Since Ali died a few days ago, I can't go on Twitter or Facebook or whatever without seeing some kind of article about him and his greatness or some celebrity talking about how he was the greatest and whatnot.
And that's cool. But I think I speak for a fair amount of people from my generation and amongst my groups of friends for whom Ali was not necessarily formative to our lives as we live them today.
Whether that has to do with age, or race (a major part of it is race), or gender or our proclivity to anything that is not boxing, there are lots of us for whom Muhammad Ali was merely just another famous sports figure that we don't care about.
We can admit the guy was a badass though.
I mean, I've seen the shirt at Urban Outfitters and damn I wanted that. I mean look at this fierceness.
This picture is perfection. It captures that nasty, animalistic part of us that wants to beat the hell out of somebody and lord it over someone. And we all like that kind of thing, whether we like to admit it or not. We like seeing that swaggering confidence and can only wish we didn't doubt inner selves so much so that we could instead be Muhammad Ali towering over Sonny Liston like a triumphant king who whacked his biggest rival, inside and out.
So yah, the little I know about Ali comes from me knowing that he was a cocky, self-assured and bold man for whom no opponent or US army conscription held any fear or often, respect. The guy was a fighter irregardless of how it looked to other people and how it made people feel.
He made black people believe they could powerful, respected, and dominant without being white.
He made boxing a celebrity sport by being the biggest celebrity the sport had ever seen.
He made dominance look easy and beautiful.
Ou that is just beautiful and savage. But that's basically all I know about him, and all that he has impacted me with.
So what does all this mean for someone who was never deeply impacted by what he did and by what he meant for the sport of boxing, for black people, and for everything else that he stood and fought for?
Maybe he doesn't have to mean something that profound to me.
Piers Morgan faced a lot of flak for tweeting that he didn't like Beyoncé's Lemonade because he preferred a less political Beyoncé.
Piers Morgan is a notorious troll, but he also, after reading his article on the matter, seems to be only stating his opinion (an inappropriately entitled opinion, but let's get to that later). That said, I think he's wrong when it comes to celebrities not having the obligation to advocate for political/ethical/whatever causes, and many angry respondents to his tweets said the same.
Notably though, was the response from an overwhelming amount of people who said that 'Lemonade' isn't for you. She ain't making this music to please you Piers Morgan they say, she's making this music to speak to the reality of what many black women go through.
Not all mind you, but many, and this is evidenced by the strong support Beyonce has gotten from that demographic on the matter.
And they are all correct: this wasn't made for you Piers Morgan, and therefore is the problem with him writing his article as he did.
You can have an opinion on the matter, but when it comes to the credibility of what Beyonce did with Lemonade, it isn't really important. It's like me writing an entitled piece of writing on the pros and cons of the Diva Cup, and how makes me feel. It would be stupid, it would idiotic, and most importantly, it would be useless.
And this argument I think can be used for how I need to look at Ali.
So instead of me saying Ali wasn't influential because he wasn't influential in my life is a useless use of words, and no one should ever do that. Because what he did wasn't for me.
Just like me talking about my life as a brown person in a sea of white people isn't for white people, it's for the brown people and minorities who also feel that struggle. So instead of writing about how Ali wasn't influential for me, I've written about how that doesn't matter in the least to his legacy and how important he was.
I'm not going to go all Piers Morgan and pretend like my opinion matters on a subject that doesn't pertain to me (which was the primary issue with how he went about what he did). I'm going to the take the route of how people should respond to 'Lemonade' and Ali's legacy. I'm going to appreciate it, and understand that it will never mean to me what it means to people for whom Ali and Beyoncé undertook their life's work for: their people and their respective struggles.
Him not meaning much to me doesn't diminish who he was and who he was for the people that he advocated for and was a hero for. He was a hero but he wasn't my hero.
And that's okay.