Tag Archives: NBA

Twenty-Six Years After Magic Johnson’s Announcement that he was HIV+, Black Men Remain at the Forefront of this Unfortunate Club

It was one of those “I remember where I was at when _______” moments that rocks you to the core. On this particular momentous occasion I was in my dorm room on November 7, 1991, when my best friend came in and announced, “Man, Magic Johnson just announced that magiche has Aids.” Although we had all heard of the disease, I had already had a close family member die from the disease after contracting it from intravenous drug use. However, in the early 90s, there was an unspoken belief in the African-American community that the disease was one that only gay men contracted through sex.

In the early-nineties, Aids was little more than an urban legend to many of my contemporaries. Not even Magic Johnson’s announcement that he was ending his professional basketball career as a result of contracting something called HIV changed that fact. Apparently little has changed during the twenty-six black aids 2years since Magic Johnson’s announcement. Magic Johnson was so affable and engaging that many of us felt that we actually knew him. One would logically expect this unprecedented moment to have changed Black America in unconscionable ways, unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

The Center for Disease Control relates that African-Americans are currently the group, above all others I must emphasize, most affected by HIV. As of 2010, African-Americans were acquiring HIV gayat a rate eight-times greater than the white population based on population size. “Gay and bisexual men account for most new infections among African-Americans; young gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 are the most affected of this group.” (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialEthnic/aa/facts/index.html)

According to the Center for Disease Control the following facts are true:

  • African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years orblack love older) in 2010, despite representing only 12% of the US population; considering the smaller size of the African American population in the United States, this represents a population rate that is 8 times that of whites overall.
  • In 2010, men accounted for 70% (14,700) of the estimated 20,900 new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African American men (103.6/JL King100,000 population) was 7 times that of white men, twice that of Latino men, and nearly 3 times   that of African American women.
  • In 2010, African American gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men**brepresented an estimated 72% (10,600) of new infections among all African American men and 36% of an estimated 29,800 new HIV infections among all gay and bisexual men. More new HIV infections (4,800) occurred among young African American gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) than any other subgroup of gay and bisexual men.
  • In 2010, African American women accounted for 6,100 (29%) of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. This number represents a mimidecrease of 21% since 2008. Most new   HIV infections among African American women (87%; 5,300) are attributed to heterosexual contact.c The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African    American women (38.1/100,000 population) was 20 times that of white women and almost 5 times that of Hispanic/Latino women.

Source (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialEthnic/aa/facts/index.html)

Unfortunately, the numbers do not lie. The greater question facing the African-American population, I use the word population and not community intentionally, because a community bonds together to aid one another and solve common problems, I am personally unsure if we are a community, is a simple one of ‘how long will you act as if this issue, and a host of others that pivot upon matters of personal responsibility, should not be at the forefront of issues on our collective agenda. Maybe it is time that we lay the cross of victimization down in regards to repeated reactionary responses to racism and begin with a stern movement toward socially responsible individualism.

On this date, the twenty-third anniversary of Magic Johnson’s announcement that he had contracted HIV, I think that it may be imperative that we each take a moment to recognize those that have fallen victim to this horrendous disease, but also take nickiproactive steps on an individual and collective basis to address the matter. As a college professor, I am constantly bombarded with the issues of unprotected sex among collegians, I hear male students, hetero- and homosexual, bragging about their sexual conquests; rarely do I hear any mention of safe sex or any type of protection being used. I am almost certain that similar conversations occur among my female students. Regardless of if we want to admit it or not, we are each inextricably linked with one another and my Lord, what a tangled weave have we created?

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

#ManhoodRaceCulture

‘Ground Jordan’: How Racial Politics Has Repeatedly Shut Michael Jordan Down Like No Other Opponent Ever Could

I will be honest with you, my initial thought was that ‘hell had truly frozen over’ when I heard that Michael ‘Air’ Jordan had issued a political statement.

I immediately discounted the reports because I clearly remember Jordan utterly refusing to issue any sort of political statement out jordanof fear of compromising his bottom line financial concerns. Jordan efficiently communicated that financial issues, particularly as they were associated with his sneakers and brand, were his foremost priority when he refused to address African-American issues because as he publicly stated, “Republicans purchase tennis shoes as well.”

