Social Studies

Let’s do something we never do in our football column. Let’s talk about race. Now, I’m not here to always be politically correct or tell my readers I always do the right thing. I’m also not here to tell you we need to come together and even when we disagree, all voices should be heard. That’s a democracy. No, I leave that for the politicians and our elected officials to speak to the people. But what I can do is tell the difference between horse and a dog or better yet, a frog and a prince.

Which brings us to Samuel Jackson. No, not the Samuel Jackson, the actor, one of the greatest actors of his time and a guy perfectly willing to put forth his political views on social media. No, this Samuel Jackson is a student at Notre Dame and this year, he was chosen as one of three students to dress up as the Fighting Irish Leprechaun for this coming football season. It’s a big deal to be chosen as “the leprechaun” for Notre Dame. They are a highly ranked team; their games are always nationally televised, and they are arguably the most high-profile program in the nation. So why is this news?

It’s news because Jackson was in full uniform as the leprechaun during the Irish’s victory Monday night over Louisville and was seen on television performing flawlessly, cheering the Irish in his costume. So, what’s the hitch? Jackson is African American. Forget about the fact that Notre Dame had their first African American leprechaun way back in 2001. Eighteen years later, social media accounts expressed their discontent with the presumption the Irish leprechaun should never be a minority because that is not what a leprechaun is supposed to look like. Forget about the gender of the leprechaun (two chosen leprechauns this year are females), many out there only saw the color. That’s the sad part here. This “leprechaun” is all about the pageantry and show that is Notre Dame football. It has nothing to do with race or gender. Can you imagine disqualifying someone from this role because of race or gender? Whatever your beliefs, it’s a football game and while I would agree that every leprechaun, I’ve ever seen has been Caucasian, that doesn’t extend itself to a performance.

Recently, I saw a fantastic show of Hamilton in Chicago. While all our forefathers were white, many in the show were African American. They were performers who were selected based on their talent. Now, I’m not going to go much further and talk about confederate symbols or what’s right and wrong in our lives. What I am going to say is this was a football game and there should be no distinction whether the Irish leprechaun was black, white, Latino, or Chinese. He, or she, is a performer and should be judged by how he/she performs.