During the first of what will surely be many pre-fight press conferences, undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather and UFC megastar Conor McGregor traded verbal jabs at one another on Tuesday to promote their bout this August.
This is customary before any big fight. Each man does his best to excite fans with descriptions about the pain he will inflict on the other during the match. It’s also not out of the ordinary for a boxer to do a little shadowboxing on the dais to show off his speed.
Channeling Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and many other greats before him, Mayweather stood up and began shadwoboxing mere feet from his opponent. What happened next is neither customary in the fight game nor should it be tolerated.
As Mayweather shadowboxed and moved about the stage, McGregor said, “Dance for me, boy.” Here’s the video:
Wait, what?! The press event, the fight and the day should have ended with that statement. McGregor’s words were straight out of the racism handbook.
Telling a black man to dance for you on command and calling him a boy is racist. Full stop. No qualifier. Ignorance is not an excuse.
Black slaves were treated as animals and made to serve and entertain their masters. Black men were called “boy” regardless of age as a means of stripping away their manhood.
Commanding a black person to dance for you hearkens back to a time when our country thought all we were good for was labor and leisure. “Dance for me, boy” has been said to black men with malice since the founding of this nation.
McGregor’s defenders say he’s not a racist and he and Mayweather are just doing what’s necessary to promote the fight. Besides, you can’t know what’s in a person’s heart. Who are any of us to say who’s racist and who isn’t?
If racism is necessary to build interest in a fight or anything else, then the event should be canceled. Selling hate may make dollars, but it doesn’t make sense.
And let’s settle the whole you-can’t-know-what’s- in-a-person’s-heart-when-it-comes-to-racism thing once and for all. The heart is a muscle with no intellectual or emotional capacity. It’s used as an artistic and literary device to make songs and poems sound better.
Singing about loving someone with all your brain doesn’t have the same ring to it, but that’s where love, hate, kindness, malice and compassion all originate. The same brain that could have produced four words like “We’ll see in August” in response to Mayweather’s shadowboxing, instead produced the virulently racist “Dance for me, boy.”
Mayweather himself said he didn’t think the statement was racist, but that doesn’t matter. Either Mayweather doesn’t know much about the history of racism in the United States or he’s ignoring it for the sake of selling the fight.
Mayweather and McGregor will each earn a purse upwards of $100 million. For some, this justifies sowing the seeds of hate. The problem is trees grow from those seeds.
And many of my ancestors hung from those trees. Selling racism for profit bankrupts us all.