Thoughts about Jason Collins and his historical moment

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Congratulations to Jason Collins for being comfortable and brave to admit his sexual orientation in a public manner. The thirty-four old NBA center made history yesterday when his personal essay for Sports Illustrated leaked to the press and other media outlets, marking him as the first openly gay professional team sport athlete. Here are my thoughts and concerns as this story makes its way through our media’s digestive track.

  • As this Ted Talk illustrates the key to a movement is actually the second person. Who will follow Collins’ courageous first step and announce their sexual orientation? Once that happens, I hope the flood gates will open and America can begin to openly discuss and accept (not tolerate…I strongly dislike that word when we discuss differences…I can tolerate playing basketball on a sprained ankle, whereas I can accept one’s humanity) gay athletes.
  • Bill Clinton wrote yesterday, “It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities,” in praise of Jason Collins’ admission. While I agree with him, I am weary of the use of “good man.” I worry that while Clinton in trying to challenge the way we think of gay athletes, unfortunately reinforces the idea of gay as “bad.” His statement would have still been as powerful with the omission of “good man” because regardless of Collins’ sexuality he is a good person; the two, goodness and sexuality, should not be linked.
  • Collins coming out has a “where were you when…” feel to it. I was in my car, listening to ESPN talk radio when I first heard the news. The announcer stressed that he was not gay, but supported Jason Collins. It struck me as odd that he felt the need to confirm his heterosexuality as he supported an openly gay athlete. Pay attention to that throughout the subsequent commentary.
  • Lastly, while I disagree with those who for various reasons (i.e. bigotry, religion, etc) condemn homosexuality, I do believe that in the spirit of diversity they should be able to share their thoughts and opinions. While it pains me to write that sentence because I worry about the hatred that they may spew, it is within their rights to voice their opinions. Likewise, it is in my rights to disagree with them.

In the words of the famous philosopher from Brooklyn, Jay-Z, “What you eat, don’t make me shhh…Where’s the love?”

I am thankful that Jason Collins found the inner strength to share such a private matter in such a public manner to help push the conversation about homosexuality, sports, masculinity, and the various interconnected threads forward. Who he decides to sleep with does not affect me anymore than it affected it yesterday; likewise, who I decide to sleep with does not affect him. I appreciate his decision to live authentically and hope that others, regardless of sexual orientation, can learn from his example: Be who you are and love who you are because you deserve it!

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Revenge, the Coldest of Dishes

missinginactionThis year, I have been blessed to see three live NBA basketball games, witnessing Lebron, Kobe, and Melo. As a result, I have made a resolution with my future self: the expendable money that future me makes will be spent on going to NBA games, with the goal of attending a game in every arena.

The NBA, more than any other American professional sport, thrives on the marketing of their superstars. Unlike football, where their players are helmeted and only a handful of quarterbacks or skill players are known, most people recognize NBA players, largely because there is little separation between the players and fans (editor’s note: NBA players also sell and endorse everything under the sun). NBA players wear tank tops and shorts and periodically dive into the stands. After a big shot, they interact with the fans, who are a few feet away from the court, reducing the space with their outreached hands, hoping to touch a player at some point throughout the game. Even the fans seated on the periphery, nearly touching the arena’s rafters, are able to see the player’s winning smiles and ever-changing emotions via the jumbotron. While this close proximity encourages a euphoric, if only fleeting, connectedness, the monetary cost of experiencing it can be costly for some families.

Enter billionaires and millionaires and their egotistical feelings.

On November 29th, Greg Popovich, who I think is a phenomenal coach and does not receive the national attention he deserves because he coaches in a small market, decided to send his top four players home, even though they had a game against the Miami Heat that night. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli, and Danny Green went back to San Antonio on a commercial flight, instead of suiting up and playing the scheduled game. This move caused understandable uproar because Popovich did not inform the league of his decision until shortly before the start of the game. More importantly, the Miami Heat fans, who paid top dollars to see what many believe to be a NBA finals preview, were unable to see San Antonio at full strength. Remember, the NBA, more than any American professional sports, makes the bulk of their money on the marketability of their superstars, of which Duncan, Parker, and Ginobilli are. As a reprimand, the commissioner fined the Spurs organization a quarter of a million dollars. A gentle slap on the wrist for an organization that makes over $135 million in revenue annually.

