Tag Archives: Black in America

Does the sport make the star or does the star make the sport? Black Stars Burn Brightest…

It is without doubt that Professional Sports plays a major role in the lifeblood of America.  It does everything from pushing the economy forward,to providing heroes for the youth to aspire towards, to galvanizing entire regions across cultural lines.

Yes, America loves its Sports.  Some may even go as far as to say that the ritual of Sunday football has replaced the ritual of attending Church. The energy once used to worship “God” has been averted to the anticipation, elation and praising of football teams and their stars.

Indeed America loves its sports and the stars that they produce.

2015/01/img_4161.pngAmerica loves its athletes.  We are no different than any other civilization, just like the Romans of yesteryear, we hold our Gladiators in High Esteem.  In fact we hold our stars in high esteem no matter what arena they participate in.  As long as they are an entertainer, there will be somebody that can relate to them and there to give praise.

The argument arises, does the sport make the star or does the star make the sport.  Conventional thinking would lead one to believe that no one person is bigger than the sport.  Like David Ruffin and the Temptations no one part can thrive without the sum.  But I would beg to differ.  Perhaps no one single person can persuade the game one way or another, but a subset can have a tremendous impact on the popularity of said sport.  And I have food for thought, that may offer strong persuasion.

Let’s look at the most popular sports in America, currently Football reigns supreme; followed by basketball and at a distant third baseball.  There was a time when Baseball claimed the thrown, and then it struggled to keep it but eventually capitulated and gave way to the current king–Football.

But Why?

Is it a direct result of a shift in the demographics of America.  Is it due to the fast pace society that we live in and the American continuum wants a fast pace sport to parallel its pacing.  Or is it something subconsciously deeper than that.

Follow me, America has an affinity for its stars and in particular its Black stars.

2015/01/img_4162.pngLet’s look at a low hanging fruit—Golf.  I don’t have the numbers but I can definitively correlate the spike and decline of golf with the oscillation of Tiger Wood’s Greatness.  He single handedly brought the sport from the rungs and gutters of popularity to the forefront of American Consciousness.  As his “Scandle” ensued and his decline in play sprang forth as did the popularity of Golf.  Just look at the ratings.

America loves its Black Stars.

2015/01/img_4163-0.pngLet’s take a look at the sport of female tennis.  Can we say it received a jolt of enthusiasm with the influx of a certain two sisters?  I’m not even sure how much relevance the female tennis world captured without that shining Eastern Star Serena and her sister Star Venus.

America loves its Black Stars.

2015/01/img_4164.pngBasketball  was a sport on the fringes of being popular.  A sport with an identity crisis, it didn’t know if it wanted to be great or not.  Back in the 80’s the NBA was on the verge of something special with star power of Bird and Magic.  These stars shined indeed but they weren’t enough to bring the NBA to the Billion dollar business that it is today, sitting comfortable in the royal court of the King–Football.  No—it was arguable the brightest black star of all time—the marketing creation of one Michael Jordan.  This bright star single handedly carried the NBA on his back–the Tiger Woods before Tiger Woods.  Before him, 100 million dollar contracts were unheard of.  He parted the Red Sea and allowed for the NBA to ascend to the peak of its popularity.

America loves its Black Stars.

2015/01/img_4165.pngFootball—the king in this sports jungle.  Now football is a bit of an anomaly I would admit.  It is a sport flooded by Black stars but you can honestly say there is no polarizing figure.  In fact, it is a sport that hails its white stars.  Yet footballs popularity didn’t increase until it received an infusion of Black athletes if not stars.  The 80’s is when football first spotted it’s opening for the crown, but it wasn’t until Baseball, former King, exposed its chink in its armor.  A sport that thought it was too Big for its Black Stars, which eventually led to its downfall.  Yet as we see today, football sits atop its thrown gazing over its kingdom as it embraces its litany of Black Stars.  And baseball looks at what was, and like a scorned lover: looks back on what could have been.

America loves its Black Stars.

This brings us to Baseball, “America’s Past Time”.

2015/01/img_4166.pngWhat happened to Baseball?

