I'm Only Rooting For Confirmed Shitty Human Floyd Mayweather Because He's Black. Is This Racist?

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

This weekend, Floyd Mayweather will fight Manny Pacquiao in what will be the most highly-anticipated boxing match I can remember. It's so highly-anticipated that people who generally give no fucks about boxing — people like The Wife Person and I — will be making plans this week to not only watch the fight, but possibly (gasp!) pay to watch the fight.

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Mayweather is generally regarded as perhaps the best pound-for-pound boxer ever. And, although this fight should have happened five years ago, defeating Pacquiao will cement this legacy. He is also known for being a shitty human being; having been accused of violence against women seven times in the last 13 years.

Yet, although I don't have a rooting interest in this fight, if forced to make a choice at gunpoint, I'd first be confused by this randomly violent act. (And I'd question the decision making process that led me to attend an event where this is happening.) And then I'd say that I'd rather see Mayweather win than Pacquiao. For two reasons:

1. I don't root for underdogs

You know those people who'll have no real interest in college basketball, but will watch Kentucky play Slippery Rock State in the tournament and instinctively hope for Slippery Rock State to pull off the upset? I am not one of those people. Unless I have a particular animus towards the favorite (basically, if it's the New England Patriots) or a particular relationship with the underdog, I do not gravitate towards underdogs. I don't feel a connection to them, I don't believe them winning makes for a "better" story, and I fucking hated Hoosiers. Just as I wanted to see Kentucky go undefeated, I'd like for Mayweather to retire with no losses. I appreciate sustained athletic greatness more than statistically improbable occurrences (upsets) because sustained greatness is rarer. And more fun (for me) to watch.

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2. Floyd Mayweather is Black

I am also Black. Manny Pacquiao is not Black. Therefore, although I don't have much of a rooting interest in this fight, if given the choice, I'd rather see Mayweather win than Pacquiao.

The importance of Mayweather's Blackness in my rooting interest cannot be overstated. Because if the roles were reversed — if Pacquiao was the undefeated champion and Mayweather the underdog finally getting his shot — I'd root for…Mayweather. All of that shit I just said about not rooting for underdogs? Kicked out the window. And pissed on while sitting in on the lawn. Blackness is the Big Joker. It's such a trump card that despite my knowledge of his propensity for being a shitty human being — and despite having no trouble discontinuing support for other celebrities exposed as being shitty human beings (hi, R. Kelly) — I know that when the bell rings Saturday night and the fight starts, I'm probably going to pull for the Black guy.

This is where you say "Pacquiao is no angel, either. He's been investigated for income tax evasion, and he seems to have a ridiculously inflated opinion of his basketball talents. You're not breaking some moral law rooting for Mayweather just because he's Black."

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And this is where I say you're missing the point. Manny Pacquiao could very well be an actual angel. Like, descended from Heaven with wings and harps and shit. And it would not matter. Pacquiao seems like a nice guy and Mayweather is a caricature of every caricature sports movie villain — there really isn't much difference between him and Tong Po. But Mayweather happens to be Black. And since I also happen to be Black, I'd rather see him win.

This leaves us with one question: Is this racist? If you're a person who believes Black Americans can't be racist — because true racism means you have the power to turn your racial animus into oppression and benefit from inequality — then the answer ("No") is obvious. You could also argue that my feelings about this fight are just an example of tribalism instead of racism. I'm not anti-Filipino; just so pro-Black that this pro-Blackness influences my thought process and decision making.

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But, considering the circumstance, how does this make me any different from the White guy who votes for a terrible White politician — a terrible politician whose policies would have a negative impact on his life — just because his opponent happens to be Black? Most would consider that hypothetical voter to racist. Or, at least, biased enough to do an unquestionably racist thing. But I doubt many read my rationale for rooting for Mayweather and immediately thought "Yup, that's racist."

Granted, this isn't a perfect analogy. Who we vote for matters. Who we root for in a boxing match doesn't. But the thought process behind those decisions is close enough. The Blackness possessed by a Black person I wouldn't invite to game night trumps the non-Blackness of a non-Black person I'd not only invite to game night but change the time/date if my original time/date didn't work with his schedule. So, again, is this racist?

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Actually, nevermind. Don't answer this yet. Wait until after the fight.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

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Nicholas Peters

3 points:

1. The reason they never fought 5 years a go is that both are really about their money and this is a career ending fight for both. There is no George Foreman to their Ali or Frazier, after this 2 or 3 fight experience is over…they really can't fight anyone else. They are making the same money they would of then and they had the chance to fit in 5-7 fights which made each of them hundreds of millions of dollars.

2. No. just because successful black people have an awfully bad habit of being humble to a fault just to make white people comfortable. This is also Kanye West's most redeeming quality he's like im worth 200 million dollars and maybe the most important amalgamation of music and celebrity in an entertainer of my generation…you will show me some respect. Everyone knows white people generally don't like extremely successful black people and especially single straight black men who can flaunt their wealth…the thing that sets white people apart from all the "others." - So I always love the emotional post Mayweather victory reaction from mostly white people….and after he wins this fight it will be MASSIVE…I here for it and I will live on twitter…

3. Nick's VSB Question of the day: I bring this question because the NFL draft is in a week and there is a prospect who is being regularly mocked to my beloved Redskins who previosly dated my last ex-girlfriend who currently holds the title of the woman that got away that I will always judge all my future relationships on.

Hypothetically, if your favorite sports team drafted a dude who had previously dated your current love who turns out to be NICE (or rapper….lets say Kendrick Lamar during overly dedicated) and they blew up while yall were dating..who are you choosing…your relationship or your team/player (hypothetically,/Andrew Wiggins/Andrew Luck and there respective teams)/artist?….Honestly, there is only one redskins and good kid mad city and there are billions of women on this earth…