I’m kinda’ shocked nobody picked up on the hidden sociocultural implications of this year’s Super Bowl. Yeah, it should be a high-scoring, offensive-minded points-a-thon, but there’s something even more important on the line than the Lombardi Trophy – this may very well be the first class conscious title game in NFL history.
This game isn’t really about the Patriots and the Falcons. Rather, it’s about two polar opposite regions of the country, whose demographics and cultural values couldn’t be any more different.
It’s right there in the name – the New England Patriots. The team doesn’t just represent suburban Boston, it represents the entire U.S. Northeast – that’s Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. And what do the demographics let us know about this part of the country?
Well, simply put – it’s the whitest. Black people make up less than two percent of the total state populations of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. In fact, you could literally give EVERY black resident in these states tickets to the Super Bowl and you’d still have a more than half an empty stadium down there in Houston.
But what would happen if you packed every black resident in Rhode Island into the nation’s absolute largest stadium in Michigan? Well, you’d still have about 30,000 unoccupied seats. The entire statewide black population of Connecticut is still smaller than the citywide black population of Detroit, and barely larger than the citywide black populations of Memphis or Baltimore. And in Massachusetts – the Patriots’ home state – black residents don’t even make up 9 percent of the total populace.
While the Falcons may officially represent Atlanta, they too have historically represented an entire regional swath of the U.S. – this being, Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, Tennessee and most of Florida. Remember: up until the mid-1990s, the closest NFL team to Atlanta was in Cincinnati.
And what do the racial demographics of these states tell us? Well, they are unquestionably the blackest in the U.S. Just on their own, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee post statewide African-American populations almost topping the combined black populations of all the New England states. The statewide black populations of Florida and North Carolina actually do exceed the total black population figures for all of New England. And in Georgia – the Falcons’ home turf – resides roughly three times as many African-Americans as those in New England combined. One out of every ten Connecticut residents are black, while one out of every 13 black individuals in America are Georgians.
But how about another metric – household income? Hoo boy, this one’s a knee-slapper. The average households in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut all make north of $64,000 a year, with the absolute “poorest” state in the region only averaging a pitiful $52,000 a year. And remember, these are averages we’re talking about here, so half of these people are making even more than that.
Meanwhile, the average Georgian family is bringing in $46,000 a year – about $18,000 less than the average Massachusetts household. And in New England’s wealthiest state, Connecticut, the average per capita income is $16,000 higher than that of the Deep South’s poorest state, Alabama.
And what about poverty rates? No surprises here. In the absolute poorest New England state, Rhode Island, the poverty level rests at about 15 percent. Meanwhile, the absolute wealthiest Deep South state, Florida, has a poverty level nearing 17 percent. The Patriots’ home state has 760,000 people living in poverty. The Falcons’ home state has almost 1.3 million.
When it comes to educational attainment, it’s no shocker. 40 percent of Massachusetts residents have a bachelor’s degree, and almost 18 percent have an advanced degree. Just 29 percent of Georgians have a college degree, and less than 11 percent have a master’s or doctoral diploma. You can take a wild guess how the rest of the South compares to New England there.
But surely, the amount of racial animosity in the Deep South HAS to be higher than the whiter, richer and more educated Northeast, right?
Think again. According to the FBI, Maine had four times as many hate crimes in 2015 than Alabama. The number of hate crimes in Vermont nearly doubled the number in South Carolina. And the real kicker? While the Falcons’ home state posted 49 hate crimes, the Patriots’ home state recorded 483. That’s right, kids – there were nearly ten times as many hate crimes in Massachusetts than in Georgia. The data doesn’t lie there – if you’re looking for racially motivated violence, don’t look towards the states where they fly Confederate flags, look for the ones where they have Ivy League schools.
Hey, and along those same lines, guess which part of the country has the most interracial marriages? Well, the Northeast accounts for just 14 percent of the nation’s black/white marriages, while the South accounts for a paltry, puny, and clearly prejudiced 51 percent.
Even using less socioculturally relevant metrics, Atlanta has New England beat and it isn’t even close. Massachusetts might have some great clam chowder and Maine may have some decent lobster, but that ain’t shit compared to the top of the line soul food we have down here. You want to pick a team based on musical contributions? Massachusetts gave us the Pixies and that’s it. What did Georgia give you? Oh, only Outkast, James Brown, Ray Charles, TLC, Gladys Knight, REM, The Allman Brothers, Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes. Hell, you might as well just call the Georgia Music Hall of Fame the Music Hall of Fame and be done with it. And in terms of other entertainment? The best Massachusetts can do is the Wahlbergs, Rob Zombie and the dude from Staind. Meanwhile, Georgia’s pop cultural contributions include – but are not limited to – Jim Brown, Hulk Hogan, Jasper Johns, Burt Reynolds and Little Richard. Sure, the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics have far more championships than Atlanta’s teams may ever have, but then again, pro athletes in Atlanta don’t have to worry about getting assailed by racial epithet hurling psychopaths with nasally intonations, either. Speaking of which, just how many civil rights leaders did you Bostonians crank out during the 1960s again? Oh, that’s right, you were too busy trying to keep black people from being bussed into white schools until 1988 to keep count.
Even when it comes to team ownership, it’s a lot easier to root for the Falcons – whose owner is the dude who gave us The Home Depot – than Patriots’ owner Bob Kraft, whose bread and butter is operating shady private equity firms, deforestation and, of course, evicting impoverished people of color by the thousands to make way for a stupid soccer stadium. Probably the most underhanded thing the Falcons ever did was pipe in fake crowd noise into the Georgia Dome – meanwhile, the Pats are so crooked you can literally make a top 10 countdown out of the franchise’s nefarious doings. And which quarterback would you rather root for? A guy who reads books to impoverished children and campaigned for Barack Obama, or a guy who literally left his pregnant girlfriend and is buddy-buddy with Donald Trump?
Obviously, this Super Bowl Sunday I’m going to be screaming my lungs out for my hometown Falcons to beat the ever-loving crap out of the Patriots, but considering what the team’s regions stand for, I have a hard time coming to grips with why anyone outside of Bernie Sanders’ country would even think about cheering on New England. After all, just one of the teams playing in Houston this weekend represents a racially hostile, hyper-elitist, intrinsically-prejudiced culture filled to the brim with what Malcolm X referred to as “foxy white liberals” and “the world’s worst hypocrites” – and as sure as hell ain’t the team from where Martin Luther King, Jr. called home.