Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obama: The march towards history continues but at what cost?

Barack Obama embarked closer to presidential history as he's now formally accepted the Democratic nomination at Invesco field in front of 80,000 people. During his 42 minute speech Obama strongly proclaimed, “We are a better country than his.”

Obama was right. This country is in shambles due to the incompetent leadership from a man I consider borderline functionally illiterate.

Obama ironically gave his speech on the same date Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech forty-five years ago. On August 28, 1963 approximately 300,000 people, African American, whites, men and women, marched on Washington in protest.

Like Obama’s, King’s speech was televised. In his seventeen minute speech he aroused the American masses as he delivered one of the great speeches of all time. King’s speech was delivered 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It was very fitting as King asserted that the American Negroe was still not free. King stated, “America has given he Negroe people a bad check-a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.”

He continued, “So we’ve come to cash this check: a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

Has much changed since King’s speech?

Despite some noteworthy gains and the ascendance of Obama I still think there’s a lot of work to do.

Unlike Obama, King got right to the point. He talked about the need to for African Americans to stake their claim and simultaneously integrate into society. King let America know that they could no longer wait for equal education, adequate housing, well paying jobs, and societal respect.

In 1963 King was the leader who came to the steps of Washington DC to collect the freedom that was supposed to be issued 100 years ago.

I personally found Obama’s words moving but I must admit I’m a bit skeptical. I find it bewildering he neglected to talk about one of the biggest problem that hinders this country like racism.

Racism is still a problem.


People are afraid to have a collective discussion about the subject. With the passage of time it makes the problem bigger. I believe it’s a much needed discussion and I think it needs to happen on Obama’s watch. Given his ethnicity and platform who is better equipped to begin a universal conversation on a subject must want to neglect?

Allow me to be objective here: I personally like Obama and I love seeing him embarking upon history. He’s by far the best candidate and will make a fine president but I’m a bit reluctant to fully commit to him because he’s neglecting to delve into topics that are dire.

The only time Obama spoke of race at length was when the Republicans, the Clinton’s, and mainstream media tried to use Jeremiah Wright to curtail his efforts. Other than giving a speech in Philadelphia he was forced to make and denouncing his former friend what has he specifically said about race relations in America?

Obama’s theme is change. I think the word “change” is vague. I believe in a step by step plan that’s geared towards achieving meaningful results. Has Obama outlined a plan that’s geared towards rectifying the ills that continue to hinder African Americans and those others at the bottom rungs of society?

The economy has been in shambles for nearly a decade but racism has been prevalent for centuries. The war in Iraq has gone for five years too long but social, economic, and political inequality is still pervasive.

Is attacking an ancient 72 year old candidate who doesn’t know how many homes he owns solving the real ills that’s hindering America?

To me Obama is the Jackie Robinson of politics. Anytime the “first” African American embarks on glory he’ll have to pay a price. What his price will be remains to be seen but we know Robinson paid his price. Opposing white players spat on him and fans threw bottles and rocks at him when he took the field. For the first two years of his contract Robinson couldn’t retaliate which was against his character because Robinson was a warrior at heart.

Robinson sacrificed his dignity as a man to open the door for African Americans in sports and society.

Obama’s presence will surely fuel others to dream bigger and increase the possibility for everyone. It’s beautiful because it’s about unity but to properly unify we must address the ancient problems that still keeps this country divided.

Obama’s presence is wonderful but as of now I don’t see what he proposes filtering down to the masses. I’m not being critical of Obama. I’m just keeping it real.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Was Tyrone Willingham held to a higher standard because of race?

August 8th the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame held their annual Media Day in South Bend. One of the first questions hurled at coach Charlie Weis was about last year’s debacle. Weiss responded, “We're not saying one word about last season. It's August 2008. There is not one word. You will not hear one word out of anyone about 2007. It's August 2008. I'll answer any questions about August 2008.”

Sorry Charlie. After the way your team performed last season you can’t get off that easy.

Notre Dame’s football program sunk to an all-time low last year under Weiss. They lost 9 games for the time in school history, dropped six home games, and got beat by a Navy team the Irish had beaten 43 consecutive times going into last year.