During his career ‘Air’ Jordan carefully crafted every aspect of his image from not appearing for post-game interviews without a suit through avoiding the appearance of choosing a side on any political issue, especially if it dealt with Race in any form, shape, or fashion. In time it became clear that Jordan was the standard-bearer of the blasé political persona that NBA ballplayers were to aspire to.

Although I would like to say that this appearance of what should be termed ‘political’ Jordan is a major step in the correct direction, the truth of the matter is that after reading this middle-of-the-road statement, ‘Air’ Jordan has consciously decided to remain grounded in regards to Race matters.

Jordan’s statement, in its entirety, follows:

As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by Jordan origionalthe divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.

Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly hodges and jordanestablished Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.

We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.

Although I would love to champion this as a sign of his ‘Airness’ maturing; unfortunately, it does appear that Jordan’s political voice Jordan wait 2is not always muted as he has proven to be willing to speak out on behalf of the discrimination that the state of North Carolina has legalized against the LGBT community. I partially suspect that even Jordan’s decision to speak out against the aforementioned legislation flows from his deep-concern that the NBA would move its annual All-Star game from the State, a decision that was recently made.

In regards to speaking out on behalf of his indigenous community, not much has changed as the ‘Jordan Rules’ appear to still be in effect.

One question that continually gnaws at the back of my mind is why should a person such as Jordan who lives in another racial reality Jordan waitthat allows his pre-occupation with financial matters to trump his racial identity speak on behalf of the Black community? As with every other venue, the Black community has not given Jordan an ounce of a reason to do so when one considers that the Air Jordan’s debuted in the mid-80s and come hell or high water our people have lined up to purchase them as they were participating in a sacred Black ritual.

Although many will fawn over Jordan’s slight gesture, I only hope that they realize that in basketball vernacular Jordan’s statement holds little more significance than a slight jab step, it is most definitely not one of Jordan’s signature drives to the basket.

However, I guess it is a little bit of something.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

THE JORDAN RULES: HOW MICHAEL JORDAN UNRAVELS ‘BUY BLACK’ CAMPAIGNS

Racial uplift plans began prior to the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Most certainly since the slave era ended in 1865, African-Americans have attempted innumerable plans to improve the community by addressing its financial douglass2shortcomings. A diverse group of leaders from Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, T. Thomas Fortune, Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Martin Luther King Jr., Madame C.J. Walker, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan, have all advanced slightly different formulas that promised to lift African-Americans out of the economic chains that have held them so firmly.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of these programs are relatively simple in that they call for the rise of a Black entrepreneur class that creates businesses to serve the needs of the African-American community. The rather simple formula calls for the FarrakhanAfrican-American community to support these businesses with an unbreakable loyalty. According to most Black Nationalists, the circulating of the dollar within the African-American community is the only reasonable means of economic improvement. Such thinkers are most certainly motivated by Malcolm X’s famous quote of, “You run down your own community when you give your dollar away.”

Often ignored in such economic formulas is a final step that calls for Black businessmen to honor the African-American community’s unending loyalty by re-investing their monies in new businesses, philanthropic endeavors, depositing their money in Black banks who will then issue loans to aspiring business owners, and the hiring of community members. Failure to do such destroys the entire racial uplift campaign as it is doing little more than enriching individuals whose wealth is not ‘trickling down’ to the masses that it was built upon. One of the greatest examples of such is the basketball icon Michael Jordan.

Although one can have a robust argument regarding who is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Innumerable names appear in that discussion: Oscar “the Big O” Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, dr jJulius “Dr. J” Irving, Larry Bird, Ervin “Magic” Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and the list goes on and on. However, there is one arena that is indisputable in regards to the aforementioned basketball legends, that being, who has been the most financially successful player away from the court. Michael Jordan, a six-time NBA Champion, stands without peer in regards to off the court financial success. Jordan’s unprecedented off the court financial success is attributable to the sneaker empire he has built with the aid of Nike.

I am certain that there are many who believe that Ervin “Magic” Johnson rivals Jordan in post-athletic career earnings, those people are wrong. According to Nike Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker, the Jordan “Jumpman” brand “…transcend(s) sport and culture across gender, age and geographies…(opening up a) world of opportunity…”

Jordan has been able to accomplish something that seems impossible by increasing endorsement dollars after retirement. In 2004, the year after Jordan retired from the National Basketball jordanAssociation, the six-time NBA champion earned $28 million dollars in endorsements. Today, the Jordan brand was raking in more than $100 million in endorsements; more dollars than any active NBA player. In fact, one could combine the endorsement dollars of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and still not equal Michael Jordan’s total.

