Monthly Archives: January 2015

Stuart Scott: “I just want to be a Dad.”

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This past Sunday morning, the sportscasting world lost one of its most talented and inspirational sports anchors. Stuart Orlando Scott, also known by his colleagues as “Stu,” passed away Sunday morning due to his battle with cancer. He was 49-years old. Many in the sports and entertainment world paid their respects to the legendary sportscaster in a series of tweets, heart felt interviews from fellow ESPN colleagues, and even a tribute from President Barack Obama himself. All of this from a guy who did nothing but revolutionize the way sports journalism was written and reported on air. His style made him immediately stand out from his contemporaries not just because he was an African-American; but because he wasn’t afraid to show it in his style, demeanor and of course; his distinct vocabulary. With catch phrases like “Holla at a playa when you see him in the street,” even down to his signature expression, “Boo-Yah;” Scott instantly became a game changer as he continued to push the envelope so much that he deserved his own U.S. postal stamp. There is much more I could go on and practically repeat what other’s have already written about Scott these last several days. However, there is one aspect of Stuart Scott that I don’t mind repeating what others have written and included into their blog’s newspaper’s and publications. It is the aspect of how much Stuart Scott loved being a father.

The very two people he is survived by his daughters–Taelor and Sydni–were the very reasons for which he lived. It was just under six months ago when Scott was honored with the Jimmy V Award at the 2014 ESPY Awards. Here is a small excerpt from his poignant speech:
“The best thing I’ve ever done, The best thing I will ever do is be a dad to Taelor and Sydni. I can’t ever give up because I can’t leave my daughters. I love you girls more than I will ever be able to express. You are my heartbeat. I am standing on this stage tonight because of you.”
Shortly after his speech, Scott invited his youngest daughter Sydni to the stage and he affectionately embraced her to crystallize an indelible moment. It was from then on that myself and America was privileged to witness the other side of a man beyond his amazing talents as a anchor and a sportswriter. We got to experience a black father’s love and adoration for his children. See in the black community, the word ‘Dad’ or ‘Father’ has always been associated with words like absenteeism, deadbeat, and the most haunting seven words a child should never hear: “You’re just like your no good father.” I understand there’s certainly a segment of black men in America who are definitely guilty as charged when it comes to these labels. For many of them, fatherhood is nothing more than a generational curse soon to be passed on once he hears from the female he’s been involved with these unsettling words: “i’m pregnant.” Likewise, for that same young woman who finds out that she has become pregnant from the boyfriend (who she thought loved her) but was nothing more than a emotional substitution to fill that attention void she’d never received from her own father. That is why, in my opinion, what Stuart Scott did that fateful night in honoring his daughters in front of the world; was equally important as the determination it took for him to get there. In days leading to the event, Scott suffered liver complications, kidney failure, and endured four surgeries in a span of seven days.
Some will read this article and might come away thinking “it’s not about race” or that i’m selfish for even bringing it up in the wake of Scott’s passing. My riposte of that would be well what if Stuart Scott was afraid to be or never became Stuart Scott? What if Stuart Scott would have stuck to the prototypical, docile-assimilated, black man that many corporations are filled with today? What if Stuart Scott never stood up to his executives’ at ESPN who at one time were grossly offended by the very same lexicon that made Scott so beloved as an icon in sports television today? Stuart Scott spoke the language of his people because he was never ashamed of who he was; thus he wasn’t afraid to be who he was either. Contrary to popular belief, Stuart Scott didn’t have to “Carlton Banks” himself to the top of the ranks at ESPN. (I’ll let y’all think about that for a moment) Scott exuded excellence in his craft and his sports acumen was among the best in his profession. However, all of his greatness aside; this writer only wanted to merely highlight a scintilla aspect of Scott’s life as a father hoping it will transcend the negative stereotypes that is placed on black fathers in the general. So in closing, in order for us to change the narrative of the deadbeat, absentee father; we must embrace and promote the positive images of the fathers who are actively involved–and faithfully present.
You can only work on that which you have the power to control.
RIP to Stuart Scott.
Peace.