I found it very interesting why there weren't any questions about Weiss's job security during Media Day. Given the way the team played last season and the precedent the Irish administration set when they fired Tyrone Willingham after three seasons someone should’ve asked Weiss about his job security.

Weis was hired in 2005 to be the savior: he was supposed to right the ship Tyrone Willingham was abruptly thrown overboard from. I personally don’t believe Weiss was qualified to be head coach nor has he done a better job than the guy he replaced.

Let’s look at the facts. Weiss's record after three years is 22-15. In his first campaign in 2005 he was 9-3 followed by a 10-3 campaign but that was with many of Willingham's players. Last year he was 3-9 with his guys.

Weis’ only head coaching experience prior to being hired by the Irish was in 1989 at Franklin Township High School in New Jersey. The following year Weiss was hired by Bill Parcells as an assistant for the New York Giants and later with New York Jets.

Weis’s most noted success as a coach was with the New England Patriots from 2000-2004 where he was the offensive coordinator. But Bill Belichick was the head coach not Weis.

Unlike Weis, Willingham had six years of head coaching experience at the collegiate level. He was the top guy at Stanford from 1995-2001. Willingham also coached in the NFL under Dennis Green in Minnesota.

When the Irish finally hired Willingham in 2002 he wasn’t their first choice. George O'Leary was their guy but he fabricated his resume and he shamefully stepped down days later after accepting the job. Only then did the Irish settle on Willingham.

Willingham’s career record with Notre Dame was 21-15. In his third year the Irish went 6-5. The administration felt Willingham wasn’t performing up to expectations so he was fired.

That's very interesting. The last time I checked 6-5 was a better record than 3-9. Willingham gets fired yet Weiss is rewarded with a 10 year 30 million dollar extension for losing?

Willingham was the first African American hired as head coach of any sport in the schools history. He was also the first coach in Irish football history to be fired before his contract expired. After three years former coaches Bob Davie and Gerry Faust were 21-16 and 18-15-1 respectively yet they finished what they started.

The Irish set the precedent with respect to their standards for winning when Willingham was fired. Yet the Irish remain oddly committed to a coach who has done little to justify the contract extension he received. If you analyze the facts and look at both coaches records after three years how can anyone logically conclude Weiss is doing a better job than Willingham did?

In my opinion Willingham was held to higher standard because of his race. I also believe he was fired because of racism. All one has to do is objectively see how Willingham was treated compared to Weis after three years to see how race factored in.

For those who don’t believe race didn't play a factor in Willingham's firing how can anyone logically justify why Weiss is still coaching after going 3-9 while Willingham was canned at 6-5?

I don’t think Weiss was the right man for the Irish job nor was he qualified. Also, I don’t think he’s doing a better job than the guy he replaced.

Without question Weis should be on the hot seat. If Weis doesn’t produce big this year then his head should roll like Willingham’s did.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Emmet Till: A story America must not forget

Emmett Till was a 14 year old youngster from Chicago who was heinously lynched by the hands of racists in the summer on August 29, 1954 in Mississippi.

While many things have changed along racial lines I believe there’s still work to do.

The climate for African Americans was less than ideal in 1955. King was beginning to ascend to prominence and Rosa Parks hadn’t yet refused to go to the back of the bus. Malcolm X was only three years removed from prison as a young minister in the Nation of Islam.

Racial tensions were extremely high in the south. In 1954 the Supreme Court ruled in favor Brown vs. Board of Education thereby legally integrating schools in the south.

The state where Till was slaughtered, Mississippi, was arguably the most racist of all southern states. To my amazement during the Jim Crow Era until the mid-1960’s no white person ever served jail time for killing an African American.

While northern states weren’t exempt from racism the depth of oppression wasn’t like that which African Americans endured in the south.

In Mississippi Till found himself in a world much different than he was accustomed to. Till arrived in Jackson, Missippi on August 21, 1955 as a handsome youngster to visit with family: he would depart a shadow of himself Mississipi in a box a murdered at the hands of racists.

