Category Archives: Sports

A HAIR CUT WOULD SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS: WHY MICHAEL VICK’S ADVICE TO COLIN KAEPERNICK REVEALS HIS STATUS AS A BROKEN MAN

I remember it like it was yesterday when Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the former President of Bennett College dropped this nugget of wisdom regarding institutional racism and the forgiveness it affords white males. In her famed style, the remarkable economist remarked that ‘a skinhead ain’t nothing but a white boy who needs to grow some hair. And when he does, he can walk into any company and be assured of securing some semblance of employment, regardless of his qualifications for the position.’

The alluded to wisdom that Malveaux shared with a room full of African-American collegians was daunting, yet true. Every American should realize that white privilege is enjoyed by whites regardless of their effort to secure it or desire to receive it. Hence, it is puzzling, if not bewildering to hear former NFL Quarterback Michael Vick, a black man who once was the personification of a thug in the eyes of white America, offers the following advice to Colin Kaepernick on FS1’s show “Speak for Yourself.”

“First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct…I don’t think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You’re already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable.”

Vick’s uninformed diatribe continues below,

“(I) didn’t listen until the end, until I was going through the turmoil and the hardships…Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field…It’s not about selling out.”

When one considers Vick’s words, it is evident that life’s experiences have taught him the primary lesson that educator Jane Elliott reveals as the only path for black people to get ahead in America, “Conform!!!! Act white!!!! That’s how you get ahead in America!!!!”

As an educator privileged to watch thousands of young black males transform during their undergraduate years, I have always found it humorous when a figure that white America and a particular segment of ‘well to do’ black America would consider a ‘thug’ transforms into “the company man.” The company man is ironically a desperate attempt by the disenfranchised to replicate the persona and worldview of those that have historically taken glee in vilifying him. The alluded to figure is impeccably groomed, never found in anything less than designer clothing, and arrives at informal social gatherings dressed business casual. Shockingly, the alluded to transformation often extends far beyond physical appearance as it affects their word choice and diction; I swear that a few of my students picked up a strange accent that vacillates between British and French to complete the transformation. This persona that Harlem Renaissance Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar termed “the Mask” is always an uncomfortable fit for those that consider it an indispensable accessory.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

 

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.

 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

(Paul Laurence Dunbar)

There is no doubt that those who wear Dunbar’s “mask” do so with the realization that it is the most certain means of having their material needs satisfied. However, if given enough time, these same individuals will realize that they have made a lopsided deal with the Devil that ultimately leaves them as one of the “tortured souls” that Dunbar writes about in his poem.

In many ways, Michael Vick’s advice to Kaepernick is revealing as it displays what he has learned from his very public troubles. Apparently, Vick believes that one must curry favor with white power-brokers ‘by any means necessary.’

I guess that silly is as silly does, and Michael Vick’s silly advice to Kaepernick has actually achieved one thing for certain; that being, it has ensured that he is firmly entrenched as the starting Quarterback on an All-Star team of unwise and stupid athletes who should have been benched long ago when it comes to addressing racial matters, a duty they are incapable of doing well.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

What People Will Do For Money: The Sad Saga of Ray Lewis’ Commentary on Colin Kaepernick

If you possess any level of wisdom, I am certain that you agree that paying close attention to the actions and statements of others for an extended period of time provides you with significant insight regarding their character. This very simple process also holds the potential to highlight an individual’s understanding, or the lack thereof, of history. Ultimately, this process concludes with the observer deciding if a person is a man of substance or a fraudulent charlatan willing to change their viewpoints at opportune moments for financial reward or material accruements. Trust me when I say that the latter persona is the most prevalent in Capitalist America.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker and self-styled political commentator Ray Lewis has once again proven himself to be a fraudulent charlatan willing to alter his viewpoints according to the direction that political winds are blowing the strongest. It does not take a genius to realize that Lewis is constantly positioning himself for a future economic windfall.

Consider for a moment that Ray Lewis has miraculously re-created himself as a person of some substance, a far-cry from the thug persona he relished during his time as the ultimate enforcer for the Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens; let us not forget that Lewis’ hooliganism was a fixture in his social interactions as well. If one seeks verification for Lewis’ penchant for melding together his on-field activities with his off-field conduct, they need to look no further than his guilty plea for obstruction of justice during the investigation of the murder of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The plea bargain that Lewis agreed to was given in exchange for his testimony against his compatriots Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, for their role in the murder of Baker and Lollar after a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta, Georgia on January 31, 2000. Unbelievably, Ray Lewis has been able to not only escape a career-ending murder charge, but also reshaped his persona as public figure that has been provided access to the likes of Donald J. Trump and a who’s who of Black America. If nothing else, Ray Lewis’ publicist deserves a significant pay raise and accolades for re-shaping his public image.

