Sports


Back in the days of antiquity, one of the most stressful jobs I would imagine, would be that of a messenger. If you returned from the battlefield with a message of victory, you would be hailed a hero and celebrated. If you were sent to an opposing kingdom with a message of goodwill, you would be treated as royalty and given a feast. However if you returned with a message of defeat, or brought a message of war, well your death was pretty much assured and it wouldn’t be pleasant. Hence the term: “Don’t kill the messenger!”

Jason Whitlock brings a message to the African-American community. It’s usually a message of the second type because it’s not popular. It’s not what most of us want to hear. So he is vilified.

Now I don’t regularly read the brother’s column, but I have read it a few times. I don’t agree with everything he says…. actually I agree with a lot of what he says, but hey… for me it’s not about agreeing… it’s about having a point of view. If it’s different from mine… all the better…. maybe I can learn something. I have seen him on Oprah and heard him a few times on a sports radio talk show sitting in as a guest host. The primary message which I get from him, is one of responsibility and accountability within the Black community, primarily when it comes to “our” sports heroes. He is sometimes harsh with his commentary. Yes, he is uncomfortably hard on Jesse and Al… almost to the point of being disrespectful, but there is a lot of truth in his message. During the Imus affair, one thing he said which struck a cord with me, and I am paraphrasing, is that we as a people cannot expect others to respect us more than we respect ourselves. Not a popular message when it is directed at the rappers, other entertainers and sports celebrities of our community. I have read articles where he argues eloquently (in my opinion) against demonizing Barry Bonds and Michael Vick and he supports the NAACP’s call to give Vick an opportunity to return to the NFL, after he pays whatever debt society dictates. Not a popular message to the “white” moralists. Although he acknowledges that racism is the root cause of some, maybe even most of our problems, like me he doesn’t see it as an “excuse” for our self-inflicted woes…. especially by our millionaire sports heroes. Even on the sports talk shows, the majority of the Black callers have an issue with his call for our highly paid athletes to behave better. To be responsible and accountable for their actions, because they are role models to the youth of our community, whether they want to be or not. “Whom much is given, much is expected.”  Not a popular message to our community at large.

Now our sports heroes have always had a special place in our hearts. Historically, every time they were able to beat a “white man” in a competition, overcome the odds whether in track and field, boxing, tennis, etc,…. they were striking a blow for us. They were our champions. Our Davids defeating the Goliaths of white supremacy on our behalf. They were an inspiration. Role models. Jesse Owens. Joe Johnson. Joe Louis. Muhammed Ali. Arthur Ashe. Not any more. Not with our present crop of athletes. Maybe back in the day we were more forgiving and/or accepting of their shortcomings. Times have changed. We have changed. Not to say that today there aren’t any African-American athletes who are positive role models, male and female. Unfortunately they don’t make the headlines, because they quietly go about their business…. and stay out of trouble…. doing the “right” thing. They should be featured and celebrated more…. no doubt. We need to take some blame for not publicly honouring them more. 

However I digress. Back to the messenger: Jason Whitlock. Through the Afrosphere I became aware of a column he did on the “Jena 6”. This led me to a post by my brother blogger, Field Negro and to the Whitlock’s column. I read both articles a number of times in an effort to understand what it was that Whitlock said that…. well…. proves that he has a “problem with Black folks.” What has earned him the unfortunate title as “the LaShawn Barber of the sports world.”? OUCH!!!!! (DAMN…. I gotta admit that I fell down laughing at that one! Cold.) He brings to light certain facts in regards to the “Jena 6” case, which leads him to the position that “much of the mainstream reporting on this story has been misleading, irresponsible and inflammatory.” He takes issue with the actions of all parties involved: the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the school board, the “noose-hanging” white students, the media, Al Sharpton, the community at large (both Black and White), the “Jena 6” and the parents: of both the white students and the “Jena 6”. He lays at all their feet…. their share of the blame which has lead to this travesty of justice. In his post Field states about Whitlock:

“And every fucking day he rips another black athlete or person who happens to be in the news, for not playing by America’s rules. Like who the fuck died and made him the Martha Stewart of race? On a certain level I almost respect Jason’s hustle. Because you and I both know that he can’t believe all the shit that he writes. But it’s working, Jason is getting more popular by the day, because he is just the latest in a long line of black folks who “Charlie” props up to say what he wants to say, but can’t, because it would be too politically incorrect. Jason can say it, because he is one of them.