Three days after Till’s arrival in Mississippi he was with several teenagers all of which were under 16 years of age. At least two of Till’s co-horts were sons of local sharecroppers. They’d been picking cotton all day so they decided to go to the town market for candy and soda.

The store Till entered was owned by Carolyn and Roy Bryant. Before entering the store Till was displaying photos of his white friends from Chicago: one of them being a white girl he claimed to date. The teens didn’t believe Till dated a white girl: given the racial tension in Mississipi the teens found the notion hard to believe.

After displaying the photos at least one of the teens dared Till to talk to a white girl working at the grocery. Till alledgedly whistled at storekeeper Carolyn Bryant upon leaving the store and said “bye baby.”

Three days had elapsed without incident but during this time the word of Till’s actions spread all over Tallahatchie county.

Robert Bryant, the wife of the woman Till whistled at, and Bryant’s half brother J.W. Milam, took matters into their own hands. Bryant stated they were going to “teach the boy a lesson.”
At approximately 2:30 am August 29th Bryant, Milam and two others who weren’t identified kidnapped, Till from his great uncles home. Till was forced out of bed and driven in a pickup truck to nearby plantation in Sunflower County. There Till was severely beaten then shot in the head.

At 14 years old Till had met his maker.

After murdering Till Bryant and Milam hung a 75 pound cotton gin around his neck with barb-wire. Then Bryant and Milam put Till’s still body in the back of the pickup and drove around for hours before deciding to dump his body in the Tallahatchie River.

After their work was complete they got a good night’s sleep with relatives just miles away from where they dumped Till’s body.

When Till’s body was found it was severely disfigured. One of his eyes was missing and gapping hole was on the left side of his head. The only way Till could be identified was by a ring he wore.
Till’s mother didn’t want her son’s casket closed. She wanted the world to see what racists had done to her son. Jet Magazine among others ran photos of Till in his casket as more than fifty thousand people viewed his body at a Chicago funeral September 6, 1955.

The police focused on Bryant and Milam as prime suspects because of Till’s great uncle’s account of his abduction. On September 6, 1955, the day of Till’s viewing, Bryant and Milam were indicted on murder charges.

Would justice be served?

Their trial began September 19th. After 67 minutes an all white jury of 12 took 67 minutes to acquit Bryant and Milam. It would have been sooner but as one jury member stated, “"If we hadn't stopped to drink pop, it wouldn't have taken that long."

Bryant and Milam didn’t serve one day in prison for what they did to Till. Killing African Americans was no big deal in the south.

It’s called southern justice.

In 1956 Bryant and Milam were paid four thousand dollars by Look Magazine to tell their story. They admitted to journalist William Bradford Huie they’d murdered Till. No further charges could be brought against them as they were protected by the double jeorpady law and Jim Crow.

Article one, Section Two, Paragraph three of the Constitution classified African Americans as 3/5ths of a person.

Didn’t it?

How can beings that weren’t considered full humans get equitable treatment in a court system court system controlled by whites?

Slavery set the latter precedent for racism to endure in America. Economically were slaves who labored for free. Politically didn’t they have any power, socially they were disenfranchised and forced to live like animals.

Justice typically favors those who create the rules. This case set the stage for what we have today in the way of inequitable justice in the court system and beyond.

The Emmett Till murder showcases how African Americans were treated in society ayet today African Americans are still often recipients of inequitable justice.

Let me break down what I mean by “white America.” Those whites who constructed, sustained, and endorsed racism that’s white America. Those whites who have benefited from the seeds of racism who refuse to acknowledge truth that’s white America.

In short, anyone who endorses the overall oppression of African Americans and any other group that derives a benefit from doing so that’s white America.

January 18th I wrote a column on Tiger Woods when golf announcer Kelly Tilghman suggested Tiger should be “lynched in a back alley.” What Bryant and Milam did to Emmet Till in Mississippi is what Tilghman suggested PGA players should do to Tiger to curtail his dominance.

To me it’s another way of calling him a nigger and he shouldn’t dare step outside his boundaries.

February 19th conservative Bill O’Reilly suggested he should get a “lynchmob” out on Obama’s wife for being unpatriotic. After winning the Wisconsin primary Michelle Obama stated, for the first time in a long while she’s proud to be an American.