According to the initial theory of racial uplift, the African-American community has proven their loyalty to the Jordan Brand by spending millions, if not billions, of dollars purchasing everything produced with the infamous “Jumpman” logo on it. Unfortunately for the African-American community, Michael Jordan has proven to be a non-factor in racial matters. I am reminded of Jordan’s stance of neutrality when asked which political party he belonged to; Jordan slyly declined to answer the question before quipping, “Republicans buy shoes to.” There is no doubt that Michael Jordan is neither a Civil Rights activist nor interested in practicing socially responsible individualism. He is quite simply a Capitalist interested in earning as much money as humanly possible.

I think that there is much to be learned from Jordan’s refusal to aid in the uplift of his people despite their loyalty to the Jordan Jordan wait 2Brand. Quite possibly the largest lesson to be gleaned is the harsh reality that current ‘buy Black’ economic programs are going to be woefully insufficient if Black business owners are absent a commitment to uplift the race that matches those who are religiously supporting them. Unless Black businessmen have a developed sense of loyalty to the race, ‘buy Black’ campaigns will never improve the economic status of the community one iota, it will simply lead to the financial prosperity of a class of Capitalists who have no desire to aid others.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race, and Culture

Allen Iverson: The Icon

MVP!

All-Star!

Olympian!

Fearless!

Scoring maestro!

Relentless!

The greatest little man to ever play on the hardwood. During his 15 year illustrious NBA career, long time Philadelphia 76ers point guard  Allen Iverson was known by these IVERSON 3labels and countless  more.  All of these titles I are undoubtedly well deserved. Though there is  an additional title that Iverson, who just celebrated his 40th birthday, undoubtedly deserves: counter-culture icon.

During the 1980’s and 90’s, NBA superstars such as Larry Bird,Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan had a certain ‘look’. Clean cut, no tattoos, and a million-dollar smile. All of that changed when Allen Iverson was selected by the 76ers in 1996. Iverson’s appearance immediately turned the league on its head via what can be best termed a defiant embrace of hip-hop culture. Instead of following the status quo like those superstars who came before him, “The Answer” forged his own uniform of — shooting sleeve, cornrows, headband and most disturbing to many adorning his entire body with tattoos.

Iveron’s fashion choices away from the court also ruffled a few feathers. Iverson presented himself as the poster-child for urban gear by IVERSON 1religiously  wearing a throwback jersey, do-rag, fitted cap, sneakers, baggy jeans, and inordinate amounts of gaudy jewelry . Quite frankly, Iverson appeared to have stepped out of a yet to occur 2000 Rap Music video.

Despite the fact that  Iverson received continuous criticism  from myriad basketball aficionados who charged that the superstar guard was nothing more than a “narcissistic jewelry wearing thug” ruining professional  basketball, millions of young fans all over the world, myself included, adored Iverson’s ‘swag’.

As an adolescent growing up during the height of  Iverson’s popularity, I vividly remember how my peers and I idolized him. Every year without fail,when the latest edition of the NBA 2K  video game series was released, I created an Allen Iverson clone, complete  with cornrows, headband, arm sleeve, and copious tattoos to my mothers chagrin and father’s horror. My friends homes were most likely in similar disarray as they religiously adorned their bedroom walls with posters, pictures, magazine articles and anything else bearing Iverson’s likeness.

Older generations failed to understand Iverson’s appeal to my generation. Put simply, our adoration of Iverson was not attributable to his fashion choices, hairstyle, or body markings, it was the fact that every fiber of Iverson’s being was a boisterous public declaration that conveyed my generation’s unstated preference to display to the world, parents included, who we actually are. Put simply, we would rather be loathed for being ourselves than loved for being someone we were not.

My friends and I loved the fact that Iverson unabashedly immersed himself in hip-hop culture, and that he  openly admitted to listening to our favorite artists at the timeIVERSON 2 such as  T.I., Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy. For an entire generation of adherents, Iverson was  not just another superstar athlete, his style of play and attitude resonated so profoundly that he was akin to an older brother engaged in many of the struggles and conflicts that future generations of African-Americans would battle.