Suicide happened. –Self-inflicted misery by way of Pride. I will tell you what happened, Baseball and the powers to be got fed up.  It got fed up with its Black stars.  It became fed-up with the arrogance of seeing these young Black Stars shining so brilliantly.  It grew tired of these young flashy, wealthy, insolent stars.  It felt, man, talent is multi-cultural; I can replace these egregious, haughty black stars with colored stars from another land.  Yah, that’s it…I’ll go down and get these Latin American stars that look the same and play the same and we’ll teach them.  But its plan backfired.

2015/01/img_4167.png

Because  America loves its Black Stars.

Key word being “its”.  Not someone else’s Black stars, America loves its Black Stars.  I would argue that the decline in Baseball popularity is a direct result of its systematically ushering out of its Black Stars.  The same arrogance and haughty nature it despised is the same arrogance and haughty nature America seeks to embrace.  We love our Dennis Rodman’s.  We love our Dion Sander’s.  We love our Mike Tyson’s.  We love to hate our Lebron James’s.  We love our Charles Barkley’s.  No matter what form or fashion they come in—we Love our Black Stars.

There is a deeper issue here as to why this axiom is true, but that is for another blog at another time.

Baseball should take it as a lesson learned.  Although, without the sport there would be no superstar one could clearly see that without the superstar the sport doesn’t quite shine.

Memoirs of a Christian on the edge… (an unfortunate Messiah)

I’m in the midst of one of my faith lapses. You know, one of those periods when I’m feeling deprived of divine presence. I feel drunk with the ambiguity of ethereal incentive. And what do you know. Out of all the days I volunteered at Jonesboro Middle School–he had to choose this day.

He had to choose this day to purge his little soul to me!

Rather, his ideal of identity to me. As though, of all people, I had the answer. What force drove him to gravitate towards me on this most auspicious of days.

“Why doesn’t God love me…Why doesn’t he love me like he does all the other families?”

And I had a good idea as to where he was coming from. I had a general understanding of the boys unfortunate background and troubled lot in life. I knew he simply wanted reassurance–encouragement that a father figure would generally invoke, but as deprived as he was of such he decided to seek this role from me.

But, he simple chose the wrong day. The most pivotal of times in a boys life, I suppose it was imminent though. Truth has an awkward way of presenting itself. I knew the appropriate thing to say, but this came out,

“Well…Maybe you should find a new God…Yours doesn’t seem to work any more.”

And I didn’t mean it like it came out, but the way he looked at me conveyed everything. He didn’t look away; he didn’t panic; a tear graced from his eye, yet he remained stoic. But unjustly on some level he understood what I meant. Of course God doesn’t love you or me. God loves his own and that’s it. Right? Only his own. He makes his own happy.

Not the likes of you and me.

Are you Black Enough?

crop1

Are you Black Enough?

I begin this Blog with a quote from the great Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.  Many people have no idea of what racism is and throw around the term “racist” without discretion.  They use the term in great folly and error without giving much meaning as to what the term actually embodies.  Dr. Welsing provides the most encompassing working definition of what racism is, and when understood it sets a precedent upon the observer and alters their outlook of the world in which they operate within.

Her definition of racism:

“A local, national, global system— behavioral system of thoughts, speech, action and emotional response consciously and or subconsciously determined practiced by people who classify themselves as white in all areas of people activity: economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war for the ultimate purpose of maintaining white genetic survival and preventing white genetic annihilation on planet earth.  A planet upon which the overwhelming majority of people are classified as non-white by the minority of people who classify themselves as white.  Those who are classified as non-white are genetically dominant in terms of skin coloration compared to the genetically recessive white skin-people.”– Dr. Frances Cress Welsing

I would also add to this comprehensive definition the hording and allocation of the earth’s natural resources.  This inclusive definition implicates so much and one could literally derive several essays from this one definition.  And this shall provide the spring board for our discussion.

I was recently asked a question: How do you determine how Black someone is?  Are you black enough?  If so what does that entail?  Now of course one can not quantify black, but I can provide a definitive exploration of what it means to be Black.  And you can see what side of the spectrum you fall upon.