Barack Obama said nothing and the white media mainstream kept it hush-hush.

To me silence equates to compliance.

I’d rather respect someone for keep it real and not get elected than succumb to such chicanery in his quest for presidential glory.

We as African Americans need leadership to reflect the demands of the community. We need to “let freedom ring” but can’t afford to be lulled to sleep by speeches and rhetoric. All of America needs results.

The story of Emmett Till is a powerful reminder of how things were. We must understand history to better comprehend the present. While some advances have been made along racial lines problems still persist in America. I believe it’s up to everyone to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Olympics: Is there really One World, One Dream?

The Olympics have finally begun in Beijing, China. The theme of this year’s games is “One World, One Dream.” There are many athletes seeking Olympic glory in attempting to bring home the gold.

The basketball team wants to restore its dominance like the “Dream Team” did in 1992. The forty-one year old swimmer Dara Torres is seeking to push back the hands of time and win a Gold Medal against competitors half her age. Roger Federer is attempting to salvage a sub-par year on the tennis court as he prepares for the US Open.

When I look at the Olympic Games this year I’ll be looking for what happens outside the realm of competition. I’m interested to see if any athletes will step out of their comfort zone and use the world stage as a platform to denounce the genocide in Darfur.

I won’t hold my breath.

Forty years ago in 1968 American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos utilized the victory stand in Mexico City to send a thunderous message to the world. With bowed heads, raised fists, and black socks Smith and Carlos alerted the world through their silent gesture African Americans were still slaves and have grown weary of racism.

While they were received as champions on the track in society they were viewed as second class citizens because of racism. The societal conditions warranted their actions so they did something about it.

Smith won the gold medal in the 200 meter dash and Carlos took home the bronze. The head of the International Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, sent Smith and Carlos home with their medals because of their protest.

Many felt Smith and Carlos shouldn’t have utilized the world stage of the Olympics to make their feelings known. When activists take stands they are viewed as controversial but overtime they are embraced. Four decades ago Smith and Carlos were vilified for their protest yet today they are largely celebrated. In July Smith and Carlos were awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage because of the stand they took in 1968.

Time does bring about a change.

I find this year’s Olympic Slogan “One World, One Dream” to be a joke. China has its hands dirty and it’s not getting much media coverage. Since 1960 the Chinese have spent 10 billion dollars in the Sudan. Since 2003 China has sold over 50 million dollars in weapons to the Sudanese. China also purchases vast supplies of oil from the Sudanese government.

Why is this important?

The Chinese are essentially financing genocide and ultimately this affects us all.

Africans are being slaughtered with the weapons provided by the Chinese. Arabs who embrace Christianity are essentially being funded by the Chinese government to massacre innocent Africans.

Why is the genocide happening?

The Africans refuse to adopt Christianity. Sound familiar?

A group called the Jangaweed, which in Arabic means “devil on horseback,” rides into African villages on horseback at 5 am to kill and rape. While the natives sleep the Jangaweed burn their homes to the ground forcing evacuation. As the natives attempt to flee they are captured and murdered.

Most of the women are raped before they are killed. To make sure their work is done the Jangaweed does a “final sweep” making sure that every home is burned down, that there are no survivors, and every woman they desire is violated.

One World, One Dream? How can the host country of the Olympics proclaim one thing in public but do another behind closed doors?

The United States is nowhere to be found as they continue to engage in a fictitious war in Iraq orchestrated by George Bush. Bin Laden is known to have financial ties in Darfur and the Bush family has done business with the Bin Laden’s prior to and after 9/11.

Get the picture?

We are in dangerous times once again yet most simply shrug it off and put the blinders on. Gone are the days of athletes taking political stands and making their feelings known. The athletes have been conditioned to succumb to silence and the politicians have to be quiet to protect their images.

We cannot afford be lulled to sleep by the media socially engineering our minds and smooth-talking politicians spinning game to get elected. We must look beyond what we see to find the true essence of what’s going on around us.

The Olympics games and the world at large are a far cry from being “One World, One Dream.” Sad to say, but it’s not about humanity or sports, it’s all about the money.