Evaluating Officiating in Black & White

I’ll get to the point:

Sports officiating is one of the most fulfilling activities I’ve ever participated in.  It’s fun, exciting and challenging.  The fun and exciting part is because of my love for sports and the even deeper love I have for the mostly young people who play in the contest.  Outside of men’s league basketball, 99% of the 4 sports I officiate are middle or high school age.  Young people are special in my eyes.  I respect those who participate as well as the coaches who spend time molding them into better people through organized sports.  Facilitating a contest so that the rules and spirit of fair play are enforced is vital to the games.  While there are rules, there is also game administration.  In other words it’s not just about calling violations, it’s also understanding what not to call.  There is a certain feel to the game officials have to understand.  Show me an official who administers 100% by the book, and I’ll show you an official that no coach, player or fan wants.  And this is  the focus of this blog… coaches and fans.  Namely my coaches and fans of African descent.

In officiating, conflict among players and coaches is something that goes with the job.  We expect it.  Where there is competition, there is often intensity as a group of individuals collectively fight for pieces of real estate on the floor or field of play.  Resolving conflict and fostering an environment where communication is open and respectful is one of the responsibilities officials have which have nothing to do with the rules.  It’s a give and take.  When lines are crossed, its up to officials to be the arbiter of what is no longer acceptable.

I’ve noticed over the years that there is a general difference in the kind of flack I get from White folks vs. Black when it comes to youth sports.   Again generally, if a white person doesn’t like my calls, he/she criticizes my performance, my aptitude, my judgement.  They may say something like, “That was a horrible call!  What are you looking at?”  Or one of my favorites, “Hey! There’s a game going on out there.  You may want to try watching it!”  These are par for the course.  Any official worth his whistle won’t take these things to heart unless things go overboard.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some white coaches that I know going into a game are going to be jerks for the sake of being a jerk.  For me, the tone is much more important than the words.

But then there are my brothers and sisters.  African-Americans; Black folk.  When things aren’t going their way, the phrase that far too many of us go to without nuance or consideration is, “YA”LL CHEATING!”

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Listen, to a certain degree, I get it.  Black folk are marginalized in society.  The history and legacy of White supremacy is a prevailing reality that affects most every area of our lives.  When it comes sports, its one of the few areas modern day where we have been able to successfully and compete with the masses consistently.  Many African-American parents see sports as one of their child’s avenues to gain success where there is no subtle or flagrant bias; understanding the bias most black people will face as they get older.  Then there is the passion that just goes along with being a fan.  Fan is short for ‘fanatic.”  Therefore, by definition there is a certain expectation of a lack of logic when it comes to observing athletic competition.  I can be as hyped as anybody yelling at my television when the Lakers or Steelers are on.  Sometimes that includes yelling at the referees.  So again, I get it.  Unfortunately there are those among us who take the ‘cheating,’ accusation (a premise that is often flawed) to a disgraceful level.

I officiated a football game a while back.  The teams consisted of a mostly black populated school vs a majority white populated school.  In my position as back judge,  I threw penalty flags on 3 long touchdown scoring plays back against the mostly white team as a result of ‘holding’.  That team’s White coach wasn’t too happy with me.  He yelled a few things at my direction as football coaches do.  The fans were also disappointed and expressed their displeasure in the forms of “Ohhhh” and “Arrrrrrggghhhhs”  Later on, I called the same type of holding penalty against the mostly black team.  Not only did the fans and assistant go ballistic, the fans started accusing me and our crew of cheating.  I don’t mean ‘cheating’ as hyperbole.  They were actually serious!  All of a sudden every move I made was heavily scrutinized.  When I explained my call to the coach, they mocked and scorned my words to the coach if I were addressing them.  As for the rest of the game, every subsequent penalty against their team was in some way an attempt to take something away from them.  As a matter of fact, even as their team won the game, instead of celebrating the victory of the players, they taunted the officials that we were not able to ‘cheat’ them out of victory.