“We Don’t Even Care About ‘US”

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Some of my best memories growing up as a kid in the 80’s were the times when I wanted to be like Michael Jackson. Unbeknownst to me, it was during the time when Michael Jackson was at the crown of his career having just released his album entitled; “Bad.” I would spent my time trying to imitate his dances moves, wore one glove pretending it was white; and finish every dance move mimicking Jackson’s patented sounds of “Hee-Hee and Aoww!” This was before hip-hop had my attention and when music was still good enough to listen to on the radio without having to explain why there are so many pauses in a record. Then fast-forward into the 90’s where my adolescence was ‘chin-checked’ if you will when I was told I had been “hoodwinked and bamboozled” from Spike Lee’s movie Malcolm X. I had started middle school and was introduced to high top fades, House Party films, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Cross-Colours, Karl Kani, and of course: girls. While I was going through the stress of peer pressure and teenage puberty; my early childhood idol, Michael Jackson; was being investigated on child sexual abuse charges. Though such charges would haunt him for the rest of his career; Jackson maintained his innocence in a recorded interview and would later go on and settle with his accuser outside of court. Jackson would go on musically to record HIStory:  Past, Present, and Future, Book I, as a response to not only the accusations he endured; but to the mistreatment he received from the media. Regarded as Jackson’s most controversial album, Jackson again became the center of public scrutiny when one of the albums songs, “They Don’t Care About Us” was cited as having anti-Semitic lyrics. Despite Jackson’s pleas that the lyrics or his intent was not anti-Semitic; the commotion ended when Jackson re-recorded song removing the anti-Semitic slur. All controversy aside, the song “They Don’t Care About Us” was thought by many as having a hidden message and that maybe the singer was trying to tell us something—by us I mean African-Americans.

Such a song could be the impetus turned into a chorus sung by countless African-American voices as the year nears its end. We’re just barely four weeks removed from the decision by a grand jury which chose not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. Garner, who was a father of six, was accosted by police for allegedly selling loosies’ cigarettes was taken down by an illegal chokehold by Pantaleo while America gasped when hearing Garner reply; “I can’t breathe.” Unlike the Michael Brown scenario involving Officer Darren Wilson; this case had visual evidence of an Officer using not just excessive force but an illegal take down method and Garner’s cause of death was ruled a homicide. But of course you had people apologizing for the officer saying “This isn’t about race and he [Garner] was resisting arrest.” Even Garner’s widow mentioned this isn’t about race in an interview with Rush Limbaugh, (of all people) and her husband was known by the officers for selling illegal cigarettes. I get the resisted part to some degree; however, are we then to conveniently forget about Officer’s Pantaleo’s checkered past?  The New York Daily News reports back in April of 2012, two men, (both who are black males) Darren Collins and Tommy Rice; alleged that Pantaleo pulled the men’s pants down and slapped their genitals during a traffic stop. Criminal charges against the two men were dropped according the reports and each received $15,000 each in a settlement. There is other cases against Officer Pantaleo (including one still pending) but my point is the guy clearly has a history of unfair treatment towards blacks so why was he even on the force?  Before I could even answer that question, I was aghast to find out that the Staten Island borough where Garner was killed has the highest number of most-sued NYPD officers the Daily News reports.   No, no, no. Maybe it has to do with Pantaleo’s Sergeant, Kizzy Adoni, who failed to intercede or break up the encounter so the grand jury had to rule in Officer’s Pantaleo’s favor, right? And just for the record; Sergeant Adoni is a black woman. As thousands rushed the streets nationwide to protest (and rightly so) after the decision was made; there was still a part of me that was hesitant in giving my full support. Of course it would be easy for me to put my pro-black militant hat on and talk about institutionalized racism and yell “white supremacy is alive and active!” It would also stick to my initial social-political narrative with the Jackson song of, “They Don’t Care About Us.” But that would be too easy.

