Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Packers need to give Favre his helmet back


I think the Green Bay Packer organization, especially General Manager Ted Thompson, are nuts for treating Brett Favre like he’s a scrub. No, I’m not a big fan of Favre’s but he’s been treated unfairly. Yes, he had an emotional retirement speech on March 3rd where he expressed he was really done this time but now he’s changed his mind and wants to keep playing.

This frenzy surrounding Favre isn’t anything new. Each off-season Favre takes time to gauge how much he’ll be missed. This time around apparently the love has waned and the Packers are set to move on without him.

This situation takes me back to 1992 when San Francisco 49er quarterback Joe Montana injured his elbow and Steve Young inherited Montana’s job. Young played pretty well in Montana’s absence so the organization stayed with him and sent Montana packing to the Kansas City Chiefs. The 49er’s organization felt Montana could no longer play. He wasn’t even given the opportunity to demonstrate he was healed so he could at least compete for his job. A quarterback who won you four Super Bowls and set numerous records can’t get the benefit of the doubt?

Though I’m a Chiefs fan and was happy to have Montana, he didn’t look right in that uniform: he’s a San Francisco 49er no matter how you slice it just like Favre will always be a Packer even though he may end up elsewhere.

Given the career Favre has amassed and the way he performed last year shows he can get it done. I don’t understand why the Packers are so keen on moving on. I’m even more perplexed as to who they are moving on with.

Aaron Rodgers is the guy now but he’s also a walking question mark. Yes, he had a great half of football against the Dallas Cowboys when Favre went down with an elbow injury, but that’s it. Other than holding a clipboard for three years we don’t really know what Rodgers can do and now isn’t the time to find out.

One of the major problems with professional franchises is the people running them often know little about sports. In this case General Manager Ted Thompson doesn’t have a clue. Thompson may understand business but hasn’t demonstrated he understands how to treat marquee players like Favre.

The Packers suggest they want to move on because Favre has been back and forth with his decision on retiring. So what. A person has the right to change their mind.

When athletes eventually ride off into the sunset they’ve lived approximately half their lives. Generally football players retire in their mid to late 30’s if their lucky with a full live ahead of them. Some find it hard to move on, particularly when they can still play.

I think it’s hard for Favre to walk away because he doesn’t have something meaningful to replace what he’ll eventually have to leave. Despite a supportive family and his millions it’s still hard to walk away from something you love. It’s hard giving up being one of the best at your craft. It’s hard not being around the guys in the locker room. It will be difficult giving up running out of that tunnel on Sundays knowing most fans are they to see you perform.

Favre would rather throw touchdowns at LamBeau than shoot deer on Sundays. He’d rather call plays in the huddle rather than cut grass on his riding mower in rural Mississippi.

Again, it’s tough to hang it up when you can still do it.

Now let’s get to the real issue here-typically when organizations make changes they do it to upgrade the franchise. If you fire a coach one should logically attempt to hire someone who does a better job than the guy leaving. When the organization opts to replace the quarterback fans hope to see someone that gives the team the best chance to win on Sunday.

Having said that how can moving on with Rodgers logically be considered an upgrade? If the Packers think Rodgers is the guy fine. Release Favre or trade him and let him play elsewhere but in my opinion that would be nuts.

This is not a case of a guy hanging on too long whose skills have diminished, nor is Favre in it for the money-he just wants his helmet back so he can play.

The bottom line is Favre gives the Packers the best chance to win on Sunday. All of the other factors are secondary in my opinion.

Yes, Favre has to move on at some point but now isn’t the time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rev. Jackson calls Obama a “nigger”


Recently Jesse Jackson made derogatory statements about presidential hopeful Barack Obama on the FOX Network. Now it’s being reported Jackson said more than what was initially reported. Jackson is believed to have called Obama, “A no good, half-breed nigger.”

This situation is very unfortunate. First off, Jackson should have reframed from such statements. If that’s something he needed to say he should have taken confronted Obama face to face in private.

Jackson clearly has provided fuel for the media pit two African Americans against one another but I urge you to look beyond the obvious.

I think this is a good opportunity to engage in dialogue about the word “nigger” and put it in its proper context. To me it’s not about Jackson calling Obama a nigger-it’s about how the word was utilized in Colonial America and beyond.

