An Open Letter to Cam Newton

Dear Mr. Newton:

“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like — it’s funny.” Is it now? The fact that Jourdan Rodrigue is doing her job as a sports reporter is funny? My question to you, Mr. Newton, is this: do you not realize the hypocrisy of your comment? You yourself have spoken of the racial injustice epidemic in America and degrading racial stereotypes from near your childhood home, yet you succumb to gender stereotypes?

The most atrocious part of this whole ordeal is the fact that, when confronted by Ms. Rodrigue in private, you refused to apologize for the remark. In your view, this was a perfectly acceptable comment.

Obviously, these comments were insignificant to you. Even after being directly challenged by Ms. Rodrigue over your blatantly sexist remarks, you did not change your position. Only after popular backlash and widespread disgust over this remark did you apologize.

For you to issue an apology and finally change your position, the entire American press had to confront you. This makes one wonder: just how remorseful were you for this comment? Was your apology even sincere, or was it just a ploy to save your image and sponsors? Was this an apology solely constructed to prevent you from standing out amongst a large group of NFL player-activists?

You claim to work against injustice. You have raised a fist before games in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. You speak of harmful stereotypes and labels in American society. And yet, you yourself have obviously submitted to a different kind of stereotype.

If you truly did regret this comment, you would have immediately apologized — or at a bare minimum explained your intent— after Ms. Rodrigue said she found your remark sexist.

You became defensive and chose to push back against any potential apology or explanation, giving the world reason to believe you may actually believe in gender stereotypes to some degree.

Yet another question for you: do you believe women should stay out of the sports world altogether? Should women stick to what longstanding stereotypes have told them their roles should be? If this is or was your view to any degree, I challenge you to own up to it.

If you, Mr. Newton, wish to truly serve as an activist for social justice and equality, I strongly suggest you first scan your own conscience for stereotypes. One cannot work against one kind of harmful stereotype and believe another. Stereotyping is of course an unfortunate part of the human condition, but working against harmful racist stereotypes while simultaneously entertaining disgraceful sexist stereotypes is simply absurd.

Either work against all stereotypes, or stay out of the way. Activists do not need your “star power” to fight injustice, regardless of what you may think. Enough pretending to be the perfect angel of an activist you wish the world to see. Anyone can claim to be an activist, but at this point, your true beliefs and intentions are unclear. Don’t try to put on a publicity cloak and pretend to be working on ending injustice when, in fact, you are playing a role in its survival.

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