Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas: Some thoughts on gifts and giving


I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and everyone received what they desired.

For many this Christmas will be memorable for the horrid weather we experienced in the Midwest. Many were without power and shelter. Some merely wished to be warm with a roof over their heads for Christmas. The ice storm we witnessed showed some what’s really important during this holiday season.

The ice storm was symbolic to me indeed for it showed, like in life, we all have the most precious gift of all and that’s another day of life. It also displayed the power of God is greater than man’s greatest creation.

Perhaps if we slowed down and recognized the many gifts we already have perhaps we don’t need gifts at Christmas to validate us.

As I advance in age and wisdom I’ve come to believe what one can give someone takes precedent over what one receives. As a matter of fact I've grown not to expect gifts nor even care if I receive anything on Christmas. I try and live in a fashion where what I've done all year is reflected by my just being alive and well when Christmas rolls around.

For me Christmas is all about perspective and recognition. Some don't celebrate Christmas while many do. I personally don't view Christmas in the traditional sense like I was trained to when I was a child. I view Christmas as the opportunity to reflect upon the gifts given to me not by humans but from the Creator. I use this time to set the stage for the upcoming year to evaluate my past in hopes of elevating my future while remaining in the moment.

In my opinion the Christmas holiday has been vastly commercialized. The true of meaning of Christmas has been lost over time because many have been lulled into the routine of acknowledging the gifts that mean little when compared to the gifts we have but often fail to acknowledge. Just ask one of the nearly hundred thousand who lacked power during the week.

Some buy gifts to give to others that lack substance while some receive gifts without extending true gratitude. For some we give more credence to the gifts we receive from man than the gifts that come from God. More importantly many fail to acknowledge "the" gift we receive daily that means more than any X-Box, Plasma TV, or money anyone can give us. That's the gift of life.

For those who celebrated Christmas they received the ultimate gift. You got another 24 hour opportunity to live and utilize the gifts you were given at birth. For most you were able to see, feel, touch, smell, and talk about what you received on Christmas from others. That 24 hour opportunity is the ultimate gift that's often taken for granted-that gift allowed us to be present on Christmas.

I don't know about you, but there's no better gift than having another 24 hour opportunity to engage in the world and live.

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. I'm not here to change anyone or judge. That’s not within my job description or jurisdiction. I'm here to simply lend a different vantage point. I don't profess to have all the answers. I'll never have them all but I’ll share whatever wisdom I do have without restriction.

We've all been given our special talents and gifts from God. Some acknowledge them and share them with the world while others ignore them and live life according the social script that's acceptable to the masses. I thank God for the gifts I have already.

While those gifts given by man are nice the ultimate gift from God himself are the ones I value most. For those of us who recognize the latter I suggest using your gifts given to you by God to make a difference without restriction, not just on Christmas. Don't worry about what others may say-just listen to that voice inside and proceed. As the saying goes, "Don't worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon."

I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas holiday to the max. But more importantly I hope people realize the many valuable gifts we had in our possession prior to opening your gifts on Christmas day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Simpson found guilty; headed to prison

O.J. Simpson will finally go where many thought he should’ve been 14 years ago and that’s prison. Accounts vary, but Simpson was sentenced Dec. 5 to at least nine years which could extend up to 33 year max. No matter the number of years Simpson will have plenty of time to think about his life and the mistakes he’s made in solitude.

The latter is rather sad, but it’s true.

Most people can recollect where they were when the verdict was read in October of 1995 when Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole-Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman hence ending what was hailed as "The Trial of the Century." For a year America was captivated by this case because of all of the intricacies involved. Race, sex, police corruption, celebrity, and affluence were integral factors in the murder trial. It was riveting stuff.

This trial clearly lacked the media attention of the murder trial, and rightfully so. In 1994 two human beings were murdered. This time around a 61 year old man bursting into a Las Vegas Hotel to retrieve memorabilia doesn’t have the same luster as a murder trial. Nevertheless many, like the Fred Goldman, feel Simpson is where he belongs. He stated, "It's kind of a bittersweet moment knowing that that SOB is going to be in jail for a very long time, where he belongs."

Simpson was one of the greatest college and N.F.L. running backs of all time. He was one a Heisman Trophy winner in 1968. Simpson had a great NFL career as well where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985. His football talents lead to broadcasting and endorsement opportunities such as doing Monday Night Football and being a pitch man for Hertz.

Simpson’s once lovable persona allowed him to have a wonderful life until the summer of 1994. After the murder trial Simpson lost most of his luster in the mainstream-now I feel he’s lost it all.

I personally think the sentence rendered was rather extreme and there was a clear bias against Simpson stemming from his past. I believe the deck was stacked against Simpson for the jump. He faced an all white jury and a no-nonsense judge. I also think he was unofficially was retried for “The Trial of the Century.”

But I must add Simpson brought most of his recent turmoil on himself. If he’s guilty of anything he’s guilty of being rather stupid. Even in his plea to the judge he stated, "I wasn't there to hurt anybody. I just wanted my personal things, and I realize I was stupid."

Last year Simpson wrote a book titled "If I Had Did It" chronicling how he'd commit the murders from 1994 "if" he were to undertake the task. To me the latter oozes with stupidity.

Often the light that shines from the star can often be curse as much as it can be an asset. Stardom often makes some feel they are above the law. Being competitive, affluent, and successful often creates an aura of entitlement which sometimes takes precedent over rational behavior and exercising sound judgment.

Simpson's competitive nature, need for attention, and poor choices has all but destroyed him. He just couldn't find it in himself to play golf, collect his N.F.L. pension, and drift off into the sunset.

Sadly we won't remember Simpson as great college running back who won The Heisman Trophy 40 years ago; we’ll remember him for the poor choices he made off the field.

Simpson won’t be remembered for his Hall of Fame career in the N.F.L.; he’ll be remembered for getting away with a double-murder.

Simpson won’t be remembered for using his celebrity and excelling as a broadcaster and pitchman for Hertz. He’ll be remembered as 61 year old man being sentenced to prison in a Las Vegas courtroom because of his stupidity.

Simpson was a man who had it all but lost it but unfortunately lost it because his poor choices. It’s a sad story indeed, but unfortunately it’s true.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Weis lives; Irish Administration fail to pull trigger on Weis era


Self-anointed guru Charlie Weis managed to dodge the bullet. After being thumped by U.S.C. 38-3 last week many felt Weis had limped along the side lines as Notre Dames head coach for the last time. The Irish brain trust decided Weis is still their guy so they reframed from pulling the trigger on the Charlie Weis era.

Surprisingly Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick suggested The Irish are going in the right direction under Weis. He stated, “I am confident that Charlie has a strong foundation in place for future success and that the best course of action is to move forward under his leadership.”

Typically past success is a strong indicator of future success. Based on the latter what success has the Irish experienced the last two years that warrants Weis to continue coaching?

After playing one of the weakest schedules in the country this year the Irish still failed under Weis. After starting the season quickly at 4-1 they limped in at 2-5. Is this the type of faltering leadership Swarbrick wants leading the Irish?

How can setting a team record for losses last year (9) be viewed as going in the right direction?

Is setting a school record for the most loses in any two-year span (15) in school history the type he deems appropriate for the team?
Does Swarbrick want reward the Irish faithful by having Weis’ players having snow balls hurled at them from the home crowd for losing to a 3-8 Syracuse team they were favored to beat by 191/2 points?

Weis has demonstrated he’s a perennial side-kick, not a leader. He’s talks a big game like he’s Batman but he’s really Robin.

Other than coaching a high school team to a state title in New Jersey in 1989 he’s never been the guy. The reason why Weis ended up in the college ranks is because no one in the N.F.L. wanted him.

Why Weis has gotten a vote of confidence defines conventional logic. Local columnist Pete DiPrimio stated, “Critics will rip Swarbrick for keeping Weis, but it was the right thing to do. Five years is fair to build a program, especially with the kind of recruiting Weis has done.”

The latter statement is very interesting indeed.

If keeping Weis was “the right thing to do” how does one explain the Willingham firing? If five years is “fair to build a program” why wasn’t Willingham allowed to finish his five years?

Though the Irish administration won’t say it publicly I think they know they treated Willingham unfairly. When you compare Willingham’s record after three years (21-15) to Weis’s (22-15) I don’t see how Willingham got canned and how Weis got to continue. Based on the latter Weis should have been shown the door last year.

I don’t think Willingham was totally comfortable at Notre Dame in being the first African American coach in any sport in the schools history. He wasn’t their first choice and I believe, keeping with tradition, they settled on the unproven Weis to keep it status quo. In short, I don’t think Weis was ever the right man for the job, he was the white man for the job.

Hold your horses.