Hmmmm. Ok. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I only wonder if there are any falsehoods in the facts of the situation which Whitlocks contends, regarding the individuals in the “Jena 6”? Not that it justifies what is happening to them, because it doesn’t. However, it gives another perspective which I wasn’t aware of. But in the long run, that doesn’t even matter. It’s the message that is the underlying issue. We now live in an age where you cannot kill the messenger, but you can certainly kill the message. Discredit the messenger and you can discount the message. The easiest way to discredit a Black person in our community, to nullify their voice, opinions and beliefs…. to KILL their message…. is to call them a tool of the “white man”…. a house negro of “Massa Charlie”.

Jason Whitlock is very lucky we aren’t living “back in the day“. Come to think of it… so am I.  

Michael Vick’s statement following his guilty plea in U.S. District Court to a dogfighting conspiracy charge:

“For most of my life, I’ve been a football player, not a public speaker, so, you know, I really don’t know, you know, how to say what I really want to say. You know, I understand it’s – it’s important or not important, you know, as far as what you say but how you say things. So, you know, I take this opportunity just to speak from the heart. First, I want to apologize, you know, for all the things that – that I’ve done and that I have allowed to happen. I want to personally apologize to commissioner Goodell, Arthur Blank, coach Bobby Petrino, my Atlanta Falcons teammates, you know, for our – for our previous discussions that we had. And I was not honest and forthright in our discussions, and, you know, I was ashamed and totally disappointed in myself to say the least. I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts and, you know, what I did was, what I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up. I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player. I take full responsibility for my actions. For one second will I sit right here – not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger and try to blame anybody else for my actions or what I’ve done. I’m totally responsible, and those things just didn’t have to happen. I feel like we all make mistakes. It’s just I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions. And you know, those things, you know, just can’t happen. Dog fighting is a terrible thing, and I did reject it. I’m upset with myself, and, you know, through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God. And I think that’s the right thing to do as of right now. Like I said, for this – for this entire situation I never pointed the finger at anybody else, I accepted responsibility for my actions of what I did and now I have to pay the consequences for it. But in a sense, I think it will help, you know, me as a person. I got a lot to think about in the next year or so. I offer my deepest apologies to everybody out in there in the world who was affected by this whole situation. And if I’m more disappointed with myself than anything it’s because of all the young people, young kids that I’ve let down, who look at Michael Vick as a role model. And to have to go through this and put myself in this situation, you know, I hope that every young kid out there in the world watching this interview right now who’s been following the case will use me as an example to using better judgment and making better decisions. Once again, I offer my deepest apologies to everyone. And I will redeem myself. I have to. So I got a lot of down time, a lot of time to think about my actions and what I’ve done and how to make Michael Vick a better person. Thank you.”

Was Michael Vick sincere in his statement and apology? Was he just going through the motions of reading a statement scripted by his lawyers to say what the courts, NFL and public wanted to hear, in an effort to mitigate his sentence, suspension and rehabilitate his image? 

There is a lot of speculation and most of what I have heard in the media has been cynical. However, I will give Michael Vick the “benefit of the doubt”…. so to speak. I will believe that he was sincere in taking full responsibility for his choices and actions, and in his plea for forgiveness. I for one will wish him the best and hope that he will be successful in transforming his mind, values and spirit to become a much better Michael Vick.

More on responsibility, accountability and values.

Whatever in the world can be done, will be done. The question is whether it will be done by you, or to you.

Over the period that we were putting the pieces together to launch the AfroSpear think tank blog site, I came back to this quote a number of times. It was like a beacon for me. Will we forge and direct our own destiny? Will we speak our own stories? Will we share our own experiences? Will we offer the pearls of our own wisdom? Will we exchange our own ideas? Will we debate our own strategies? Will we formulate our solutions? ALL for the greater good of our own community. BECAUSE if we don’t, others will dictate all this for us! 

