Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

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.

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