I know Willingham didn’t get it done as the Washington Huskies head coach but at least got a fair shake. Willingham couldn’t revamp the troubled program he inherited from former coach Rick Neuheisel. I know Willingham’s team posted a 0-11 record this season. On Oct. 27 he was notified the end had come and I totally concur. The bottom line is producing wins and 0-11 is not acceptable on any level of coaching.

But the latter is beside the point. The point is Willingham was held to a higher standard when he was coach than Weis is currently being held to.

Days after Media Day in South Bend prior to the start of the season I stated, “I don't think Weis was the right man for the Irish job. Also, I don't think he's doing a better job than the person he replaced. Without question, Weis should be on the hot seat. If he doesn't produce big this year, his head should roll like Willingham's did.”

Today I’m suggesting the Irish administration should’ve walked their self anointed guru to the gallows. The Irish administration had no problem pulling the trigger on Willingham; they shouldn’t be so gun shy in pulling the trigger on Weis.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Obama: Selecting Clinton as Secretary of State was a mistake


On Monday Barack Obama made the speculation official by naming Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. Despite their bitter primary battle Obama believes Clinton will be a good fit for what he’s trying to accomplish with respect to getting the country back on track.

To me Obama is throwing his rock but hiding his hand. He’s merely assembled a cabinet filled with allies who served under Bill Clinton and his wife. It appears he’s acquiescing to his foes rather than administering to the voters who got him in the White House.

Is selecting Bill Clinton’s guys and his wife as Secretary of State the change Obama professed during his campaign?

Obama will be sworn in come Jan. 20 in Washington D.C. but based on Obama’s cabinet selections it has remnants of a third Bill Clinton term. To some this comes off as a surprise but not to me. Remember a few days before Clinton was to concede the primary race to Obama the two met secretly at undisclosed location?

Remember?

During that meeting I think a deal was struck between the two candidates. Since Clinton couldn’t win the nomination she negotiated a way for her and her hubby have access to the White House.

No, I wasn’t at the meeting but viewing how things have transpired I think the following occurred. Clinton would begrudgingly agree to step aside so long as Obama would take care of her when the time came. Obama agreed to select some of Bill’s old guard and give her a job. She’d then campaign for Obama, make sure Bill kept his mouth shut, and endorse him with a smile.

In exchange Obama would get access to the information and connections the Clinton’s amassed during their White House years and beyond.

I think Obama’s and Clinton’s most recent meeting in Chicago was merely to finalize details of what they already discussed.

What do you think?

After Colin Powell endorsed Obama I thought he’d at least extend a roster slot to him. Instead of opting for the seasoned veteran like Powell Obama went for unproven rookie Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. Let’s examine the facts.

Powell is a military man through and through. From 1989 to 1993 he was the youngest (age 52) and first African American to serve as Joints Chief of Staff. It’s the highest military position in the Department of Defense. Powell was the first African American to serve as Secretary of State from 2001-2005. Seems like to me he’d be capable of doing a job he’s already done.

When Hillary Clinton was in the White House she was a first lady who became Senator Clinton of New York. I don’t think she has the experience to be Secretary of State. But then again, it’s not about experience. It’s about who you know and what they can do for you.

When I think of Hillary Clinton I think of the bold-face lie she told about avoiding sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia in 1996. During her campaign she stated, "I remember landing under sniper fire," she recounted in a speech. "There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

After a video surfaced confirming Clinton lied she stated she “misspoke” about her travels to Bosnia.

It’s no secret Hillary and Bill fought dirty in trying to wrestle the Democratic nomination away from Obama. Bill attempted to diminish his accomplishments and sway voters by stating Obama was living a “fairytale.” Hillary invoked the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in 1968 that ignited a universal discussion about the possibility of Obama being bumped off.

Just like in sports you are only as good as the weakest link. You need a team built with people you can trust. Can the Clinton’s be trusted?

Why would Obama want to associate with people who did so much to try and thwart his journey?

Though Obama is on the front-line to me it’s looking like another Clinton Administration starring Obama as the poster-boy. Its’ looks like a re-run of what it once was with strings attached. This puts Obama is in a no win situation. If he does well it’s because of Clinton’s people but if his term goes south then it will fall on Obama’s shoulders.

I think Obama should have gotten all of his own people rather than regurgitating the past. Again, is this the type of change Obama professed during his campaign?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving: Some things you may not know

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. My holiday was special this year because I unearthed some information I didn’t know about the Thanksgiving. My findings made my holiday very satisfying.

Last week I was thinking to myself how Thanksgiving was rapidly approaching. I knew it’s celebrated every fourth Thursday and saw it was November 27th. So I wondered why is Thanksgiving celebrated every fourth Thursday of November.

After some researching not only did I find the answer to my question I found much more. First off, a man born in 1715 named John Hanson declared every fourth Thursday Thanksgiving shall be celebrated.

There’s more.

Hanson was the first President of the United States, not George Washington. Also, if Hanson were alive today he’d be considered an African American thereby making him the first African American President of the United States.

Some may wonder, ‘How can this be true if Africans were entrenched in American slavery during the 1700’s?’ Well, in an Act proposed in 1705 made Turks and Moors exempt from American slavery. Hanson was a Moor so he evaded the chains of slavery because of ancestry.

Yes, Hanson, was first President of the United States and the first African American President. But it was under the Articles of Confederation and not the Constitution.

Hanson was the leader during a vital part of the American Revolution.
On March 1, 1781 The Articles of Confederation were signed into law. After the signing took place Congress needed a President in place-someone to be charge. Through a unanimous vote the members of Congress, which included George Washington, elected Hanson to lead the country.

The role of President was loosely defined under the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles the President only served one-year terms not four which is currently in place under the Constitution.

Hanson officially took office right after the Revolutionary War where he faced an array of problems. His biggest problem was soldiers who fought in the war wanted to be paid. If they weren’t compensated they threatened to overthrown the government and put George Washington in charge as a monarch.

Fearing the revolt of the soldiers most members of Congress abandoned Hanson so he was left to fend for himself. He managed to restore order and get money to the troops.

During his year in office Hanson instituted many of the government departments which are still in use today.

*Hanson established the Great Seal of the United States, which all Presidents are required to use on all official documents while in office.

*Hanson also established the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, and the first Foreign Affairs Department.

*Lastly, he declared the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day, which is still true today.

After Hanson’s term was finished there were six other Presidents who followed- Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788).

In 1789 the United States Constitution was proposed and adopted by all states in 1791. George Washington was elected the first President under the much stronger Constitution. Therefore, John Hanson was the first African American President under the Articles of Confederation and Barack Obama is the first African American President under the United States Constitution.

It’s a shame Hanson and the others have been omitted from history. For centuries we’ve been scientifically hypnotized to embrace Eurocentric mythology. Many of us have been conditioned embrace the man’s script. For instance, why do we still celebrate Christopher Columbus discovering America when we all now know he discovered nothing?

Once a piece of Eurocentric mythology is challenged it often solicits ridicule and resentment. In clutching to myth often the messenger is ridiculed and labeled as divisive or radical. This stratagem is utilized to eliminate the sting from the message being conveyed by the messenger.

Myths told over centuries have cemented themselves into American lore. Repetition of erroneous facts doesn't imply fact in my book. I don’t know about you, but considering how a large degree of American history has been distorted I give this information a high degree of credence.

Again, I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama should use his presence to diffuse racism


President Elect Barack Obama has been busy from his offices in Chicago assembling his cabinet, meeting with former foes (Hillary Clinton and John McCain), and mapping out his strategy to get America back on track before he takes office January 20, 2009. Obama asserts his preeminent concern is to get the economy back in good standing-that’s a tall order but considering how he orchestrated his campaign perhaps he will deliver the change he’s often professed.

One of the things I marveled at during Obama’s historical run is how he diffused racism enough to win the election. I believe the reasons why this event is historic should serve as the catalysts to engage in dialogue to finally get that elephant out of the room. The elephant I’m referring to is racism.

Obama’s ascendance demonstrates he has the capacity and the means to make a difference along racial grounds. How big a priority is this to Obama? That remains to be seen.

Given the historical development of this country few thought Obama would ascended so quickly. Obama was able to neutralize race and not allow it to derail his campaign. He even managed to paint Indiana blue for the first time since 1964 along the way.

During the South Carolina primary Bill Clinton tried to invoke race by suggesting Obama was living a “fairytale.” Despite Clinton’s comments Obama marched on.

When mainstream media utilized snippets of his former pastor and friend Reverend Jeremiah Wright to thwart his campaign Obama was forced to denounce his friend and his teachings. Yet Obama still marched on.

When F.O.X.’s Bill O’Reilly suggested getting a “lynch mob” out for Michelle Obama for suggesting, "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,” the President Elect didn’t utter a word. He just marched on.

Without question if Obama would have consistently engaged in race-based topics he wouldn’t have won the election. By deflecting the attention away from race and focusing on winning ‘the race’ Obama cleverly drew more attention to his campaign theme of “change.”

