After The Fab 5 documentary aired last week there has been an emerging dialogue on the webz about the Fab 5’s opinions on Duke players, specifically Jalen Rose who calls Grant Hill an Uncle Tom.
Jalen Rose in the documentary:
"I hated everything I felt Duke stood for … I was bitter that I had a professional athlete that was my father that I didn’t know; I resented that more so then I resented him (Grant Hill).”
"I thought Christian Laettner was an overrated BLEEP. I really did. Until I actually got out on the floor with him and realized he had game."
Plenty more quotes like that to be found. In response Grant Hill wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times sports blog that takes umbrage with Rose. He quite rightly points out that Jalen’s ‘Uncle Tom’ comment further confuse an already out-of-date slur to mean black kids who have the benefit of a two-parent household. As if authentically black requires certain sociological conditions.
There is no worse label to heap on a black person than Uncle Tom; I’d take 10 white people calling me “nigger” over it any day of the week. So Grant Hill has every right to complain. Even if his complaints fall shortsighted of the original context.
Because for those of us not named Grant Hill who watched The Fab 5 documentary, Rose’s opinions on Duke - as well as those of Jimmy King, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson - were clearly stated in the past tense. As in, ‘18-year old me thought this way.’ Do we also assume Rose has the exact same opinion on traveling Europe as he did in 1992?
Rose’s failure, or the failure of the filmmaker, may have been not enough distinction; something explicit, and not defensive like Rose’s tweet on the matter after the fact.
The Fab 5’s opinions on race and privilege as teenagers were wrongheaded, but also indicative of the time. There was nothing “post-racial” about the 1990’s - Rodney King, Orenthal J, the onset of gangsta rap - clear divisions were being made in and outside of the black community.
So cut the Fab 5 some slack for allowing themselves to be candid in front of cameras. Their honesty, warts and all, is exactly what made the film so compelling in the first place. The shortest distance between human beings and a good story is the truth.
[Hate mail to SlapClap]