Monthly Archives: July 2010

LeBron James, To Be Free, Or Not To Be Free?

Most of us that follow sports witnessed NBA superstar LeBron James announce to the world that he was going to leave the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers to go play with the Miami Heat, alongside fellow superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.  And as you may know, the biggest controversy occurred after LeBron’s decision to leave, including young fans burning his number 23 jersey, venom-filled commentaries, and infamous comments made by the Cav’s owner Daniel Gilbert.  An angry Gilbert called LeBron a traitor, and said his behavior was a “cowardly betrayal,” as well as a “shameful display of selfishness.”

But besides Gilbert sounding like an “owner scorned,” a jilted lover, he struck a nerve with Black America because his attitude towards LeBron sounded like he was an angry slave master who had lost his most prized Black buck, the one he gave free-run of the plantation, but ignoring all LeBron had done for him and the city of Cleveland, including increasing Gilbert’s franchise value by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Well, you are only free in proportion to the amount of truth you can accept about yourself (please repeat this, and absorb it).  An individual’s own fear and shortcomings are what keeps him enslaved to negativity.  Here we are early into the 21st century and one would think that America and its mainstream sports media would have opened its eyes by now about its own homegrown racism.  But it can barely even use the word “racism,” much less diversify its own reporting, hosting, and production ranks.

The danger with the negative stereotypical view of the African American athlete continuously fed to the American people helps fuel and support racist like radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who said:    “That cracker [George Steinbrenner] made a lot of African American millionaires . . . and at the same time he fired a bunch of White guys as managers, left and right.”  Even when Rush isn’t directly ridiculing Black athletes, he’s ridiculing Black athletes.  But unbeknownst to most, this is the problem for White America when you allow racist like Rush to thrive: you or White’s also become a target for associating or dealing with Blacks.  We’re all just human beings.

“The only reason we play this game is to win championships,” said LeBron.  Thus, one would think that the media would sing his praises: a young Black man focused on excellence, winning and teamwork.  But this is America.

Yes, news flash: this Bling-Bloated Black athlete does actually care more about winning and less about money.  LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, as well as other Black prospects who haven’t received much media attention, are all victims of the media’s Me-first (all three stars are willing to share the spotlight), gold-chain wearing, “my rims are bigger than yours,” media-created stereotypes.  But despite the media’s Black athlete caricatures, these athletes actually mulled over and made a deep, analytical competent decision regarding their lives and families – not going to teams who would have paid them the largest amount of money.

After LeBron announced his decision, White paternalism run-amok flooded the airways.  And hardly a day goes by on sports radio (also occurs on TV) without some white talk show personality talking in so called Black slang or mocking Black athletes and their perceived affinity for Bling – jewelry, car and truck rims, and big houses.

The reality is that young Black men and athletes are treated differently than White ones.  Over the years, no one ever talked or complained about young Wall Street millionaire’s being overpaid selfish or me-first ego maniacs.  In fact, until Wall Street ran our economy into the ground, the media never paid much attention to the golden parachutes and millions and billions the White guys made because the view is that they deserve it.  They’re smart.  But the truth is they’re White.  And despite their ignorance, incompetence and greed, not much has been done in terms of the scope of the crime or damage they’ve done.  Can you imagine if a Black-run industry had put our nation’s economy in the tank?  We both know that there would be hundreds of Black faces in prison, believe it.

America – and in this case the mainstream sports media – likes its Blacks “straight” – all stereotype, no chaser – in the way they like the buffoonery of the affable Charles Barkley (I liked the younger, radical version of Charles); or LeBron James and his pregame acting and dancing skits with his buddies; and even the loud, obnoxious rants of Steven A. Smith, the sports world’s Angry Black Man – as long as his anger remains directed at Black athletes.