Ignoring the elephant in the room was fine to win the election but will that strategy heal the historical wounds of racism?

When certain African Americans engage with the white rich and powerful they sometimes become entrenched in that world. Over time having such relationships causes one to further distance themselves from the struggles that exist in the lower rungs of society.

On an individual level Obama’s journey will induce people to dream and aspire to greater heights. But I don’t believe Obama securing a job will diffuse racism on a universal basis unless he’s committed.

What we witnessed November 4th is what life should have been if such savage inequality didn't exist in the past. Obama’s glory for the first time gave some credence that "all men are created equal." Temporarily people in America witnessed what harmony is all about.

Typically when African American pioneers enter into a domain historically dominated by whites a huge influx of participation is expected but doesn’t happen instantaneously.

I’ll use sports to illustrate my point.

When Jackie Robinson broke the barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 African American participation for decades was fleeting. The highest percentage was in 1983 when it was 23 percent-now African American participation is 8.2 percent and rapidly dropping.

When a 21 year old Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997 many expected an influx of young African American talent but it hasn’t happened yet. Without question Woods is the greatest golfer of all-time and he’s the only notable African American on P.G.A. tour.

Arthur Ashe broke racial barriers in tennis when he won the U.S. Open in 1968 yet forty years later few African Americans reside at the top of the game. James Blake is a top ten player and Donald Young is on the horizon but that’s where it stops.

Venus and Serena Williams are dominating women’s tennis yet few African American women are on the radar otherwise.

Bottom line, at some point we must address the elephant in the room. Race will continue to be a factor in this country unless the subject is critically addressed.

Obama did a good job of neutralizing race to win the election but I don’t think it’s the way to go for long-term societal growth. Before we are to properly live in the present we must recognize Americas checkered past in a constructive fashion.

I know all lasting change takes time. But I believe there’s no time like the present. Change is what Obama professed. I just hope he delivers it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reparations: The time has come to right a wrong

The government has once again come to the aid of big business. A.I.G. just received an additional 55 million dollars from the 700 billion rescue plan. This brings the total outlay to the insurance giant to 150 billion.

I don’t know about you but this rubs me the wrong way on two fronts. One, the American people are being screwed. Two, it reminds me of a wrong that’s yet to remedied.

Historically government and big business has gone hand in hand commencing with the rise of American slavery. Slavery is a topic most shun but I think it’s a perfect opportunity to provide insight into the past so we can better understand what’s happening today with the economy from an African American standpoint.

First, we must acknowledge slavery did happen. This country still suffers from the effects of slavery but, like racism, no constructive collective dialogue has taken place to put the scars of slavery in its proper historical context.

The first slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 as indentured servants but by the 1640’s the institution intensified to full-blown bondage. Slaves weren’t considered human beings with rights-they were considered sub-human and were treated as such.

The preeminent factor regarding slavery wasn’t race as, but economics. Oppressors saw an opportunity to take advantage of forcing servitude on African slaves. The latter allowed the institution to thrive economically at expense of innocent people.

Slaves weren’t paid a dime for centuries of service. Mind you, there were no 401K's, mutual funds, or IRA's. Slaves worked from sun up to sun down to fill the pockets of their self-anointed masters.

Can you imagine working for an entire year and have your earnings revert back to your employer instead of your pocket? The latter would ensure your family would suffer. Now, imagine the latter setup being in place for four centuries.

This country’s economic base was built on free African labor that was sanctioned by the government. When the economics of slavery was threatened the government instituted legislation to ensure slavery would pervade. The same thing is happening right before our eyes but many just don’t see it.

The monies amassed by plantation owners were kept in the family and handed down to future generations with government support. I think African Americans have a human, moral and legal right to collect monies owed to our forefathers who were forced to work for free.

How do African Americans get paid?

I think suing the government would be practical. Taking the United States government to the world court of the United Nations is the way to go. Taking the case to the Supreme Court would be merely taking your case to the government’s predecessors.

In short, you don’t take your case to the criminal-you take your criminal to court.

How would the funds be allocated?

President Bush provided some Americans a few crumbs via stimulus checks. In essence, the money and the means to distribute the funds are already in place. We just have to arrive at a number that’s fair and have the government begin paying what’s owed.

The notion of reparations may seem outlandish but it makes sense to me. Slavery was the most notorious crime ever committed. Murder, rape, kidnapping, assault, battery, are among the many laws broken yet no one has served a day in jail or paid a fine for their collective wrong-doings.
In March of 1953 the West Germans signed a treaty with Isreal that acknowleged the persecution and enslavement of Jews during the Holocaust. Jews were compensates for the latter and for the property stolen from them by the Nazis.
Under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 President Ronald Reagan apologized to Japanese Americans internment during World War II. He also provided reparations of $20,000 to each survivor to compensate for loss of property and liberty during the war.
Native American tribes over time have received compensation for lands ceded to the United States by them in various treaties.
As you can see others have gotten paid reparations, why shouldn’t African Americans?

Today everyone in America except big business and government are being pimped with systematic precision-but African Americans have been pimped from the jump beginning with the rise of American slavery.

The precedent was set by the Founding Fathers allowed institutionalized slavery to thrive-obviously they can’t pay up but their predecessors can.

The time has come to begin to correct a wrong that certainly wasn’t right.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Official: Barack Obama is the President of the United States!


It’s a done deal. Barack Obama has officially broken the ultimate color barrier in politics. With Obama’s historic presidential victory the flood gates are now officially opened to the White House.

One of my favorite CD’s is Sam Cooke’s Greatest Hits. When Obama sealed the deal in becoming the first African American president of the United States it reminded me of my favorite song on Cooke’s CD titled, “A Change is Gonna Come.” The lyrics state: “It’s been a long, a long time coming but I know a change gonna come. Oh yes it will.”

Though Cooke’s song was made in 1964 his lyrics certainly ring true today.

African Americans historically have triumphed despite racism and a lack of societal inclusion. Obama’s journey surely hasn’t been absent of obstacle. Despite the Clinton’s antics, a biased media, and threats on his life Obama was the last man standing. Obama just kept his eye on the ball and took care of business.

I view Obama’s run at political glory as an extension of history because nothing in life stays the same. To me Obama is the Jackie Robinson of politics. There was a time whites didn’t want African Americans playing Major League baseball-Robinson’s presence in 1947 changed that. Robinson integrated Americas’ favorite sport which planted the initial seeds for society to one day follow suit. Now Obama holds the keys to the White House for other aspiring African Americans to one day reside.

It’s vital to understand history to properly appreciate what’s going on before our eyes. Though Obama is the first African American to be the man he’s had a lot help. I think Obama’s accomplishment isn’t about a man making history: it’s more about those who paved the way which allowed for history to be made.

Obama’s presidential run is like running a relay. Too often the person who crosses the finish line gets the glory. Obama just crossed the finish line and he should get the glory: but if you look at the historical development of this country Obama is simply running his leg of his leg of the race.

In the 1960’s Malcolm X wanted to liberate the minds of African Americans. He suggested African Americans should stake claims to ones civil and human rights. Malcolm X thought no one should take away something that’s supposed to be already yours. His leg of the race ended when he was slain in 1965.

Also, in the 1960’s Martin Luther King introduced America to his dream. He wanted a society filled with love and harmony. King ascended when African American churches were being bombed, citizens were sprayed with fire hoses, and stripped of their rights. King’s leg of the race was sadly derailed when he slain in 1968.

Democrat Shirley Chisholm ran her leg of the race when she became the first African American to run for president in 1972. She knew she wasn’t a serious threat to win but she had to run her leg of the race. She ran because, "in spite of hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo."

Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson ran for president in 1984 and 1988. Like Chisholm he wasn’t expected to win but Jackson’s leg of the race further opened the door cracked open by Chisholm.

Obama also stands of the shoulders of many nameless warriors who sacrificed their lives throughout history. Obama stands on the shoulders of slaves who endured bitter cruelties to survive in America. He stands on the shoulders of activists, both African American and white, who gave up their lives fighting in every major American war. He also stands on the shoulders of those nameless African Americans who were attacked by whites while protesting and sprayed with fire hoses in the streets during the Civil Rights Movement.

Now Obama has ascended to finally walk through the door so many had a hand in opening. In the future someone else will raise the bar even higher and America will be better for it. We should enjoy what we are witnessing but also acknowledge the sacrifices others have made that’s’ allowing Obama to do his thing.

As Sam Cooke’s lyrics beautifully state, “It’s been a long time coming but I know a change gonna come. Oh yes it will.”

Obama’s presence surely demonstrates a change has finally arrived.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Neo-Nazis: Threats to kill the innocent and Obama are real


The Associated Press recently reported two Neo-Nazi skinheads were arrested October 22nd for plotting to shoot and decapitate 102 random African Americans and attempting to assassinate Barack Obama.