In the early 1600’s in Virginia Anglo-Saxon Europeans began referring to imported Africans as niggers. When they began importing natives for indentured servitude and eventually full-fledged bondage they weren’t referred to by their given African names-they were confiscated. Therefore the word nigger was substituted for their given names. The latter endured for centuries.

Why isn’t the media talking about that?

Today anytime a white person utters the word “nigger” they are vilified for using it, and they should: but now we have a situation where a prominent African Americans refers to the other as a nigger.

Is there a double-standard?

White racists historically have used the word “nigger” as a tool to destroy the collective psyche of African Americans. What African Americans have done overtime is modify the meaning of the word to make it acceptable within the community where they live. Largely the word is used in an endearing fashion which reflects a strong bond and or friendship. Jackson surely didn’t mean it in an endearing fashion.

In sixth grade, while waiting in line to get a drink of water a white kid cut me in line and said, “Get out of the way nigger!” All of the other students, mostly white, heard it and the teacher did nothing. The words hurt. I took matters into my own hands since the teacher failed to handle it.

You see, that white student felt entitled to cut me in line because I was considered inferior in his eyes. He felt his complexion entitled him to disturb my world: lessons I’m sure he learned from home. But when my African American friends used the word it never made me feel bad because that wasn’t their intention.

What the media is trying to with Jackson’s statements reminds me of the American drug problem. The government allows drugs into the country. Then they disperse them into African American communities for distribution. Once the drugs are in the community the same government allowing the drugs seeks to arrest the people for using the drugs they’re responsible for bringing in the community.

So, how can an African American calling another African American a nigger be a big deal when the media fails to mention who created the word and why?

Hypocrisy.

To me it’s not about Jackson calling Obama a nigger-it’s about America still calling African American niggers without using the word.

Back in the day whites overtly called African Americans a nigger to their face. We’re still being called niggers today but it’s very subtle. It’s like oxygen-you know it’s there, yet you can’t touch it but you certainly can feel it.

African Americans are being called nigger when having to perform on the job four times as hard as whites to be considered average. You’re a nigger when you are harassed by the police because of skin color. You’re a nigger when the judicial system awards you a longer sentence because of race. We’re viewed as niggers when African Americans are stereotypically portrayed in the media by whites. We’re niggers when African Americans account for nearly 70% of the NFL as players yet are kept from ownership opportunities because of skin color.

When you look beyond what’s presented you’ll often arrive at the truth. Mainstream America doesn’t want to go there because they’d have to admit to their collective wrong-doing.

Again, Jackson exercised poor judgment but let’s not forget where the word came from and what “we” mean when we use the word. When you look at this event with an open mind then you can view this situation for what it really is.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My inspiration: My hero

It’s never a bad time to extend a special thanks to those who were instrumental in ones development. Today I want to pay homage to my hero who inspires me most.

There are a few people whom I truly admire for their accomplishments in society and in the realm of sports. Muhammad Ali is my all time favorite in sports. He said he was the greatest and he proved it.

Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Curt Flood, Arthur Ashe, and Jackie Robinson are others who I admire. They stood tall while at the apex of their athletic careers. They sacrificed and battled racism to make things better for us all.

In terms of activism the likes of Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, and Martin Luther King were great but Malcolm X was the best. He provided the best blueprint that could liberate the minds and souls of African Americans during the turbulent 1960’s and beyond.

I’ve had several teachers and professors whom I respect for their wisdom. Their collective efforts have helped shape my world.

While the latter athletes, activists, and educators have a special place they don’t measure to my ultimate hero. When I’m at my lowest I often think of my hero and how they taught me from day one how to live and never give up.

Who is my hero?

My hero is the person who brought me into this world-my mom.

I came into the world a blank sheet of paper unmarked. The first etchings of knowledge came from the wisdom mom provided. For me the best life lessons weren’t learned at L.C. Ward, Weisser Park, Shawnee, Northrop, or IU. The most valuable seeds of knowledge were planted on Smith Street as an infant, on Robinwood Drive as a child, and Oxford Street as a young adult.

Mom did for me on an individual level what Malcolm X did in society and that’s to stand tall. Like Ali, mom taught me that its’ fine to speak your mind. I know there were times she thought I wasn’t listening but I was. Her words of wisdom mean more to me than anything. The simplicity of her knowledge radiates within me and I will live by her wisdom until my casket drops.

