(ThyBlackMan.com) Super Bowl LVI is over and the NFL’s offseason can get into full swing. Throughout the NFL postseason, several of the NFL’s head coaching positions were filled. One of the more eyebrow-raising hires among head coaching hires was the Miami Dolphins hiring San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. McDaniel’s coaching credentials are pretty good as he has been the run game coordinator for the 49ers in recent seasons and McDaniel has been a part of the 49ers creative ground game including the usage of Pro Bowl 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel. A more uncomfortable conversation related to the hire of Mike McDaniel as a new NFL head coach is the discussion of race. McDaniel is the son of a white mother and Black father and it was news for many NFL fans who were unaware of McDaniel’s familial background given his appearance. On first glance, McDaniel might not immediately be visually identified as a “Black” man given the social constructs of race even with the understanding that Black people come in many shades and hues. Interestingly, McDaniel’s description of his self-identity conjures up how complex race is as a subject for discussion.
Speaking with ESPN journalist Marcel Louis-Jacques, Mike McDaniel said, “First and foremost, I’m biracial. My mom’s white, my dad’s Black. I’ve been extremely proud of that my whole life. It is a unique experience, being a race and then fully acknowledging that most outside observers, when they perceive you, they identify you as something other than the race you are. When you’re younger and that is happening, it’s very, very confusing.” McDaniel identifies himself with being biracial and that is understandable given that term “biracial” is not a new term or concept.
Mike McDaniel’s identifying his himself as biracial does stand in stark contrast to another famous person, actress Paula Patton, who has reiterated in recent months that she doesn’t consider herself as biracial. Patton, who like McDaniel also has a Black father and white mother, finds the term “biracial” offensive and explained, “It was my mother who let me know, ‘The world is going see you as Black and that is who you are.’ ” She continued, “So don’t have any questions about that. I’m very grateful for her. The politics of race in our country are such that when one wants to make it very clear that they’re not Black, it’s a way to keep them separate from Black people. We know; we’ve had a long history in this country of that, of it not being popular to be Black, to be honest with you. I’ve always found that to be an offensive term. I’m Black and I embrace it, that’s my family.”
For the children of interracial marriages or interracial relationships, self-identity when it comes to race can be a difficult and complex issue due to the potential for alienating one side of their family by “choosing” one race to identify with over another. The interesting thing about race is that is a social construct that “is a cultural intervention” reflecting specific attitudes and beliefs that were imposed on different populations in the wake of western European conquests beginning in the 15th century. One of the most famous statements made regarding race in sports history involves one of the most successful athletes of all-time, golfer Tiger Woods, who once famously described his own racial identity as “Cablinasian” back at the beginning of his professional golf success in 1997. Despite Woods’s incredible golf career and success, the term “Cablinasian” has been used as a joke for his inability to embrace his blackness without simultaneously acknowledging the rest of his racial identity. Self-agency is very important for every person including Mike McDaniel and I hope he gets more comfortable now that he is an adult, years from the confusion he describes he had when he was younger.
Staff Writer; Mark Hines