According the A.P. report Daniel Coward, 20 of Tennessee and Paul Schessleman, 18, from Arkansas were determined to get the job done. The report stated, "They seemed determined to do it. Even if they were just to try it, it would be a trail of tears around the South."

The report continued, "They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama. They didn't believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying."

When asked about whether he’s concerned Obama stated,
“I have the best protection in the world. The secret service.”

First it was Mike Huckabee joking about the possibility of someone shooting Obama as he spoke at N.R. A. convention. Hilary Clinton raised the possibility with bringing up the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Now we have two young Neo-Nazis willing to take out 102 innocent African Americans and Obama.

Obama understood before he took on the Herculean task of being “the first.” He understands he’d have to endure because it’s just part of African Americans historical resumes.

Everyone knows you have to pay the costs to be the boss. I just hope Obama doesn't have to pay the ultimate price. What might that price be?

The ultimate price one pays for their dreams is death.

Wake up folks. The threats against Obama are real. Unfortunately, I believe there more threats are on the horizon. We are days before an historic election yet an unfortunate atmosphere of hate exists because racial intolerance and ignorance.

People think about race but reframe from discussing it. The bottom line is a segment of white America will not vote for Obama because of color. Also, a much smaller segment would like to see Obama killed to thwart his quest for presidential glory.

This recent climate of hate is inducing someone to ante up on their ignorance and attempt to disrupt history. The same atmosphere of hate was created when Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy were slain in the 1960's. It halted change, stymied growth, and robbed America of the visions the latter men had.

This assassination plot shows things aren’t as good as being projected. Irrespective of what polls suggest racism is alive and genocide still exists in the world. For example, in Darfur humans are being slaughtered over race and religion. China buys oil from the Sudanese government who in turn sells weapons to the Sudanese they use to kill Africans. Oddly as hundred’s of thousands are murdered mainstream media reframes from widespread coverage.

Part of what contributes to lack of exposure is the media lacks diversity. According to a recent study by Central Florida’s Dr. Richard Lapchick revealed over 90 percent of information disseminated comes from a white male vantage point.

The significance?

When topics like an African American president facing assassination or innocent people being slaughtered abroad most newspaper staffs aren’t equipped to write or report from a standpoint of true understanding. In short, most staffs have few if any African Americans as journalists.

Lack of diversity is one of the primary reasons Obama’s safety isn’t becoming covered with a higher level of persistence.
Most newspapers lack the life experience that’s necessary to write or report on racism. Most simply bring their life experience to their work. This leads to a glossing over of a topic (Obama assassination) or ignoring it all together (Darfur) due to lack of understanding.

With the media being a vastly white world how can one get parity in terms of coverage?

The latter can be thwarted with more African Americans becoming journalists: but it will be of little significance if those who hire at mainstream newspapers aren’t open to embracing diversity.

Just because Obama has done so well some think America has advanced in terms of racial tolerance. There's merit to the latter but when Neo-Nazis talks of randomly killing African Americans and a presidential hopeful I think we still have a long way to go.

Let’s keep it real: I think Obama has endured more than any of us could imagine. Whether Obama wants to publicly admit it he knows the possibility of having his life taken because he's a black man seeking to occupy the White House is real. This is why Obama has steered away from racial situations and focused on running a clean campaign.

Obama understands because of the permanent tan he sports comes with a potential price. I just hope and pray he doesn't have to the pay the ultimate price.

World Series: It’s all about perspective


I was recently in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida for the World Series. Despite my beautiful surroundings I can’t afford to take my eye off the ball. I surprisingly encountered a bit of trouble settling on a topic to write about. I quietly wondered: “What’s the real story here?”

I could’ve written about the Tampa Bay Rays unbelievable season. After being the worst team in their division now they are the best. I could write about the last years’ World Series winner the Boston Red Sox and how they persisted this year but still came up short in defending their crown.

Finally it hit me. It’s not about the glitter and glamour of being at the World Series-it’s about historical perspective. It’s about who paved the way for me to be here in this professional capacity.

Yeah, that’s the story.

I must pay homage to the marquee African American writer of his day. His work opened the door of possibility for the African Americans who write today. Few know this pioneer’s birthday falls during Game Two of this year’s World Series. The sport he helped change forever with his pen.

Sam Lacy was born October 23, 1903. He was a sports writer until he died on May 8, 2003. Lacy loved sports and fell in love with baseball at an early age. His father frequently took him to Washington Senator games. In the 1920’s Lacy grew up in Washington D.C. where he attended Armstrong High School. He played baseball, football and basketball.

After briefly playing semi-pro baseball Lacy decided to attend Howard University where he majored in Education. While at Howard Lacy found a part-time job as a sports writer for the Washington Tribune. With the passage of time Lacy’s part-time work would become his ultimate passion.

Unbeknownst to many Lacy played an integral part in integrating Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson received most of the credit but the man who set the atmosphere for history to be made was Sam Lacy: he persistently utilized his pen to consistently display how unfairly African Americans were treated in society and sports and integration was needed.

For the first three years of Jackie Robinson’s career Lacy was there chronicling the events as they unfolded. Lacy was treated inhumanely because he was an African American male who championed for change. Often Lacy covered games from rooftops of buildings because white writers didn’t want African Americans in the press box. Sometimes Lacy was forced to sit on top the dugouts to work. During the 1952 World Series at Yankee Stadium Lacy was denied entry to cover the games despite having credentials.

Lacy was the Sports Editor and Columnist for the Baltimore Afro-American for nearly 60 years. Lacy often received lucrative offers to write for white newspapers. Even Sports Illustrated wanted him in the 1950’s but Lacy stayed put. He knew he had freedom he couldn’t experience anywhere else. Lacy stated, “No other paper in the country would have given me the kind of license. I've made my own decisions. I cover everything that I want to. I sacrificed a few dollars, true, but I lived a comfortable life. I get paid enough to be satisfied. I don't expect to die rich."

If you ever visit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown Lacy is there in the writers’ wing. Staying put really paid off.

Currently there are few African Americans with platforms who utilize them to champion social causes. According to a 2008 study done by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport over 94.1 percent of what’s covered in sports comes from a white male vantage point. That’s not diversity-it’s a crying shame.

Like most African American professional athletes many African American journalists refuse to make a difference by opting for silence rather than keeping it real. I personally chose the former, over the latter.

In my opinion Lacy lived a tremendous life of change and his perspective was vast. He was young enough to see Babe Ruth hit, Joe Louis fight, Jesse Owens run, and Jim Brown dominate. As an elder Lacy saw Bill Russell win, Willie Mays play center field, and Barry Bonds hit.

Lacy did in Journalism what the man he covered did in Major League baseball-that’s to break racial barriers and become a master of his craft.

I recognize the significance of my being at the World Series. Lacy endured decades of racism so I’d experience less today. I don't have to sit on top of the dugout or be denied entry in Tropicana Field because of this permanent tan I sport. I know I stand on the shoulders of those like Lacy who came before me. Unlike other African American writers, perspective is not being silent in fear of keeping it real.

Perspective, yeah, to me that’s the real story here.

World Series: A Moment I won't forget!

Before game two of the World Series I had several goals I wanted to reach and I did. They were to go on the field with all the reporters/writers and just take in the atmosphere. The second goal was to go to the FOX both and ask analyst Tim McCarver about whether baseball pioneer Curt Flood should be in the Hall of Fame.
I managed to get into the FOX booth 9 minutes the start of game two and I spoke to McCarver briefly. We both agreed that Flood should be in Hall of Fame. I'll see what I can do to get Flood his due!

After walking down the stadium stairs and eventually on the field I looked to my left and there's Dick Vitale. I exchanged a few words with him and kept it moving. After walking a few steps I'm noticing the people I've watched on TV for years and we were all on the same field. ESPN's Chris Berman and Peter Gammons. I spoke at length with MLB.COM and TBS analyst Harold Reynolds about baseball, sports, and life.

After taking in more of the scene I realized I hadn't been on a baseball field since I was 14 years old. Watching Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins take batting practice and the infielders preparing their arms for play brought back a lot of memories from when I played.
After exchanging some words from a member of FOX I soon left the field but not before I watched Chris Berman interview Ryan Howard.

As I was walking up the stairs to depart the field I noticed former ESPN and current FOX Sports anchor Chris Meyers sitting near the dugout. I went over to say hello. We had a great conversation about sports and about some of his past work. He asked me about my work and I told him of some of my jouralistic endeavors. We spoke of the beauty of sports and how it brings people together. We discussed some of my columns I wrote relevant to our conversation and he seemed impressed. I just have a passion for good conversation, particularly about sports.

