Question: What is 6'4 and 310 LBS. of cuddly warmth? If you answered Michael Oher, you would be correct.
Oher is a member of the National Football League and one of that organizations most prized employees, for he is also the subject of an upcoming movie that details his incredible life:
"The Blind Side" depicts the remarkable true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. At the same time, Oher's presence in the Touhys' lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own.Be honest with yourself: what is more heartwarming and touching then a bourgeois white family opening their home to a down-trodden Black dude in need of an abode and vast amounts of tutoring to ensure he can stay eligible in high school to one day need even more tutoring to stay eligible in college?:
Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome. As a football player and student, Oher works hard and, with the help of his coaches and adopted family, becomes an All-American offensive left tackle."
"Oher's father, murdered while Oher was a senior in high school, was not involved in his upbringing. His mother was addicted to crack cocaine. As a result, he received little constructive attention during his formative years. He repeated both first grade and second grade, and attended eleven different schools during his first nine years as a student. He also alternated between time spent in various foster homes and periods with no fixed address until he was sixteen years old.Stuff Black People Don't Like has pointed out one truth that cuts to the core of modern America: were it not for sports, it would be next to impossible to find a positive example of Black people in America. Black Entertainment Television (BET) does a wonderful job in perpetuating negative stereotypes of Black people, as does all of gangsta rap and Chris Brown and Rihanna.
That year, Oher applied for admission to a private school, Briarcrest Christian School, at the instigation of acquaintance Tony Henderson, with whom he was staying temporarily. Henderson was sending his son to the school in order to fulfill the dying wish of the boy's grandmother, and he decided that Oher might as well come along. Although the school's football coach was interested in Oher, school administrators did not feel that he was capable of handling the school's academic workload due to his scant educational background; however, he was admitted after he attempted to qualify for admission through a home-study program that removed him from the public education system.
A couple with a daughter at the school, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, allowed Oher to move in with them and began taking care of his needs after becoming familiar with his difficult personal circumstances. They also connected him with a tutor, who worked with him for twenty hours a week. He eventually brought his 0.9 grade point average up to 2.65. Later, the Tuohy family adopted him."
However, sports (especially football) offer a rare glimpse into an activity that Black people excel at, without any mention of affirmative action or special privileges being put in place to grant Black people a competitive advantage over white people.
Watching Football Night in America on NBC (or any NFL telecast) one would be led to believe that America is a land where Black people are worshiped (consider the NFL is 65 percent Black, yet the United States is only 13 percent Black), since the vast majority of spectators in the stands are white people.
Mr. Oher is an admirable chap, as he went to both the University of Mississippi and was the Token Black at his high school - demographically speaking, Briarcrest Christian School is hideously white.
Yet, this story doesn't have the fairy tale ending that it should have, because it bespeaks an uncomfortable truth to all Black people everywhere: the only way to true success in life - if you are a 6-4, 310 LBS. Black dude - is to be adopted by a rich white family where you can live a peaceful life, which is not available in the Black community.
Is the white community that much more stable than the life that Black people and Black fathers can provide their children? Since Hollywood is producing a movie, starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw, based on Oher story, SBPDL would like to suggest that Hollywood is trying to say only white people are capable of raising non-white children in a loving, nurturing environment.
Why else would the commercials for this film be so ubiquitous on television? Had Oher never been adopted by this loving white family, then he would more than likely have failed out of his high school, never have played college football and never have been drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
Instead, he would be a statistic, much like the ones denoted in this recent article:
"For example, most of the black characters in Mad Men have servile jobs. Today, of course, things are infinitely better. Black men are seldom seen in servile jobs (unless they are African immigrants or gay). In fact, black men aren’t seen in any jobs as much anymore: ten percent of black men were out of the work force in Don Draper’s 1960 versus 24 percent in booming 2000.The moral of the story is simple: Michael Oher would be in jail or the streets were it not for the benevolent actions of a white family to magnanimously welcome him into the home, where he found compassionate people who cared for his well-being:
Indeed, black men aren’t even seen at all as much anymore because a million are now locked away in prison. (The incarceration rate of black male high school dropouts was one percent in the Bad Old Days of Dwight Eisenhower’s last year in office versus 25 percent in Bill Clinton’s glorious finale.)"