However, as an African American man or fan, you soon come to realize that it doesn’t matter what you do, how you carry yourself, the mainstream’s stereotypes and resentment will find a way to ridicule you, whether you fall from grace or not.  Take Philadelphia fans, for example, who ridiculed and vilified the hip-hop, rambunctious Allen Iverson, labeling him for life because of a few boyish mistakes and the behavior of his buddies, who they called a posse (the White athletes entourage is called friends and family), which is offensive.

On the other hand, Donovan McNabb, who has an interception-to-touchdown ratio in the top four quarterbacks in NFL history and was a perennial winner as a Philadelphia Eagle, never got in any trouble, but the fans and city’s media found a way to “hate on him” until the team sent him packing for a White quarterback.  As a Black athlete, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t do the right thing.

Let’s be real about this: America, the mainstream, and sports media operates based on a double standard when it comes to how they report on Blacks and Whites.  Most of the problem is numbers.  I scan most mainstream channels, sites, and newspapers and most of the writers, hosts, and other personalities are still virtually all White.

It’s 2010, when will the mainstream media stop appealing to the lowest common denominator regarding race and its stereotypical racist views of African Americans and diversify its ranks?   One might think that the White-run media is solely responsible but they’re not.  These Black athletes have allowed themselves to be bought and sold from AAU sports and for-profit camps on through college and into the pros by coaches, agents, the NCAA, owners, and big league commissioners.  These Black athletes are so alienated from the Black working class that they even identify with the negative aspects of a the “street” or poverty produced hip-hop and stripper culture more than they do anything else.  And although most of them do some form of community service, they do far less than they should be doing because other Black people died for them to be allowed to prosper like they do.

Lastly, let’s not forget that most Black athletes, particularly in the minority-dominated college and pro basketball and football professions, are not stars or mega stars like LeBron and don’t have long careers.  For example, the average NBA career is around three years.  Even worse, most of the thousands of Black athletes in colleges around the country, who never become professional athletes, end up not graduating and haven’t thought about what they’ll do to make a living.  Meanwhile, the NCAA system provides nice middle-class and wealthy lifestyles for thousands of college and pro administrators, coaches, executives, ancillary business owners, and so on.  In college, these Black athlete slave’s talent also generates  the funds to operate other athletic programs played mostly by White kids.  So their labor and talent provides everything for everybody but themselves, the most important piece in the puzzle.

Shameful!

Soul Muzak Video: Changing Faces

AN OL’ SCHOOL SOUL BREAK

Pep Talk: Let’s Talk

Sure you can.  I know that you can because you’re here, on earth.  You’ve made it to this point, and I believe in you.  I know that you have what it takes.  There have been many before you and after you, but never anyone quite like you.  I suggest you stake your claim on this planet and do something with your life.  Wouldn’t you agree?  It would be a travesty if you were to leave this world and the lives that you’ve come into contact with the same.  Everyone has a sphere of influence and the lives you touch will touch others.  There is greatness in you – even if you refuse to acknowledge it.  And you know what, I know that you at least suspect that you can do great things.  I know that you’ve had moments of inspiration that signaled to you that you could do whatever you set your mind to.  Sure, there will be critics, there will be those that laugh at you, but wouldn’t you like to prove them wrong?  Wouldn’t you like to show the people that have doubted you all along that you could make something of yourself?  Wouldn’t you like to get the last laugh?  Can you imagine the look on their faces when they see that you’ve risen above their death sentence?  Of course you would.  Others can make it tougher for you to succeed, especially if you need something from them, but they cannot decide your fate.  What resides within you is greater than anything or anyone that could ever hope to stop you.  If a door closes in your face, go under it, over it, or around it.  And if that doesn’t work, knock it down, or pound on it until you leave this earth.  Let them carry you away.  Others might say you’re crazy, but they’ll have to respect you because you never backed down or gave up.  And with each door that you get through, you’ll learn something new about yourself, as well as what it will take to knock down the next door.  If life were too easy, it would be quite boring and you would never appreciate hard work.  There’s only one way to succeed, and that’s’ to do whatever it takes and do it for yourself because you deserve the best.  You will find a way.  I promise you.  All you have to do is decide on what you want and go get it.