As we were wrapping up our conversation he suprisingly asked me for a card. (I totally forgot to pack my cards but I still managed to make connections.) He then gave me one of his cards from his briefcase. After approxiately 10 minutes of dialouge Myers suggested it was nice speaking with me then he issued the following: “What you are doing is great. We need more journalists like you.”

After his comment he extended an opportunity to me to be on his show in California in the future. It’s surely an opportunity I seek to undertake.

I'm not one to get to excited outwardly but inside I must admit it made me feel great. To get a compliment from someone so well known in the industry was nice. Makes me want to push these keys with even more passion!

Just goes to show you if you are passionate about your craft and do it with love doors open from unexpected places. I intend to follow the course I'm on. Where it will eventually lead I don't know but one thing is for sure: I'll continue to persist and attempt to make a difference through my craft until the casket drops.

World Series: Win or lose the Tampa Bay Rays are winners


After personally watching the Rays split the first two games with the Philadelphia Phillies in Florida I saw first hand what a special group they really are. Whether the Tampa Bay Rays win this years’ World Series or not I feel they are winners.

As much as I love and follow sports I must admit this team flew under my radar. Like most of the baseball world I’ve now taken heed to the message: the Tampa Bay Rays are for real. I predict they’ll win it all.

The Rays are collection of young players who were unknown to most in the sports world. Their claim to fame was being the worst team in baseball last year. Now they are on the cusps of shaking up the baseball world.

Of course they are playing a game while making millions of dollars but they don’t play for the money. This squad truly plays for the love of the game. The way this team plays they’d play in an empty stadium with passion. I think they’d play at a public park just as hard as they are now playing on the world’s biggest stage.

I asked a Tampa Rays employee about this year’s attendance and she responded, “You could literally sit anywhere you wanted for most of the year. Up until they started to win the place was literally half full at best.”

I then asked when did attendance pick up. She stated, “In August attendance began to soar and the city really began to take notice.”

Not only has the city of St. Petersburg taken notice the entire baseball world is bewildered how this team came out of know where to be in the World Series.

I can sum it up in one word.

Passion.

It didn’t matter to youngsters like Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton Matt Garza and Carl Crawford that the sports world noticed them or not. Passion isn’t predicated on if you are recognized. All that matters is engaging in your passion and the rest will take care of itself.
Everyone in society and sports should take note of what's happening before our eyes. One of the reasons I have such an intimate relationship with sports is you can learn valuable lessons that can make you grow. Sports can help one understand and simply the complexities of life.
Sports also bring people together. Teams often rally around a common goal to achieve something that’s good for all. Would it be wonderful if we took those things that are harmonic in sport and use them in society?

To me this World Series is bigger than sports. It’s about dreams, confidence, and passion for ones craft. I terms of passion I can relate to the Rays in what they are doing this year. My writing has taken a similar path as their season. My skills didn’t ascend the conventional way. No journalism schools, internships, or so-called formal training. I didn't ask for permission to do what I wanted: I used my passion for sports, talent along with a large dose of persistence to endure.

Though I have college education schools can’t teach you persistence or give degrees in passion. Yes, one must have a measure of talent to succeed but it gets you only so far. Talent along with passion and persistence can consistently position you to deliver the goods.

In life and sports it doesn't come down to the most talented. The team with passion or the person who lives with passion succeeds.

As a writer I'm in awe of the so-called marquee writers with major papers. My being along side the best at the World Series solidifies what I believe. I know in my heart and mind I'm good at what I do. It’s not bragging because I’m consistently delivering the goods from a unique vantage point.

When the lights are off and no one is around witness you mastering your craft that’s when you grow: when it’s time for that light to shine you'll simply do what you've been training to do in the dark. So performing at an optimal level can be all but assured.

When one has true passion success has a way of finding you. I get a similar sensation when manufacturing works from a perspective that differs from most. If you are passionate about something sooner or later the world will have to give you your due without solicitation.
Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays.

Monday, October 27, 2008

World Series: Me and Harold Reynolds


Before game one of the World Series I was settling into my routine when suddenly I saw T.B.S commentator Harold Reynolds. Formerly of E.S.P.N. Reynolds was killing time before he was to go on air. We had a brief conversation consisting of my admiring his work and for him to keep it up. We took the picture shown here and parted ways.While taking in the scene on the field prior to game two of the World Series Reynolds recognized me and extended a pleasant hello. After a brief conversation we both kept it moving as the media was asked by security to leave the field it can be prepared for play.

Approximately 20 minutes later I again ran into Reynolds in the media area over in the stadium. We again engaged in a conversation about baseball, Curt Flood, and about athletes speaking out. We spoke for approximately a half hour. Indeed the time was appreciated and rewarding.

We both agreed that we need more African Americans playing baseball. Just 8.2 percent of players in the Major Leagues are African American. A game Jackie Robinson fought so hard to integrate has sadly lost its luster amongst the African American youth which is sad.

We talked the notion of athletes taking stands and why there aren't any Jackie Robinson's or Muhammad Ali's to speak of.

We both agreed the African American athlete should speak out and make their feelings known without fearing the wrath of corporate America. Reynolds stated, "Players should speak out. Look at what I went through with ESPN. When you are right you should stand your ground. Players today don't speak out because they don't care. They don't know the history of the sport so it becomes all about the money to them. Money unfortunately breeds complacency."

When the subject of Curt Flood came up we essentially agreed he should be in the Hall of Fame when you consider what he did on the field and his efforts of it. I told Reynolds I wanted to start a campaign to get Flood into the Hall of Fame. He stated, "that would be awfully tough to pull off." I agreed, but it's something I believe in and I will champion the cause no matter what.

When I asked Reynolds point blank whether he felt Flood should be in the Hall of Fame he stated, "Yes. When you look at both his play and what he did off the field there’s no doubt. When you look at what he did as a player and what he did to help players he should be in the Hall of Fame. As a player alone it's arguable whether he should be there or not but when you look at the social significance Curt Flood should be in the Hall of Fame."

After our great conversation I asked Reynolds for his contact information. He stated he didn't have any business cards but gave me his phone number to contact him in the future. I thought that was huge!

After saying goodbye Reynolds went to prepare for his show and I went to watch the game. I was glowing inside knowing I'm living a dream and my vision is manifesting before my eyes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The juice finally gets squeezed from OJ Simpson


The juice finally gets squeezed from OJ Simpson

NFL Hall of Fame running back OJ Simpson will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Simpson was convicted in a Las Vegas courtroom on twelve counts of robbery and kidnapping. Simpson, along with several cohorts, burst in a Las Vegas hotel room seeking to secure memorabilia from those who reportedly stole it from him.

Nicknamed “The Juice” during his playing days Simpson was known for his elusiveness on the field. Unlike the past Simpson couldn’t elude the courts this time because the judicial system finally managed to squeeze the final drops of freedom from the “The Juice.”

Some suggest Simpson didn’t receive a fair trial and he was convicted based on his past. I believe the latter, along with the racial composition of the jury, and shady media coverage spelled the end for Simpson. Let’s examine.

During the1995 murder trial Simpson had a male judge in Lance Itto. The jury was comprised of nine African Americans, two white, and one Hispanic. Simpson hired marquee lawyers to fend for his freedom. Also, despite being accused of murder Simpson still was liked by many.

This time Simpson faced an all white jury comprised of nine females and three males. He faced white female judge in Jackie Glass. More importantly Simpson has faced a segment of white America still fuming he was acquitted of murder. Simpson’s image over the years has been severely damaged as a result.

I paid little attention to the happenings in Las Vegas because I knew he’d be found guilty and unofficially retried for his 1995 murder acquittal. If one objectively looks at the most serious charges of armed robbery and kidnapping I don’t see how the system could justifiably throw the book at Simpson.

Armed robbery is when a person(s) has a weapon who seeks to take property away from someone that doesn’t belong to them. Simpson never had a weapon when he entered the hotel room where his property was. How could Simpson be charged with armed robbery if he wasn’t armed?

Also, Simpson was seeking to recover items that were stolen from him. How could Simpson be convicted of robbery when he trying to secure items that were his in the first place?

According the Associated Press the judge gave the jury instructions consisting of 45 items: item number 15 stated even though the accused (Simpson) wasn’t armed with a weapon(s) because he was present in the hotel room where weapons were present the accused is be considered armed.

The Associated Press also revealed jurors were asked about the Simpson’s 1995 murder acquittal during prescreening. Five of the jurors stated they believed Simpson either committed the murders or had something to do with it. Despite their answers the jurors were selected and allowed to decide Simpson’s fate.

It wasn’t possible for Simpson to get a fair shake because of the jury’s preconceived notions. A Simpson conviction was inevitable.

I think it’s interesting how the media uses race to toil with our collective psyches and subconsciously engineer our minds to think one way or the other.

