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May 20, 2019

Phillips: Jameis Winston has reached a new level of unprecedented privilege

June 26, 2018

Last Fall, Damon Young of the popular blog/website “Very Smart Brothas” wrote a controversial piece in which he labeled straight black men as the white people of black America.

It spoke to the privileges that some black men enjoy within our own communities.

“But assessing our privilege (or lack thereof) on these facts considers only our relationship with whiteness and with America. Intra-racially, however, our relationship to and with black women is not unlike whiteness’s relationship to us. In fact, it’s eerily similar,” Young explained. “We’re the ones for whom the first black president created an entire initiative to assist and uplift. We’re the ones whose beatings and deaths at the hands of the police galvanize the community in a way that the beatings and sexual assaults and deaths that those same police inflict upon black women do not. We’re the ones whose mistreatment inspired a boycott of the NFL despite the NFL’s long history of mishandling and outright ignoring far worse crimes against black women. We are the ones who get the biggest seat at the table and the biggest piece of chicken at the table despite making the smallest contribution to the meal.”

In a time in which white privilege is constantly discussed and recognized, Young’s piece was able to bring a larger conversation home and explain how those same principles can apply within black culture.

Which is why the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston is so intriguing because the problematic Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback has now reached a level of privilege that no black athlete, let alone a black man, should be able to achieve.

QB Jameis Winston, in trouble for allegedly groping a female Uber driver, is an example of privilege that some black men process. (Brian Blanco / Getty Images)

The Bucs are currently waiting on what to do with Winston after it’s been reported that the face of their franchise is facing a three-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, due to allegations that he groped a female Uber driver in 2016.

Given the sport of football’s ability to turn a blind eye to the sins of talented athletes, by all accords, Winston’s situation should break that trend given the #MeToo Movement and society’s heightened attentiveness to sexual assault and harassment.

Winston’s past transgressions occurred before the cultural shift, allowing him to escape the brunt of the consequences of his actions.

In 2012, he was involved in a sexual assault investigation in which he was eventually cleared, but yet the incident still stands as a stain on his reputation and character.

In 2014, Winston was issued a citation for stealing crab legs from a Publix grocery store.

And later that year, what has been rumored by some to be a fraternity hazing prank, Winston was suspended for the first half of a game against Clemson after he stood on a table in the Florida State Student union and yelled, “F**k her right in the p***y!”

Despite all that, the Bucs still took Winston with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

“We’ve said that we feel comfortable. He’s been a lot of fun to be around. Since 2012 he’s grown up significantly, since this past season he’s grown up significantly,” said Bucs General Manager Jason Licht to Rick Stroud on 620 WDAE days before the draft.

“I would lean to immature; I don’t think he’s a bad person. But I’m not giving away our hand who we’re taking, but he’s been somebody we’ve really gotten to know and we have been more and more comfortable every time we’ve been around him.”

Jameis Winston on the sidelines during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome back in November 5,
Jameis Winston on the sidelines during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome back in November 5, (Wesley Hitt / Getty Images)

According to reports, new information has come forth in Winston’s latest incident as the friends who were with him that night are now recanting their stories and saying he was indeed left alone with the alleged victim. It’s also been revealed that one of the men with Winston that night is Brandon Banks, a former Vanderbilt football player that is currently serving a 15-year sentence for raping and sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2013.

This all puts the Bucs in a peculiar predicament.

On one hand, the smart move would be to see what the official word from the NFL will be, and then go from there before considering any further disciplinary actions.

But on the other, why would you sit on your hands and do nothing during this time in our society for a man that now has four strikes on his record?

Usually, when the term privilege is used, it’s based on some pretty concrete attributes like: race, wealth, anatomy, or athletic acumen.

But in the case of Winston, we’re watching a black man who was once thought to be the next great quarterback develop into just an above average one at best, while yet still achieving a level of privilege that has never been granted to someone of his race with this lack of production on the playing field.

It’s a situation that’s fascinating to watch, while also sickening to digest, once it’s realized how much his mistreatment of women has revealed Winston’s privilege.


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