“Where there is no vision, the people perish;”  Proverbs 29:18

I am so enthused and hopeful. Primarily because the response and support for this vision from the AfroSphere has been encouraging and inspiring. It’s definitely a vision whose time has come. So let’s gather and commune with one another. Regardless of shade, political affiliation, religious beliefs, gender, orientation, nationality and ethnicity. Let the voices of those of African descent ring out true and free here.

You are therefore invited to join AfroSpear. I encourage you to read our “About” and “Mission Statement” sections to know who we are, what we are hoping to accomplish and our rules for engagement.

Let’s celebrate!

Asabagna

I received this comment from a blogger from Nigeria, obyno, in response to my post on “The Prophets of Negrology“. I found it very interesting and wanted to share it by posting it. Here it is:  

Two of the issues you raised in this post, namely, the Don Imus brouhaha and the Duke Lacrosse players comedy show, are threads that have been leading me to the bolstering of a theory that I have had for a long time. It is one I consider to be utterly horrible and whose entertaintment really qualifies one to go on and be cut, drawn, quartered and if possible set ablaze.

It goes like this. All races are definitely not equal. Some are truly more equal than others. Equality however is not a function of certain ineluctable, genetic differentiation, but a result of the development or lack of a habit of intellectual introspection. Intellectual introspection in this case is dimensioned into levels whose effect is measurable by:

1)All phenomena is measurable by their effect on you and you alone.
2)Its inclusion of your fellow beings in the evaluation of phenomena.
3)The consideration of your fellow beings and other less animate beings such as are found in your biological environment in the evaluation of phenomena.

All three taken together, in my view, work to establish an individual’s position on the ladder of progress. Enlarging the set, they can point to a people’s position on this same ladder and therefore become a measure of racial progress. However I have taken certain liberties in setting these measures. Because the theory is still largely that, a theory, and hardly anything better than a series of observations looking for an overcoat, I have elected to suggest that at any point in time, arising from an alteration of perspective and attitude, a person, and indeed a people can hop up or down from one level to the other as the case may be. Sometimes I fear that I have introduced this caveat as pressure valve to prevent the attacks which such a theory probably deserves, by people who might consider themselves victimised by it. So here goes:

As a fact it is a non sequitor to infer that a group of people have the capacity to think together in a certain direction. Having established this, it is then only true to indicate that they therefore cannot all be lumped together for any measurement on the level of their thinking. Rather it is safest to generalise on this by focusing on trends and seeming trends which their opinions when trolled for appear to be revealing. Even the aftermath of this does not yield the toga of truth to whatever ideas appear to be in prevalence.

However there are some affects which if taken altogether might put hands together to reveal an objective that one might say is generalized, and not necessarily in statistical terms. It is this objective that when used as a prism can yield treasures about how they regard themselves, their environment and their place in that ecosystem. The almost palpable sound of a sigh of accomplishment rippling through African-america as evidenced in its blogs, newspaper columns, radio/tv interviews given, before and after the Don Imus firing proper, left me confused about the evolutionary stage of much of our intellectualising as a people. All through the farce (I use the word, farce, without disrespect to the women in America who were the recipients of the Imus’ radio slur), Pillars of African-american opinion like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson attempted to negotiate Don Imus surrender with their backs turned, all the while, to the fifth columnists, the enemies within, who had afterall given Don Imus the go-ahead to violate those women – I mean the purveyors and arch-angels of hip-hop culture.

I have followed the careers of Imus and the other so called shock jocks in america’s radio journalism and have come to marvel at the fact that they have created a profession and in so many cases, fabulous fortunes out of stealing popular elements of American culture, sharpening them by adding a layering of their own particular inimitable talent and personality, and then returning same to the American people. The fact is that their success is original only as much as they have excelled at looking at everyday things in a sharply new way. There is probably no word more everyday in popular American English grammar than the word “Nigga” or “Ho”. Together of course, with all the neccessary verbal paraphernalia, that go with being able to add tragic and monumentally heartbreaking meaning to those words.

