Opinion: Colorado's Coach Prime Parade Is Hypocrisy at Its Finest | Westword

Commentary: Boulder's Push of Coach Prime Is Hypocrisy at its Finest

"America, Boulder and CU — where the pursuit of entertainment and financial profits take precedence over the pursuit of progress."
CU Football coach Deion Sanders.
CU Football coach Deion Sanders. Evan Semón
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Conflicting thoughts can be true at the same time: The University of Colorado’s gridiron gladiators can be “Black America’s team," even as their games are broadcast on a “Make America Great/White Again” radio propaganda machine like 850-KOA, from a city that has fewer Black residents than the number of Black students enrolled at CU. This duplicitous setting is not by chance or happenstance, but instead is premeditated, deliberate and strategic.

The university, the town and the radio station that broadcasts all of the school's athletic events are prime examples of the exploitation and exclusion of Black people. Pimpin’ ain't easy!

CU's football team, adopted and hailed as Black America's champions, paradoxically finds itself broadcast on the airwaves of a radio propaganda machine. The "People's Republic of Boulder" is an exclusive bastion of elitist, liberal, latte-drinking hipsters and wilting flower children, boasting fewer Black residents than the pathetic 802 Black students out of a whopping 29,000 total enrollment at CU. What a disgraceful display of performative diversity in the face of systemic exclusion. It would be almost comical if it weren't so infuriating.

Last week, a bombshell was dropped on the university as two gutsy graduate students unleashed a damning “shadow report” that exposed the putrefying underbelly of racial hostility festering within the School of Education. And it's not just a few isolated incidents — oh, no, this is a systematic and pervasive issue. Four women of color in prestigious tenure-track positions stood up and said "Enough!" as they exited the toxic environment before the school year even began.

Make no mistake, this was not a case of slight discomfort or minor disagreements — no, this was merciless bullying, degrading treatment and relentless surveillance of these women. And let's not forget, the ruthless targeting was not simply directed at women of color: Black women in particular bore the brunt of this heinous behavior. It's crystal clear that the School of Education has not only failed to protect its valuable faculty members of color, but has actively participated in driving them out with a twisted game of discrimination and abuse. Intolerance and bigotry are woven deeply into the fabric of the university, and it's time for someone to start unraveling this despicable thread.

If Black America tuned into iHeartRadio's Rocky Mountain flagship station, KOA, they would be bombarded with the same hateful rhetoric that was spewed at a 1965 White Citizens Council meeting. The so-called "sports voice" of CU only grants Black folks a measly two days a week to "do their thang" and generate profits for the station, while the rest of the week is filled with thinly veiled bigotry and discrimination.

It’s 100 shades of White, 24/7…365/52…

KOA, the radio station once graced by the voice of conservative darling Rush Limbaugh, continues to be a cesspool of bigotry and ignorance even after his demise. Its airwaves and those of its brother station, KHOW, are filled with hosts and callers who revel in degrading and dehumanizing Black and Brown individuals, serving as the breeding ground for White America's pervasive racism. Not a single liberal or progressive person of color can be found on their rosters, allowing this toxic narrative to spread like a disease without any opposing views to challenge it. This is a grave affront to the principles of freedom and democracy.

The hailed "Prime" transformation ruffled a few feathers; behind the ivory walls of the institution lies a festering cesspool of hostility toward Black and Brown individuals. They are merely tolerated, never truly welcomed with open arms. The lackluster recruitment and retention of Afro-American students, faculty, staff and coaches is not only pathetic but unforgivable, and has been an ongoing issue for far too long.

The blazing flame of Coach Prime's national notoriety is shining a spotlight on not only the football program, but also the dark history of the school's love-hate relationship with Black and Brown faculty and students. The nation's obsession with the football team should be coupled with an intense interest in “why” these four academicians were wrongfully denied tenure and pushed out. Why were they looked down upon by the supposedly progressive and open-minded administration? Were they too confident for the supposedly progressive administrators? It's a disgraceful story of hypocrisy and racism at the heart of academia...like so many.

CU is a shining beacon of white hypocrisy, showcasing how it will gladly parade and profit off Ebony gladiators…as long as they remain silent, obedient and solely used for entertainment and financial gain. The CU football team, made up of talented Black players, is welcomed with open arms and praised for their physical prowess, but a couple of weeks ago, Deion Sanders said: “We do things that have never been done, and that makes people uncomfortable. When you see a confident Black man, sitting up there talking his talk, walking his walk, coaching 75 percent African-Americans in the locker room, that’s kind of threatening (to others). Oh, they don’t like that. Guess what? We gonna consistently do what we do because I’m here and ain’t going nowhere. And I’m about to get comfortable in a minute.” That perspective caused the good ol' boys to fume. As much as the team's success did, those words transformed the CU football program into Black America’s team: Don’t get it twisted.

Coach Deion "Prime" Sanders unapologetically and unabashedly symbolizes audacious “Black Power.“ And his quest for respect and power — well, it's scaring some folks to death…

Black men are expected to have the physical prowess of a superhero, yet our intellectual contributions are met with scorn and dismissal. We are nothing more than pawns on a field, silenced and controlled by those in power. Our voices are to be muffled and our minds kept in check. Don't speak, don't think, just perform and entertain. Seen but not heard. So just shut up and run, boy, because in this game of life, your opinions and freedoms don't matter.

Coach Prime has shown up, shown out and unleashed "Showtime" upon the Flatirons. The recent defeats have caused the good ol' boys to stir and murmur behind their closed doors at the country club and gun club. It's no secret that Prime and his predominantly Black team make some uncomfortable. There are those who would rather suffer defeat with a team of White players than claim victory with a band of Black gladiators — but I don't have to ponder, I know what time it is!

The spineless mainstream media remains blissfully blind to the festering, polarizing racism that lurks beneath this alpine hamlet’s glossy facade. While latte-guzzling White hipsters and smug good ol' boys bask in their privileged bubble, they continue to gorge on the profits of marginalized Black men's back-breaking work. The blood, sweat and tears of the exploited only serve to fatten and enrich these callous vultures. But don't expect the local TV stations to shine a light on this insidious reality: Their silence is complicity in the perpetuation of systemic injustice.

Gone are the days when the team was filled with mediocre white-bread players from small-town America; nobody outside their parents cared about their pathetic performances. But times have quickly changed, and the star-studded roster is now stacked with Black athletes from a variety of backgrounds — some from gritty streets below the Mason-Dixon line, others from neighborhoods "too urban" for the delicate sensibilities of CU fans. As these Buffalo soldiers take control of the team, the dollars start pouring in, by the millions.

White sports fans, along with non-sports fans, are some of the same ones who claim to value justice and equality but turn a blind eye to the rampant injustice and bigotry embedded in their own political leaders. They cheer on King Trump and their Republican puppet party, all fueled by the toxic poison of White supremacy. Yet, in the same breath, they eagerly consume the athleticism and artistry of Black players on the CU football team. It's sickening how these hypocrites will bask in the glory of Black athletes while simultaneously opposing the efforts of Black faculty and students to use their platform for social progress. The stench of hypocrisy in this country is suffocating.

Hypocrisy at its finest, folks. America, Boulder and CU — where the pursuit of entertainment and financial profits take precedence over the pursuit of progress.


Desi Cortez is [email protected], a freelance wordsmith, an exiled talk show host...and a man with a mind of his own.

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