After eight years of an Obama presidency, it is understandable that blacks in America feel more viscerally than ever that the deck is stacked against them. Barack Obama and his hand-picked messengers, most notably his first Attorney General, Eric Holder, have fed them a steady diet of self-pity and cynicism belied by their own personal success stories.
Although it is understandable that many would play the race card from that deck to explain their own mistakes and failings, it is perplexing to hear Russell Okung call the American dream “one of the greatest lies ever told.”
Okung, should the name be unfamiliar, is an offensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks, who drafted him in 2010. Okung’s parents, Victor Okung and Dorothy Akpabio, are first-generation Americans, having emigrated here from Nigeria.
As a college player at Oklahoma State, Russell Okung was twice recognized as an All-American and in 2009 won the title of Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
When he signed with Seattle, he was given a six-year $58 million contract, making him one the hundred highest-paid athletes in the world.
In 2012, Okung was elected to play in the Pro Bowl. In 2014, he earned the most coveted prize in professional football, a SuperBowl victory and a ring to show for it.
If anyone born in this nation has lived the American dream, it is 28-year-old Russell Okung. Yet last Thursday, Okung penned a response to an essay by Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham, in which he wrote remarkably:
Some think working hard solves the problems of poverty and institutional oppression and the lack of social mobility. Some think that by sheer determination, one can overcome such issues. But economic inequality isn’t the symptom; it’s the virus that attacks…. [T]he American Dream, the belief that anyone who works hard can move up economically regardless of his or her social circumstances …. is one of the greatest lies ever told.
Talk about the audacity of hopelessness!