Truthfully, we all have a li’l black in us… It’s a conscious choice rather to identify with it or repel from it…

At the very core one must understand that they are a conquered people…And I am speaking from a Black-man-living-in-America’s perspective. One must understand that they are indeed identifying with their capturers when choosing to perpetuate their system that is in place: whether this be consciously or unconsciously…

So if one uses the term “you’re not black” or “you’re not black enough”, what is that person truly saying?  When one says oh you’re trying to “talk white” what are they truly stating? If you are called a “sale out” what does that mean?

On a conscious level these statements sound very ignorant. It implicates because you have success, because you have brains enough to fulfill the white man’s idea of success you’re being white.–Because after all only a white man can be smart, have nice things, and speak the Queen’s English. On a surface level it is indeed very ignorant… But one must not stop there, because it is usually the subconscious that drives us. It is the subconscious that is subversive and responsible for most of man’s actions… It is our “ancient brain” telling us that there was a way of life prior to this modern world we live in.  There was a way of interaction and purpose that we as a populace exacted before we became a conquered people. This is not oue natural dialect.  This is not our innate ideal of “success”—the pursuit of money and other superficial gain. Perhaps there was much more to who we are than what we’ve become and have been presented ourselves to be.

So, there is a cognitive dissonance held there of some sort.  On the one hand we are a very talented people. We are pioneers of the earth, so when presented with a challenge it is innate for us to overcome.  So, we excel in this system put in place and tend to blame others for their lack of acumen in which they can’t succeed. It’s their fault… They had the same opportunities as me… Blaming the victim complex because after all it helps us create a disconnect from who we really are.  After all they aren’t like me.  We’re different. I can’t possibly be like them… I’m better…This is a great untruth. A truth rooted in falsehood. Although, I do believe that we all are unique, and the fact that one has climbed a social and cultural latter better than someone else is no grounds for identifying “greatness”.

Thus on some level I can honestly say we all have “black” in us.  We all have the ability to be great, lend hand to brother, establish communities in which man is brothers’ keeper, use talents for the betterment of most not just self, have the courage to be who you are minus the social constructs.  Yet some of us choose to identify with the false truth of reality that has been placed in front of us by our captives.  Our “Ancient Brains” know it is not enough.  Thus we seek outlets—we seek drug abuse, we yearn to get high, we yearn for something “else” something “real”.  Some of us identify with our conquerors so much that we hate the very hair that’s on our head. This is quite ironic, because our conquerors have integrated their captives’ culture into all aspects of their society.–Using it as a means of economic gain by any exploit they see fit.

The feeling of complacency… The feeling that you’ve made it is that which is to be loathed…. The feeling that you’ve accomplished in this world and you choose not to shake up the system that has conquered you… That’s when a lil blackness begins to bleed out… Drip by drip… At that point you are consciously or subconsciously surrendering your bloodline (legacy) and capitulating to a system that has your brothers and sisters in servitude…

This creates a large schism between those with the wherewithal to pursue excellence by all means and the, what I like to call, natural nihilist.  Both are equally destructive to what it means to be Black yet one is looked on a favorable light by our conquerors.  You have those who pursue excellence by any means which have had great success—like our entertainers, athletes, upper middle-class folk.  All are looked upon favorably as something to strive for—an ideal that reinforces the established system.  Then you have the nihilist—those who reject society by any means.–The derelicts who choose to abuse the system—who are looked as being criminals, lazy, jobless, ignorant, violent, compulsive if you will.–Those individuals who have a natural propensity for rebellion but know no viable rather healthy means to manifest this rebellious nature.  So you have this vicious cycle of each hating the other.–Each recognizing the lack of blackness in the other.  The blame game occurs.  When in actuality both are right to an extent and both are completely misguided in their approach to rectifying and creating a better situation.

Thus I can conclude this disposition by answering what I believe it means to be Black.

It means to constantly be in pursuit of the truth.  It is a realization that you may not have all the answers, but you are going to be who you are regardless of the situation.  It is greatness and excellence despite circumstance.  It is the courage to stay resolute and shake up the norm because the norm is forever evolving.  Black is discipline.  Black is not all about I.  Black is love.  Black is rebellion.  Black is self-sacrifice.

Are you black enough?

Shambles by the Bay… (An unwritten letter for a defenseless student..)

(Modern Covert Racism: Do Groomed Locks Illicit Fear?)