A SOUL BREAK


Beyond The Color Line: The Mainstream Media Road Less Traveled Regarding Tiger Woods

The pain that results from you stubbing your toe occurs because of what’s in your toe – the tissue, the nerves – not the table leg you bumped; thus, the unresolved pain from Race/Racism resides within most Americans, too, but we try to place blame on the victim or avoid or ignore race. And it never goes away.

Why?

Because Mainstream America equates discussing racism with being called bad people, so dialogue is avoided.  Everyone can accept a rape victim complaining, but few care about African Americans complaining about discrimination or victimization.

Tiger Woods, in a different way, is a reflection of our country’s issues with Race.

As a Black man, a group largely voiceless in the Mainstream Media, it’s somewhat amusing to me that Tiger, who always denies his Blackness, actually does enter the proverbial “club” and carry out the stereotypical, generations-old “Where da White women at” joke.  Yes, it’s undeniable that Tiger has a thing for White Blondes.  But even worse, I didn’t see any African Americans among his closest friends and employees at his press conference on February19th, 2010.

To deny who you are is to reject your parents.  Tiger loves, but rejects his Black father, believing he is Beyond the Color Line because of his wealth and the fact that his mother is Asian.

In fact, I distinctly remember the self-proclaimed CABLASIAN wincing in agreement when Oprah suggested to him that he didn’t like being identified as Black, even though his dad was Black and society views him as such, for the most part.  And obviously all or most among the 2.3 percent of people (about 7 million) who identified themselves as being of more than one race in recent census information feel the same

However, unfortunately, the media is focused on Tiger being a cheat or womanizer.  But men and women will always cheat.  And like Tiger says, his cheating is between him and his wife.

Some studies show that up to 55 percent of married women and 60 percent of married men cheat.  Additionally, no one questions the morality of Tiger’s White mistresses, who are being treated like victims.

The mainstream media believes they are without sin and their White paternalism has victimized Tiger in the tradition of their vilifying Jack Johnson, Muhammed Ali, and Malcolm X, or Posterizing Black athletes for supposed bad behavior (see Bonds/steroids, Artest/fighting, Pac Man Jones/strip clubs, Michael Vick/dog-fighting, etc.).  Whether Black men are causing White women to clutch their purses on elevators, or having their mugs plastered across the screen on the six o’clock news, or cannot get a taxi — the truth is the truth.

What’s strange is how Black people are often considered the most creative, blatantly honest people when it comes to music, sports, and real life.  And all races even act out the “Dat’s right, you tell ‘em, girlfriend!” Black persona.  However, when it comes to “Race” or speaking up about racism – Blacks are suddenly perceived as not knowing what in the H*% they are talking about.

Go figure?

What the mainstream media should be asking is why is Tiger rejecting Black beauty?

Black women, for example, have been complaining about Essence Magazine, the number one Black magazine, draping its February, 2010, cover with a shirtless Reggie Bush who’s dating the White Kim Kardashian.

Tiger has numerous issues.  Even the iconic Jim Brown hammered Tiger for his alienating himself from the Black community and his reluctance to address race and other social problems.

The “deeper” aforementioned issues regarding Tiger and race are absent, partly, because the media still lacks diversity.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, African American television station owners declined 60 percent from 2006 to 2007 alone, and minorities, period, owned only about three percent of stations.  Additionally, a 2009 American Society of News Editors census shows that the number of minority journalist is currently at about 6300, in the neighborhood of what it was in 1998.

But Blacks who are in the mainstream media are usually apprehensive about complaining about race.  Even Barack Obama is terrified to bring up race.

Nonetheless, the United States minority population is huge and minorities will be the majority by 2042.  So media “gate keepers” must be honest about their audience.  Our society needs to mature and stop avoiding the issue of race, especially the most troubling aspect: the Black-White paradigm.

