The latest instance of the mislabeling of the Colorado football program coached by Deion Sanders may be one of the most egregious yet.
A photo emerged online Tuesday of a man wearing a white shirt with a Colorado Buffalo log on it with the words “HB CU State of Mind.” The shirt is apparently being sold (we won’t be sharing the link here) as a play-on-words alluding to the state flagship school of Colorado being an HBCU.
Reaction was swift and fierce as HBCU alumni, students and supporters made it clear that referring to Colorado as an HBCU was nothing short of offensive to the masses.
This is just the latest in a string of events equating Colorado football to an HBCU since former Jackson State University head coach Deion Sanders took over the program.
Last month Fox Sports College Football analyst R.J. Young tweeted a video of CU mascot ‘Ralphie The Buffalo’ wearing sunglasses and chains and stating that the mascot had ‘gone’ HBCU.
“But Colorado nor its mascot will never be able to “go” HBCU. CU is a state flagship university in an affluent, white city that had the wherewithal to offer Deion Sanders money and resources that Jackson State — an actual HBCU located in the heart of the poorest state in America — could never dream of. It is being applauded for taking a chance on hiring Deion Sanders when the truth is, he’s running largely off the same blueprint that was in place at Jackson State. He’s got the same quarterback — who was doubted for his talents because he was playing at an HBCU — and several of the same coaches and support staff.”
A week later comedian Rickey Smiley, an Alabama State University alumnus, joked that “Coach Prime” had ‘turned Colorado into a damn HBCU.” I didn’t take this one seriously on a personal level, especially when compared with R.J. Young. Here’s part of what I wrote.
Rickey Smiley, on the other hand, is a comedian/radio host who says things for interaction. He gave a commencement speech at Miles College as recently as this spring and not only talks about and supports HBCUs, but has sent his children to them. Clearly he knows the difference between Colorado State-Colorado and the Magic City Classic. Not everyone will like the joke, but at least Smiley knows it’s a joke, unlike some others.
This tee shirt, however, is a bit more problematic. At this point, anyone who had studied the reaction to previous notions of Colorado as an HBCU would know that the mere concept of it is insulting and respect that. Instead, someone decided to not only print the shirt but to post it online and try to profit from it.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of social media, this gas-lighting apparel is benefiting from the outrage and will likely lead to someone making a few dollars. We often react and share more of what appalls us than what inspires and motivates us, which only empowers it. In a perfect world we would be able to ignore such an ill-thought out money-grab instead of spreading it through outrage.
As I wrote last week, you can cheer for Deion Sanders and Colorado football while acknowledging that it is in no way, shape or form an HBCU. But this shirt ignores that line and obliterates it. But it isn’t the first one nor will it be the last. Hopefully, though, they will be fewer and further between as we recognize the correlation between hate sharing and engagement is a powerful one that we control.