This isn’t the only time.  I’ve been in basketball games, where it was an all white team playing an all black team; the white teams are winning, and the black coaches and fans are screaming at two black officials accusing of of cheating.  How ridiculous is that?  Often the reality is that the other team is shooting, passing, rebounding, and defending better than the other.  Sometimes the black kids are imitating  Lebron James and Kobe Bryant with their moves, but haven’t put in the work and developed the skill-set to succeed like their hoop heros.  Sometimes it’s as simple as the coaching is suspect.  Regardless of the sport, I can normally tell within the first few minutes how good a team is, whether they are well coached, and their level of potential competitive success in a given situation.  I can say for sure, that the officiating generally has so little to do with an outcome of a game, you’d have to be Tim Donaghy to notice discrepancies.

That being said, there are crappy officials.   I know more than a few who do it just for the money.  I hate working with them.  There are also officials who have biases.  There are even situations where black teams from certain communities have a harder time succeeding in other communities when they compete.  Equally true, is that no player or team has calls that they will always agree with. Officials, like players and coaches make mistakes.  We miss the mark.  Still, the vast majority of us really care about doing a great service to the game and the young people who play them.  We attend training camps, study, test, watch film, critique ourselves and one another every day.  When I am with some of my good friends who are officials we openly discuss our blunders.  We use these our mistakes to help one another better.  We seldom ever talk about ‘that great game’ we called the other night.  That’s the truth!

So to my people, you know who you are, please stop!  We aren’t out here trying to take nothing away from your kid.  Accusing us of cheating, especially within ear shot of the youth who are playing, gives them a false sense of victim-hood that is in no way true, nor will it prepare them to differentiate and navigate the real bias they face now or will face later.  Winning games are about talent, strategy and execution.  In most cases, these decide the outcomes of games even if the officiating is suspect.  The cream always rises to the top.  I don’t give a damn about who wins or loses a game; unless you are the Lakers or the Steelers.  And honestly if I officiate those teams, because I care about my craft so much, I wouldn’t give Kobe or Big Ben a damn thing they didn’t earn. So stop thinking its my job to compensate for your child’s lack of athletic achievement?

By all means continue to critique us on performance if you see fit.  Engaged and KNOWLEDGEABLE fans keep officials on our toes.  In my profession, we are expected to be perfect and we strive for perfection. Unfortunately, most of you don’t understand the rules like you think you do and couldn’t referee yourselves out of a paper bag if it came down to it.   Screaming obscenities and accusing us of cheating makes YOU look bad.  And sometimes YA’LL embarrass me!  I’m throwing a proverbial flag for unsportsmanlike conduct and feeding black youth misinformation.  STOP IT!

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Of Michael Sam, Black Folk and the Deity Factor

When I was at Webster University I took a class called Religion and Political Conflict.  It was one of my favorite classes, as it inspired critical thinking. Our professor, Chris Parr assigned us a paper asking the question: Why do people threaten violence and wage war in the name of religion?  I titled my response paper, “The Deity Factor.’

The basic premise is that a person will do most anything no matter how heinous if they believe the orders are from their highest power.  As much good that is done in this world for the sake of the deity factor, there are just as many if not more evil done against mankind. This could range from feeding the poor, evangelism, or strapping a pack of C4 on their bodies and killing innocent people. Logic and self analysis fall to the deity.  This is because the follower believes his/her eternal state depends on pleasing the deity.  Frankly, when dogmatic belief is serious enough, one would do anything to satisfy that longing to be approved of by his god.

What is interesting about the deity factor, is that it’s easy for those to believe their own illogical ideologies, while thinking others are ridiculous.  For instance, I can’t understand how radical Muslim extremist believe that the reward for martyrdom is 72 virgins in the great by and by.  I mean, you blew your body to pieces, and dead people can’t have physical sex.  And what does that say about a female martyr?  She can’t have 72  fresh penises because the sexism that rules on earth carries over to heaven or paradise. Sounds like a raw deal for the sisters to me!

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Unnamed female Islamic radical

There is a segment of the White Christians who inherently believe that they are superior to all others based on their color.  They have used their interpretations of the bible to justify slavery then, and status now.

As silly as that martyr/virgin sounds to most, many Christians, don’t see the similarities or hypocrisy they display when they openly discriminate against the gays and lesbians.  This seems especially true of the Black Christian community.  I’ve had a plethora of discussions with my Black  Christian socially conservative friends.  I am amazed at how they hand select scriptures that supports their discriminative beliefs, but turn an unapologetic blind eye to other scriptures that would make their own lives uncomfortable.  Many are otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people.  But once the dogma of the deity come into play, they turn into blind nincompoops.

