WHAT BERNARD HOPKINS has accomplished at age 46 is amazing, but I couldn't get so into all the hero worship yesterday afternoon at the Rocky statue, because I'm still irked as hell over Hopkins' latest, blacker-than-thou comments directed at former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
It was sweltering outside yesterday, but people braved the heat to watch as Mayor Nutter graciously paid tribute to Hopkins on behalf of the city. A couple of City Council folks were onstage, and everyone around me seemed to be in a Hopkins-is-so-wonderful mode. One person I chatted with marveled over how "articulate" Hopkins was during his turn at the microphone.
Let me say that Hopkins' win late last month over Jean Pascal for the light heavyweight title in Montreal was a history-maker.
He really deserves to be commended for being the oldest boxer to ever win a world title. I love what his late-in-life victory against Pascal says to the world about getting older and how age ain't nothing but a thang, so to speak.
But who made Hopkins arbiter of all things black?
Yes, I'm still on that.
I'm referring to those completely ignorant comments last month, when Hopkins all but said that McNabb wasn't really black because he hadn't been raised in the 'hood.
If I sound angry, it's because I haven't gotten over it.
Hopkins' tale of rising from city housing projects and overcoming five years behind bars is legendary. He deserves mad props. But it doesn't make him blacker than another African-American with a completely different life experience. But in the fighter's mind, McNabb's "privileged childhood in suburban Chicago" apparently makes McNabb less than an authentic black man. "Forget this," Hopkins said last month while pointing to his own chocolate-colored complexion. "He's got a suntan. That's all."
I know I really should be over this. This is Hopkins' big moment. He has more than earned all the glory he's enjoying for what he accomplished in the ring.
But this kind of racial one-ups-manship gets me fired up, dating back to the 1980s when critics claimed "The Cosby Show" wasn't an authentically black TV show.
We could write Hopkins' remarks off as the ramblings of a blowhard who has had it in for McNabb for years, but the stereotype that African-Americans are monolithic pops up way too much, not only in sports and schoolyards, but in national politics, most noticeably during President Obama's 2008 campaign.
Growing up, I was called Oreo and worse because certain classmates thought I should be using more slang or didn't have the right dance moves. And yes, it was primarily other blacks who taunted me.
It's time that people stop with this stuff.
It's damaging and just plain wrong.
So, excuse me if I get irked when ignorant people start with the blacker-than-thou thing.
Yesterday, as I watched the scene unfold outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I found it ironic that Nutter, who has dealt with similar racial putdowns himself, was standing on the podium praising Hopkins.
After all, former Mayor John Street once described Nutter as "just a mayor with dark skin."
I couldn't help but wonder whether Hopkins considers Nutter black enough.