The bottom line: let’s stop making excuses, move beyond mediocrity and the Color Line, and diversify the voices in the media, especially when it comes to the voices of Black men.

Tim Wise, Affirmative Action Video

There is an on-going argument by conservative individuals in the media regarding there being no need for Affirmative Action.  This video featuring the commentary of Tim Wise greatly clarifies the importance of Affirmative Action.

Poetics: 360 Degrees

360 DEGREES

In search of something seemingly elusive, fleeing, free– something that cannot, shall not, will not be Captured because “it,” or thy “Being,” is deep within the soul, the spirit– a spirit that also demands We, first and foremost, be comfortable with the deepness and Attractiveness of our Blackness, Preparing us for a journey that leads to our discovering our very own uniqueness, far away from the Shamelessness of sameness or being nameless, not knowing who we are because we’re not reaching For the Stars, thus, we really RE-gress when we don’t PRO-gress, so move we will, backward or Forward, 360 Degrees around the horn, following our Higher Power’s “form,” pattern, a right of way to Our destiny or backwards, reversing and rehearsing a life indelibly tied to the monotony of yesterday, The past, what was, or even worse, what never was– 360 degrees around the horn, back and forth and Forth and back, again and again we lose, we Win, but the journey is always unique, sometimes Discreet; other times we compete against others or our “Selves”– and every arrival leads To a Departure, for there is no place for complacency, a place to sit and wait and see– no, we will Move Away from whence we came, 360 degrees, eventually discovering our humanness, happily or Unhappily, depending on our direction, Which equals our destiny: to become one with our mission, Or lack there of, and so our Higher Power, despite the fact that our Blackness may be a distraction to Others but, still, we cannot let it distract us, subtract from us, lessen us, demean us, prevent us From traveling 360 degrees, hopefully, in the right direction, living and giving, learning our lessons, Again and again, living our lives 360 Degrees . . .  And counting.

Walter L. Hilliard III

Black History Everyday

Okay, let’s have a truthful discussion about Black Responsibility and Racism now that the superficiality of Black History Month has worn off, even though you may not have noticed it anyway.

Recently, White UC San Diego Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity students hosted a party named the “Compton Cookout,” mocking Black History Month (once Carter G. Woodson’s Black History Week), sending out invitations discussing gold-toothed Black girls, watermelon, nappy hair, and malt liquor.

I mean — really!  Come on . . . enough said.

But is blatant racism the Black community’s biggest problem, or is it the Black community, itself?  Racism may be at the root of the Black community’s problems, but the Black community is going to have to be responsible for replanting the seeds from which its future success will grow.

Let’s face it, our country has failed miserably when it comes to dealing with Race or Racism.  In fact, we can barely talk about it beyond superficial things like Black History Month or the fact that Barack Obama is Black.  And double-digit Black unemployment, incarceration, and murder rates are lonely trees falling in a far-off forest, unheard.  The truth really has always been that Black America has to change its own destiny and realize that Mainstream America is not ever going to save them, even though they pay taxes.  Why should they if we aren’t willing to save ourselves?

“He is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve all been looking for,” cooed the 60-something African American grandmother into the camera, The Dream of Martin shining through Barack’s TV reflection in her eyes after it was announced that he would be our next president.

But I say stop dreaming and start living the dream.  You can look to Barack, but it’s more important to “see” your brother and sister and extend a hand.

African Americans, a trillion dollar community, have been running cities and school boards for years, and are some of the wealthiest people on the planet, but not a day goes by when we’re not arguing at community and council meetings, behaving in a jealous manner, being materialistic, or carrying out an “I got mine, you get yours” mentality.  Other communities cannot compete.  African Americans have even redefined a word that epitomizes our materialistic attitude: BLING!  (But White executives only want to green-light stereotypical material.) The bottom line is, whether it’s soul music or over-accessorizing, Black people always take drama to the next level – good or bad.  It’s a reaction to excessive stress or pressure from overt slavery yesterday and covert discrimination today.

