Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

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.


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.”