I would say that I wished people online would stop claiming that the famous and the accomplished “transcend(ed) race”, but the truth is, I don’t. Why would I insist that people cease outing themselves as intolerant assholes?
When white people claim that Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Junior, Prince, Nina Simone, Michael Jackson, Dorothy Dandringe, Ray Charles, Denzel Washington, and/or Tupac “transcended race”, they are essentially admitting that they, as fans, have decided to see the idol as human first, rather of only ever viewing them as a substandard/run of the mill black athlete, humanitarian, musician, and actor who is overpaid and over-exalted (as they constantly repeat while groveling at the feet of actually overpaid CEOs). There is an inherit honor being bestowed upon these talented individuals, with such a phrase, for being hard working, honest, and deserving of the benefit of the doubt. These select few possess all of the qualities white America believes to be lacking in everyone else of that race.
To acknowledge the pride Muhammad Ali had in both his ethnicity and his religion would be in direct opposition to the “patriotism” that has since seeped into the DNA of white America. Praising Ali as a man of Islam may mean that you could possibly not indiscriminately hate all refugees and immigrants who share his religion. And then the world would cease to exist as we know it. So instead, there’s an urge to whitewash Mr. Ali, Prince, et al, so harsh truths about yourself remain a quiet mummer of denial in the back of your mind. It’s much easier to imagine that these men and women didn’t hold immense pride in what and whom they were, and that they arduously struggled to be acknowledged as the precious rarities that you see them as.
“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fightin’ you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for my right here at home.
My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother or some darker people or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger. They never lynched me. They didn’t put no dogs on me. They didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother father and ancestors. Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.” – Muhammad Ali (June, 1967)
So keep going. Continue thinking that your approval is what necessitates greatness.