Most can also remember where there were for the reading of the verdict October 4, 1995 when Simpson was set free. I vividly remember AC Cowlings driving Simpson’s Bronco. People lined the highways holding “Go OJ Go” signs. The vast majority of those cheering for Simpson were white. But when the verdict was read in October of 1995 many of those who cheered Simpson grew to despise him because they believe he got away with murder.

Some in the African American community thought Simpson disenfranchised himself suggesting he wasn’t “one of us.” But when he was acquitted many of those African Americans who initially dissed Simpson were glad their brother won his freedom.

The latter set media coverage set the precedent for how Simpson would be treated the last thirteen years. He couldn’t triumph over a biased all white jury, the present allegations and a tarnished reputation. Simpson didn’t stand a chance.


Though I think Simpson got shafted he isn’t totally exempt from blame. We are primarily products of the choices we make: Simpson choosing to secure his property via force was a mistake. Simpson knew people were out to get him. He should've called the police, filed a report, and went from there and avoided the limelight. It’s too late now.

This verdict was about payback. Even if Simpson had two Johnnie Cochran’s in Las Vegas he was still going down. The Las Vegas jury did what Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden couldn’t do in 1995 and that’s put Simpson away.

I guess the judicial system finally succeeded in squeezing the final drops of freedom from the man formerly known as “The Juice.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is America headed for another Great Depression?


The proposed 700 million bailout plan was scrapped by congress by a vote of 228-205. Congress is scheduled to meet again this week to hopefully hammer out a deal.

Irrespective of ones political affiliation I believe the people have grown weary of empty rhetoric and promises. It’s time for so meaningful results. I think if something isn’t achieved soon we’ll be headed for another Great Depression.

The government is supposed to be “by the people, for the people.” We now hopefully see the latter isn’t true. It’s about government control and big business.

I believe if you work hard for your earnings and pay taxes you should have a voice in how your dollars are allocated. In short, if the American people will be affected by such a vast decision by Congress the people whom it will affect should be involved in the decision-making process.

Doesn’t that make sense?

The Harrison Square project is a local example of what’s going on nationally. In my opinion Harrison Square was forced down our throats. It was an idea that spawned from the minds of a select few yet spun to the masses as something the people of Ft. Wayne yearned for.

The city was so eager to get this project going in some instances they acquired property for substantially more than its’ true value. Isn’t the latter strategic maneuver partly to blame for the current national mortgage melt-down?

If a venture doesn’t make annual dollars to me it doesn’t make sense. Do you think it is intelligent to have a baseball stadium sit empty during the winter months collecting snow instead of revenue?

On the national front I believe the situation is much worse than it’s being projected. It’s time for the American people to wake up and see we are being socially engineered to focus on things to keep us from being fully aware of how bad things really are.

Historically the government has been substantially more hypocritical than just. This isn’t about racism, sexual orientation, crime, sports, or Obama vs. McCain. It's never been about the people and solving societal ills. It’s been about power, money and greed and the government misallocating taxpayer dollars.

When the interest of big business is on the line the government steps in swiftly bails them out. Why isn't the government bailing out the millions of Americans who need it?

It's not about taking care of the American people, it’s about government taking care of itself and aiding big business with taxpayer dollars.

The humanistic thing to do would be to help the American people save their homes, keep their jobs, and provide comprehensive health care for everyone. The latter will stimulate the economy by inducing constructive citizen participation.

Bottom line, if AIG can get 85 billion dollars to continue doing business the government can give us some of our money so we can continue to live.

If I were in charge here’s what I’d do.

I’d provide the people with what’s needed now. The people need affordable housing, gainful employment, lower food and gas prices, and adequate healthcare.

How?

I’d use the tax money taken from the citizens over the years for the people instead of big business. I’d allocate funds the same way the government issued those pitiful stimulus checks but I’d do it with swift precession. The people would have checks cut within a week.

Next, I’d give every homeowner a six to twelve month a moratorium on mortgage payments. Those who are in foreclosure will get six months and those who aren’t would get twelve. The people can allocate the funds they’d use to make mortgage payments towards erasing other debt and raise their credit scores.

Then, I’d provide every household with a minimum ten thousand dollars for hard times like this.

Also, I would also get the homeless off the street. There’s something fundamentally wrong for homelessness to pervade in a society that professes democratic values. If we can fund a meaningless war abroad at 10 billion dollars a month we can afford to provide shelter for human beings here.

My plan would cost approximately 15 billion dollars: that’s just five billion more that what it costs us to fund the war in Iraq for one month.

If someone has something better lets hear it because if something isn’t done fast we’ll be facing the nations second Great Depression.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Was NBA star Josh Howard's statement unpatriotic?


NBA star Allen Iverson held a celebrity flag-football game in Baltimore, Maryland in July. Fellow NBA player, Josh Howard, of the Dallas Mavericks participated in the game. While the National Anthem was playing Howard stated the following on video: "The Star-Spangled banner is going on. But I don't even celebrate that shit. But I'm black. God-damn Obama and all that shit."

African American journalist like ESPN’s Scoop Jackson suggested, “to come off unpatriotic is not good.”

I personally don’t have a problem with Howard’s statement. Many allowed his obscenities to deflect from his underlying message. Once you analyze his words he’s actually making a relevant statement.

Allow me to dissect for clarity.

“The Star Spangled Banner is going on.”

The song means nothing little to Howard because African Americans were systematically oppressed under the ole red, white and blue.

While America is typically noted for its positive efforts this country has also committed heinous acts which often go unspoken: the American flag everyone wants us to salute also represents systematic racism and oppression.

The song came from a poem written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. It ends with the famous words “the land of the free and home of the brave.” The latter didn’t apply to people of Howard’s hue as they were facing racism.

Howard believes we are living collective lies based on mythology commencing with American slavery that was sanctioned by the government, and kept alive today by the media.

“But I’m black.”

Despite Howard being a multi-millionaire athlete he recognizes that a high priced slave is yet still a slave. Irrespective of the advancements African Americans have made a long road to equality still awaits.

Centuries ago white historians purposely fabricated American history to ensure African Americans would be second-class citizens. Howard is suggesting this country has disseminated bold faced lies and half-truths about African Americans so we’d be viewed negatively in the mainstream today.

“God-damn Obama and all that shit."

To me Obama is already the President of the United States. He’s without question a better candidate than John McCain. But some in the African American community question whether Obama wants history more than making a real difference. Howard just expressed his feelings in a different fashion than most.

We all know we’ve never resided in a democratic state. We also know America has never been a free democratic state as history professes. Words such as freedom, justice, and equality are used to make us content. But when you understand the facts such traits aren’t a part of the African American experience.

Now it’s being suggested Howard should be should be traded, fined, or at least suspended because he spoke his mind. I don’t think he should be sanctioned at all. He wasn’t at work when he spoke and if there’s freedom of speech he should be free to express his views.

Most in the mainstream media have attacked Howard. Even a few of the African American sports writers jumped on board. To me African American writers need to speak up just like the athletes. But most opt for compliance out of fear of being ridiculed and or losing their jobs.

For example, Stephen A. Smith attempted to keep it real at times but he paid a price. In 2006 Stephen A. was stripped of his column with the Philadelphia Daily News and early this year he lost his ESPN radio show. Smith also had a TV show Quite Frankly for over a year but that was taken off the air. Now he writes a column for ESPN the Magazine while keeping it cool in the process.

What happened to Stephen A. sends a subliminal message that if you overstep your boundaries you’ll be silenced.

In my opinion most of the African American writers with viable platforms have heeded the message. Few have anything meaningful to offer in the way of direction and genuine insight.
We all know there's a price to be paid for speaking out. African American athletes, entertainers, and the few writers are fearful they'll get Stephen A'd so they opt for a combination of neglect and silence. That’s their choice but not mine.

I think the media is simply creating an atmosphere to get Howard black-balled out of the league by labeling him as an unpatriotic African American millionaire who talks too much. The message is ignited by the white mainstream media and they will cleverly utilize the handful of African American writers to bring Howard down.

I personally don’t have an issue with Howard’s statement nor do I think he’s unpatriotic: I have a bigger issue with how most aren’t looking beyond his words to see their true meaning.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Does one need attend church to do God’s work?


As I was leaving the YMCA last week after a workout I encountered a gentleman as I was walking to my car. As I was opening my car door the gentleman said from afar, “As salamm alakaim,” which is an Islamic greeting meaning “peace” or “peace be upon you.”

I really didn’t know how to take his greeting initially because I’m not a Muslim. I’m just someone who is trying to live his truth.

I rarely delve into the religion discussion for various reasons. But I think now is as good of time as any to share my personal thoughts on the church and religion.

First off, I’m a child of God who has been given the precious gift of life. I'm of African heritage and I’m a citizen of the world who resides in America. I believe in humanity irrespective of perceived differences in terms of religion, color, sexuality, and social status.