I wasn’t always as passionate about supporting the LGBT community as I have been in recent years.  I had never been an all out bigoted idiot, but I certainly wasn’t a friend.  There are some elements within the gay community that still rub me the wrong way.  I still typically frown on what I view as an overly effeminate male who acts more girlish than the most girly girl I know.  I agreed with a former gay male friend of mine when he told me, “I’m gay, but I can’t stand a sissy!”  That’s on me and I’ve been working on growing above that judgment.

A more appropriate critique that I do challenge them on is wanting to be equal without embracing the ability to take a joke. I hate racism but I am able to critique black folk,  laugh at myself and my people.  No group can truly prosper and be taken seriously if its members take themselves too seriously. Some of my gay friends haven’t gotten there yet.

In a most recent conversation on social media, some black folks were asking the question, “Why does Michael Sam have to announce that he’s gay?  What is the big deal?  He’s gay…. I’m straight.  So what?”  I explained why Michal Sam made his announcement.  (As if it wasn’t obvious)  I further explained that these same people who resent Sam for making his ‘announcement,’ don’t bat an eye when a ball player is interviewed after a victory and they say, “I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ who gave us the victory.”  When Kurt Warner played for the Rams, St. Louisans heard this every week.  (Unless the Rams lost and Kurt sucked)  When Tim Tebow talked about his faith 24-7, it never occurred to Christians who supported his rhetoric, that Jesus never threw a pass, never threw a block, made a devastating tackle or sacked the other team’s quarterback.  Public figures give credit to their deity thereby ‘announcing’ their religious beliefs every day.

Christians love it when famous people do it.  It confirms their own brand of faith.  On the flip side, they merely reject Sam because his gayness doesn’t jive with their brand of religion dogma.  I told my Christian friends that to reject this recognition in light of the original question they posed about Sam’s announcement is being intellectually dishonest.  Of course, neither logic, theory, nor the incredible amount of irony couldn’t crack that steel wall of dogma!

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Michael Sam’s return to Mizzou Feb 15, 2014

I pointed out that… “the real issue for you wasn’t Sam making an announcement, it was what he announced.  To suggest otherwise when you applaud announcements that support their own beliefs  is hypocrisy and intellectually dishonest.  And while gays are catching hell every day, you lack empathy for their struggle while still getting pissed at white folk who are racist against you and people who look like you.”

Look, the LGBT community has been here since the beginning of civilization.   In 20 years, there may not be a such thing as a closeted gay person.  You won’t be able to pray them away… and they aren’t trying to change your minds about them.  Neither will I.  You are free to hold on to your prejudices.  Just keep in mind the flip side.

Every time you criticize them for asking for what is rightfully their’s, (which is to live and be allowed to live,) you sound just like White folk who say, “I’m tired of your black shit!  Trayvon Martin was a thug and deserved what he got!  And so did Jordan Davis. What are you crying about?  This isn’t 1964 anymore.  Don’t talk to me about disproportionate injustice and  mass incarceration rates.  You have Oprah, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.  Dammit you have a black president for godsakes.  I never owned slaves.  Shut the hell up about racism already!   

Many Christians I know say that homosexuality and gay rights are being forced down their throats.  And yet this is the same language used in Mississippi, Alabama, and so forth when it came to Black folk as it pertains to equality.

I am certainly not going to suggest that you change your mind about approving of homosexuals.  Just as I am not looking to convince a racist white person to appreciate me for who I am.  But what I am asking you to consider is the same thing I ask of the prejudice:  

You don’t have to love me.  You don’t have to like or approve of me.  But don’t attempt to stop me from prospering.  Don’t kill me advocate or excuse violence against me.  Don’t arrest me for unjust reasons.  Don’t deny me equal opportunities.  Don’t stand in my way as I look to create a decent life for myself and feed my family.  Don’t support legislation that denies me full equal rights that you support for yourself.  Keep your prejudices if you must, but don’t exploit my life and ruin my opportunities because of them.  And dammit don’t support or excuse those who do.

If you can do that, you won’t hear me say another word!

