Sports and Politics Intersect Retro Style

I was only an infant when Tommy Smith and John Carlos threw up the black fist in Mexico City; a young pup when Muhammad Ali refused to participate in the Vietnam War.  There was a time when many African-American sports figures and icons took to the streets and spoke out for social justice.  They were not afraid to lend their voices and their fame to give attention to important issues they cared about.  They were courageous enough to risk their careers if necessary to stand up for what they believed was right.

Unfortunately that was a long time ago.  Rarely do we see black superstar athletes stand up for anything having to do with more than their latest contract negotiations.  The money guys like Ali, Smith and Carlos made pales in comparison to the astronomical millions today’s athletes bank above their predecessors.

Our most successful and marketable black athletes too often stray as far away from civic issues as they can.  I will always remember Michael Jordan’s refusal to support a progressive African-American candidate Harvey Gantt for state senate in his native North Carolina.  Not because he agreed more with the politics of the infamously racist Helms, but because, “Republicans by sneakers too.”  Jordan was the symbol and poster child of the New Crossover Negro who believed it far more important to hawk product and filling his own coffers rather than possibly alienating potential buyers with moral controversy.   Tiger Woods has picked up the baton running that race with ease by denying all things black whether it be per his own heritage and identity as well as the women he chooses to marry and fool around with.  Woods is as vanilla as the ice cream in my freezer and as close to anti-black as one could be with deference to Justice Thomas.

blackpower

Whether it was the Rodney King beating, presidential races, supreme court decisions or 17 year old children with candy and a drink, sadly Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Arthur Ashe are not walking through these doors.

This is what makes the tweeted photo by LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates in support of justice for Trayvon Martin an eye opener for me.  The Heat players live in South Florida.  Perhaps they feel the intensity of emotions even deeper than the rest of the country.  Perhaps some of the players have had their own issues with being pulled over for DWB (Driving While Black) with even more emphasis because they drive the finest cars money can buy.  I don’t know.  But I respect James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for being a part of a symbolic show of solidarity to Trayvon’s family as well as every other young black male in the United States.  I respect them especially because they are the faces of their franchise and the league that so many Americas pays attention to.

Former NBA players Etan Thomas and Craig Hodges were no strangers to standing up for unpopular beliefs.  Hodges so much so that he was literally blackballed from the NBA after presenting former President Bush a list of social issues he thought The President should address when the Chicago Bulls visited The White House.  If Jordan makes that move, it carries more weight and no way is the biggest revenue generating player the league had ever seen pushed out the door.

So big ups to LeBron, Wade, Bosh and the rest of the Heat players.  You didn’t have to march like the old school.  But you did use the most powerful and significant tool given your generation which is social media.  And for me, that speaks volumes!

Miami_Heat_for_Trayvon

Advertisements

Suicide, Is It Ever a Viable Option?

Suicide:  Let’s talk about it.  I know someone who recently had a suicide in their family.  As the family started to put the pieces together, they learned that the young man had elaborately planned his demise.  This in spite of the fact that his secret was revealed prior to the day of decision and help was offered. 

So I have a few questions as it relates to this:

Is suicide ever a viable option for the hopeless?   What would you say to someone who told you he/she was contemplating suicide?  Would you try to convince them not to go through it?  If so what would you say?  Would you use bible scriptures or call the authorities? 

Have you ever thought about or considered suicide?  I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve been there.  I have strongly considered it before and planned it as well.  I consider it a miracle that I am here today. 

Have you ever thought about it or planned it?  Will you share?

From what I see, the stories of these kids who have killed themselves because of bullying have been sensationalized.  But several folks young and old end their lives daily and we hear nothing of it.

 Suicide is real and it’s here in a serious way.  So let’s talk about it!

Why I Hate The Holidays

Ok, well maybe hate is too strong a word.  Let’s just say I haven’t always looked forward to the holidays anyway.  Specifically the trilogy we call Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years, (TCN) that are slapped together the last two months of the year.  I am skeptical about several holidays anyway.  Most seem to have double meanings, in that its partial religious and partial if not mostly marketing.

Look at Easter for instance.   I grew up simultaneously thinking it was about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and at the same time for bunnies and egg hunting.  The same can be said for Christmas.  Don’t even get me started on that one.  Thanksgiving can’t get over with without stores opening up in anticipation of Black Friday and loads of shoppers coming to spend a lot of grip!

Know More About Aztec Culture Stereotypes and  Myths in America.

