Jalen Rose vs. Grant Hill: What Does It Mean to be an Uncle Tom?

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by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

(ThyBlackMan.com) As a black man who is roughly the same age as Grant Hill and Jalen Rose, I watched the back and forth between these two great warriors with extreme curiosity.  During the ESPN documentary about the Fab Five, Jalen went out of his way to say that at the time, he felt Duke to be a school that only recruits Uncle Toms.  I found the comment to be interesting and reflective of Jalen’s very candid nature.  It is his honesty, insight and mental toughness that has led me to respect Jalen Rose more as the years have gone by.  In other words, he’s not just another dumb jock, and he seems to have a tremendous amount of integrity.

Grant Hill is also not a dumb jock.  The Duke University grad has gone on to have an amazing NBA career and to become an upstanding American citizen.  You’ve never heard crazy stories about Grant or Jalen getting shot in the club, going broke, getting arrested or having a dozen anonymous  baby’s mamas.  They’ve both lived good lives and should certainly be friends.

But Jalen’s “Uncle Tom” comment seems to have struck a chord with Grant Hill.  In response to Jalen’s interesting remarks, Grant went to the New York Times to express his concerns about what Jalen said.  Grant’s emotional reaction opens the debate about what it means for a black man to be an Uncle Tom.  We have to even wonder if such a thing exists.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Jalen Rose vs. Grant Hill: What Does It Mean to be an Uncle Tom?

  1. You posted: “First, we can certainly say that Uncle Toms do exist, but the definition has become somewhat warped over time. In contrast to what some might seem to think, an Uncle Tom is not a black man who comes from a two-parent home and embraces academic achievement.”

    Right this is not the definition of an ‘Uncle Tom’. It is amazing that some might even think this!

    You posted: “An Uncle Tom might, for some, be considered to be a man who feels that he’s succeeded in spite of his blackness rather than because of it. He has little commitment to his community because he is ashamed of where he comes from. He has somehow become convinced that getting a little bling or a high paying job with a big, fancy corporation makes him better than the black community from which he came.”

    That is not the definition of an ‘Uncle Tom”. There are other titles/names to be used for these types.(Some would be four lettered).

    You posted: “Choosing to remain ignorant and uneducated, killing other black men or engaging in a life of buffoonery are the most Uncle Tom-like characteristic many of us can think of. So, the brothers who are “getting crunk” in the club every night, toting around a pistol on their hip, having irresponsible sex and not taking care of their kids are the biggest Uncle Toms I know. To that extent, hip-hop culture produces hundreds of thousands of Uncle Toms every single year (I love hip-hop, but the culture needs to grow up).”

    This is definitely not the definition of ‘Uncle Tom’! A more fitting name would be victims of a viciously racist society filled with powerful whites and ‘blacks’(Uncle Toms), who plot against blacks, negatively condition their minds, bombard their neighborhoods with drugs and gangs, deny education, jobs, proper housing, and overall family guidance sorely needed by ‘blacks’ whom are under attack as a whole. In other words the plot is to create this kind of negative atmosphere and keep it this way while profiting from all industries that relate to the overall abuse of the black population!

    The ‘Uncle Tom’ can easily be described as a person of African-American Slavery Ancestry and to some extent, Africans who arrived from connected U.S. ‘Elite’ owned countries. Who gain success on the backs of millions of ‘black’ people who have suffered and died at the hands of the Europeans/Euro-Americans, and have used their successes to gain great power and wealth while their actions reverse the successes of the “blacks” of the African Diaspora, and in many cases cause great harm to ‘black’ people here mentally, physically, financially, health and education wise, and socially. Basically everything that the Euro-Elite are doing to degrade, demean, and prolong ignorance of ‘black’ people is always easier done with the help of traitorous ‘black’ people willing to do so. Examples would be people who are, and were, in powerful political positions like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Ward Connerly, Richard Steele, Michael Steele, Barack Obama and many more.

    Examples of powerful ‘black’ people who are just the opposite would be ‘Dr. Martin Luther King’, The Black Panther Party, Malcolm X, Mumia Abu Jamal, Geronomo JiJaga Pratt, Randall Robinson, Danny Glover, Wesley Snipes, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.,Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey P. Newton, etc., etc.

    I don’t know why the basketball player pointed out a particular college as a breeding ground for ‘Uncle Toms’ but he seems to be educated enough to have some kind of reference point from which to make the statement and I find it hard to believe the focus is on one particular ‘black’ player. Therefore his statement demands further research.

    A must read is all of Randall Robinson’s books, Prof. Howard Zinn’s ‘A Peoples History Of The U.S., Johnnie Cochran’s ‘Journey To Justice’. To name a few.

  2. moon

    A must read should be ” Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

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