Contradictions and Compartmentalization of the Jameis Winston FSU Case

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After the state attorney announced that there would be no charges in the Jameis Winston case, I listened to a Miami based sports radio talk show via podcast.  The context was ‘IF’ the accuser in the case made up the story regarding sexual assault, would you feel bad or sorry for her?  Of the three person set of host, two said they would and one said he wouldn’t.  One of the host assessed, (paraphrasing)  “I don’t believe at her age she would have really thought this all the way through.”  Another host said, “If it’s true that she made it up she has to live with that in front of her family, in front of her father for the rest of her life.”  The third host said he wouldn’t feel sorry for her at all.  His argument was that there is no excuse for making a false allegation of rape.  And that the consequences of what could have happened to the accused far outweigh any ‘reason’ she may have had.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

I am a man with a wife, a mother, two sisters and five daughters.  I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that most of the women I know have experienced some form of sexual assault or abuse.  Sexual abuse towards women is horrifically pervasive to the point that men should recognize that the question is not how many women you know who have been sexual assaulted in some form or fashion.  It’s how many do you know that haven’t?!  This is NOT hyperbole either.  The subject matter has hit home for me several times over.  I don’t envy women at all.  It is a fact that our society, hell our world is stacked full of misogyny.  Women are the last and the least recognized of the worldwide historically persecuted and oppressed people.  It’s not so easily recognized either as it’s so pervasively normal to attack and witness attacks on women’s value and character.  Sexually speaking, men have dominated women for centuries from female genital mutilation which still goes on in many cultures, to rapes on college campuses, in the military, so called ‘date rapes’ within acquaintances, relationships, marriages and so on.  Needless to say, us MEN need to re-evaluate and assess ourselves and ask ourselves if we are treating the women in our lives with the proper respect and dignity they deserve.  Most of the time the answer is, “Hell no!”  Let’s start there!

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RESPECT:

Giving women the credit they deserve, I have to acknowledge that they have held down the families, the churches, and have still risen to great places of power in society.  In so many ways they have had to learn a develop a cunningness about themselves to advance in what James Brown called, “A Man’s World.”  Women have skills and mental expertise that men simply don’t.  They know men’s strengths and weaknesses inherently.  They can read us like books when they really pay attention.  And yet, the sophistication of the female species is one men can rarely grasp.  I’ve always said that smart men rule the world, but wise women rule men.  (thus ruling the world by default without the hassle) Without them there is a missing element essential to our existence.

TABU:

I think it’s a good thing that mainstream media didn’t go in on the accuser despite the details of the Winston case which revealed she pursued and attached herself to the QB seeking sex.  I think this was in deference to the challenges women have had to deal with day to day.  I imagine they believe that this case shouldn’t take the focus or deter recognition of the legitimate sexual assault victims.  (see statistics)

What should not go unsaid however, is that women are sexual beings.  They enjoy sex.  They are not just submissives but also dominates.  This is a newsflash to many Americans as we tend to view women and women’s bodies from a religiously conservative perspective.  Thus the dichotomy of boys sowing oats for sexual explorations while women’s are not afforded the same privilege.  I can’t even imagine how hard it is for women to navigate through these messages growing up.  Nevertheless, women and their sexuality eventually manifest through the cracks.  They get it in even in the most male dominated venues.

So called ‘groupies’ have existed for decades.  Just look at any episode of Behind The Music.  Women used to throw their panties at Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye and Tom Jones concerts.  There are women who seek the affections of ‘ballers,’ (high school, college and pro.)  At FSU they call them, “Cleat Chasers”.   (Yes they have a name for it.)  Many are very deliberate in the fashion in which they pursue and dare I say attempt to conquer their targets.

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Look at someone like Karrine Steffans.  She wrote a book on how she sexually conquered dozens of celebrities.  She bragged about it.  And yet when she was on the Tom Joyner morning show was got offended and hung up the phone when Jay Anthony Brown referred to her as “Super Head.”  She gave herself that name and was promoting a second ‘tell all’ sexual conquest book.  But she was offended as if Jay was disrespecting her.  Are you kidding me?  But she is hardly the only one.