A crucial portion of Lewis’ persona has been his ascension as a motivational speaker who provides adherents with words of wisdom and inspiration. Consider the following advice from Lewis, “We get one opportunity in life, one chance at life to do whatever you’re going to do, and lay your foundation and make whatever mark you’re going to make. Whatever legacy you’re going to leave; leave your legacy!” One would be hard-pressed to not consider Lewis’ sentiment as Poignant! Relevant! Inspirational! Unfortunately, if one has paid close attention to Lewis, particularly his recent comments regarding Colin Kaepernick it becomes clear that at best he is woefully inconsistent in regards to honoring his words and thoughts.

Consider for a moment how Lewis’ vitriolic diatribe aimed at Kaepernick, a figure whose public protest regarding the continuation of racial bias in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” betrays the above quote about leaving a lasting legacy. Within a context that has seen NFL owners refuse to employ the more than capable quarterback, Lewis attacks Kaepernick’s political activism by remarking “Kaepernick has to make up his mind. Do you want to play football or do you want to be an activist.” Make no mistake about it, this was a conscious move by Lewis that displays his extreme desire to extend his access to the NFL trough owned by the same white powerbrokers who have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL. Additionally, Lewis’ unfortunate commentary conveys either his ignorance regarding the extended tradition of politicized athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Bill Russell or his determination to never ‘bite the white hands’ that feed him.

Although I would love to think that Lewis’ commentary was solely directed at Kaepernick, however, I am unable to do so as its meaning covers the entire pantheon of politicized black athletes. Lewis’ message reduces to an antiquated, yet familiar message that one would expect to hear from racist whites during the Jim Crow era, not a black man in the new millennium. In many ways, Lewis’ tired routine casts him as the “House Negro” that Malcolm X stated loved and identified with his master so much that when the master became ill, the House Negro responded, “What’s wrong boss? We sick.” What a terrible person, Ray Lewis has become, just absolutely terrible.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

THE EDUCATION OF TYREKE SMITH: IS IT TIME FOR BUCKEYE NATION TO STAND AGAINST FELLOW BUCKEYES?

One does not have to enter into an in-depth analysis to realize that the average white sports fan can simultaneously cheer for and celebrate black male athletes while remaining indifferent to their well-known struggles in American society. If we learn nothing else from the Colin Kaepernick fiasco, it is that your average white sports fan wants their sports entertainment devoid of political commentary involving racial matters. I am confident that the refrain, “Just play the game, Goddamn it!!!!!!” has dropped off the lips of more than a few sports fanatics.

As a proud alumnus of THE Ohio State University, I am not surprised that the above sentiments represent the viewpoints of a vocal section of BUCKEYE NATION. Verification of this point is offered by my fellow members of BUCKEYE NATION reacting so tersely to a little T-shirt worn by football recruit Tyreke Smith. Mr. Smith, a 6’4” 255 lbs. “can’t miss defensive end prospect” from Cleveland Heights High School arrived at Ohio State’s most recent football camp wearing a T-shirt adorned with a poignant message regarding an omnipresent fear harbored by so many young African-Americans. The alluded to message is a succinct representation of young African-Americans perception of how outsiders, many of them black, consider their presence and worth. The message that has angered significant parts of Buckeye Nation to demand that Head Coach Urban Meyer rescind a scholarship offer to Tyreke Smith reads as follows: “I hope that I don’t get killed for being black today.”

The response to Mr. Smith by a very vocal segment of Buckeye Nation on Ohio State football message boards has been filled with unconscionable condemnation that relates the posters belief that this young man is unworthy of representing THE Ohio State University in any form. When viewed from an emotional position, it is evident that the alluded to fans are offering Smith a quid pro quo arrangement, meaning that if he ceases his attempts to provide commentary on America’s obvious racial problems, they will welcome him into Buckeye Nation with open arms.

To the chagrin of this segment of Buckeye Nation, it appears that Smith has no interest in such a Faustian Deal. According to the Buckeye recruit, “I felt I should wear it because I’m big on the African American culture and know the struggles that our race goes through…Being the individual I am and the spotlight I have, I felt that people would get the message if I wore the shirt.