Speaking of Thanksgiving; It has its own set of issues as it inaccurately tells of a relationship between pilgrims and Native Americans.  They talk about Native Americans helping the Pilgrims, but they don’t tell of the massacre and land grab the Pilgrims put down on them in return.  With the amount of turkeys being sacrificed on one day, it shows how much it’s commercialized too. ****Side Note: Will someone please explain what this whole mess of the president pardoning a turkey is about?

I tend to get into holidays like Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day, or something like these.  I mean they are commercialized too in that they do have Memorial Day sales in department stores.  But they tend to have less.  Labor Day is pretty straight forward.  It celebrates the workers of the nation.  And what the heck, if one wants to enjoy some savings at JC Penny’s for their hard-earned dollars who can argue with that?

Martin Luther King Day is almost a joke!  As much as I think we should have it for I truly believe MLK is the greatest American ever produced, the talk of dreaming and speeches is sickening.   It’s more memorial and legend than it is substance.  Take the good with the bad I guess.  But we, (black folk who want to deify King as a messiah who could do no wrong – and white folk who wish to use the dream message while eliminating the more meatier pieces of his words that challenged American white supremacy and classism at its core therefore rendering King a toothless lion) have basterdized Kings legacy as far as I’m concerned.  But I digress.

Valentines Day is a funny one to me.  Flower prices soar to astronomical proportion leading up to February 14 as men scramble and come up off them dollars to buy those roses and chocolate.  If you have a woman and she’s into that stuff, you can forget it!  Come off that grip or cancel Xmas cause if she feels dissed and can’t brag to her friends about what you did, there won’t be any presents for you under her tree!  I’m just saying.  As my friend Jim Thornber once wrote me about this same point, “I know I know.  But I got to do what I got to do!”

I’m not a total Scrooge about this mind you.  But even as a little kid I had love/skepticism relationship when it comes to holidays.  When I was a child and thought that Jesus was born on December 25th, I honestly didn’t care as much about presents.  I didn’t turn down any either.  But I did make a point of saying, “Happy Birthday Jesus!” when I woke up that morning before running for the living room.  As I recall I think I just thought us kids had the benefit of getting some presents on the slide.   I didn’t believe in Santa Clause too long cause I couldn’t figure how dude could hit all the houses all around the world in one night.  Just couldn’t wrap my brain around that.  All possible illusions were put to rest when I heard my mother and then step father sneaking in the crib at 3:30 in the morning setting up my race track.  I wasn’t disappointed at all.  More so relieved that I wasn’t crazy.

Back in the day,  another reason why I grappled with some of our holidays, (specifically the TCN trilogy) is because these holidays interrupted my otherwise action packed distractions layered lifestyle of mine.  (When I used to work 2-3 jobs at a time as a much younger man)  Most of my adult life I have struggled at times with depression, anxiety and stress.  Back then I worked hard and I worked a lot.  Therefore I was able to busy myself meandering with the important and the mundane.  If it wasn’t one thing to do it was another.   I’m still busy now but with a better plan.  The distractions are no different though.  Going from one side of town to another working or head to the coffee shop to wind down or jot some thoughts or view Delonte West free-styling in a KFC drive-through about buying $50 worth of chicken after a weed burn can keep one’s mind off his troubles.

I remember one year-long ago.  I was driving on a Thanksgiving afternoon to pick something up from Walgreens.   As I drove down the street I noticed how everything in the world has seemed to stop.  Here it was broad daylight in the middle of a metropolitan city, during the week no less, and there were hardly any cars on the street.   My neighborhood looked like a ghost town.  Subconsciously I noticed the trees too.  There were no leaves.  Only traces of dead ones laying on the streets and along the curbs.  Nothing was growing outside.  Nature seemed to be hibernating and the chill of the air cause me to cover myself so that the cold couldn’t attack me as it was the rest of nature.  That’s when it hit me.  “Damn!”, I thought.  These are the thoughts that flowed through my mind as I assessed the situation.

I have no place to go.  No place to hide.

 I knew instinctively that I was not in a good place.  I felt lonely, and empty.  I had no distractions to keep me busy and occupied.  I never even realized how much I was hurting or missing.  But here it was face to face now.

Whatever you really feel, wherever you really are, whatever state you are in for real, is always revealed during this time of year.  It’s unavoidable.

So there I was.  I knew it.  Nothing I could do about it either.  And Monday couldn’t get here fast enough.

For the most part nowadays I tend to look at holidays as an opportunity for me to rest.  To take a load off and maybe sleep in a bit.  I do see redeeming qualities with some of these holidays as they do give us time to reflect from busy lives and have a reason to stop, look, and hopefully listen to others.   To realize that family is important and that there is a season of giving.  Traditions can be a good thing when looked at properly.  And these holiday traditions tend to give those fortunate opportunity to take stock of the many present blessings.  I too will do some holiday shopping.  And since I have ‘things’ in perspective I am free to give and be a blessing to loved ones without tripping off the commercialized contradictions.