As this relates to the Winston case, from the pages in the report, she was not only a willing participant, but initiated and pursued the entire event.  Along the way something happened that caused her to make a decision to tell a plethora of false narratives that could have put an innocent man in jail and ruin his reputation.  Sexual promiscuity among young people is a side issue worthy of debate.  Winston himself said he has some growing up to do.  But otherwise, the only thing that happened was a consensual sexual experience between consenting adults.  The only victim in this case was a man who was accused of taking something from her that she didn’t generously give.

To go even deeper specifically as it relates to racial matters, most of my adult life I’ve heard older black folk tell their sons before they go to college, “Don’t go messing with them white girls when you get in that school.”  Translation: There is no trouble for a young black male like ‘white girl’ trouble.  Having an interracial relationship is one thing, but if it turns negative and the authorities get involved, you’re a gonner!  Even if you don’t make jail the chances of getting kicked out of school are massive.  The black male is the one going to catch hell regardless of what really happened.   Or as Ice Cube said, “Smilin’ cuz you out on a date, But sooner or later, the bit#!’ll yell rape.  Soon as daddy founds out you a jigaboo, he’ll kill like he did Emmitt Till.”  (Don’t shoot the messenger.)

If the state attorney decided to take this case to a grand jury, chances are Winston would have been charged.  A grand jury will indict anything including my pet cockatiel.  Sure we would have found out about the details a year or so later during trial.  If he would have been found innocent, (cause that’s not a sure thing) in the meantime at best, Winston would have been dismissed from the team, possibly from school and his family name tainted for life.  His sexual cavalierness is not justification for suffering a lie and being dragged through the legal system.

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FINALLY:

This case should be another example of why we need to educate young people on sex, sexuality, education and self respect.  Men have used and abused women as sexual objects for centuries.  This must stop if we are ever to be about anything seriously. Women need to be able to express their own sexuality freely as validated people without the stereotypes of being called sluts, whores etc.

I as a man am willing to hold sound off in holding other men responsible for the way we have disrespected and abused women over time.  Equally so, women should hold women accountable, in calling out those who use sex as a means of weaponry.  Women who willingly do the deed, then tell lies to protect their reputation from friends, boyfriends and parents.

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.

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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!

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The Ali Shuffle, The Ropodope:, Or Random Thoughts of The Week of The President

I’m just wondering what it’s been like to be the Commander-in-Chief over the past week. 

Obviously it takes a special person to be president of these United States.  I’m reminded of Seth Meyers’ comments at the White House Correspondence dinner the other night when he talked about how Michelle Obama looks even better today than she did during inauguration; while the president was looking a bit aged.  Said Meyers’ to The President, ‘If your hair gets any whiter the Tea Party is going to endorse it!”

With crazy gas prices, Gaddafi Gate, two wars, budget deficits and ‘birther’ bashing led by ‘The Donald’, President Obama has definitely been taking some lately.  But like Sugar Ray Leonard in Leonard/Hearns 1, and Jordan in the 4th quarter of a pivotal playoff game, Obama put some work in that dazzled supporters and critics alike!  He proved once again that in the world of politics, sometimes it only takes a little to turn shit into sugar.  Just a few days revised this President’s potential legacy from pre-lame duck to WFT just happened.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Thursday April 29, 2011:

Obama releases long form birth certificate:

Though I was initially conflicted by this decision, I can’t help but believe that the ends justify the means.  While most Americans understood that the birther movement was a ridiculous play on race, and that Donald Trump was behaving like an idiot, some gullible yet well meaning citizens may have started to believe it was an issue.  The rules of basic propaganda are that if one repeats a lie long enough many will take it for truth.  The media gave coverage as if it were possibly legitimate.  And so as to not allow it to continue to be a distraction the administration put it to rest – thus shutting the mouths of birthers for good.  Now the question of citizenship and conspiracy of his mother in 1961 (I know it sounds ridiculous doesn’t it) are permanently put to rest.

The Obamas visit Tuscaloosa:

Unlike the previous presidential initial reaction to Katrina, Obama got to Alabama pretty quickly after one of the most devastating tornados in our nation’s history.  The Midwest has experienced tornados, storms and lots of flooding.  Unfortunately this is not new to us.  But what has happened in The South last week is on another level.  When I saw the footage of the tornado that hit Alabama, it seemed as if it were actually alive as it reeked what seemed like intentional angry destruction.  It’s expected that federal dollars will be given to aid with the rebuilding of these devastated communities.  But having The President’s presence there so quickly was encouraging to many.  He showed himself to be in touch with the suffering of his citizens.

