Newton's response to life as a Black athlete and racial politics in America has many wincing
Cam Newton, the 27-year-old Panthers quarterback who once admitted he was a Black man who “may scare a lot of people,” is now changing his tune about the apparent racism he experienced before last year’s Super Bowl.
When asked in a GQ Magazine interview about football fans who once called him “immature” and “boy,” – a thinly veiled term historically used to reference African-American men – Newton had this to say: “I don’t want this to be about race, because it’s not. It’s not. Like, we’re beyond that. As a nation.”
The football star’s interview, conducted for the magazine’s September issue went on to discuss Newton’s career, family, leadership and life. The interview read much like you would expect from an all-star athlete: positive and uplifting. But it was Newton’s response to life as a Black athlete and racial politics in America that have many wincing.
Since joining the league as the first round pick in 2011, the burgeoning superstar, made famous to many non-football fans for his perfect smile and his sickening “dab,” has been hit with a barge of criticism. But that criticism is far from racism, he says. “It’s not racism. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion,” he said.“I don’t look at it like that. I look at it like some people have certain beliefs, and I have my own belief, and we can agree to disagree on certain things. But this is what makes sports so amazing, that we can start a discussion around a table, in the newspaper, in the magazines, that will get people’s attention. And that’s what sports does.”
Subscribe to ESSENCE's daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news
In light of the recent backlash from this interview, how has Newton responded? Simple, with a picture of the GQ cover on Instagram and caption that reads,”Just a kid from College Park, GA. One love.”