White sports fans have historically failed to realize that the athletic feats black male athletes perform in sold-out arenas and stadiums are only a minuscule part of their daily existence. In all honesty, playing the game is the easiest part of their day as the sports arena is one of the most race-neutral places in American society; that is if they can be so focused on the game that they do not hear the racial barbs being hurled at them by white fans. The problems begin once they take off their uniform and have to emerge from packed arenas as relatively unknown black males. Even racial apologists such as Charles Barkley and clueless sportswriters such as Jason Whitlock realize that they are only a moment away from a racial incident with either a law enforcement officer, an average white citizen, or a hate-filled fellow black man that could end in lethal violence for reasons that have little to do with them.

When you think about it, the constant trials-and-tribulations of black people in America is a subject that whites of various political leanings and socioeconomic status have little understanding or consideration. It is safe to say that the average white citizen equates the raising of racial bias issues with a routine attempt by blacks to escape personal responsibility for their station in life. And why should whites feel otherwise? Anyone with even a superficial understanding of racial prejudice and institutional racism will tell you that even the most non-racist white person invariably benefits from racism during their daily existence.

So I am neither surprised nor amused by rabid white sports fans ability to check sports websites for information regarding the health status and availability of their favorite black athletes while never relinquishing blasé feelings relating to the fragility of black male lives. The above contradictions are nothing new and will most certainly never disappear in a nation whose midwife was the labor of stolen Africans, and economic might bolstered by King Cotton. Despite our collective hesitation to admit it, that is who we are as a nation.

Unfortunately, I think that young Tyreke Smith is going to learn that in America, Race is a subject “where fools rush in, and Angels fear to tread.” These lessons will be learned regardless of the institution that he chooses to attend because when it comes to racial matters, Martha and the Vandellas said it best, you have “Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide.”

O-H

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Why America Should not be Surprised by Boston Red Sox Fans Treatment of Adam Jones

