One of the debates the black community has always had (and probably will continue to have for years to come) is the debate over how much of your blackness you have to give up to be accepted by mainstream America. Jon “Bones” Jones and Quentin “Rampage” Jackson represent both sides of that argument. To a lot of MMA fans, “Rampage” and Rashad Evans claims of Jones being a “fake”, “snobby”, or a phony just seem like ordinary trash talk. But amongst brothers, those insults cut much deeper. They arent just ordinary insults on your character or fighting ability, they’re insulting to your blackness. Calling Jones a “snob” suggests that he thinks he’s too good for the “rest of us”. It suggests that he wants to forget everything about his roots. Its basically calling him an Uncle Tom, and judging from an interview Jones did for Black Voices, the most defining and important examples of racism in his life came from other black people.
”Considering that wrestling and MMA are not considered sports that African Americans dominate, did you have to deal with racism while coming up?”
“Absolutely. The first issues of racism came from my own people. In high school, when I came to the lunch table all the black kids would say things like “Why are you wearing all that spandex? You go to wrestling practice grabbing another dude and sweating. You’re gay.” All I could do is swallow my pride and know that regardless of what they said, that was my niche. I had to be comfortable in my own skin to realize that it was okay to dare to be different.”
(African Americans have a long and storied history in wrestling, this question is, in my opinion irresponsible and shows the person doing the interview didnt do his/her research, but I’ll leave that for another blog entry)
The first part of Jones response wasnt about being the only black person in entire towns during wrestling tournaments or that feeling you get when you know people are staring at you judgmentally, it was about the black kids in his class that called him “gay” for wearing spandex and participating in a white mans sport. When you’re part of a community that only makes up about 12% of the population, feeling ostracized hurts, a lot. I cant be 100% sure, but I’d be willing to bet that the people calling Jones “gay” acted a lot more like Rampage than Jones. I think thats why Jones seems so flustered and annoyed in interviews lately. Rampage is a bully and those of you who have been bullied in school know, that feeling of helplessness never really goes away. 15 years later and I still get nervous when I come across someone that bullied me in middle school.
In most interviews before this fight Jones has been very clear and articulate, but lately he’s been stumbling over his words and sounding unsure of himself. He’s sounded more like a 10th grader defending himself against the cooler kids than a confident champion.
I dont think Jones personality is the only thing behind peoples sudden hatred of him, some of it is jealousy. Jones is a phenom, he makes even the most experienced veterans look like rookies, he appears to run through his opponents without effort. People hate that. Especially people like Rampage who’ve had to claw their way up to the top of their professions.
Rampage on the other hand is the cool kid in class that everyone loved and feared. Sometimes we laugh at his jokes because we’re scared he may kill us if we dont. He’s funny, talented and dangerous. Never passes up an opportunity to make people laugh. But he’s out of his fucking mind. He’s also paranoid, goofy and because of where he came from and how he grew up he’s had to work harder than most to achieve everything he has he probably feels like Jones is taking all the fame and credit he’s worked so hard for.
Having 2 black people fight for a major belt in MMA is a big deal. I know Jones and Rampage claim they arent thinking about it, but how can they not? Race matters, its always there. Ignoring it doesnt make it go away. Im not a huge fan of Jones, but I am happy that for the first time in MMA we arent shown in such a singular way. Im glad they’re different.Dont forget to stop by my blog and say hi! www.NothingElseMMAtters.com