Not Christopher but a close enough example to how his hair was worn...
Not Christopher but a close enough example to how his hair was worn…

To whom it may concern,

In the politically charged and racially sensitive landscape of today’s America I have found myself in the crossfire of cultural insensitivity, racism, and prejudice.  The aftermath of a power wielding institution that has not the individual in mind but merely its own power—maintaining its own survival.  This phenomenon is being personified and actualized in the form of one Denis Kane (Basketball Coach: Mission Bay High School).  I am but a student, a student who is by no means perfect but a student who is trying nonetheless. I attend classes and a big part of my life is basketball.  It takes much of my free time, and it is a large focus of my life and of whom I want to be. I work hard like my classmates, I’m a tax paying citizen like my classmates, I expect to be afforded the extracurricular activities as my classmates, and to be held to the same standard as my classmates. My dream of playing basketball is being derailed by my conviction to stand up for my personal expression and cultural freedom.  I hate that the two are conflicting but I feel obligated to take a stand as integrity leads me to do so.

Allow me to briefly explain my situation.  I, Christopher (Blank), was kicked off of the basketball team for wearing my hair in a particular fashion.  I have my hair in locks (often referred to as dreadlocks) which are common to my ancestors and have great cultural context which I will not expound upon here.  In modern society I will admit, locks have taken on a phenomenon of their own, nonetheless I keep mine neat and aesthetic.  I was told by Dennis Kane that he didn’t “like the way that I had to remove the locks from my eyes” while playing basketball and that he wanted me to fix the issue. I took the proper protocol and decided to put my locks up.   This essentially is to braid the locks in a design that would keep them from hanging in my eyes.  When Dennis Kane saw this hair style he told me that the hairstyle was “ghetto” and he didn’t want “ghetto” people going to his games.  Implicating that I could not rejoin the team until my hair was cut. This leads me to my current dilemma.

Everything is everything...
Everything is everything…

I considered conforming to this man’s demands, but upon further contemplation I feel that this issue is bigger than me.  The scope of this issue is a microcosm of a far larger phenomenon that is embedded in the psyche of the American conscious—its cultural and social implications are far grander. The intolerance and xenophobia imposed by this man’s will is merely a perpetuation of a supremacists view point—a view point expressed and felt by many that commonly leads to discrimination.  For one man to deem my hair as “ghetto” what exactly does that entail?  Am I being judged for my cultural expression? If so is it deemed with a negative connotation?  It appears that I am being punished for one man’s fears and insecurities.  And for a public institution to support this man’s decision would have far greater implications.  Because I look a particular way, he has preconceived, ill contrived notions about a hair style and he is punishing me for his misconceptions.  Now I’ve taken heed to all the young individuals in the media that look like me and brutalized by individuals that harbor adjacent mindsets.  People see an image and they take action. ( See Trayvon Martin, Romie Mims, Jordon Miles, Joquan Wallace)

If my hair is “ghetto” it is also shared by Akintunde Ahmad and many other prosperous individuals.  With Mr. Kane’s Mindset, should Mr. Ahmad not be “allowed” to play sports?  With his 5.0 grade point average should he not be admitted to Ivy League schools because his appearance is “ghetto”, “threatening”, and not up to Mr. Kane’s standards?  The fact of the matter is Mr. Kane’s rationale is solely based off his personal bias; it is bigoted, unfounded, spiteful, and unjust.

.akintunde

This letter is a call to action.  I’m not asking for Dennis Kane to lose his means of income by being fired or anything of that nature.  But I am asking for him to recognize that an injustice has been done.  I am asking that this issue be brought to his attention in the manner of enlightenment not as an attack on his character.  I am asking that I be reinstated on the team and I am asking that no retaliation be taken upon me.  I do fear, that when a man who feels he has a secured arena of power and has that powered threatened, that he will be naturally inclined to retaliate.

Thank you for taking the time to hear my side of the story.

All for the good,

 

Christopher (Blank)

 

(Update: Since this letter was written, I regret to inform you that the above student did indeed cut his hair.  His fear kept him from going through with the letter.  I don’t know if it made a difference with him being on the team or not, for it is my personal belief that this coach had a bias against him.)

(I initially was going to leave out the coaches name school, but upon further thought the only innocent person here is the young man.)