April 30, 2011: Obama roast Trump at Correspondence Dinner:

I can’t get over the timing of this event.  ‘The Donald’ was brashly on television trying to perpetrate a fraud with this certificate thing.  He even threw in some racial basketball and affirmative action shots to boot to question the president’s intelligence.  Unfortunately on a typical day, the president can’t just respond to some reality TV hack whose major decisions have to do with evaluating the job performances of Little John, Hulk Hogan and Gary Busey.  But on this once yearly occasion the president is free to get off on anyone he chooses, and still remain presidential.  And as long as it’s funny it rocks.  The fact that Trump was arrogant enough to show up and get some of that in person was classic.  The President straight got in him unapologetically.  And the truthfulness of his remarks made it even more hilarious.  I thought of Sergeant Waters’ comment on “A Soldier’s Story” to Peterson after Peterson smarted off at him in the barracks.  “Peterson!  I ain’t forgot cha boy.  I’m going outside and wait for you geechie!  And when you come out, I’m gonna whoop yo Black White Southern Ass.  Let the whole company watch too!  You need to learn respect for these stripes!”  Needless to say, Obama beat that ass … in front of the whole company of the same people Trump previously spouted off in front of, the press.

 

On top of that he got it from Seth Meyers too!

May 1, 2011: Obama leads military in killing Bin Laden from the Situation Room of The White House while pre-empting Trump’s show:

Is this karma at the utmost or what?  And while I doubt that it was purposely timed to cut The Donald’s balls in the ratings department, I do know it to be ironic at least.  Even with all of the information and misinformation coming to the forefront regarding details of the actual mission, one thing is for sure;  The administration was able to keep this operation completely under wraps with no leaks whatsoever as to what was going on.

And to think that in the final days of the mission the president in addition to doing all of the things mentioned earlier, also had time to stop in to film an episode with Oprah as her last guest of her 25th and final season.  So for all the smack The Donald and his birther friends talked during the last few weeks/months, the way Americans see it now,  the president was indeed doing more than playing basketball.

As was it just me or did anybody else noticed how he just  sashayed down the walkway of the podium with the swagger straight from Chicago’s South Side to announce Bin Laden’s death?

The only thing left for Obama was to quote Shaquille O’Neal:  “Hey Kobe  Donald, tell me how my ass taste!”

Finally as we hear from the right some of the cowardly remarks trying to give much of the credit to former President Bush:  While this is certainly no middle finger towards the former president, I do have to say is this.  The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl.  Aaron Rodgers was the MVP.  You can try to give it to Brett Favre if you want to but that dog just won’t hunt.   Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove; none of them dudes have been in on the action for years now.  And while they were hopelessly looking in caves, Obama and his leadership team caught Bin Laden sleeping in a luxury compound. 

Since 9-11 this most notorious terrorist could have been named Osama Bin Missing.  And politics aside, The Obama administration didn’t have to roll with Mission Accomplished, or fake stories like Jessica Lynch or that criminal fakery that happened with Pat Tillman to rally Americans.  With no intent to deceive the American people the results now speak for themselves.  The president had his hands on this entire operation for the last several months.  And if he were wrong it would surely have cemented his legacy as a massive failure.  As it stands now, he will forever go down in history as the president that took out the mastermind of the worst terrorist event in the history of our nation.  Game, set match!

Trump Nation

“So what you have a legitimate birth certificate! My investigators tell me you not a good student, you were raised by wolves and were at the grassy knoll when JFK was assisinated!” What to know how I know? Can’t tell you now. You’ll have to watch my #1 rated NBC show called Celebrity Apprentice to find out!”

‘Why I Refuse To Join A Church (Part 2)

Go to church but they tease us, with a picture of a blue-eyed Jesus!  –  Ice Cube

Well, sort of.  I don’t take these lyrics from Ice Cube’s rant from his classical African-American community critique “Us” as an issue of merely color; but rather ideology.

I tried to make this point in the last church I belonged to.  Our services were tailored in a fashion that allowed us to ask questions or make comments during the sermon.  As you can imagine, that made for some memorable experiences, both for the good and not so good.  At the time George W. Bush was campaigning for a  second term in the White House.  There was a heavy religious fervor regarding that election too.  Both Catholic and Protestant organizations were galvanized similarly (if not more) than they were in 2000.

