Anyone who watches sports is probably familiar with the phrase “he’s got that dawg in him.” It’s a very common saying in football because of the game’s speed and physicality and is used to describe a player whose hunger for the game stands out among his peers. Fans can sense a man with some “dawg” in him. It can’t be measured in terms of speed or strength, and it doesn’t depend on position or salary.
A true dawg is a player whose fire for the game burns with the heat of a thousand suns. Some guys have it and some guys don’t. No one exemplifies this spirit more than former Baltimore Ravens legend Ray Lewis. Lewis would hype his teammates up before games by summoning their inner dawg before turning them loose to “hunt” their opponents.
Lewis is a legendary athlete, but in life, we all have a little bit of dawg on the inside. The only question is what kind of canine energy lingers within each of us.
President Biden’s handlers function as his guide dogs. They tell the octogenarian where to stand at press conferences and teach him new tricks, including how to deliver his “personal pronouns” in conversations with Gen Z voters.
I’m beginning to sense that some of the most “pro-black” politicians, pundits, and political activists – the type of people who call the current president “Uncle Joe” – have a different type of dog in them.
Chicago’s Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson sounded like a sad puppy the other day as he tried to make excuses for teens who were causing crime and chaos in his city. He compared kids making a slide on the stairs at home to teens destroying property and shooting people in downtown Chicago.
One person who doesn’t make excuses for people is King Randall, the 23-year-old former Marine who runs the Life Prepatory School for Boys in Albany, Georgia. Randall gained notoriety a few years ago after posting photos of himself teaching teenage boys in his X For Boys program how to fix cars, cut hair, safely handle firearms, and build.
His school’s values include honor, discipline, commitment, courage, accountability, and consistency. He recently posted a video of himself encouraging his students with a passionate recital of the poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley, which ends with this memorable ode to self-determination: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
You would think a young man who regularly draws comparisons to Booker T. Washington would be universally celebrated in the black community. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Several people, including many reparations advocates, took to Twitter to dismiss Randall’s work, instead saying that the work ethic he is teaching his students won’t accomplish much without “systemic” (aka political) change.
This is a sad, but unsurprising, microcosm of modern black cultural discourse. The easiest way to get a lecture on institutional racism or get called “coon,” “sellout,” “Uncle Tom” online is to indicate that you believe black people can do anything to improve outcomes in our own communities.
If you say parents and students have important roles to play in improving outcomes, someone will respond that the “achievement gap” is all about disparities in school funding tied to local property taxes and the history of redlining.
If you make a comment about diet and exercise being the keys to losing weight, someone will respond with a comment about food deserts and disparities in health care.
One man with a six-digit follower count on Twitter accused me of spreading “white supremacy” because I posted a video extolling the benefits of marriage and family.
The play is always the same. Individual effort doesn’t matter because nothing will change without “systemic” transformation. Another way of saying this is that black people are powerless to improve our own condition. The people who claim “white supremacy” and racist government policy are the reasons for racial disparities in wealth, education, and criminal justice also demand white people use their “power and privilege” to uplift the black community.
This is the twisted worldview of men like Michael Harriot, a writer for the Grio who posted a tweet thread in response to comments Bill Maher made about black people and street violence. Harriot made the claim that black people care about violent crime in their communities.
That is true.
The irony is that Harriot believes the very white people he mocks have an obligation to help fix the communities he claims to write for. His list of things that need to be addressed – presumably by white people – to stop black men from killing one another included “underfunded schools,” “unequal education,” “school discipline,” “employment,” “housing,” “financial discrimination,” “health care,” “food insecurity,” “unfair hiring practices,” and “policing.”
Absent from his list were any mentions of family structure or a hip-hop culture that glorifies and commodifies black men murdering each other.
Because that would indicate black people have moral agency and the ability to make rational decisions. But when you’re a person who sees black people as pieces on a political chessboard, the thing that matters most are the hands moving the pawns.
The do-for-self ethos that animated black life in much of the 20th century has been replaced by a spirit of domestication. There are men who understand the world isn’t fair but want to seize every opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their offspring. Then there are people who think the keys to uplift in the black community are bigger government and better white people.
There is a valuable lesson to be learned here. No one resents a working dog that is happy doing what he loves more than a lap dog who prefers barking to labor. The same goes for purse dogs. They love lecturing hunting dogs because they think canines should be carried to opportunity, not seize it.