Wednesday, September 24, 2014

AJ & Starla Chapman - My Take
I realize I'm not a little late....I'm A LOT late to this story, but I believe my take on it is still something I want to give.

As background, I suggest you read or watch the story of AJ McCarron & Starla Chapman if you don't know this story already, because I really don't want to regurgitate their story, which is an awesome one no less, but add my little tidbit on it.

First of all, let me clarify, in case anyone gets the wrong impression...I am NOT an Alabama fan, I'm an SEC fan, so I tend to route for Alabama out of necessity because in Nick Saban do I trust...especially come National Title time.

Second, the only thing I knew of AJ McCarron prior to this story was that of his girlfriend-now wife Katherine Web, and the Media's LOVE for her during 2013 National Championship game. Which brings me to how this story even made it into my line of vision after I had managed to NOT see this in the two years previous that ESPN has covered the story. It was the night of the ESPY's and ESPN replayed this story with added footage to update their initial coverage in 2012, for McCarron's "Don't Ever Give Up" moment to honor Dick Vital and cancer research. My best friend saw the piece and told me that I should watch this piece on AJ McCarron. Before she'd finished her statement, I had bristled at having to spend any longer than necessary listening to the shameless commentators of ESPN go on and on about their belief that he had the most beautiful girl in the world.

I know this sounds trite, and spiteful, and I will NOT hide that emotion for one minute, because I was. But in reality I had no hate for AJ, or his Fiance at the time, I just had no time for my favorite station outside of HBO, to try to convince me that I'm less than because I did not and never will look like Mrs. Webb/now McCarron. So I spoke out of turn, refused to watch the piece and skipped the ESPY's.

Then the following morning, on my bus ride in to work, my ESPN APP gave me The Power of Healing with the above pic, and I got curious and watched. And I've been in love with their story and Mrs.Katherine McCarron ever since.

Now, the story, in and of itself, is not a foreign one, as the The Power of Healing illustrated, we are often told of the stories of athletes giving of their time and energy to sick kids, Tim Tebow ring a bell? ...but as a Black Woman, I realized later that this story was new for me because I could NOT recall a story being featured with a young Black girl as the recipient of this phenomenon.

And before you go looking for examples, I want you to take out the ones where the girls are athletes...because my point  is ultimately that all of us, Black females are not all athletes. And even though I once was one, I would like to seen as a female first...and all other things second. This isn't anything to smash the media about per-say, it is just a comment on what I've seen, and not seen. The media and movies typically give us two roles, the desparate, man-hating, bitter Black Woman, or the I Independent woman who has everything together, I am rarely seen as a female who doesn't have it all put together, but is working on it and is being pursued none-the less. I'm rarely able to identify with any of the reality or fake characters that the Media tells me all Black Women inhabit...and then in walked this story.

It was a story that featured a little Black girl who was only special because she was other words she could have been anyone's daughter (ahem any Black couple's daughter). She was called beautiful and pretty and innocent without any clarifications or bylines. She and her parents are dark like me, and she didn't have any "classic beauty" or exotic traits prescribed to her. Her beauty was recognized as is, in it's worse form, as a bald child going through cancer. The fact that after the treatments her hair has only accentuated her beauty is awesome, but a by-line to this story. She was celebrated as a child, as a person worthy of protection and all things good, and as a Black Woman, this brought a sort of salve to the seemingly endless display of just the opposite from most of Main Stream Media of this day about my very being.

I realize that there are those who will point to the fact that AJ McCarron is White and that this is why this is why this story is so big. That His teammate in Cincinnati has a little girl who is going through cancer treatments and that I did not mention their story...or that of numerous Black Male athletes who have been featured with their daughters...and I think that in some way, the point is lost. This story is big, because AJ is NOT the father of this little girl.

There are and were NO expectations for him to do all of the things that he did for her. And although it can be argued that he didn't do that much, the fact is, is that, that which he did do was not necessary for him in his role. He could have left it with wearing her bracelet and sending a card to the little girl.

He could have easily have walked into her life and back out without anyone being the wiser, and without any hard feelings. No one would have have thought horribly of him if he never thought of the little girl again, after featuring her struggle on his FB Page. We would have called him a great role model for even mentioning her, and gone on our way. The fact that he chose to do more, is the remarkable story. I expect Fathers to stick it out with their daughters, I think it would be an insult to commend someone for doing something that is expected of every other father simply because of recent trends. It's like telling me I'm good because I have good diction....I get that it's a compliment, but in a backhanded way.

And, on the other note, the fact of the matter is, is that AJ being White IS a big part of the impact here. Why he and Starla bonded is between those two families, but the fact that he was willing to be called her God-Father, and that he and his Mother have bonded with the Chapman's in the deep, DEEP South, is part of the remarkable story here. With Ferguson and Savannah and other race related issues tearing this Nation apart, the fact that this story comes from Alabama no less, and includes a White mother opening her heart and arms to a little Black girl the way she has, and her son doing the same...and for the Black family to not shrink back in fear of their reasons for being there...THAT is a story. The White family isn't saving the little girl, this is not "The Blindside", both families want the best for Starla and her own parents are never far from her side supporting her as they should. In reality this is two families bonded by shared experiences and a special bond between a son, who happened to win on College Football's biggest stage twice, and a little girl who was called beautiful because of her innocence and nothing more.

I've spoken to many Black Women about this very thing, and all have cosigned on this fact. That Starla's innocence has not been questioned is a huge deal to us. She is seen as many of us long to be seen as feminine and worthy to be protected and cherished because we are...not because of what we can do.


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