by Sam Prince
The Boogie Man
One is silent and unemotional. Stoic and unmoved, he is robotic in his behavior. R2-D2 with its beeps, bops, boops, bells and whistles seems to have more personality than him. He is the lone ranger, a social loafer lacking an interpersonal relationship with those he is meant to save.
The other is grandiose, outspoken and full of gusto. He says what he wants, when he wants. This is the nonconformist, a rebel who carves out their own path, often times at the expense of their image. He is fiery and unrelenting, forcing people to love him or hate him. With him there is no middle ground.
With both, their sheer presence and aura makes us uncomfortable. Because their baseline behavior is either marginally greater or less than what people perceive as normal, we ostracize them. Popular opinion is a Pontius Pilate as the media hammers steel steaks into their palms and feet, a crucified image that will follow them for a lifetime. But does this make them a bad person?
The latter description is the lens through which we oft perceive Demarcus Cousin. Cousin is often portrayed as the bad guy, typecast as the antagonist in most stories that involve him. And maybe he is. Is it not fair to think that from his lashing out at officials, blowing up at coaches and other random outbursts? He certainly wears his emotions on his sleeve.
But that’s just it, Cousins wears his emotions on his sleeve. Sleeve in this context is just another way to say cover, and aren’t we taught to NOT judge a book by its cover? The sleeve is a covering for the soul, and though it is what we perceive, it is a microcosm of what truly encompasses a human being.
What’s the difference in how we perceive people? What makes Michael Jordan heralded even though the same competitive nature that drove him to championships, likely is the source of his past gambling issues? At the same time Detroit “Bad Boy” Isaiah Thomas, who like Jordan was also highly competitive is negatively portrayed.
The easy answer is that we judge books by their cover and people by their appearance, because those are what we most often see. But does that make it right? Some of the most beautiful books have bland covers, and some of the most beautiful people are misperceived.
We must never forget that the media controls the narrative, not us. They mold and shape our opinions of people, places, products and more. So the Cousins we see is the one they want portrayed. What we don’t see is the Cousins who hosted a basketball camp for at-risk youth in Sacramento, or the Mobile, Alabama native who gives back to his community. You aren’t likely to see the photos of Cousins as he embraced the mother of a slain Sacramento teenager, offering to help cover funeral expenses.
But maybe if you did, your opinion of him would change. You’d see he is a young man, misunderstood yet finding his way in this world. Maybe you’d see him for the steps forward he’s taken, as oppose to the mark he’s yet to reach. Cousins’ glass is half full, not half empty, and with that being said there’s no reason to be afraid of the Boogie Man.