Entertainment & Culture
The New Negro and the Lost Art of Shutting the Fuck Up

This originally appeared on

A few weeks ago, a reporter spotted one of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” baseball caps in Tom Brady’s locker. I won’t derail this article by going on a rant about how their definition of when America was “great” was either when negroes were docile, or even better — slaves. I won’t even mention how Donald Trump’s rich, old, White, grandpa yachting caps with block lettering and the twisted cord around the bill is the perfect emblem for his candidacy. The point is, Brady had Trump presidential paraphernalia in his locker.

When a reporter spotted the cap and asked Brady if he wanted Donald Trump to be President, the Malibu Ken-Doll quarterback responded, “I hope so. That would be great.”

Cue the “well-I-never” outrage.

Here is where the Patriots’ pretty boy flipped the script. He basically said, “You’re right. I should probably shut the fuck up.”

To be accurate, Touchdown Tommy relayed that he received the hat after judging Trump’s Miss USA pageant, and his comment was offhanded fun. He valiantly added that he doesn’t “even know what the issues are. I haven’t paid attention to politics in a long time” and stated that no one should follow his political advice because he was wrong to comment on it.

In short, Tom Brady admitted that he should have shut the fuck up.

This is a direct contrast to the New Negro Black celebrity for a number of reasons. It is rare to hearanyone celebrity, preacher or even grocery store cashier willing to admit they could possibly be wrong about anything. Even when presented with factual evidence, today’s ego-driven star will, at worse, admit that they may have been taken out of context. Serial sayer-of-stupid-shit Stephen A. Smith still hasn’t admitted that there is never a good time to punch a woman, that Black lives do matter, or that he was lying about KD going to the Lakers. It’s almost as if admitting a mistake in stringing his nonsensical sentences together lessens his credibility. As if he ever had any.

But Tom Brady’s mea culpa also raises another question I have been contemplating for a while:

What’s wrong with shutting the fuck up?

I don’t like to cast my sensibilities onto others and assume everyone thinks like me, but I am 98.34% sure that Black people aren’t sitting at home wringing their hands wondering when the Black dude from The Fantastic Four was going to publicly announce his position on Black Lives Matter. Do you remember when reading Letters from a Birmingham Jail or James Baldwin’s essays how you paused and thought:

“Common can rap pretty good. I wonder how he thinks we can end racial strife?”

You didn’t? What a surprise.

The flip side of this argument, of course, is the Jordan Effect. There are scores of people who fault Jordan for never speaking out on relevant issues of the day, and often cite his quote “Republicans buy sneakers too” as proof that he was only concerned about making money. I disagree. Maybe Jordan correctly thought someone who had only seriously studied Dean Smith’s Four Corners offense and completed a year-and-a-half of college shouldn’t be speaking on issues on which he has only cursory knowledge. After boasting the most diverse front office in the NBA and the Blackest collection of executives in any of the division of Nike, he might not have been disinterested in helping Black people, Jordan might have simply been a proponent of the lost art of shutting the fuck up. Perhaps he knew that the curators of the dominant culture (pronounced “?w?t ?p?-p?l”) love to burden Black Stars with the“he’s-so-articulate” tag so they can wait in the weeds to pounce on the first massa-validating statement the star makes. (“See, Richard Sherman says Black people need to focus on Black-on-Black crime, andhes Black. Plus, he went to Stanford.”)

I also don’t want to further the perception that anyone who isn’t radical, or simply chooses to be quiet is a sellout, but when talking about solving any issue in non-White America, everyone eventually arrives to the talking point of “unity.” This is where shutting the fuck up becomes most important. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the prevailing mindset of others. It is necessary to move ideas forward. However, there is nothing gained from taking a position directly opposite the people you claim you are trying to help. When one is on a team, you shouldn’t go in the locker room after the game and tell the media, “I think my coach and my team made the wrong call.” Nah, man. You put on your aviator shades and weep “thats my quarterback.” Even T. O. knew that public disagreeing is only self-serving and he might be the grandest stander of them all. (Which gives me the opportunity to remind you, again: T.O. doing shirtless sit-ups in his driveway while talking to reporters is still the most nigga-rific thing EVER!)

I truly believe Don Lemon, Whoopi Goldberg and Raven Symone are pure of heart in their viewpoints. Their ability to contort themselves in a way that always ends up on the opposite side of negroes, though, is evidence that not shutting the fuck up is their occupation, and as the New Negro standard bearers, they would be hated less if they just said it. Shit, I loved Rick Flair even though I knew he was contractually obligated to play the heel because he acted like a villain. Mostly by not shutting the fuck up.

The conundrum is: Are Black stars obliged to speak out on social issues? Should they only do so when they are in lockstep with Black America’s thinking lest we label them a traitor and cast them onto the New Negro bandwagon?

Perhaps the answer is different for all of us, but until it is definitive, the New Negroes should just rap, cover wide-receivers, deliver the news, shuck-and-jive in the front seat of Floyd Mayweather’s Rolls Royce or just simply, shut the fuck up.

Like Tom.

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot