During his introductory press conference, Alcorn State head coach Jay Hopson wanted everyone in attendance to pretend he was a distant relative of Barney the Dinosaur instead of the first white head coach in Southwestern Athletic Conference history.
“I don’t see black or white, we’re all purple and gold,” Hopson said.
While Hopson’s attempt at diplomacy could be somewhat understood, the statement was cloaked in fear. We are programmed to see black and white. We are expected to make rash determinations about a person’s traits and even coaching ability with only hue as our guide.
No reason to shy from it, Jay.
Hopson and the Braves’ athletic program should embrace the historic position they now find themselves in. Race matters in this country contrary to post-racial society rhetoric.
It is why Hopson is No. 1 on this list.
The first-year head coach will not be defined by team record, player development, schemes or the oft-overvalued football minutia barometer we normally judge field generals with. Alcorn State is not expected to challenge for postseason opportunities this season.
There is no reason to even waste keystrokes and space in this blog damning the team with faint praise.
Hopson will be evaluated by how he handles everything that comes with being a white head coach at a black school.
The first win. The first loss. The first post-game presser after the win. The first post-game presser after a loss. His facial expressions on the sidelines. His statements in the local paper. Every action picked apart. From simple gestures to interaction with players and even fans.
All of it will be magnified through the raw prism of skin color.