I don't subscribe to nor confine myself to the jurisdiction of a specific religious. I’m merely a spiritual being. While I think all religions are good I chose not to be part of one. To me attempting to live a good life is more important to me than professing a religious affiliation.

It’s important for me to be honest rather then attempting to be right. Living my truth and serving humanity based on the blessings God has given me is my chief aim.

For a long time I had a big problem with religion and the church but not some much anymore. From a historical standpoint religion, particularly Christianity was utilized as tool for oppression during slavery. The religion was an instrument racists used to justify enslavement and keep Africans in a state of subordination.

Now, in my greater wisdom I know it wasn’t the religion that forced servitude-it was the racists and their twisted interpretations of Gods’ word that fueled their actions.

Religion and the church has been a vital part in the African American experience in the United States. For centuries commencing with institutionalized bondage belief in God is all one had in dealing with bondage.

But our forefathers turned a negative into a positive.
The African American church was vital in the formation of institutions of higher learning to manifest throughout the south. Colleges like Howard, Clark, Fisk, Tennessee St., and Grambling were erected to facilitate the need African Americans had to be educated because whites didn’t want us at their centers of learning.

Prior to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond the church was targeted by racists because they knew he power of belief in the African American community. Churches were bombed by racists to break the collective will of African American’s spirit and soul. By violating African American temples of worship racists attempted to further curtail mainstream advancement.

Though religion has been instrumental in the African American community it’s also been divisive. It can promote separation rather than unity because many think their beliefs are superior to others.

Depending on the level of open-mindedness of those involved discussing religion can turn sour because many are quick to defend something that’s dear to their hearts. Sometimes ones faith clouds objectivity.

Two of the greatest leaders of all time were Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. One was a Baptist and the other a Muslim. Though both embraced different religions but their aim was the same. They wanted to liberate the oppressed masses.

Despite their differences they both were greeted with open arms at the gates of heaven because they did God’s work.

Another issue I have with some churches is some pastors use the word of God to make people feel good on Sunday simply to collect tides while doing little to help one deal with society Monday through Saturday.

I believe churches should better reflect the environment in which we live and address the problems that reside in it. This burden falls on the pastor some of which have agendas other than serving God.

Not all churches or pastors subscribe to the latter but we all know some do.

I believe in God but I don’t attend church. Does that make me not worthy of Gods love?

I believe God is everything therefore I consider the world to be my church. Where ever I go I believe the voice inside of me is God guiding me. I personally don’t need to join a church for further validation.

I'm just doing the work God has given me to do while attempting to live my truth.

Categorize me where you wish. I care little about how I’m judged because God is the ultimate judge, not man.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's time for Herman Edwards to move on!


Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards suggested three years ago, "A scared man won't gamble and he won't leave his wife alone at home, I'm not scared."

Obviously Edwards no longer subscribes to the latter. Under Edwards’ leadership the team is more conservative than Ronald Reagan was when he was president.

The Chiefs looked dismal in their home opener losing to their arch rival the Oakland Raiders 23-8. The offense was horrendous as usual.

Herman “you play to win the game” Edwards simply isn’t putting his team in a position to win. Last year team lost nine consecutive loses and kicked off this year with two more. Despite getting younger and hiring a new offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey the offense still stinks.

The Chiefs are being held hostage to the conservatism of Herman Edwards. I think he needs to get his ship righted soon or the organization should get another coach.

It pains me to write this column because I love the Chiefs. I’ve been a die-hard since 1993. I can’t let my love for the team sway my professional judgment as a writer. I like Herman Edwards as a man but I don’t think he’s a good fit for the Chiefs. Sorry, but I must keep it real.

Last week against the New England Patriots the Chiefs got key turnovers and knocked Tom Brady out of the game. Yet offensively the Chiefs couldn’t score from inside the five with 56 seconds remaining to possibly tie or win the game.

Edwards is obsessed with getting younger on defense instead of getting the team better. Edwards played defense in the NFL for ten years and that’s the way he drafts.

Fine, but the last time I checked the team that scores the most points wins the game.

The Chiefs shipped their best defensive player in Jared Allen to Minnesota. The organization drafted Glenn Dorsey and he’s going be a stud. But wouldn’t the team have been even better with Allen and Dorsey?

This Edwards led team is a far cry from what it used to be.
Three years B.E. (Before Edwards) the Chiefs were an offensive threat. The line was great and they ran the ball well.

The Dick Vermeil teams had enthusiasm and passion. Gone is the aerial assault of Trent Green to Tony Gonzalez. Gone are exciting plays from Dante Hall and the dual threat of Priest Holmes running and catching balls out of the backfield.

Now the offense is horrific. Larry Johnson is not getting involved and Gonzalez doesn’t have a quarterback that can get him the ball.

If anyone hasn’t noticed the Chiefs need a quarterback. Brodie Croyle is injury prone and Huard is no more than a career backup. Two years ago Green went down and Huard came in and played very well but he’s not the answer.

So what did the Chiefs do this week? They sign Ingle Martin.

Ingle Martin?

Give me a break.

Edwards is seemingly more interested in keeping games close rather than “playing to win the game.”

In Edwards first year as coach in 2006 the 9-7 Chiefs got into playoffs on a myriad of miracles on the last day of the season. True to form the offense stunk. The Chiefs failed to get a single first down in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts in losing 23-8.

Last season due to injuries and conservatism on offense the Chiefs finished 4-12. This year doesn’t look much better.

What's the solution?

The conservative nature of the offense is actually handicapping a solid defense by being on the field much longer than it should. Getting Larry Johnson involved more would be wise.

Open up the offense with quarterbacks you have or get someone that can. If you lose fine, but at least lose with some dignity.

Forget about getting younger, focus on getting the team better.

Bottom line, if Edwards isn’t willing let his team “play to win the game” I think the organization should get another head coach and move on.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My US Open experience was a dream come true




Covering the US Open was a dream come true. I believe in dreaming big, living hard, and never giving up. It's the stuff champions are made of and in my own way I consider myself as such.

I guess dreaming big, living hard, and never giving up makes things you want come your way.

I've been to the US Open six times as a fan but this was the first as a journalist. When I went to the grounds to pick up my credentials on the grounds I was nervous. I felt as I was getting ready for a big match.

This time I was entering the stadium as a writer first, fan second. At first it was a bit difficult to separate the two. I did a good job because I kept it real.

I wrote good columns, networked and watched great tennis. I had big fun. I met people I've never would have met if I didn't have a vision.

All dreams are possible because I just did something I consider big that I've always wanted to do. Hit a wagon to your dreams and have at it.

My overall experience ranks up there with the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the first of two Super Bowl games I attended as in 2001.

One thing that’s beautiful about sports is it brings people together. It's a utopian world that we in the mainstream can learn great lessons from. The biggest is cohesion. Sport as an institution isn’t perfect but what institution is?

Rooting for your player, discussing strategy, interaction with fans, meeting writers and TV analysts was great. The latter was possible because of the sporting event we all came to see. It was a very conducive environment to allow for meaningful communication to transpire.

Perhaps if we focused on those things which bring us together it would make for a great model in possibly transforming society.

I love sports, particularly tennis, because it simply makes me feel good. Sport is one of the greatest institutions ever. I'm blessed to have been able to live out a dream in an environment that I love to be in.

Despite the greatness of my overall experience it wasn’t without a few negatives. First off, I was one of a handful of African American journalists from all over the world. Out of the 1600 credentials issued I was one of approximately ten African American journalists from around the globe. The latter reflected the lack of diversity within the media and ultimately society.

For me the latter was bittersweet. It was bitter because of the poor representation of African American writers yet sweet because I was one of the few African American writers there. I was there with the big boys and by know means did I feel out of place because I believe I’m one of the best at what I do.

Representatives from Tennis Magazine, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Newsday were there. It was great for my confidence and future endeavors. I got to talk with some of the so-called experts in their craft. We even engaged in debate. I left those encounters knowing I was good and many cases better than some of those there.

Why?

Because I'm confident and I'm not afraid to let it be known. Everyone has a beat that they live by. Mine just happens to sound so good that I want to share with everyone. Like American Express says, "Never leave home without it." My confidence is something I don't leave home without.

Tennis is diverse in terms of nationality but not in terms of color. The number of African Americans playing tennis is not where it should be. Marketing, lack of inclusion, and developing young talent are the primary reasons. I feel the USTA needs to do more to make the game as diverse and reflect the societal makeup of America.

In short, IF the US Open is truly open the USTA should open their minds and hearts and bring more color to the game.

Why hasn't the USTA sought the knowledge of Richard Williams? He raised two champions in a white dominated sport. That’s never been done in the history of tennis.

My predictions for the tournament were right on. My favorites to win on the men’s side were Roger Federer, James Blake, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic. For the women I picked the winner of the Serena Venus Williams match would win the tourney.