Mom never needed to be validated by utilizing the sophistication of technology. My mom has never been on a plane, never smoked a cigarette nor ever took a drink. She’s never owned a computer or used a cell phone. Yet many of the people depend on such technology can’t hold a candle to the type of intellect my mom has-myself included.

Mom lacks the formal education many of us have but that’s OK. Mom only went up to eighth grade just like Malcolm X. Mom quit school to raise the five children her mother reared but refused to properly care for. What a sacrifice to make.

Like Malcolm X, the world was her classroom.

Despite many bitter cruelties along the way she was able to run a small business by herself and make it work. She raised three men who weren’t burdens to society. More important she provided wisdom for us to live by.

A college professor would teach from a book on how act civilized and following societal norms. We’d read about how to be responsible and always do the right thing.

Mom would simply say, “Can’t do wrong and think right is gonna follow you.”

Malcolm X expressed the importance of standing tall and one shouldn’t apologize for being who they want to be.

Mom would say, “Don’t throw your rock and hide your hand.”

For many who have problems we seek therapy or turn to drugs to cope. Maybe we’ll read self-help books or watch Dr. Phil to help deal with the havoc and stress we face in the world.

You’d simply say, “Don’t worry, every road has an end to it.”

Or she’d say, “Pray.”

With this being an election year I’ve witnessed a lot political chicanery. Politicians, especially the Clintons, try to look good in the streets for votes but the story is different in private.

To truly know someone mom would say, “You wanna know how somebody is follow em’ home.”

In short, thanks for packing my school lunches as a child, for washing my Little League uniforms, for coming to my basketball games in high school, for writing me letters in college, and for just being there. More importantly thanks for the wisdom.

So, to the smartest person I know, I say with love, thank you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wimbledon: A Williams’ family affair indeed


Venus Williams won her fifth Wimbledon singles title as she out-dueled her little sister Venus 7-5, 6-4. It marked the first time the Williams’ sisters met in a grand slam final since 2003. Their historic clash was a family affair in more ways than one.

Personally, it was great to see order restored at top of women’s tennis. It brought back memories of when the sister act first met in a grand slam final at the 2001 US Open. It was an historic event indeed because two African American stars at the top of their games were vying for the most prized tourney in tennis. I’m thankful enough to have witnessed them make history and then arrive home safely days before the terrorist attacks.

In 2003 the Williams’ sisters met in four consecutive grand slam finals. They revolutionized the game and brought color to a sport that’s, despite their dominance, still lily white. The Williams’ sisters brought a level of talent, charisma, power and attitude never witnessed before.

The last few years the sister act has missed a lot of time on court because of injuries, off-the-court interests, their parents divorce, and having their older sister slain. Dealing with the latter caused them to miss tournaments and have their rankings dip to all time lows. Now they are back hungrier and fitter than ever.

The sister act started official began on the grand slam front nearly a decade ago with Serena winning the US Open in 1999. Venus’s Wimbledon triumph shows they’ve now gotten back to the mountain top retreat. What a ride it’s been for the Williams sisters. The way it looks much more is to come.

Let’s not forget Venus teamed with Serena to win the doubles title as well. The Williams family took home the trophies and a cool 2.5 million for their efforts. Not bad for two weeks work huh?

Let’s look beyond the surface for a moment. I think what the Williams’ family have done the last decade is one of the great feats in sports. Their parents, Richard and Oracene Williams, produced two African American champions of the highest rank in sport reserved for whites. That’s never been done before.

Two African American stars from the same family have shined brightly in a sport that’s historically been reserved for whites. Together they’ve won a total of fifteen grand slams with Serena having 8 to Venus’s 7.

The Williams’s family was not blessed with money. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity in the mean streets of Compton, California during the Williams’ sister’s formative years. So the family collectively hitched their efforts to a dream and didn’t let go until it manifested.

Their father is a strong outspoken African American male. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him on two brief occasions. He’s surely the leader of the family without question but Oracene is certainly the glue. Despite being divorced they still work in the best interest of the family.

To further illustrate my view, let’s say Tiger had a little brother that was as good as him battling him every Sunday for the money. Tiger alone dominates his sport like no one before. Could you imagine the impact on golf if he had a brother seeking to best him in a sport historically dominated by whites?