Last night, the Miami Heat returned the malicious favor to the San Antonio fans by sitting both Dwayne Wade and the superstar amongst superstars, Lebron James. Each were sidelined with an injury. Interestingly, the league will have a difficult time fining the Heat because, unlike the Spurs, they followed protocol and reported that their players would be out due to injury. However, even a blind man can see that this move was also motivated by  revenge; the Heat organization wanted to payback the Spurs and their fans for the indiscretion and insult to the Heats fans back in November. For example, if the Heat’s winning streak was still intact and they were still chasing immortality, Wade and James, regardless of injury would have played. But the circumstances allowed for them to “take a night off” against the team who “robbed” their fans the pleasure of seeing the Spurs’ top players.

Lost in all of this tit for tat egotistical, billionaire mind war are the fans, specially the families that save their money to treat themselves or their children to a special outing. The kids (and adults), whose San Antonio rooms are covered in Lebron or Wade posters and defend them to their friends, who belittle them for liking anyone else not named Duncan, Parker, Ginobilli, or some other Spurs player, missed out on an opportunity to see their idol(s) defy gravity, shoot jumpers, and play tenacious defense that would surely lead to a highlight worthy moment on Sportscenter. Those voices, though they blend into one cacophonous sound for the players and the owners, need to be heard and recognized.

For a player like Lebron, who is finally starting to shed the venomous hate that surrounded his decision to play for Heat, this moment pushes him backwards as he (re)gains fans. If only the fans could boycott the owners and not attend a game to physically voice their displeasure with such childish behavior among the one percent. Unfortunately, it won’t happen because the experience is worth the cost.

That’s Dope…That’s Not Dope

You know the drill: Each week I chronicle what’s dope and what’s not.

That’s Not Dope

  • Rumors that Nas, often considered one of the best lyricists in the rap game, may have used ghostwriters. In other words, someone else wrote his lyrics.
  • Dwight Howard joining the Lakers
  • Replacement referees for the NFL…could alter the integrity of America’s most popular/successful sport
  • Love and Hip Hop Atlanta…smh. I already know I will receive a message about placing that show here.
  • Spam email from Africans asking for help recouping their millions
  • Domestic violence

That’s Dope

  • Being a parent
  • Dancing to Michael Jackson songs in public
  • Weddings
  • Unapologetically being yourself
  • Manners
  • Cuddling during rainstorms (personally not doing it, but it’s still dope)

That’s Dope…That’s Not Dope [200th Post Edition]

 

 

Today will mark my 200th post. Wow! Thank you!

This morning, one of my homegirls via gchat told me that she and her friend read and discuss my blog as if it’s a reading club. That’s dope. Her comment made my heart smile. I am truly blown away that people are affected by my writing. I am humbled by the facebook messages, texts, emails, calls, etc. that continually offer encouragement. Additionally, I am glad to know that people are discussing these topics with others. I would like to see more comments on the actual blog, but that will come when you all ready to make it happen.

Without further ado, this week’s edition of That’s Dope…That’s Not Dope.

That’s Not Dope

  • The shooting at the Sikh temple in Milwaukee
  • Netflix
  • Healthy food (i.e. salad) costing so much more than non-healthy food (i.e. burgers)
  • Chick-A-Fil and their anti-Gay marriage claim. Do what you do best, make chicken. Reserve judgement on people’s dating and sexual preferences, which does not affect your business. Money is still green regardless with whom one sleeps.
  • Folk criticizing Two-time Gold Olympic Medalist Gabby Douglas’ hairstyle…wait, what? She just won two Gold medals and you are concerned about whether she has a fresh perm or wash and set…really?
  •  The cost of living in New York City

That’s Dope

  • Michael Phelps winning four gold medals and two silver in London even after his headshot suggested otherwise
  • Five Guys’ burgers
  • NBC’s coverage of the Olympic games, especially the stories about the athletes and their journeys
  • HBO Go
  • The sprinting rivalry between Jamaica and the United States
  • Back to School shopping

 

That’s Dope…That’s Not Dope II

Let’s get right to it with this week’s edition of Dope and Not Dope.