My comment during the service was that I found the election season offered at least two different Jesuses.  Immediately when I said it there were cat calls from the other members.  “Oh no, there is only ONE Jesus.”  I think they thought I was being literal.  And I found it hard to explain, as I was cut off continuously.  My point was that while most Christian churches share the same basic bible for scripture references, Jesus’ points of emphasis and agenda seemed to go down racial, class, social and political divides.

I recall visiting a prominent church in South St. Louis when the subject of the election came up.  The pastor of the church said, “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  But I will say that I’m not voting for someone who is for killing babies.”

I thought to myself, “Wow, I can understand Jesus being bent about abortion, but he’s not bent about torture or bombings of civilian communities?  What about all of the other injustices and crimes against humanity out there perpetrated by men for political or ideological reasons?  Is that ultimately what this election is about?”  I’ll get back to that.

Later I attended a different church for a men’s breakfast.  As usual when the subject of men come up at such an event it’s natural for the meaning of manhood and how it’s manifested in society to be brought up.  Some of the speakers made a point of making sure that homosexuality and manhood had nothing in common.  In doing so words and phrases to describe gays or being gay were slung around.  They consisted of standards such as ‘sweet’ ‘sissies’ and ‘punks’ to name a few.  Then there was the usual reference to Adam and Steve.

While all of these black macho evangelical males “amen’d” and approved of this name calling, I raised my hand and asked a question:

(Paraphrasing)

“I hear all of this name and cat calling regarding the homosexual community.  And while I respect the fact that your brand of faith entitles you the right to have your own opinion that homosexuality is a sin, do you honestly believe that Jesus would endorse the name calling that some of you are using such as ‘sissy,’ ‘punk’ or even ‘fags?’ “ 

At that point the pastor was silent.  To speak boldly like this against the precepts of leadership in a powerful black church is not something grinned upon.  But one of the elders jumped in quickly to the rescue.  With anger he burst from his seat and started spouting off scriptures in Leviticus and how homosexuality was a sin and that God didn’t like it and neither should any Christian.  He was practically foaming at the mouth from the front of the sanctuary as he looked towards my way in the back.

I reiterated:

“I’m not discussing the validity or non validation of homosexuality as a sin.  What I am asking… is that if there were homosexuals in this congregation, (and chances are there one or more among this group of men) if I were a homosexual who was struggling with my sexual identity vs. what I believe my faith allows, would your words as well as your spiritual disposition attract me to you as a source of help, or would I be repulsed, insulted or put off by your tone?  Would Jesus address a person who happens to be a homosexual with the names you choose along with your mocking tone?”  

DEAD SILENCE in the congregation.  I think some thought a fight was about to ensue.

The elder grew more angry, then shouted something else before the pastor got up and addressed my question… sort of.

“I understand what you are saying brother.  And perhaps you are right that we can do better with the name calling.  But let me be clear, homosexuality is a sin.  Now let’s move on.” 

This, among other things at that time, drew me to the conclusion that as far as the evangelical community was concerned, all God/Jesus really cared about were what I called the ‘Big 3’  Abortion, Homosexuality, and Stem Cell Research- all of which He was against.

That’s right.  Let it be known henceforth that these are the bullet points on Jesus’ hit list.  But was it really? 

The question of Jesus and the identification of his agenda have been going on thousands of years, right?  In the scriptures he seemed to identify it himself:

Matthew 16:13-15

13 Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is?

   14 And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

   15 He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am?

   16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

In my estimation, this question is still the most divisive among Christian believers.  Who Jesus is- a direct result of what he endorses- stands for, evangelizes, and lives by.  As Christians (followers or Disciples of Christ) by very definition that agenda should translate into their own.  And this is where confusion and division has obviously settled in.

Let’s take it step by step.  While these are not absolute, I think we can agree that these are generally the focus, missions, and nature of Jesus, depending on the demographics and world view of the worshipper. 

During slavery a certain segment of the population believed that Jesus endorsed the enslavement of Africans which included selling, beating, raping and murdering people that Jesus/God created.  During this same period the slaves (often taught Christianity either from Catholics in Africa or Protestant enslaver in America) believed that Jesus would deliver them from their oppression. 