One way to inspire Black America and gain more respect from White America is for Black history, as well as the history of all minorities, to be taught in grade school.  And knowing one’s history isn’t just about inspiring poor minorities.  Even suburban Black students test lower than White students academically because they’re uninspired by what’s taught by people who don’t look like them.  Role models who look like them inspire students.  As things are now, minority parents simply must teach their children their history.

The Black community is uninspired and failing to make significant changes because the Civil Rights Movement, an inspirational, constructive period, is too far gone in the minds of younger Blacks who could energize Black progress.   These teens and 20-somethings, as well as those in their early 30s, are mentally and emotionally detached, unable to relate to any sort of Black Struggle unless they’re reciting the words of a rapper making a creative “social justice pit stop” on the radio.

In regards to the parents of these younger Blacks, they are fearful about rocking any boats, peering out the windows of their comfort zones on the sidelines of life, many hiding behind their jobs, home doors, and their pastors, suspicious and judging anyone not sitting in their church on Sundays.

Shame on us!

Just because Racism has become more covert (employment discrimination, sentencing disparities, etc.) and less overt (Black people beaten in the streets) does not excuse our inaction.  And because the Mainstream Media has vilified and made caricatures out of the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, we, Black people, are now going to have to be “the leaders we are looking for.”

In terms of looking at all of America, our Elitism problem is our country’s next biggest issue after Race; however, Mainstream America’s own Civil Rights Movement against Wall Street’s greed – with the reluctant help of our politicians – has finally gotten underway to deal with this issue, somewhat.  But I digress.

Courage is about acting in spite of fear, not in the absence of fear. Who among us is really courageous when it comes to dealing with Race, especially the difficulty of the Black-White paradigm, the front lines of our war with Race?  Although Arizona is now legally justifying racially profiling Hispanics.

The media’s references to Barack Obama being president, Oprah’s wealth, and the posterizing of millionaire Black athletes and entertainer’s bad behavior will never be a true reflection of everyday African American life.   Race, particularly as it relates to the Black Condition, is still such a dirty word that the Mainstream’s evolution has become a revolution and the accusation against Blacks of “You’re playing the Race Card” (really the accuser’s Racism Denial Card) is even used to kill any sincere dialogue about race when it’s brought up.

And when it comes to perpetuating stereotypes, the Black networks are some of the worst offenders.  For example, we’re early into a new century, so why do I have to turn to a Black network, TV One, and witness JJ yelling DYNOMITE! On “Goodtimes,” or George Jefferson, of “The Jeffersons,” shuckin’ and jivin’ – yellin’, “Weezay!”  Come on, Black people!!!

What’s wrong with the world is that we cannot be truthful.  When Real Truth is told, it “fills the belly” with justice for all – and “doing the right thing” becomes easy in all situations.

Real Truth, according to my Black Cookout Census – or conversations with friends and family from around the country – reveals that we’re all dealing with the same ol’ issues with Race, particularly in the workplace, where we’re still the last hired and first fired.  Not to mention that most Black people are scared to speak up when discriminated against, or stick together when there’s a culture of discrimination.  But worst of all is that far too many of us are being Role Models of Fear for our children, teaching them to also be afraid to stand up and speak out about injustice.

America is not the same America as it was 40 years ago or 400 years ago; and it’s not changing –  it has changed.  It’s not about being number one, or that minorities will likely be a majority by the middle of the century – or that by 2020, most high school students entering college will be minorities – what’s most important is that WE get beyond acting on our Juvenile fears about Race.

Let’s all consider the fact that life is long enough for us to do a great deal of good, but too short to be miserable and treat others unfairly.  You cannot take anything with you when you die so stop being afraid of people who don’t look like, think, or behave like you.