Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

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The front page of today’s Statesville Record & Landmark.

This is the front page story from my hometown newspaper, The Statesville Record and Landmark. As you can imagine, it’s elicited quite a response in the community and on social media. This “White Unity” event is ironically set to take place in a small town called Harmony. I guess they forgot to poll the Black folks.

Growing up in that part of the country in the 1990s and 2000s, I can’t say that I ever saw any explicit Klan activity. Every now and then the old folks would talk about the Klan marching downtown or something, but it seemed like something from the history books. But as they say, history repeats itself.

Some are angry at the paper for placing the story on the front page, above the fold. They say it’s as if the paper is endorsing the rally. I can see how someone would look at this on the front page and think that, but inside the paper there is an editorial titled “Evil in our midst can’t be ignored,” which states the editorial opinion that people need to see what hate looks like in 2012. I totally agree.

For those who think with an African-American president in the White House we are in a post-racial society, this may come as a shock. For others, this is sad confirmation of the fact that we have a long way to go before all people are truly equal in this nation. For those who only now feel compelled to speak out about , it’s about damn time! But we must realize that the regressive policies currently being instituted by conservatives on the local, state and federal levels are more destructive than any gathering of backyard bigot barbeque could ever be. We progressives cannot fall asleep at the wheel like we did during the 2010 election cycle this year. Not with so much at stake. Stay vigilant and stay up. I’m out…

The Miami Heat show support for Treyvon Martin in a rare political statement for professional athletes.

Over the past week, no story in the country has been discussed, dissected and analyzed like the Trayvon Martin case. Dozens of rallies and vigils where held over the past week in memory of the 17 year-old who was gunned down by neighborhood watchman-turned-vigilante George Zimmerman. Other than a few crass comments from right-wingers like Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity, most folks have expressed their outrage over his death and support for the young man’s family.

Thousands gathered in New York on Wednesday for a Million Hoodie March in honor of the Florida teen who was wearing a hoodie at the time of his death. The past few days millions have donned hooded sweatshirts in their Facebook Profile Photos and Twitter Avatars as a sign of support.

Despite the national outcry over the case, the sports world and the athletes that inhabit it, went on with business as usual. Games were played. Interviews were conducted. Checks were cashed. And no one was surprised. Why? Because that’s just what athletes, especially African-Americans, are expected to do. Play the game, smile for the camera and keep your opinion to yourself. That’s been the status quo ever since Michael Jordan’s “Republicans buy sneakers too,” comment.

But Friday we were all surprised when two-time NBA MVP LeBron James Twitpic’d a photo of he and his Miami teammates wearing black hoodies. During their game against the Pistons that night, James scribbled “RIP Trayvon” on his sneakers. After Teammate DeWayne Wade told reporters “I think the only thing we want is we just want to make sure that we shed some light on the situation and let (people) know this is not just something happening in the community where it happened. “This is worldwide. We want to be a part of it until justice is served.”

In a world where silence is expected and speaking out is risky, those small statements said a lot. The fame and money of superstar athletes like James and Wade sometimes insulate them from the outside world. Most things that affect the average person like high gas prices or unemployment just don’t factor very much into their daily consciousness. Earlier this week, in column for What Black Men Want, I said that any Black man who looks at Martin’s face and ignores the cries of his blood is out of touch with reality.

It’s good to know that, at least this time, the athletes are with us.

When the Los Angeles Lakers open up the 2011-2012 season against the Chicago Bulls next weekend, there will be some lineup changes in the Player’s Wives’ section of the arena. Not only is Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian going to be gone, but so will Vanessa Bryant. Yesterday news broke that the 29 year-old wife of superstar Kobe Bryant filed for divorce after 11 years of marriage. The two met on the scene of a music video back in 1999 and their short romance quickly turned serious as the pair was married shortly after her high school graduation the next year.  The 21 year-old guard opted not to sign a prenuptial agreement. With the world and Bryant’s parents against them, the couple seemed to be doing just fine as Bryant pumped out babies and championships in the next four years.

Then came 2003’s sexual assault allegations. Rumor had it that Vanessa was ready to split then, but then Kobe copped heavily jeweled ring worth a reported $4 million and all seemed to be well in Bryant land. But on December 16, Vanessa filed the papers for divorce, likely signaling the end of their marriage.

With no prenupt, there’s no telling how much bread Kobe’s gonna have to break off to Vanessa. According to basketball-reference.com, Bryant has made almost two hundred million in NBA salary, in addition to the tens of millions he’s made with endorsements. I’m thinking Vanessa may get something close to the $96 million that Shaq’s ex-wife, Shaunie O’Neal got a few years back, give or take a few million.

Bryant isn’t the first athlete to get caught with his pants down and no prenuptial, and he definitely won’t be the last. Every time I hear of some athlete getting divorced with or without a prenuptial, I have to ask– Why The Hell Did You Get Married? Think about it, you’re a young, muscular millionaire with women practically trying to rip the pants off of you at every turn. Unless you have A.C. Green-like willpower, why go before God and Man and promise to be faithful???

This is not to say that these athletes don’t love the women they marry, but we all know that some of the most rabid cheaters love their wives to death. When it ends badly, as most of them do, not only do you lose her, you also lose the kids and much of the money you worked so hard to accumulate. And let’s not forget your privacy! In this age of Twitter, Tell All Books and Reality TV shows, you can believe your  business will be out on the street!

On the flip side, if you’re a female being pursued by a professional athlete, are you really expecting him to stay faithful to you? Yes, he’s telling you that he loves you. He may even mean it. But the reality is that most men are only going to turn down so much of the good stuff. Especially a young, rich athlete who is constantly being stroked by everyone from his agent to his mother and feels he’s invincible, on or off the court.

