Thugs, Racists and Forgiveness – What Richard Sherman & Coca Cola Reminded Me This Week

When Richard Sherman gave his now epic post-game interview with Erin Andrews, I thought his words lacked class. He had a similar rant moments later with Ed Werner then again in his press-confernce  interview. It was a shame, because I liked him until then.

“Typical athlete” and I posted this on my Facebook timeline:

I love/hate sports. I admire and am easily annoyed by them too. Many are coddled, spoiled and enabled. Think Alex Rodriguez. Many are dedicated, humble and classy. Think Derek Jeter.

Later that night Sherman wrote this piece explaining his actions and asking not to be judged by that excitement and adrenaline of the moment. My first thought was “Wow, he has an awesome agent willing to write that up for him.” But after reading, I was not only convinced he was the author but appreciated his heart. Also really appreciated his words regarding the fans who threw food at the injured Navorro Bowman. For me, Richard Sherman was ok again.

Then later I actually started feeling bad for him. Because in the minds of many, he was not going to be able to recover as easily. Then this word kept appearing …


Woah, come on people, there’s a difference between lacking class and being a thug. And though I never used that word, I regretted that my frustration towards his behavior added to the avalanche of criticism and hate he was receiving. It would have been better to react as a stunned Erin Andrews or a humored Ed Werner.

Fast forward two weeks later. I watched the Super Bowl in the company of new friends. It was a good party as not only were there great foods and snacks but we actually wanted to watch the game.

When the “Coca Cola America the Beautiful” commercial came on, some said things like, “Oh, that was cool” and “Not as good as the Radio Shack commercial.”  I would say to most of us it was simply another good commercial.

For whatever reason at the moment, it didn’t occur to me that anyone would have an issue with it. To some of it was normal that it needed no defending. For a lot of us we take this beautiful and diverse America for granted.  It wasn’t until Monday that I saw the ignorance captured in this post on Buzzfeed “Coca-Cola’s Multilingual Super Bowl Ad Inspired A Complete Meltdown Online: Some of these might be jokes, but it’s so hard to tell anymore …”

Not Drinking Coke … Terrorists



On one level, this is different than the Sherman issue. On another they are related. For some, Sherman’s behavior’s is compounded because he’s a black man.  For some, Coca Cola’s commercial celebrating the beautiful diverse ethnicity of our nation by depicting the color of skin and the variety of languages brought out the worst in some.

On some level, you wish you could banish such ignorance to a cave and let them be. But all people are a part of society. Many of them come out and work alongside us. Some teach and care for our kids. Some drive our ambulances. Some make our coffee. Some make our laws. We sit in traffic with some, we sit in movie theaters and we even sit in church with some.

One of the wonderful things about social media is that it exposes people. Yes, it can be a nightmarish tool for bullies but it can also be used to teach bullies a lesson. At least a partial one. Social media has a long memory. I can see this happening in a movie where @laxcutie14XoXo is either unemployed or about to be unemployed.

Soon he will be interviewed for his next presumingly temporary job and on the other side of the desk will be someone whose first language was “not American.” This person might even be a of a minority descent. This person might be of a majority one. In the movie, the HR Director would bring up this tweet and ask about his actions. This might leave  @laxcutie14XoXo baffled. “You Googled me?”

In the movie @laxcutie14XoXo would either repent then be thrown through a window, or be thrown through the window first, then repent or curse the HR Director and walk out self-righteously while we all smile as the villain fails to get his way.

But as we all know life is not a movie. The world will deal with the ignorance and meanness of people in a variety of ways. And the world will deal with the wisdom and virtue of people in a variety of ways as well.

But in the Christian faith, part of our role is to invite people, all people, the foolish, the self-righteous, the real thugs and the perceived ones to God’s redemption. The repentant are restored, the ignorant can be trained in Scripture (and with the 2000 years of collective wisdom) and the racist should be brought into the community and be shown that all people regardless of tone of skin or language are created in the Imago Dei,

And this is the tricky part, where we struggle to figure out how Christian we really want to be. Because those words hurt. The anger when being generalized as a terrorist or labeled a thug does not instantly dissolve with a particular prayer.

If God is love and we Christians are to be people of God, then we certainly must be people of love. And I believe you can’t know love, until you know the hatred, the evil, and the pain. It’s love that leads to the path of being forgiven and of forgiveness and it’s love that trumps them all.

And so, may there be no more caves. May we be faster with our forgiveness than our labels of fools, thugs, even “classless.” Let our anger not burn against others, may our patience grow, may God change our hearts in prayer and worship.

It’s a funny world as right now the thought of Richard Sherman drinking a Coca-Cola would be a controversial image of peace, restoration and unity.

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