But for the lonely, the depressed, the homeless, the destitute, this holiday season will once again be a not so gentle reminder of the bold and true reality of their lives.  Let’s remember them too!  As I know full and well, it can easily be us!

No ‘I’ in Team, But a Capital one in ‘I’verson!

The Memphis Grizzlies have parted ways with disgruntled guard ...

Well after talking about how God directed him to Memphis to restart his career, God decided that since AI was not going to start for the Grizzlies it was time for him to take the road to Jericho, New York, or Miami. 

This is such a shame.  This guy still thinks he is too good to even consider coming off the bench.  His pride is so huge that he’d rather sit at home or play at the local rec gym than to attempt to help an NBA team on the cusp win a championship. 

There are plenty of great players who at some point came off the bench to help a team during their latter years.   Iverson can’t score as prolifically as he used to, play the same amount of minutes effectively, let alone ‘D’ anybody up seriously.  But yet in his mind if he isn’t introduced in the starting lineup he’d rather pass. 

Of course he bailed out on the Pistons.  He was set to get a second chance.  Now he’s about to be Stephan Marbury or worse.

Incredible!  Whatever man!  Suit yourself!

Security! Security!

Kanye West confronts Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards (Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

I didn’t watch the VMAs last night . But I heard about Kanye’s latest act of ignorance.

I’m just going to assume that this is not staged.  If that is the case I got an idea.  This is what should have happened when Kanye West went on stage and bum-rushed Taylor Swift’s speech.

Just as they do in tennis, baseball, basketball etc.  When Kanye West got up on stage and it wasn’t his turn, four big az dudes named Tiny should have jumped the stage as well and cold body slammed West to the ground. 

Then they should have removed him completely from the venue and had him arrested for peace disturbance.  Do this and I guarantee you this will never happen again!

Beer Conversations, or Buds and Suds Part 2

Anderson Cooper

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, so I said I would take a couple days before revealing who my beer bud would be.  The answer will probably be different depending on where I am in my life.  But presently I would pick CNN’s Anderson Cooper to guzzle some suds with over conversation.  I’ve always liked AC even back in the day when he was a correspondent.  His demeanor has always come off to me as being very business like and yet very sincere and distinct.  I’ve never seen him with an air of taking himself too seriously.  But he brings with news just enough personality where you at least get the feeling you can see a part of his makeup.  He is so relaxed and unconventionally fresh in front of the camera.  It makes me that much more comfortable digesting the news as he reports it.

Added to the intrigue is the fact that I just finished with his book, Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival.” The book is a moving memoir of Cooper’s life as a child of celebrities, his family and life as a war and disaster correspondent.  There is no doubt that his ventures have shaped his life in ways that I can only imagine.  And from what I’ve gotten from the book, he’s always been cool with that.  I get the impression that Anderson’s life is an adventure and a discovery all at the same time.  I feel the same about my life.  I’m sure many others do too.  The thing with Anderson is that he seemed ready to admit that all along.

cooper050912_400.jpg

I would talk to Anderson about his experiences in Sri Lanka after the tsunami, as well as some of the nations in Africa like Niger and Somalia during the wars there.  Of course we would have to hit more on what went on in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  This seemed to have affected him the most of all the places he had seen.  This was because he never thought his own nation would respond to a disaster with what appeared to be the same level of  ineptitude as he had seen in several third world nations.  That just messed him up.  I would try to get more details than what he shared in the book.   Things he feels people should know even if they don’t think they want to. 

I believe this would be a fascinating, disturbing and enlightening experience.  I know I would come away from a conversation with him better than when I started.

Now as for a beer choice.  Well I’m buying so Anderson can have whatever he wants.  For me, it’s Widmer Hefeweizen on tap; tall cold and frosty with an orange. 

widmer

Beer Conversations, or Buds and Suds

Twelve-Beer-Bucket-Gift-Basket_large

The recent ‘so called Beer Summit at the White House got me to thinking.  Who would be an interesting person to have a beer with.   I can think of a few.  But before I ask the reader to chime in, I think it best to lay out some ground rules.  I mean every fun game like this one can have it’s own set of rules.  You can make your own up when you play the game.  For my rules only the following apply:

1) It has to be someone living – though they don’t have to be well known.

2) It can’t be the president, Oprah or Jesus. I’m just sayin!

And that’s it!  If you like you can say what the conversation would be about.  And oh and by the way…. what beer would you pick to share this conversation over?

I will share my picks in a couple days.