"Michael Oher grew up in inner-city Memphis. In and out of foster care, Michael’s lucky break came when his dying grandmother extracted a promise from a family friend to get Michael into a private school.Michael was enrolled in a private Christian school called Briarcrest. On a cold day, a parent of another Briarcrest student found Michael breaking into the school to stay warm. The parent, Leah Anne Tuohy, a successful interior designer and wife of a Memphis businessman, took Michael in. Despite the fact that Michael scarcely spoke, a bond developed between the Tuohys and Michael and they eventually adopted him.Although he had never played sports Michael was a natural athlete and was identified immediately by college scouts as a potential NFL left tackle. If Michael could get to college and play football, he was very likely to win a multimillion dollar contract to protect a quarterback’s blind side.The Tuohys and the faculty at Briarcrest engaged in a Herculean effort to make Michael eligible for college. When Michael came to Briarcrest he had only erratically attended school, could scarcely read and knew little about anything.Lewis skillfully explains the role of poverty in education, writing, “Michael wasn’t stupid. He was ignorant, but a lot of people mistook ignorance for stupidity, and knowingness for intelligence. He’d been denied the life experience that led to knowingness, which every other kid at Briarcrest took for granted.”Michael was not unintelligent, but he was profoundly uneducated. Leah Anne would, for example, take Michael to an Italian restaurant and order multiple meals in order teach him the difference between different types of pasta dishes.The implications of Michael’s story for public policy are profound as well. Lewis writes, “Michael Oher was in possession of what had to be among the more conspicuous athletic gifts…and yet, without outside intervention even his talent would likely have been thrown away…If Michael Oher’s talent could be missed, whose couldn’t? Those poor black kids [in the inner-city] were like left tackles: people whose values were hidden in plain sight.”With a committed family, school, and private tutors, Michael was accepted to college.Today he is approaching his senior year at the University of Mississippi, made all-conference as a sophomore and junior, and carries a 3.7 grade point average.Michael made it. But he is very much the exception. For every six inner-city Memphis public school kids with the athletic ability to play college sports, only one qualifies academically to attend college. This says something about the state of inner-city public education."
Let's be honest: the gregarious nature of the white family to spend vast amounts of money to ensure that Mr. Oher was eligible to play football is the sole reason why the Chinese are buying United States debt, for the Chinese are so worried about the melancholy existence of Black people in the inner-cities of America.
Of course, not everyone shares the exuberance that SBPDL does for the film (release date set for 11/20/09):
"The book is an analysis of the evolution of the left tackle position, using as illustration the story of why seemingly every rich white person in West Memphis was willing to bend over backwards for a young, disadvantaged man who perfectly fit the physical specs of an LT. It tells the story of Michael Oher, a black teen who out of sheer luck ends up at a nearly all-white prep school. His coaches and other school parents see his potential as a pro athlete and take him under their wing.Stuff Black People Don't Like strongly endorses The Michael Oher Story and the movie The Blind Side for all to see, for Disingenuous White Liberals and Crusading White Pedagogues worldview will be available for all to see in this film.
I loved Michael Lewis' book for a couple of reasons. First of all, I love football, and offensive linemen are my favorite unsung heroes of the game, so the fact that Lewis focused on their work was fascinating for me. But the book also brings up some pretty heavy issues for discussion (though certainly not as in-depth as I would've liked), namely: if Michael Oher weighed 90 pounds soaking wet and showed zero athletic ability, would the well-off families who helped him still have put so much effort into his rescue? Would his adoptive parents and school officials have worked so hard to get him into college? Had the family who wanted to pull him out of his horrific upbringing NOT been wealthy, influential and white, would they have been able to quasi-adopt him?
There are several places in the book where Michael is torn between returning home to his estranged mother and staying with his adoptive family. He also wants to play basketball, but his benefactors push him into football because he's such a perfectly prototypical left tackle. (Football FYI: after quarterbacks, left tackles are, on average, the highest-paid offensive players in the NFL.)
This story is tailor-made for Hollywood, with all the big issues - race, class, redemption. Unfortunately, from the looks of the trailer, the film version of "The Blind Side" seems to center on the wife and mother of the family who takes Michael in. Not surprising, since she's played by Sandra Bullock. Sure, it's easier to get a film made if you can turn it into a vehicle for a star. But I'm disappointed to see that Michael's voice appears to be many rungs down on the importance ladder, as compared to Sandra.
Race, and class-based racism, played such enormous roles in Michael Oher's youth. As a teen, the kid had something like a first-grade reading level. That scene in the trailer about him never having had his own bed was straight out of the book. And the social agencies that were supposed to protect him lost track of him for years. I'm glad that Oher managed to get out of this situation (after a few years at Ole Miss, the Baltimore Ravens drafted him in the first round earlier this year). But there are thousands of other kids out there in the same circumstances who don't have his luck and physical gifts that, at the moment, happen to be in demand by pro teams.
I sincerely hope that this movie version doesn't ignore those realities in favor of giving us yet another iteration of Caucasian Mighty Mouse is Here to Save the Day."
The thesis of the film: all Black children should be removed from their parents pronto, so that they can be privy to the glorious family setting that white people provide, for only a white family can provide stability (you have to love the movie poster for the film... a white woman pushing a large Black man to the promised land of football glory and NFL riches).
For only Miss Congeniality herself (Bullock) could dare bestow wisdom and intelligence upon Oher, and yet, Stuff Black People Don't Like includes the Michael Oher story. If you can't figure out why, then you don't understand SBPDL.