Although it feels like a lifetime ago, I was nine years old when the Los Angeles Lakers selected Magic Johnson with the first pick of the 1979 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. Upon reflection, it is possible for me to convince myself that my developing interest in the NBA and embrace of the Los Angeles Lakers as my favorite team was ordained by God. However, such conjecture would make me a liar because although Magic Johnson and “Showtime” was a significant factor in my deciding to support a team located nearly 2,400 miles away, I was merely following the lead of a black community in throwing my support behind the Lakers.
Although I did not understand all of the history and inner-workings of the L.A. Lakers feud with the Boston Celtics, one thing was certain; if you were African-American, you were expected to support “Showtime” and despise the Celtics. Within a black community that was far from monolithic, we all seemingly agreed that the city of Boston and each of their sports franchises were to be despised with an extreme hatred; not even the presence of black Celtics like Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, or Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell lessened our piercing disdain.
In actuality, the virulent racial animosity that characterizes Boston contradicts its storied history as the epicenter of colonial resistance to British tyranny. During the moments immediately before the Revolutionary War, a group of Bostonians was attacked by British troops in an attack that resulted in Crispus Attucks, a black man, being the first casualty of a prolonged conflict that resulted in the birth of America. Considering the history of racial bias and animosity that has come to characterize Boston, it is ironic that it was Attucks death that framed colonial rebellion against British rule. Put simply, the killing of Attucks serves as “the straw that broke the camel’s back” in regards to colonists determination to not be “the slaves of Britain.” Such a backdrop makes Boston’s current well-deserved reputation as a bastion of racial hostility all the more unfortunate.
When African-Americans are queried regarding their perspective of Boston, it becomes apparent that they long ago decided that it was a comfortable rest haven for racial prejudice, bias, and virulent racism. Considering that perception is the reality, it is safe to say that the vast majority of African-Americans view the city in as negative a light as the British troops dispatched to the North American continent to quell the colonial rebellion. Hence, the recent incident of Red Sox fans hurling racial expletives toward Baltimore Orioles player Adam Jones was not surprising.
For most African-Americans, this rather mundane racial incident is yet another verification of what we have always known; that being, those who attacked Jones have much company in regards to their views of racial matters. Although African-American optimists believe that whites stirring up racial conflict are merely a vocal minority that reminds them of racial antagonists within their community, however, even they must concede that racial prejudice and bias among whites is rather prevalent. There is not much room to debate the belief held by the vast majority of African-Americans that racial bias and animosity is endemic to not only the city of Boston and the fans that support their storied franchises, but also a significant omnipresent factor in every American city, institution, and segment of society.
Although not laudable, major cities throughout this nation have been incredibly consistent in regards to the prevalence of racial bias.
Even a cursory examination of American History proves that the thanks provided by white fans and owners to African-American athletes for their athletic contributions and service to the team is eerily reminiscent of that given to black servicemen returning from World War I. Unfortunately such thanks included a weighty post scriptum (P.S.) that reminded these black men that although their valor, commitment, and courage was recognized, it was not significant enough to alter their second-class citizenship status. Consider the following treatment afforded to two of Boston’s most notable sports stars.
K.C. Jones, a Hall of Fame player who later became the head coach who would lead the Boston Celtics in their titanic racially-tinged battles against Pat Riley’s “Showtime” related the following incident while purchasing a home in Boston. “We were living in Framingham when I was a player. I went to buy a house about five blocks away … The neighbors said they didn’t want any blacks to move into the house.”
In another incident that exposes the significant underbelly of racial animosity in Boston, Dee Brown, a recent first-round draft pick of the Celtics, along with his fiancée were accosted by nine law enforcement officers while seeking to purchase a home in the affluent suburb of Wellesley. For some unknown reason, local law enforcement personnel arrived on the scene and accosted Brown. Officers would later allege that Brown matched the description of a bank robbery suspect. This matter was not resolved before Brown, and his fiancée was forced to lie facedown in the street by officers who had pulled their weapons out.
The plentiful racial prejudice and bias found in Boston were characterized by the legendary Bill Russell as a “flea market” of racial animus in his book Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man. According to Russell, Boston racial bias and prejudice appeared in “all varieties…The city had corrupt, city hall-crony racists, brick-throwing, send-em-back-to-Africa racists, and in the university areas phony radical-chic racists.”
Considering that black athletes far-and-wide were aware of Boston’s racial climate, it is not surprising that a chosen few established stars such as Dave Winfield (Yankees) David Justice (Braves), and Gary Sheffield (Padres) included clauses in their contracts that forbid their present employer from trading them to the Red Sox.
As if things could not get any worse for the city of Boston, former Red Sox Pitcher Curt Schilling has unveiled himself yet again as the village idiot assigned the task of publicly refuting the city’s infamous history of racial bias. Via a perch provided by Breitbart, Schilling stated the following, “If somebody did say it, we’re going to see it and hear about it, and I would apologize to Adam Jones for doubting him, but until then, I think this is bulls—t. I think this is somebody creating a situation.” According to Schilling, Adam Jones is not a victim of racial hatred, rather an opportunist seeking to cash in on the fame, glory, and notoriety that attaches itself to politicized athletes such as Colin Kaepernick.
It is the general ignorance of figures such as Schilling that has historically proven counter-productive during discussions of racial matters. Schilling’s “demand for definitive proof,” as if an elongated history of racial bias in this nation is insufficient for such purposes, not only derails any movement toward the decline of racial animosity but also emboldens white racists in sneaky ways. The only way to counteract such individuals is for “good white folk” to denounce their antics via tangible actions such as ostracizing them socially and economically. Failure to make such individuals pariah makes “good white folk” accessories to America’s most gruesome crime. The alluded to actions should be willingly adopted by whites as a litmus test to evaluate their integrity. “Good white folks” failure to denounce racial bias and animosity leaves African-Americans no other choice than to group them with their boorish brethren.

A close reading of African-American history or even entrance into a middle-class black neighborhood will reveal to whites that the vast majority of African-Americans resist an urge to haphazardly classify them as racists with every fiber of their being. However, such efforts to find “good white folk” are not only exhausting but also have historically placed African-Americans in significant peril. So if nothing else, it is time for “good white folk” to stand up and make a move against those within their midst that continue to damage the brand of whiteness not only in this nation but also around the globe. Failure to make a significant move against those who stoke the fires of racial animosity leaves us with no choice to conclude that all whites are racists and every place is the same as Boston.
The ball to change these realities is most certainly in “good white folks” court.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

 

WHY I WILL NOT BE CELEBRATING THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF JACKIE ROBINSON’S MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT

Although I am a baseball fan, I will abstain from the jubilant celebrations surrounding the 70th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s integration of “Major League Baseball.” Where others see cause to celebrate, I mourn. From my perspective, this is yet another occasion that proves that African-Americans have made whites the measuring stick that they measure success. Such individuals apparently think that there is no greater sign of success than to close the physical gap between themselves and whites, no matter the cost. One thing is for certain, African-Americans foolish commitment to integrate with whites has repeatedly resulted in their ruin. Put simply; the integration of Jackie Robinson into major league baseball came at a steep cost to the entire community, particularly black baseball players and those men who owned Negro League teams.