Similarly, during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, The KKK (who defined themselves a Christian organization) believed as they do today that Jesus choose them to be superior, while other nationalities are inferior. Many churches, both black and white, believed that Jesus created, loves and values all men equally. 

These days we face many of the same challenges.  Some upwardly mobile church dogma believe that Jesus favors the wealthy while others believe Jesus is concerned for the poor.  

Let me give you a biblical example and how it may play out today:

John 6:5-14

5When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

   6And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

   7Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

   8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

   9There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

   10And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

   11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

   12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

  13Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

   14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

 Newt Gingrich

If something like this were to happen, one side of the Christian agenda would report it this way:

Boy donates food, Jesus takes the little and performs a miracle to serve thousands.  The people rejoice.

Another Christian agenda would report it this way:

Unemployed multitude threaten to mug little righteous boy who has food.  Jesus the self-appointed welfare socialist takes the food away from the one who had in order to spread the wealth.  Claims of a miracle go unsubstantiated, but Newt Gingrich says that Jesus should face prosecution for robbery.  Sara Palin said Jesus is an illegal alien- “just look at his name”- (Pronounced Hey-Seuss) and bad for American values.  Finally, Rush Limbaugh called him “The Magic Hebrew.” 

Ok (chuckle) I’m having a little fun with this.  But you get my point.  This conversation has political ramifications, but in this context it’s not political at all. 

I have attended many of these churches during my lifetime so I speak with experience.

The evidence shows that our depiction of Jesus, given his world view, is something either given to us by others or something we decide upon ourselves- based on our own background- sociopolitical, socioeconomic and dogmatic vantage point.  Christians decide which Jesus to follow based on what they are comfortable with.  That’s right.  Believe it or not, Christians have pretty much picked their own Jesus to worship and follow based on their own accepted set of criteria.

For those living in inner cities, their Jesus cares about the poor; thought not exclusively.  For many living in upper class neighborhoods, Jesus wants you to have riches.   Many ministers I know believe and teach directly that the level that God shows his favor and blessings upon you, and the very proof of your own level of faith is a direct result of the believer’s financial status.

 Rev Ike

Some Christians promote charity and believe that government should help with social causes.  Other Christians are for cutting any and everything having to do with helping those less fortunate.  It’s happening in this country in a big way right now.  I’m not making a judgment one way or the other but more asking why is it that so-called liberal Christians believe one thing while conservative Christians believe something else entirely – while reading the same bible?

I’ve heard it said that it’s up to moderate Muslims to speak out against radical Muslims who are for violent and other unrighteous acts done in their name.  While I agree with that I rarely see Christians doing the same. 

When have you heard of moderate Christians speaking out against Pastor Steve Anderson and Rev. Wiley Drake  for praying that President Obama dies?  Have you ever been up late and night and seen those ministry programs where they offer to sell you God’s blessing for $500-$1000?

So why not just join a church that chooses a Jesus I am comfortable with?

On the one hand, that sounds kind of attractive, right?  But on the other, I’m not so sure about that.  My own personal evangelical bent lends me to believe that God, by virture of being the creator of the universe (which includes my very existence), has the authority to demand without question first and foremost that he be in charge.  If that is the case I certainly don’t need to align myself with a church that simply makes me comfortable.  Furthermore, I can’t fathom believing in a gospel that is not transferable to any and all communities in the world.   I can’t believe a message in College Park, Georgia that could not be preached in the slums of Calcutta, India just because the economic opportunities are not the same.

The bottom line in my view is that Jesus (as we know him) has been bastardized and transformed into a political football, tossed to and fro by whoever wields his name.  He’s been labeled like soup, and packaged for consumption like a Happy Meal or an Ipad too often for the purposes of manipulation, domination, or deceit.  That’s not to say all churches, ministers, or parishioners, liberal or conservative, are all bad or good.   But what is the difference in that or any other religious group that have segments that do good work?   The point for me is that following God as I want to know him is so profoundly vital to my own spiritual growth and well-being, dogmatic preferences and spiritual limitations cancel my mere desire to belong in such a  group.

Read Why I Refuse To Join A Church Part 1 here.