I want to be very, very, clear in this article before I move on because initially I did not want to write it. I didn’t want to be considered a race-baiting; the white man is keeping us down, quoting liberal; or a personal responsibility, American flag wearing, blame the poor, high-horse conservative. I have no political affiliation whatsoever. I say this because anytime someone black gives an honest, constructive criticism of the black community they are immediately labeled as Toms and Coons. They say this because in some way shape or form, you sound like your repeating white supremacist rhetoric talking points. Although I disagree with that assumption; however, I will say there are some black conservatives out there who never seem to defend anything black or African-American. In fact, many of them would be insulted if you were to call them an African-American; or say they represent the black community! I can assure you I am not one of those type of guys. Likewise, in regards to the liberal argument which ignores or better yet makes excuses for everything wrong with black people. Their end all solution is to NOT fix or improve the black family; but to subsidize it with the government’s supervision. Please understand my intent isn’t to belittle or berate the black community; but it is always from my conviction which leads me to write about various topics that affect us as black people. This is why although I know white supremacy does exist; however, I do NOT spend a whole lot of time addressing it because most of our issues WE should be able to work on constructively and collectively. Just like when I hear people get mad at rich upper class African-Americans for not giving back to the black community. I used to be one of those cantankerous people myself until I understood that those rich blacks are bought off and controlled by sponsors and corporations. Moreover, the only time I personally see fit to call out those black elites is when they’re involved with a product, advertisement, or a movement that is at the detriment, decadence, and the destruction of black people. Something I like to call the 3-D’s effect.

This leads me to the monotonous protesters or creators of the “Black Lives Matter” movement which will be soon hijacked by whatever minority group associated with them who feels they’re just as important as well. So according to their website blacklivesmatter.com, the movement began back in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the murder of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. Since then the group has been actively involved in organizing several marches, rallies, and protest. They have become virtually the crest of the movement, led by “Black Lives Matter” originators: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. They have garnered national media attention and social media notoriety most notably after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. After I browsed through their website to see what they ultimately stood for; I was not surprised that “Black Lives Matter” isn’t just about black lives dying at the hands police and vigilantes. Here’s a quote from blacklivesmatter.com:

“It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.  Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.  It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.  It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.”

**Sigh**I couldn’t help to notice that something was glaringly missing from this movement’s website. You guessed it—black on black violence. I know, I know, I KNOW; what I just said could get me put on some fictitious Coon Train; but the greatest threat to black male’s lives; is other black males. I get this stems from various socio-economic factors such as concentrated perpetual poverty, drugs, mass incarceration, lack of jobs/unemployment, the practice of hood culture (and the media’s promotion of it through music and images), fatherless homes; I could go on. I myself understand that there’s always been this pervasive predatory target placed upon black men in America. However, the explanation of being a product of your own environment should be just as irritating of hearing me and others talk about “black on black crime.” The difference between me and the political bigot; is that I am genuinely concerned for the black community just like a prisoner doing 20 to life. What do I mean? This same prisoner if he had the chance (and was remorseful for his crime) who would tell you not only don’t make the same mistakes which landed him in jail; but you have a choice to do something different. That’s code for take responsibility. That’s right. Also, since we are talking about black lives and all; I would be remissed if I didn’t bring up the lives which begin at conception. I understand this might stir up a hornet’s nest by addressing a woman’s right to choose; but abortion continues to be a problem in the African-American community. Yes the abortion rates (nationwide) have dropped considerably within the last decade; unfortunately, black women are still five times more likely to abort than white women and two times more than Latina women according to the  Center for Disease Control and Prevention. There are other groups in which the “Black Lives Matter” movement is also engaged in but of these groups’ transsexuals [gays], feminism, and illegals; already have a national platform and political support. So while I applaud “Black Lives Matter” and the thousands of protesters nationwide; this isn’t really about black males being killed. It’s about having a face—rather a black face— to push their own politicalized agenda’s for their own personal gain. I could be wrong but hey that’s ‘politricks.’

I was almost tempted to end this elongated article by saying “My fellow Americans,” as if I was giving a presidential address. Truth be told, as much as I care about black community and its overall all well-being; it seems like our future as a people is very grim. It’s like we deliberately ignore the seemingly obvious issue, which is the black family; and we focus on who we think is bothering us and become capricious with anyone who tells us otherwise. Racism and anything associated with it; isn’t our core problem. So how can we say “They Don’t Care About Us,” when ‘WE’ don’t even care about us. But nevertheless, those of you who wish not to be enlightened or flat out refuse to, will be the ones who will continue to rail, march, and bark at the moon. Just like those who went before you. Peace.

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