Not Dope

  • The tragic shooting in a Colorado theater
  • The unnecessary stigma behind receiving help for mental illness, especially in communities of color
  • Politics and its production of overly biased commentary
  • The current USA men’s basketball team saying that they can beat the ’92 Dream Team…no way, no how
  • The unfortunate death of Usher’s stepson
  • Stopping the pursuit of one’s dream

Dope

  • Penn State removing the Joe Paterno statue and cleansing the school of his name
  • Nas’ Life is Good album
  • Water parks
  • Occasional summer days that feel like early autumn ones
  • Grandmas
  • Dark Knight Rises…not as great as The Dark Night, largely because Joker made that movie amazing!

I believe in…

I believe in love, family, forgiveness, beauty within all, the small things in life, Sportscenter, sex so good that you dream about it, and that good literature is not limited to dead white men. I believe that the 2008 Olympic basketball team and their decision to play with each will forever change the NBA. I believe that music and sound provide a path to the spirit, math is universal, and reading is necessary. I believe in trying as if failure does not exist, failing and learning from it, attempting new things to keep life fresh and livable, following one’s passion ambitiously, creating, and learning for life. I believe that my son will be a better man than I am, that he will leave an indelible mark on someone’s life and always be remembered for it. I believe that capitalism has robbed us all, greed has destroyed compassion, social networks have created a generation of hollow relationships, texting has substituted conversation, emotional vulnerabilities have risen and self-esteem and self-love have rapidly declined because something real is missing. I believe in technology and its ability to connect and teach us once we learn how to use it properly. I believe in dualism, contradictions, truth, difference, and yin and yang. I believe the United State’s perceived failing school system works perfectly well for the continued destruction of people of color and the poor, that the booming prison industry will continue to soar unless we make fundamental changes that will benefit all. I believe that we can learn from our youngest children because their imagination and creativity has yet been shackled with responsibilities and stereotypes. I believe that parents need to parent their children and stop trying to be best friends with them; there will be time for that when they are older. I believe in goals, tattoos, sex, dinners with friends were laughter is the main course, wine, scotch, and memories. I believe in please and thank you. I believe in personal change, only when ready and not forced or ultimatumed (note: I know that’s not a word; work with me. Thanks.) I believe that spelling contests are awesome and every word processing program has stripped away our concern and ability to spell correctly. I believe in smiles, hugs, and tiny kisses that make you giggle. I believe that obstacles, bumps, bruises, and disappointment are healthy for character. I believe in the now.

So what do you believe in?

American Racism–That Train Is Never Later

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A few days ago, I wrote about the Jeremy Lin sensation that was sweeping the nation, most notably New York City. That post received roughly 350 views in one day, easily making it my most viewed page thus far. Thankfully, it sparked conversation among my friends and co-workers. Most agreed with my sentiments, and one argued that my post had no point because “everything in America is racialized.” While I understood the argument (and agreed), I stressed that the language surrounding Jeremy Lin can be offensive, even if the intentions are good.

Enter ESPN.

The above picture is a screen shot of ESPN’s worldwide title page after the Knicks unfortunately lost to the New Orleans Hornets.

“Chink in the armor.”

Wait, What?

Really? You are just going to freely and thoughtlessly use the word “chink,” which has been used as a derogatory word towards Asians and Asian Americans for many years. Really? Was that the popular decision in the newsroom? You thought it was ok to let that title rock worldwide. Really?

Jeremy Lin’s poor performance last night did not necessitate such a racist, tasteless response.

Similarly, Jeremy Lin’s spectular play does not necessitate such racist, tasteless “support.”

A few years ago, Chris Rock, one of my favorite comedians, noticed that the patriotic language around the war progressively became more racist, progressing from F all these foreigners, to F the French, to F all these arabs, to F all these illegal aliens. As the language become more hostile and targeted, he waited for Blacks and Jews to enter the crosshairs. Because, he jokes, “That train [racism] is never late.”