You may have heard about someone named Cam Newton. He’s the starting quarterback for the North Carolina based NFL, team, the Carolina Panthers. Newton has been in the national spotlight since his college years and his career has been decorated with success, but also highly scrutinized since his college days, in which he went to three different schools.
These transfers stemmed from illegal actions which resulted in disciplinary action and a removal from the team, and school, at the University of Florida – he ended up being the starting quarterback on a national champion Auburn Tigers team. Since his first television appearances, Newton has brought flair, personality and zeal to the game, and has been criticized for it. His latest public criticism started with a letter written by a Tennessee Titans fan, after Newton did a touchdown celebration after scoring a touchdown in the game against the Titans saying that his touchdown celebration was filled with ‘pelvic thrusts’ and ‘arrogant struts’, claimed his taunting to be arrogant and egoistic, and reminded him that he is a role model for children (as if he did not know and acted as if he wasn’t).
Now, I do not know Cam Newton well, but it is safe to say that he is a confident individual. But, to say that he is egoistic because of a touchdown celebration is way too judgmental. One would have to call 99% of NFL players egoistic as touchdown celebrations are expected and occur more often than not. The touchdown celebration that this person was referring to is called the ‘Dab’. ‘Dabbing’ is an Atlanta based dance which started by black people and has been popularized by hip-hop rappers such as ‘Migos’, and many others. Dabbing is the latest cultural phenomenon and has been performed by much more than black people.
(The video of the dance the Titans fan referred to is in this article.)
Cam Newton has been known to celebrate hip-hop culture. From being in rap videos, appearing on stage at hip-hop concerts, and touchdown celebrations, it is clear that Cam supports, and has a love for hip-hop culture. And, many people have called Newton a thug because of his close connection with hip-hop. The problem is, who is calling Newton a thug? And, what does being a thug mean? Since being in the NFL he has had no run-ins with the law. He holds numerous charity events and gave out 900 turkeys the day before Thanksgiving, this year. He is the starting quarterback on the only undefeated team in the NFL. Yet, he is a thug. Is being a thug enjoying hip-hop music? Does being associated with black culture mean one cannot be a role model? OR, does being black and associating with black culture mean one cannot be a role model? Just last week, a Kansas City Chiefs player scored a touchdown and celebrated by ‘Hitting the Quan’. ‘The Quan’ is also a popularized dance, based in Atlanta that has spread nationwide. The interesting thing here is that ‘Hitting the Quan’ actually mimicks having sex, so there is obviously a lot of hip thrusting. Yet, there was no backlash, no question of this person’s character, and no “thug” label. I challenge you to simply ask, why? Take a look at the Newton celebration and the Kansas City Chiefs players’ celebration – you tell me what’s worse.
Now, why is Cam Newton called a thug?