of Mayo online, Griffin wrote, “Jerod Mayo does not shy away from issues about race in our country. Instead, he addresses it head-on and stands firmly on his perspectives.”
However, not everyone agreed with Mayo or Griffin. Some dissenting voices on the internet dismissed Mayo’s comments as a pseudo-eloquent denial of colorblindness. “A person stating they’re colorblind isn’t denying the existence of different skin colors. It simply means they’re treating every individual impartially, not based on the color of their skin.” One comment said.
Others sai d Mayo’s response could have been better handled, referring to the example set by Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach, Todd Bowles. When pressed about squaring off against another black coach, Mike Tomlin of the Steelers, Bowles said: “We don’t look at what color we are when we coach against each other; we just know each other. We coach ball, we don’t look at color.”
Mayo’s statement is indeed a recognition of the deeper and broader societal, cultural, and racial issues embedded in our national fabric. It represents a shift from thinking about colorblindness, which often ignores the experiences of individuals, towards embracing diversity and aiming to address systemic issues. Mayo, knowingly or unknowingly, has stimulated a crucial conversation about race and color and their place in sports and society.
In conclusion, Mayo’s candid and bold statement on race has stirred a much-needed conversation. The spectrum of reactions shows the complexity of the issue and the extent of work left to be done. Irrespective of whether one concurs or disagrees with Mayo, one cannot overlook the essential discussion that his comments have catalyzed. As society continues to grapple with racial matters, it’s indeed essential for influential individuals such as Mayo to prompt discourse and potentially bring about the change we seek. Indeed, Mayo’s remarks, though controversial, have intensified the dialogue we need to have in a time when racial conversations are more critical than ever.