Racism isn’t a laughing matter until it is. Such is the case of former Tennessee head football coach Jeremy Pruitt, who recently explained that the “weight” he felt after watching George Floyd get murdered by police and the “racial reckoning” that followed was the catalyst for giving one of his Black players family members some money — which broke the rules.
This isn’t an unaired skit from Chappelle’s Show. It happened.
The Knoxville News Sentinel obtained documents that revealed what Pruitt told investigators — and the “agony” that the white coach described when finally having to face the effects of racism, after being around Black people, and players for decades, is one of the clearest examples of how hilarious white fragility is.
“Then you throw in George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, okay, so you sit there as a white man and you see all of this going on, and you can see these kids suffering,” Pruitt explained as to why he went to his car and gave a Black player’s mother “either $300 or $400 in a Chick-fil-A bag” because “it was the human thing, the right thing to do.”
I have questions. For instance, what was Pruitt’s original order from Chick-fil-A? What’s his favorite sauce? Is he a fan of their peach milkshake?
“… (It’s) pitiful when you sit in a room and you hear grown men, and I’m talking about our coaches too, when they talk about growing up, and the circumstances that they’ve been under, because it’s hard for a white man to understand, right,” he said.
Pruitt has been around football all his life. But it took one summer, in which white America had to stay in the house, and watch/read/listen to how three Black people were killed by police, or other white people, just for existing to realize just how bad racism is — and the guy is from ALABAMA!
“I would do it again because I don’t think it’s breaking the rules (based on what would’ve been available through UT’s Student Assistance Fund if not for the pandemic),” Pruitt said about giving out the $300. “I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve got little kids, and I hope one of these days when I’m dead, and gone that somebody does the right thing for them.”
It took until the summer of 2020 for Pruitt to decide to live by the “Golden Rule,” but instead of being an ally or antiracist — which is what Black people actually need from a man who once enjoyed the power that comes along with being a head coach in the SEC — he decided that throwing a couple of dollars at racism was the best way to address it. It’s the same playbook the NFL uses, which “coincidentally” enough, is where Pruitt ended up working after Tennessee.
Pruitt won’t be around college football for a while. He’s received a six-year show-cause penalty, as his scandalous time in Knoxville included 18 high-level violations and over 200 infractions. Tennessee also had to pay a hefty fine and were forced to vacate 11 wins — which is the dumbest punishment of all time.
Jeremy Pruitt’s entire tenure was a mess. However, he has become a shining example of what white people who desire to be better white people shouldn’t do. Don’t break the rules by secretly giving Black people money in fast food restaurant bags, causing the cash to smell like waffle fries. Instead, do something that would really help — like not voting for Republicans. Tell a (white) friend to tell a (white) friend.