That is why I took painful issue with people like Russel Simmons, (who by the way I have always respected and admired for the symbolism I always believed they represented by their ability to break out of the cycle of poverty that for centuries have imprisoned and ground to death hundreds of millions of other African-anericans), whose best defence seemed to be that since a rapper was born into violence and crime and hate and so much disrespect, then we should expect them to afflict all of us with the fruits of their antecedents and no more from us all. In the racial progress theory I am working on, that equates only to the first level. Obsession with how your behaviour is limited only by your own limitations. 

I haven’t read or heard anything faintly suggesting to me that Don Imus is racist. He took words out of the lips of the hip-hop cultural vanguard, at least in the music genre, and flung it right back at America. That Mr. Sharpton et al did not see this (or if they had, was announcing that vision by only just now, going after Don Imus) was for me the real tragedy of the whole thing. Don Imus has completed his hand-wringing and been busted for his mistakes. That he apologized equates to a hoping around on my ladder of progress, albeit in an upward more rewarding direction, something the Russel Simmonses and Jay Zs and Snoops and The Games are not doing yet. And about being busted…well his perspective, if not his attitude has suffered alteration. It would be a travesty to now not go ahead and engage all the other bastions whose inspiration pushed Don Imus to what in effect has been his waterloo. If not the objective of the whole exercise would have been to smoke out Don Imus while the supply lines to the other Imus{es} remained vibrant, waiting for the next time another fire would flare up.

And as long as this continues to be the objective towards which all of our arguments and  observations about ourselves and the world around us, for and against, propel us, then that manic hopping back and forth up and down the ladder of racial progress would continue to enervate us.

Sick, right? But it was only you who got me thinking.

Well Imus got his azzz canned! Hip Hop Hooray!… Ho!… Hey!…. Ho! (Did I just say: “Ho?!”). The Prophets of Negrology can now pat themselves on the back cause they showed the white man! They mobilized their power and influence to bring down a powerful rich white media icon over his insensitive…. no racist, misogynist remarks against our sisters, the queens of our race. But yet….sniff….sniff…. I can’t help feeling that “something stinks in Negrodia”. Does anyone else smell it!?

 

At first the whole Imus thing was a non-issue to me. Just history, recent history mind you, repeating itself. I figured he would apologize, appear on one of the Prophets of Negrology radio programs, get admonished, act contrite and ask forgiveness, claim sheepishly that “I am not a racist… I got Black friends and I do lots for under-privilege youths…”, go for therapy to understand how he picked up this demon (“the devil made me do it!”), wait for a couple days or so until something more juicy comes up for the media to latch onto, (like…. Anna Nicole Smith gave birth to a baby while being deceased and now they have to go on another intensive dna search to identify the baby daddy… is it Christ’s?…. or Mohammed’s?…. or maybe even Lucifer’s?), then go back to making money for CBS and being a category on “Jeopardy”. But alas…. Imus got fired and the Prophets of Negrology are content and smug once again.

 

However, I have two issues. One is, well… when are the Prophets of Negrology going to take issue with the rappers, comedians and other Black entertainers over their insensitive…. no racist, misogynist remarks against our sisters, the queens of our race? When are they going to “name names” and call for “our” community and society at large to boycott these so-called artists? Yes, I’m talking about R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Snoop, and Dave Chappelle! When are they going to call for demonstrations against the media moguls (BET included), record companies, record stores, radio stations, as well as the actual cd’s and t.v shows, which produce, distribute and perform this filth? This quote is too true: “A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him.” I have heard our sisters, the queens of our race, referred to by derogatory names by Black men, WORSE than what was stated by Imus. And these same Black men were gladly gettin’ PAID for saying it! So please tell me, how is Imus suppose to know or behave any better? 

