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We Don't All Play Basketball and Football


How many times as a black woman have I heard the words, "does your sons play basketball or football?". Too many, and enough is enough!!


It's a general stereotype, however, you would never find me coming up to a Caucasian family asking "does your son play hockey or lacrosse?". I am a Caribbean-American mother, who grew up with the knowledge that an education comes first and sports was for fun. Sports have never been considered a career. Sure we played cricket and football (soccer for those not Caribbean), and I even played on the female soccer team in college. However, it was never a career that I envisioned for my children or myself. I am also not one of those parents who think that having an NBA or NFL career means that my kids have succeeded in life. However, getting a degree of higher education means just that for me.

You see, in the Caribbean education means the world to us. Our athletes are not paid millions of dollars to kick a ball or throw a ball into a hoop. Sure we have had a few of our Caribbean athletes make it onto the big scene, they've made it big in the NBA and we are extremely proud of them, but we are even more so when they get a degree. Children in the Caribbean aspire to be doctors and lawyers etc., not athletes.


And sure, my sons are tall, both my 16 and 12-year-old are 6 feet tall. Yes, you read that correctly; my 12-year-old is 6 feet tall. However, I am not of average height for a female since I'm 5'10, while my husband is 6'5. Kyle, aged 16, loves basketball but doesn't want to make it a career, while Mikael the 12 year old couldn't be bothered with sports. He wants to be a scientist. I even had one person told me that he was "wasting his height". Is there even such a thing?

There are quite a few parents who push their kids to play a sport that they don't love, or aren't interested in. There are also many parents who try and live vicariously through their children. Maybe they were great at football or basketball in high school, but didn't quite make the cut for college, so they try and encourage their children to play the game. However, I am not one of those parents. I give my kids free reign of choice in whatever they do. Kyle plays on his high school basketball team, but isn't interested in playing once he gets to college, even though his coach has been encouraging him to do so. Once again, I'm not that parent! I want well rounded kids, but I also want them to make the decisions for themselves.

My eldest, Kristal, took up tennis, a sport I had absolute no interest in, but I supported her and went to every single game. I purchased the equipment and clothing that she needed, only to have her tell me a few months later that she didn't want to do it anymore. While I could tell you that Serena Williams dominates the women division, I couldn't in all honesty say who comes in second, and I sure as hell couldn't even begin to name one male tennis player. As for basketball, I only follow along because I live in a male dominated household where NBA 2K video games reign supreme. While my kids are amazing at playing basketball on a video game, playing amazing in real life is an entirely different story.


I know that African-Americans dominate the NBA and the NFL; however, they don't all play basketball or football. There has been exceptional doctors in their fields (Ben Carson), lawyers (Johnnie Cochran - deceased), and we recently had an African-American President of the USA (President Barack Obama). We can be anything that we want to be.

So before you step to a black parent and ask whether their child plays basketball or football, maybe you should think about it, because we all don't play sports. We also don't all live in the projects, love eating chicken and drinking Kool-Aid, are in gangs, and our names don't all end in "eisha or iqua".  Stop the stereotype today!

What stereotypes are you tired of? 

Annmarie John
39 Comments
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39 comments:

  1. You said this perfectly and definitely couldn't agree with you more if I tried. I truly hate how certain stereotypes still prevail though and it is up to us to speak up and out about them. So bravo to you my friend for bringing your voice to this here now.

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    1. I have been chalking it up to ignorance but at this point, I couldn't even tell you if it is or not anymore.

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  2. This is such a powerful post. Stereotypes are all over the place. As a businesswoman, I have to constantly battle the stereotype that men are better businesspeople.

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    1. That has always been a stereotype that I could never deal with. Just as when I was in the army and we would go out, when I mention that we're a military family, the first question would be, is your husband in the army? No! You do realize that there are females in the military right?

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  3. I am very lucky. As a white person, I don't have to deal with many of the stereotypes that black people do - the least of which is probably the athlete stereotype unfortunately. I would say the biggest stereotype I've ever had to deal with is being a woman in a business world.

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    1. How lucky you are Danielle! As a woman however, we have quite enough to deal with, and being in business as a woman is just one of them.

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  4. I love this, because stereotypes are dumb!WE should all aspire to be what we want and not try to fit into a mold. we don't do or watch any sports really. lol my kids are still really young, but we do drag racing which a lot of people thing is strange for some reason

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    1. They are dumb, and I don't think that people think before they open their mouth. It would be nice if they did, then we wouldn't be reading this post today.

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  5. This is a great post, and I'm sorry its a stereotype in general. Sometimes people forget that kids are not just another number. I'm short so that's a stereotype that I face, of people constantly making fun/thinking I can't do things.

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    1. Stereotypes just need to stop in general. I don't care whether you're black or white, live in the city or country, we should just stop generalizing.

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  6. Maybe they ask the question because of how tall your kids are and not because of their race? My dad was 6'3" and was asked all the time if he was a basketball player. It was a question we all just took as common curiosity due to his height. Stereotypes in general are stupid. We all don't fit neatly into a little box because of our race, religion, sex, or beliefs so slapping a label on someone because of those things just makes people look dumb.

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    1. You know what's funny Theresa, if it was just a small handful, I might have said so, but it's beginning to be a norm with us. And I'm more likely to think it's because of our race since I've even had a few ask when I'm with the boys and Madison, if Madison (age 5 and only 4') will be playing when she's older too. SMH

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  7. Someone literally said he was 'wasting his height', honestly the nerve! As a Latina I am on the receiving end of tons of stereotypes - like we are all oversexed 'spitfires' - and I say whatever to all that ignorance, brush my shoulders, and keep my head held high and let my accomplishments both academic and otherwise speak for themselves!