Regardless of one’s perspective of Iverson, there is no denial that his imprint can never be removed from either professional basketball or today’s African-American male. Had  Iverson not displayed the courage to march to the beat of his own drum and dress in attire that was frowned upon, today’s stars like Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade would not have the luxury of wearing the eccentric garb they prefer .

The compression sleeve that Iverson during his playing days  wore consistently  has become commonplace today as stars like Kyrie Irving, John Wall, and Dwight Howard now don the accessory. NBA Store reported that the sleeve is the most popular non-apparel item sold by the NBA .

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James once said “I didn’t want to be Michael or Magic…I wanted to be Allen Iverson.”   New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony added that “an entire generation owes (Iverson).” Clippers guard Chris Paul summed it up perfectly  remarked that Iverson is “the most influential player of all time.”  Quite honestly, it could not have been said better.

Alexander Goodwin

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015

How the ‘Talented-Tenth’ Could Help Save African-American Males

There are certain mantras that one never forgets; for me it is the belief that ‘perfect practice prevents piss-poor performance.’ Put simply, that thing that you spend the bulk of your time preparing for you will excel at. A superficial examination of the contemporary state of African-American males verifies the mantra.

Unfortunately, there has been a competing mantra that has been drilled into the heads of the vast majority of African-American males. That mantra conveys a belief that their only path to financial CARDALE 3success lay in their athletic prowess. This thinking has prodded droves of African-American males toward athletic careers, a focus that has recently meant the abandonment of more reliable avenues of professional success. For verification one has to look no further than the current racial composition of the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). African-American males make up approximately 6% of this nation’s population; however, they currently are 76.3% of the NBA players and 68% of all NFL players. Clearly these individuals have displayed extreme dedication in honing their athletic abilities and prodigious skills. At the same time that we are dominating sports leagues that offer careers that last on average 3 years, the percentage of Black professionals has steadily decreased. Currently African-Americans make up only 3.2% of lawyers, 3% of doctors, and 1% of architects; keep in mind that these paltry numbers included all African-Americans, male and female.

It has not always been this way as the Black community of yesteryear was a bastion of occupational diversity. African-American leaders knew that if their communities were to survive, let alone efficiently meet the needs of its residents, it dubois1needed to grow its own doctors, attorneys, educators, business persons, etc. W.E.B. Du Bois would refer this population as the ‘talented-tenth’.  According to Du Bois, “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst.”

The ‘talented-tenth’ were under a mandate to handle the often difficult, yet rewarding, task of setting a standard of excellence within the community and serving as courageous representatives that defended the poor during the frequent attacks that emanated from hostile whites. Members of the ‘talented-tenth’ were revered within the community; particularly among Black youth who aspired for a similar status once they reached adulthood.

Unfortunately for the Black community, it appears that African-American males, the population that disproportionately populated the ‘Talented-tenth’, have lost their way. Quite possibly the most significant sign of contemporary African-American males undeniable lack of clarity regarding the purpose of life is found in their failure to prepare for adulthood, meaning the responsibilities of taking on a wife and producing offspring, by mapping out a plan that calls for them to focus upon anything other than athletics or a rap career. Unfortunately for many African-American males living in this nation’s urban centers, an athletic career is their plan A, B, and C. Considering that less than one-percent of these aspiring professional athletes will ever realize their dreams, that leaves droves of them, as well as those they are responsible for, in a tenuous socioeconomic position.

We often fail to view the horrific fallout that follows unrealized athletic dreams. However, they do go a long way towards explaining the following facts:

  • Black America represents over 30% of this nation’s poor; we are only 14% of the general population.
  • Approximately 50% of Black children live below the poverty line; only 16% of white children are in a similar predicament.
  • The net worth of a Black family is $6,700; white net worth is $67,000.

Now there is a tendency to blame ‘racism’ for all of the woes affecting Black America, however, a close look college 4proves that a few of these maladies flows from an individual’s inability to map out a path to success. It is this path to success that African-American males are in desperate need of today; a path that the largely vanquished ‘Talented-tenth’ used to guide them toward via mentoring relationships.

Hence, it is imperative for the Black intellectual and professional classes to return to the Black community, a request that does not necessarily cause them to return to Black neighborhoods, and mentor African-American males toward a future that does not include bouncing or running with a ball. I would hope that you agree that African-American males have so much more to give; unfortunately, their potential contributions are too frequently being de-railed because they have chosen to believe that a ball, and not their brains, is their only path to financial success and a productive adult life.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.