 

Two, when are these Prophets of Negrology, the more noteworthy of whom attach the moniker “Reverend” at the beginning of their names to signify that they are ambassadors of Christ…. which by association, automatically clokes them in the robes and collars of credibility, and hence the keepers of the flame against the darkness of social injustice…. when are they going to apologize to the Duke lacrosse players who were so falsely accused and politically charged, based on a obviously non-credible and incredible complaint? Imus, whether sincere or not, apologized for his error. These Prophets were front and center, playing to the cameras, calling for the head (or was it the balls?), of these young men. Or was the injustice they went through acceptable due to the color of their skin, as well as their economic and social class? (hmmmm… sounds strangely familiar….) Well, I may be in the visible minority on this one (as opposed to being just a “visible minority”), but I believe that if you know better, you do better. My Granny always used to remark: “those who knows it, feels it.” AND we have felt this kind of injustice before! So when we innocently and/or even through our best intentions, get caught up in the frenzy (media frenzy for some) of adding to this injustice, we need to address it, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Call me naïve, crazy or even a sell-out, but that would be the “Christian” thing to do, especially for a “Reverend”. 

 

Now to reality. The Prophets of Negrology need to wake up and realize that they have no real power. They are stooges. They are a distraction from the real issues. They are the “Sanjayas” of the moment, until American Idol resumes next Tuesday night. They had no direct influence in getting Imus fired! The ONLY reason Imus got fired was that it was no longer profitable for the networks to keep him! Sponsors were pulling out of his show. He then became a financial liability. The NCAA made this call to networks: “You know the BILLIONS of dollars you make during March Madness and Football Bowl Season? Well… that is now in jeopardy because of Imus’s remarks.” The next call was made to Imus: “You’re fired!…. and no…. this is not Donald Trump.” In the same light of reality: when racist and misogynist rap music, music videos, t.v. shows, comedians, movies etc., are no longer profitable, then the Prophets of Negrology will be permitted to wail and rally against it. Let’s not get it twisted! Until then, we will continue to live out this truth from the song, “Shut em down” by The Prophets of Rage, Public Enemy:

 

“Howdy ‘all, this is Bernie Cross house, yours truly of the KKK! I’d like to express our deepest gratitude at the destruction of the inferior nigger race, and I’m especially pleased to report it’s destroying itself without our help! To all you gangs, hoodlums, drug pushers and users, and other worthless niggers killing each other, we’d like to thank you all, for saving us the time, trouble and legality, for the final chapter of riddin’ y’all off the face of the earth! Your solution to our problem is greatly appreciated! So keep sellin’ us your soul. Thank yah!”

 

I have to end with this excerpt from Jason Whitlock, a Black sports columnist. It’s just too good not to share:

 

“We have more important issues to deal with than Imus. If we are unwilling to clean up the filth and disrespect we heap on each other, nothing will change with our condition. You can fire every Don Imus in the country, and our incarceration rate, fatherless-child rate, illiteracy rate and murder rate will still continue to skyrocket. A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him. We don’t respect ourselves right now. If we did, we wouldn’t call each other the N-word. If we did, we wouldn’t let people with prison values define who we are in music and videos. If we did, we wouldn’t call black women bitches and hos and abandon them when they have our babies. If we had the proper level of self-respect, we wouldn’t act like it’s only a crime when a white man disrespects us. We hold Imus to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. That’s a (freaking) shame. We need leadership that is interested in fixing the culture we’ve adopted. We need leadership that makes all of us take tremendous pride in educating ourselves. We need leadership that can reach professional athletes and entertainers and get them to understand that they’re ambassadors and play an important role in defining who we are and what values our culture will embrace.”

                                                                                                                      

I say we need AfroSpear!

I always had an idea, a vision really, to create a diasporic-wide think tank type blog. I envisioned that it would focus on discussing issues, exchanging ideas and creating strategies, with the objective of developing concrete and viable solutions to tackle the concerns relating to those of us of African descent worldwide. 

 

shared this vision over at thefreeslave blog page and I was overwhelmed by how enthusiastically it was received. It is not necessarily an original idea on my part and others have previously either engaged in similar discussions or have created such a venue. However it garnered much discussion, offers of assistance and words of encouragement.