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

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    1. Oh yes, and it was after that I decided it was time to write this post. Like how do you tell someone that they're wasting their height because they're not interested in playing basketball. It truly pissed me off.

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  8. Thsi is such poverfull post :) i always fight with men , beacuse sems that i am successuful bussines women .

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  9. Your post is so timely and important - I hope everyone reads it! Our society is full of all sorts of stereotypes, like you mentioned you've experienced. It's great that you encourage your kids to pursue interests they like.

    Two of our four kids have red hair and it's been interesting to observe/hear the stereotypes people have about gingers...i.e. temper, rowdiness, etc. It's like they automatically assume they're a certain way because of their hair color. Stereotypes are not helpful.

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  10. Gosh...I find that so weird. I can't imagine assuming a kid has a certain interest based on their race or ethnicity. However, I can relate with people telling your kids they are wasting their height. I was a straight A student in school and I wanted to be an actress. People said I was wasting my brain. Which I now have a masters degree so I guess I did OK. But people always want to have a strong opinion about something that is none of their business.

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  11. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful piece on this. I don't have children but i imagine this is really tricky to navigate as a parent. Great that you have a voice in this.

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  12. Stereotypes are so prevalent and it's frustrating. I can't imagine what was going through someone's mind when they said your son was "wasting his height!" That's such a strange thing to say, but I've experienced something similar. I have long, slim fingers, and I've had many people ask why I don't play piano! So weird.

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  13. I can't stand stereotypes. My least favorite is the one about homeschoolers and socialization.

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  14. Stereotypes are another way of looking at a race, just like when people say Asians are nerds and good at math. It's not just annoying, it's also insulting. I think it should end and I love that you're saying something about it!

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  15. Did you see the latest episode of This is Us? Randall is African American and his grandmother, who is Caucasian, gives him a basketball every Christmas. He struggles to tell her he doesn't like basketball.

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  16. Thank you for saying something about this. I'm not a huge fan of stereotyping either. It can be very racist and irritating especially these days when it feels as if we're moving backwards. This post is something that people should pay attention to, it deserves to be shared.

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  17. You are so spot on! Being tall does not require you to play basketball and make a career out of it. I am with you. I agree that education comes first.

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  18. I guess I've never thought like this. A white child and a black child are both just as likely to play sports. Some people just amaze me.

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  19. Couldn't agree more, I do my best to correct people when I hear comments like you mentioned. I really dislike stereotypes.

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  20. I could not agree with you more that stereotypes like these are still highly prevalent in our society. I think it is great you are standing up and saying that this isn't right. Kudos to you!

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  21. First, I can't believe that someone would say they're wasting their height! Second, I've always thought that getting a degree is important, as well. Third, Each person was put on this earth with certain talents, personalities, desires and interests and we should all be able to pursue those to our fullest potential. If your son wants to be a scientist, good for him! Here's to him busting through all of the stereotypes that people have put on him!

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  22. I loved your post! I have a dear friend who is from South Africa. We have spoken so many times about sports and education, and stereotypes, and multi million dollar athletes!

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  23. To be honest, I'm tired of all stereotypes. We need to move beyond them and stop being lazy. Instead, we should try to understand and get know each other as individuals.

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  24. I really don’t get why people stereotype and would never ask that question about your kids. I agree with you, who needs pushy parents? Children should be able to make their own choices in life, whatever they may be.

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  25. I love this post! Stereotypes are all too common in today's society to the point where people think it's okay to joke about it too.

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  26. Love this post. Stereotypes are never fun and need to be talked about. It's utterly insane how much athletes and sports control things in the states and how little is put into education. I hope that one day that will change to more like what you talked about.

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  27. This is a stereotype, like many that I have experienced as a minority. On the bright side these can often be opportunities to educate and correct people.

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  28. I love this post! I really don't know how to react to certain stereotypes because I might say something bad.. You're so brave!

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  29. Girl, I can totally relate to this! Some of my boys have/do play basketball, but the sterotype is real. And it's crazy that as much as dominate the NFL and NBA, people make a big deal about athletics taking a knee.. but that's another story. I've already told my boys, it's a 1 in a million shot you'll make it on the NBA-- we encourage them to play, but to also have other interest and desires as well. Shrug the haters off and keep it moving!

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  30. I'm sorry you've had to encounter that. I honestly think that's such an odd thing to even ask about. We are not a sports family at all so maybe that's why I can't even imagine that conversation. Over my life I've had to prove that I am actually smart and can work hard. I was told very early on I couldn't succeed because most women don't.

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  31. That's an interesting one. I'm trying to think of ones I've heard as a Jew and as a woman. None of them are true! I have a boy and a girl and they totally carve their own paths and don't act like I was told they would. Good.

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  32. It;s rough when people assume that Black kids are all interested in basketball. There is nothing wrong with it but we are so much more than running around on a court.

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[name=AnnMarie John] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9gUeVik-ZY/WJjwNTOobII/AAAAAAABTJ4/qEhU0n62_AIo-j6-6LA2OFOr44lKCHASwCLcB/s100/AnnMarie%2BJohn%2BHeadshot.JPG] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook=http://www.facebook.com/theannmariejohn) (instagram=http://www.instagram.com/theannmariejohn) (twitter=http://www.twitter.com/theannmariejohn) (pinterest=http://www.pinterest.com/theannmariejohn) (email=mailto:annmarie@annmariejohn.com)

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