For all the talk about women loving harder than men, it seems like they also think of the business end of the marriage much more fervently than their husbands. Do you think it’s a coincidence that Vanessa chose to stay with a 25 year-old Kobe in his prime after her husband’s infidelity was highlighted in the media yet she is divorcing him at 33 and no confirmed reports of adultery? Maybe they just grew apart as sometimes happens. Then again, maybe she knew Bryant had at least six or seven peak years and two major contracts left? She stands to gain much more financially now than she did eight years ago. I’m just saying….

Moral of the story-love and money don’t mix, at least not for a professional athlete. If you don’t believe me, ask Eddie Murphy. Be honest with yourself, protect yourself and by all means, don’t get married until you retire!!!

A State of Shock

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Current Events, Sports

The front page of the Thursday's Philadelphia Inquirer, illustrating Joe Paterno's fall from grace.

As I have watched the events of the 18 hours play out in State College, I keep telling myself the same thing: It didn’t have to end like this. Joe Paterno should have stepped down as head coach a long time ago. If he had, the ugly events that transpired on Wednesday night would never have happened.

The 84 year-old, the man with the most wins in college football history, was effectively fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees on Wednesday night. In the ensuing hours, hoards of students took to the streets to show their support for Paterno, whose 46 year tenure as head coach came to an end as part of the fall out from revelations that Paterno knew his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had been accused of sexually abusing children. What started out as a peaceful gathering quickly turned ugly, with a media van being overturned and rocks and bottles being thrown at police.

It’s obvious that Paterno, by his own admittance, could’ve done more to ensure that Sandusky was brought to justice. There’s no debating that. Around the sports world, there is a debate going on as to whether or not he should have been fired immediately or if he should have been allowed to finish the season. The truth is, if Paterno had done the right thing and retired a long time ago, this debate wouldn’t even be necessary.

For much of the last decade, there has been speculation amongst college football prognosticators as to when the coaching career of Joesph Vincent Paterno would come to an end. Year after year, people questioned how a man born before the Great Depression could maintain the reigns of a major college football team in the 21st Century. Yet every fall Paterno continued to march out to Beaver Stadium with his team, basically telling those who thought he should step down that he would leave on his terms. It’s kind of like your grandad going jogging everyday and giving you hell for telling him he should stay inside.

There’s no question that Paterno’s love for football and Penn State are what helped him ascend t0 the pinnacle of college football. They also made it tough from him to step down when he should have. Had Paterno been retired news of this scandal broke, the damage done to his legacy would have been softened tremendously. Paterno’s career should have ended with him being carried off the field by both his current and former players.

He deserved better. Penn State deserved better. College football deserved better. Unfortunately, Paterno only has himself to blame for the way that it ended.

 

So I was watching CNN a few minutes ago when I came across this video. Last Saturday, a couple dozen kids walked into a convenient store in Montgomery County, Maryland at 1:47 a.m. These overgrown BeBe’s Kids proceeded to grab candy, drinks and other items from the store’s shelves and walked off without paying for it.

I wish I could say that I’m shocked, but I’m not. First of all, what kind of parent doesn’t know where their teenager is at damn near two o’clock in the morning? There’s just no excuse for that.

What did catch my eye was the use of the term, “Flash Mob.”  Basically, it’s a large group of people, usually connected via social networking sites, in a public place to do something silly and then haul ass. Apparently police in Philadelphia and other major cities have been dealing with it for a while, but this is the first time authorities have had this type of activity was caught on tape.

Call it what you want, I think it’s a damn shame that even if parents don’t know where their children are, they haven’t instilled enough of a sense of right and wrong for them to know that behavior like this is unacceptable. My grandmother used to say there was something very different about kids born after 1990…I used to think this was just talk, but the older I get I see she was right. But I think what’s changed most about children in the last 20 years is their parents.

Of course, there are the parents that just don’t give a damn. These apathetic-types have always been around, but seem to be increasing in numbers. Then there are those who neglect their children in the pursuit of a better life for them. Parents spend so much time working to give their children the things that their parents  that they were denied as children, they deny them the things that they were given-ideas like work ethic and a sense of concern for the world outside themselves.

Moral of the story: RAISE YOUR KIDS!

 

As the economy slowly begins to pull itself up out of the doldrums of recession, the unemployment rate in many states hovers around 10 percent. In an effort to combat this, President Barack Obama successful negotiated with Republicans to extend unemployment benefits for an additional 20 weeks for individuals who had been unemployed for more than 79 weeks.

In mid-April, however, member’s of the Republican-led North Carolina legislature decided to play political games with money from the Federal Government. They attatched a bill extending the benefits to a budget that cut 13 percent of the current budget, including a severe cut in educational spending.  Governer Beverly Purdue, a Democrat, vetoed the bill and in effect cut benefits for over 37,000 individuals across the state.

As you can imagine, there has been lots of outrage as well as protests and demonstrations. There has been alot of talk in the past few weeks over which party shares the blame for dropping the ball. The Republicans, who would love nothing better than to get rid of unemployment all together, are blaming Purdue. Purdue says she could not consent to such drastic cuts for education.

The bottom line is this: While the two sides are playing political hot potato in Raleigh, thousands around the state have no clue where their next month’s rent or food will come from. Or where they will find the money to pay for gas or internet service as they look for the jobs that Republicans think seem to be just waiting to be filled?

I guess it’s too much to ask for politicians to act in the best interest of the people of North Carolina and stop trying to one-up each other. I believe The Last Poets said it best in E Pluribus Unum their razor sharp assesment of America’s love affair with money: The power’s in the fate of ruling classes/Playing god with the fate of the masses/So the people don’t get any in the land of the plenty/Because E Pluribus Unum means “one out of many.”