Never mentioned in these annual celebrations of Robinson’s arrival to the Los Angeles Dodgers roster on April 15, 2017, is the economic ruin that resulted for the black community. The eventual disappearance of Negro League teams meant the loss of dollars within a community that had learned to circulate their monies as a result of racial segregation. Trust me when I say that the socioeconomic casualties, especially the loss of ownership of teams, are far too numerous to list in this space. Negro League teams such as the Atlanta Black Crackers, Cleveland Buckeyes, New York Black Yankees, and Kansas City Monarchs were not only a significant source of entertainment for the African-American communities that they were situated within, but also provided an opportunity for team ownership for African-American men such as Joe Green, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Tom Wilson.

By most accounts, Negro League players were more skilled and physically superior to their Major League counterparts. This statement even includes a folk-hero such as Babe Ruth whose talent was eclipsed by Josh Gibson; we must never forget that it was Gibson, not Ruth, who was the only man to ever hit a ball out of Yankee Stadium.

In hindsight, it made little sense for Negro League teams to disassemble and have its most acceptable, not necessarily most talented, pieces parceled out to white Major League teams. Although I could be wrong on this matter, I would hope that if the African-American community understood that the most significant consequence of Jackie Robinson integrating Major League Baseball was the dismantling of the Negro Leagues and the ancillary decline of the African-American community’s socioeconomic viability that they would temper their celebration of Jackie Robinson donning “Dodger blue.”

Now please do not take this as a veiled call for the continuation of racial segregation in baseball or the nation in general, because it is not. However, it is a much-needed call to reconsider African-Americans rush to abandon their institutions for outside entities for no logical reason beyond it being owned by whites.

Make no mistake about it, the decline of the Negro Leagues was a hostile takeover by white baseball owners. If Major League Baseball power-brokers such as the frequently celebrated Branch Rickey were interested in actually integrating the sport, they would have pursued diversity throughout the entirety of the game from the outfield to the ownership boxes. There is precedent for such a move in professional sports as well.

There was a time when the National Basketball Association (NBA) had stiff competition from the upstart American Basketball Association (ABA). Now I do not want you to think that the ABA was some ragtag outfit composed of players who could not have played in the NBA. It was very similar to the Negro Leagues in that it featured incredibly talented players:

  • Julius “Dr. J.” Irving
  • Artis Gilmore
  • Connie Hawkins
  • Rick Barry
  • Spencer Haywood
  • Billy Cunningham
  • George McGinnis
  • George Gervin
  • Moses Malone
  • Dan Issel
  • David Thompson

Instead of “integrating” the ABA stars into NBA teams, NBA owners created a merger with the upstart league and agreed to accept the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, and New York Nets into their league. Players from the two remaining teams that folded were placed in a dispersal draft.

When placed within this context, there was absolutely nothing, outside of bigotry fueled institutional racism, preventing white Major League owners from creating a merger with the Negro Leagues and bringing several pre-existing franchises into their league. Although I am certain that many will charge that white fans would have boycotted inter-racial games, such an action would have had little impact on profits as African-American fans would have flocked to the games in droves with hopes that black baseball players would have proven their superiority once and for all. Despite it being relatively difficult to comprehend considering the popularity of football and basketball within Black America that there was a time when baseball was also Black America’s favorite pastime.

Unfortunately for Negro League owners and the black community, the price white team owners demanded their “acceptance” of African-American baseball players was the dissolving and absence of black ownership. From their perspective, African-Americans were only acceptable as disposable employees, not as owners possessing a voice in league operations. It is for these reasons that I cannot fully embrace Jackie Robinson’s Major League Baseball debut because it came at such a steep cost to the entire black community, a cost that is so enormous that we still to this day do not have an accurate tally. In fact, the vast majority of us are unaware of the tremendous collateral damage that the integration of the Major Leagues had upon the entire community.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017.