Race and gender–side by side


Watching an old PBS video. "Unforgivable Blackness" about the great boxer Jack Johnson. He was the original black fighter who transformed the game from a whites-only sport in turn-of-the-century America.

A description of Johnson’s fighting style sounds a lot like that of the former heavyweight champion Muhammed Ali. “He often fought to punish his opponents rather than knock them out, endlessly avoiding their blows and striking with swift counters.” And Ali was clearly inspired by his enthusiastic approach to fame, too.

Johnson believed in being as ostentatious and noticeable as possible. The fighter was always at odds with the attitude of his contemporary, Booker T. Washington–who thought black people should accept their place and be quietly industrious. The direct quotes from real people of the time were fascinating. Love this one about the attitude of the media of the day:
"Anything that was considered a positive trait in the white fighter was turned into a profoundly negative characteristic when exhibited by the black fighter."

Sound familiar, anybody?

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