The Jim Crow era should be left in the history books. It’s an important reminder of the past and a valuable lens through which we can look back on the lowest lows of our nation’s history.
Any time it’s used as a comparative frame of modern times is a problem. Any time it’s brought up twice, by two different and prominent NFL figures, within a short time frame indicates there’s a real problem at hand.
The first mention came from former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who commented on the NFL’s proposed amendments to the Rooney Rule, in particular the idea that the league would incentivize minority hiring with draft picks.
“It was offensive, definitely offensive,” Lewis told Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun. “It was like having Jim Crow laws.”
The proposal was eventually abandoned by the league.
Norman’s comparison came just a couple of weeks later, though it had less to do with the state of the NFL and more to do with the entire state of our nation. As protests rage on throughout the nation and more and more notable figures get involved in this social and political movement, it’s become increasingly evident to Norman and others that this has been a long time coming.
“I think this is a time we need to take out and reflect,” Norman said in an appearance on NFL Network. “It’s definitely one of those times where racism has been at its highest point since Jim Crow.
“You go all the way back from that time, I mean, there’s been plenty of cases where we’ve been band-aiding what has been going on.”
But now 2020 has come, and Norman says that “that band-aid has been pulled off and you see what it really is”.
The “it” that I imagine Norman is referring to is the video of George Floyd, and the video of Ahmaud Arbery, and the subsequent outlash over these and several other occasions through the years that have stirred warranted anger and emotion out of the African American community.
“We need to find a way where we’re going to come together and sew that band-aid up,” Norman said. “No longer let it be a band-aid, no longer let it be a wound that’s there… we need a doctor to come through and [sew] that thing up, or else the next generation is going to carry it on.”
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn spoke similarly on the matter, worrying that we could be in the same exact situation 20 years from now unless a change comes as a result of this current wave of action. Lynn didn’t have an exact answer as to how we could evoke that change, and neither did Norman.
However, Norman did provide insight into how he thinks we can find a solution.
“People really need to come together and ask themselves, what can I do to help out my African American brother?” Norman said. “What can I do, as a white person, as an American, as a Hispanic, everybody… what can I do to help out the next race?
“Because if we don’t, things like this are going to continue, and it should start right now because everybody is being affected by it.”