 

I would like to acknowledge two brothers who have taken hold of the vision and ran with it. Francis L. Holland and Exodus Mentality have been engaged in the type of discussions that I had hoped would be initiated through the vision of AfroSpear. These brothers are an inspiration. Below I linked 2 recent discussions from their pages, which are an example of the think tank based discussions that I hope to be engaged in through AfroSpear, once we get the site launched.

 

“Can the AfroSpear Help Reduce Urban Violence?”

“Open Thread: What’s number 1”

 

 

Humbly,

Asabagna

Whatever in the world can be done, will be done. The question is whether it will be done by you or to you?

Coming soon to the AfroSphere.

“GOD IS GOOD!”

“ALL THE TIME!”

I started blogging about a year ago after the 2005 Oscars. My first post ever was on some thoughts I had about Three 6 Mafia winning the Oscar for Best Song, George Clooney’s acceptance speech for winning best supporting actor for “Syriana”, and on the winner of the best picture… who can remember? “CRASH”. (first post) I was new to the blogging game and wanted to see where my voice would take me out into the blogosphere.

 

John Smulo

 

This week, I have been featured in a 2-part interview on the blog page of John Smulo, called SmuloSpace. John is a Christian blogger whose page I read frequently because he expands my thinking and brought a different perspective to the “Christian” experience for me. He is one of very few bloggers from the “Christosphere”, that I link to my page. The others are Gruntled Center, Imitatio Christi, The Church Boy and God’s Politics (which is a site of “white” progressive Christian bloggers developed by Jim Wallis). This is not to say that there aren’t others linked to this page who consider themselves Christians. However these specific blogs primarily discuss religious themes and look at other topics from a “Christian” perspective, whatever that may mean to the authors, which is why I refer to them as the “Christosphere”.

 

I found it very difficult finding Christian bloggers to read. It wasn’t due to there not being many of them out in the blogosphere, but I prefer to become engaged in discussions that will challenge my thinking and beliefs, that will expand my knowledge and not spew the same “ole time religion”. These blogs do that to some extent and SmuloSpace is my favourite. I cannot remember how I found his page but I started reading it in January 2007. What attracted me most is that I found John to be a sincere listener…. and that is a rare quality in a person. I started reading and commenting on his page and visa versa. A couple weeks ago he asked if he could interview me for his page. I was pleasantly surprised! He was primarily interested in the process I went through to adopt my African/Spiritual name: “Asabagna Alatentou” and my self-definition as an “Afrocentric Pentecostal”. I felt honored and gladly said “yes”. Here are the links to both interviews:

It is my hope that those of you who frequent this page may not just read the interviews, but will also read some of John’s other posts, and be inspired to become engaged in conversations and be regular commentators there. I also hope that those who frequent John’s page, through the interviews, may discover our community and engage with us also. Isn’t that the beauty of the internet? To discover, communicate and learn from those of other countries, cultures and beliefs. To transcend borders, barriers and build bridges of understanding through dialogue, discussion and debate. To make friends. It’s not a “pipe dream”. It’s possible. I’ve done it with all of you.

 

I wish you heaven.

Asa.

“When you have a philosophy or a gospel, I don’t care whether it’s a religious gospel, a political gospel, an economic gospel or a social gospel…. if it’s not going to do something for you and me right here and right now…. to hell with that gospel! In the past, most of the religious gospels that you and I have heard have benefited only those who preach it. Most of the political gospels that you and I have heard have benefited only the politicians. The social gospels have benefited only the sociologists. You and I need something right now that’s going to benefit all of us. That’s going to change the community in which we live, not try to take us somewhere else. If we can’t live here, we never will live somewhere else.” Malcolm X

This was on the wall of Mother Theresa’s Calcutta office. It written by Kent M. Keith.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered: Forgive them anyway…

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives: Be kind anyway…

If you are successful you will win some false friends and some true enemies: Succeed anyway…

If you are honest and frank people may cheat you: Be honest and frank anyway…

What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight: Build anyway…

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous: Be happy anyway…

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow: Do good anyway…

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough: Give the world the best you have anyway…

You see, in the final analysis, it`s all between you and God: It was never between you and them anyway…

Next Page »