To me their parents did an exemplary job of raising not one, but two champions. They don’t get into trouble, they are well coached, and live their lives they way they wish. They travel the world and make tons of money off their God-given talent and hard work. More importantly they are living their dreams: perhaps even bigger than they imagined.

To me the Williams family is the epitome of the American dream.

You don’t have to be a professional tennis player like the sister act to stake your claim-their vehicle is tennis, what are your dreams and aspirations? If you don’t have any find some or dust off the old ones and have at it. Only two things can happen. Either you’ll make it or you won’t.

Why not give yourself the opportunity to find out?

Family and reaching ones dreams is the theme here. Venus may be taking home the biggest prize but to me the whole family wins. It was a family affair indeed, in more ways than one.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Independence Day: A piece of Eurocentric mythology


I want to wish a Happy Independence Day to all. I’m sure many of you will fire up the grills, down a few beers, and set off some fireworks in celebration. I will fire up my grill as well, but it won’t be in celebration of Independence Day: it will be in recognition of the centuries of lies erected by the Founding Fathers.

I consider the Fourth of July celebration as a piece of Eurocentric mythology. It reminds me not of American independence-it reminds me of the hypocrisy we continue to live by because African Americans weren’t included. It represents how we’ve been thoroughly brainwashed in public schools and institutions of higher learning. America, particularly African Americans, have been hypnotized to buy into a collection of historical lies.

Lets’ examine.

Back in the 1770’s the American forefathers grew weary of British rule. Americans were tired of being taxed by the British without proper representation. The forefathers said they’ll lay down their lives to fight for their rights. On March 23, 1775 American patriot Patrick Henry gave a famous speech when he stated, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

The Founding Fathers wanted freedom and they got it. On July 4, 1776 The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the thirteen colonies in America. The author of the document Thomas Jefferson wrote the following: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

All men are created equal? Give me a break.

If history is put in its proper prospective we all know equality didn’t exist for all then and it doesn’t now. What’s left out of curriculums in public schools and institutions of higher learning is the other side of the story called the truth.

Yes, the Founding Fathers wanted independence only for a select few-it was for white males who owned land. What many white historians omitted from history is one third of America’s population consisted of imported African slaves. Slaves had no rights or freedom too pursue anything that resembled independence: they were bound to the ugliness of slavery with no end in sight.

Independence for all?

Yes, Thomas Jefferson wrote a Declaration of Independence that would ensure equality for “all men” but what white historians failed to mention is he owned over 200 slaves. Jefferson fathered at least seven children from slave Sally Hemmings. While Jefferson authored this famous document in his office he went back to his plantation to be with his two families-one African American and the other white.

How can a Founding Father author a document asserting independence for “all” yet allow institutionalized slavery to persist in society and on his property?

Hypocrisy!

What keeps the hypocrisy and mythology functioning is the education systems and colleges around the country. They fail to disseminate the truth in its entirety. We don’t need to be educated-we simply need to be properly informed. You get bad information you get bad education. The school curriculums weren’t set up to educate us correctly, they were set up to condition us to live based on fabrications and advertent omissions of historical facts.

I know I didn’t learn anything in public schools about my forefathers in Africa. I learned about American history and how it was written as HIS STORY.

We all need to understand the circumstances around our existence in America. African Americans need to know about the accolades and achievements garnered in ancient civilizations in Africa and beyond. The latter would help put American history in its proper context.

Let me be clear here: some of us don’t know or have a reason to question America’s mythology because we’ve been conditioned to not ask the right questions and simply accept American history as truth. The latter is no longer an excuse-consider yourselves informed.

I believe public school curriculums should be rewritten with colleges following suit. African American educators in this school system who know the truth should teach it without fear. Such chicanery as Independence Day should be rebuked. To continue to teach something that’s not true or fail to mention the truth in its entirety is no longer acceptable. An educator’s status should be utilized to liberate the minds and souls of those they touch. To not teach truth ensures another generation of minds will go to waste.

Hopefully you’ll have something to ponder as you celebrate your mythic independence. Like I said before, I will be firing up my grill but not in celebration. It will be in recognition of how we’ve been exploited by Eurocentric mythology and that I have what Founding Fathers didn’t want me to know and that’s the truth.

Happy Independence Day.