Another ironic thing is during the first week of tournament I get to meet both Roger Federer and Serena Williams and secured their autographs. Just so happen they took home the trophies. Good stuff.

A few moments that meant a lot to me were seeing two African Americans battling on Ashe stadium in a five set match. James Blake and Donald Young put on a show. A very fitting first round encounter after a night that honored 40 years of Open tennis.

Earth Wind and Fire held a small concert at Arthur Ashe stadium. They happen to be my favorite group of all time.

Though the celebration was nice I don’t think enough attention was given to the man who ushered in the Open Era of tennis. Please read my column on Arthur Ashe as it's a fitting tribute to a man that gave so much to sport and society. I didn’t get to meet his widow but I’ve secured her contact info and will be sending her a copy of my column I wrote about her husband.

My overall experience at this years’ US Open was wonderful. Seeing how things function from the inside out was nice. I had access to every place on the grounds except the locker rooms. Seeing the players practice on the courts, hanging out in the players lounge, and watching them prepare for matches was cool.

I met a number of past and current players Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, James Blake, Donald Young, Serena Williams, Jim Courier, and Mats Wilander to name a few.

I was hanging out and got to meet Mr. October Reggie Jackson. He’s probably my all-time favorite Yankee. I really enjoyed the moment, lived a dream, and did it with a smile.

I met an author Shaun Powell. He’s a writer for Newsday. We had nice dialogue about sports and my writing aspirations.

I met a lot of photographers, television people, and video editors.
I met a photographer from Switzerland assigned to cover Roger Federer.

The workers on the grounds were great, particularly those in security. I forged some good relations with those who worked the inside. The only thing that disturbed me was I saw workers/chefs whom were responsible for cooking food for the rich corporate executives eating outside on the steps as fans went to their box seats. To me that didn't look good. Rather that was the workers choice I don't know, but it made me feel uneasy seeing them prepare food for the rich while being forced to eat in what I deem an uncomfortable setting.

I even wondered into a luxury suite. Not my type of crowd but it was nice to see how the other half lives.

In closing, the dream I had was transferred into a goal. I made it manifest through persistence and planning. I'm not sure where this road will lead me, but it’s something I intend to find out.

I've accomplished something now it's on to the next thing. I have a big one planned but before I go public with it I first must commit to the idea. Once I do I'll let you all now.

So to all of you I hope you dream big, live hard, and never give up.

Richard Williams: He did it Frank Sinatra Style

Moments after Serena Williams won her third career US Open title the first person to greet her courtside was her father Richard Williams. He was smiling from ear to ear as he watched one of his two champions secure another Grand Slam for the family.

Richard Williams had raised and coached two African American champions who dominate a sport historically reserved for whites. Lets put this into perspective. Could you imagine if Tiger Woods had a younger brother just as good as in terms of talent challenging him each Sunday to win Grand Slams?

Enough said.

Richard Williams' has been hailed as a genius for what's done in raising two tennis champions in one household. I'd agree he's a genius but I'm more impressed with how he did it. Just like Frank Sinatra's hit "I Did it My Way," Williams surely did it his way.

Williams taught himself the game and passed on his knowledge to his daughters. He didn't have his children in USTA tournaments traveling the country like most: Williams kept his daughters grounded and away from junior touraments. It was a bold move but one that's obviously paid off.

To me Williams is a man from the hood that's often misunderstood. I've met him on several occasions at various tournaments. To me he's someone who is grounded yet speaks his mind. He deals with all people well yet aware of his surroundings and the pervasiveness of racism.

Williams has suggested there's racism on the WTA tour and his daughters have been the recipients of it. Looking at the lack of African American women and men playing tennis his assertion certainly has credence.

In my opinion the USTA hasn't done enough to diversify the game. I can't think of anything specifically they've done to make the game more accessible and affordable to African Americans.

If the few African American tennis stars were marketed correctly there could be more African Americans involved. Other sports like basketball and football market their athletes which creates future opportunities. African Americans gravitate towards the latter sports because they see someone who looks like them in abundance.

I think the USTA would benefit from the wisdom of Richard Williams. Why hasn't anyone approached him for his input?

The opportunity is there to grow the sport. Opening night of the US Open started with James Black playing another up and coming African American Donald Young on the court that's named after Arthur Ashe. In the quarterfinals Venus squared off against her sister in an epic two set match. The tournament ended with Serena Williams winning her third title.

The ingredients to grow the sport for African Amerians are certainly there.

But perhaps Williams doesn't want or need to be involved with the USTA. Perhaps the USTA is reluctant to deal with a man who has referred to the sport as being racist. To me by the USTA not consulting with Williams is actually a compliment. Not acknowledging his wisdom or seeking to utilize his expertise in actuality is a testament of his greatness. The facts are his two children from the hood are at the top of the tennis world. Hollywood couldn't have written a better script.

Think of Richard Williams as you wish but you have to give the man his due. He's done something no other coach has done in sports and that's raise two African American champions who dominate a white sport.

But more importantly he did it Frank Sinatra style-he did it his way on his own terms.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Arthur Ashe: A Tribute to an American hero


When Arthur Ashe won the US Open in 1968 he ushered in the “Open Era” of tennis which allowed both professional and amateur players to compete against each other. Ashe’s historic victory planted the seeds of change in tennis that have clearly manifested over the past four decades.

When Ashe beat Tom Okker in the final he received the winners’ trophy and $20.00 per a day in per diem while the runner-up received the winners’ share of $14,000 because Ashe was an amateur. The money was simply part of the sacrifice he made so the future generation of players would benefit today.

I was fortunate enough to have met Ashe in 1992 before a lecture he gave at Indiana University. In our brief conversation I expressed my love for tennis and asked how I could get better. He softly stated, “You have to practice.” Now, sixteen years later I’ll be attending this years’ US Open as a credentialed journalist writing about the man who kicked off the Open era in tennis.

When I met Ashe I knew he was a pretty good tennis player but hadn’t fully known of his accomplishments off the court.

Now I certainly do.

Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia July 10, 1943. As a youngster he was introduced to the game by his father Arthur Ashe Sr. Later Ashe’s skills would be honed by his coach Robert Walter Johnson. He was a standout tennis player at Sumner High School and was featured in Sports Illustrated.

Ashe entered UCLA in 1963 and in 1965 won the NCAA singles title in 1965. Besides his US Open victory in 1968 Ashe won the United States Amateur Championships and led the U.S Davis Cup team to victory. He’s the only player to have won both the Amateur and Open National Championships in the same year.

When Ashe ushered in the Open Era of tennis the societal conditions were horrific and racism was ripping the America apart. The country was was engaging in an unpopular war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King was assinated in April and Presidential hopeful Bobby Kennedy was slain in June. As a result race riots took place all over the country during the summer.

Ashe himself once suggested the biggest ordeal in his life wasn’t a tough opponent or AIDS-it was dealing with the complexities of racism. Ashe stated, “Living with AIDS is not the greatest burden I've had in my life. Being black is."

Ashe also stated, "AIDS killed my body, but racism is harder to bear. It kills the soul."

Ashe consistently displayed courage in battling opponents on the court, racism in America, aparthied abroad, and AIDS in his last days.
Without a doubt Ashe was a courageous man.

As a reminder of his marked courage The Arthur Ashe Award for Courage award is given annually to individuals who display courage in the face of adversity. The 2008 recipients were former Olymypic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos for the stand they took at the 1968 Olympics. With their fists raised to the sky and their heads bowed Smith and Carlos protested against racsim on the world’s largest athletic stage. Smith and Carlos’s demonstration was a silent gesture heard around the world.

It’s often difficult to visualize what’s possible without a visible prototype. Ashe along with the great female tennis great Althea Gibson made it possible for current African American players like James Blake, Donald Young, Venus the Williams sisters to excel. I only hope Ashe’s and Gibson’s foundation they set yesterday is not only embraced but appreciated today.

I think the name “US Open” is a fitting for this tournament. “United” means togetherness and “states” is a place of being. “Open” implies inclusion and freedom to engage.

Who better exemplified the latter more than Arthur Ashe?

This years 40 year celebration of Open tennis will be conducted at the stadium that bears the man’s name who started it all. The beautiful thing about sport is it brings people together. We temporaily relax our preconcieved notions and root for the team and or athlete. Wouldn’t it be great to bottle that temporary cohesion and give doses to everyone with the promise of making the temporary permanent?

If Ashe were alive today I think he’d want that.

Unlike most athletes today Ashe used his platform to plant the seeds of growth in society and sport. Ashe was a father, husband, mentor, activist, humanitarian, coach, scholar, and author who served his country who happened to play great tennis.

Inclusion is what Arthur Ashe fought for on and off the court: it’s wonderful to see those seeds he planted forty years ago are being recognized as they continue to bloom today.