Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

While attending the NCAA conference panel discussion about the student athlete experience I was fortunate to capture on video Michigan State all-conference QB discussing the hardships faced by major college football players in relation to obtaining a meaningful education while competing at the highest level. Take a listen for yourself from Wednesday January 11, 2012 event


Mia you inspire me with you passion and compassion, and I thanks you for showing the rest of us that the truest measure of wealth is not in dollars and cents, but in lives touch and helped!

Last night I   while preparing for my MLK speech at Oklahoma City University Tuesday night, I was in the room with my wife who was watching Bravo’s Housewives of Atlanta.  I am not a fan of the show, but became interested in the episode after overhearing the cast members talking about taking a trip to South Africa, which got my attention because I have family there, really enjoyed my time visiting there, and generally excited anytime mainstream TV promotes Africa.   Yet, my excitement was short-lived. See, just when I thought this show could not get any more demeaning since it already   exploits almost every negative stereotype Black women face in this country; the Bravo Network, the show, cast members, and producers sunk to an all-time low by making a mockery of the enslavement of our (and their) ancestors. Wow, I can’t believe that while looking at an enslavement exhibit scene at an African-American museum that showed a Black male mannequin in chains, two of the cast members, (one who is actually a practicing attorney)  were making jokes about the mannequin’s “genitals” and even (the lawyer!) physically looked under the loin cloth of the  exhibit to see “what he was packing” which further plays into the “hyper sexuality” of the African-American community.

This is an outrage and I am disgusted. Exploiting stereotypes is one thing, and while I do not expect positive and uplifting content from these shows, I certainly do NOT expect to have the deadly and brutal chattel slavery era—that saw upwards of 100 million Africans forcefully snatched husband from wife, mother from daughter, father from son…forced to endure the horrendous middle passage…forced to suffer the humiliation of being sold at auction blocks like chattel…forced to work from “can’t see morning, to can’t see dusk” for the total enrichment and empowerment of others…forced to work under the consistent threat if death, rape, beating, or kidnapping…forced to breed with each other like beasts of the field— mocked by “educated” African-Americans on national TV!

In closing, can you imagine a Jew or (anyone for that matter) going to a Jewish Holocaust exhibit or museum, laughing and making sexual jokes about the topless exhibits? No you can’t because it would NEVER happen, and if it did it would be national news and the person/s responsible would be immediately escorted (rightfully so) out of the facility. As I reflect on all that the Civil rights generation went through, the beatings, the lynching, the jailing, the marching, and the killings, I am saddened to have to think: is THIS what Dr. King and others fought and died for?!? So, we could have the freedom to trivialize our plight and struggle for TV ratings and a few dollars. I guess Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of Black History Month and author of Mis-Education of the Negro  put it best by stating in 1933 “when you control a man’s mind, you don’t have to worry about his actions… [he] will find [his] proper place and will stay in it…you do not need to send him to the back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.” For whatever reason, the Atlanta Housewives felt that their proper place was to make it ok for the nation to find humor in the enslavement and oppression of Black people, their people; I can only pray that they find a way to become educated on why this is not the proper actions for such beautiful “southern belles.” Lastly, I’m sure the former enslaved African below would find no humor in their actions.

On thursday  it was reported that, 1 in 2 Americans live in poverty or is considered low income.  It’s sad and frankly unbelievable that the United States of America is quickly becoming a country of extreme haves and have-nots.

 Our country must get serious about creating and implementing policies that create a more just, equitable, and prosperous society for EVERYONE.

This is the only way that we will be able to continue to be the beacon of hope and opportunity that has  been an essential element in the development of our nation.  Further, if our citizens lose their belief in the ability to achieve  their American dream our society will quickly lose the relative stability it has enjoyed for so long.

Last night  Xavier’s Kenny Frease (#32), was sucker punched by Cincinnati’s   Yancy Gates (#34) and then stomped in the head while he was on the ground by #13 Cheikh Mbodj.  Both Gates and Mbodj have been suspended for six (6) games, and both of their actions are regrettable.  However, I believe that Mbodj’s actions were much more egregious than Gates. In fact,  I consider Mbodj’s kicking Frease in the head as he lay defenseless on the ground thug like behavior and  has absolutely NO place in college athletics.  Due to the attacks, Frease (pictured below) sustained a badly bloodied black-eye. 

Now please know that i have been involved with on-field fights and brawls during my time playing at Univ. of Oklahoma (like the infamous  1998 TCU v. OU), and understand how emotions can get the best of you quickly during high level competition.  This is why  eventhough I think he deserves more, I can live with six (6) games for Gates since he was actually on the court when the fight started. However, for Mbodji to unnecessarily come off the bench to commit an intentional battery (unlawful touching of another) has to be strongly condemned and punished to send a message of strict  intolerance for such behavior.

Therefore, I believe Mbodji’s actions actually warrants a full season’s suspension, mandatory anger management training, and he should be found civilly liable (ordered to pay the medical bills and pain and suffering) for injuring Xavier’s Kenny Frease (#32).

Lastly, just because this attack occurred in the context of a college basketball game,  make no mistake about it, Mbodji’s actions were criminal.  However, I do not  advocate for criminal charges against Mbodj because I think he could learn from this mistake without the “scarlett letter” and prevention of life opportunities  that a criminal record brings.  But, once Mbodji is reinstated he should be on a very “short lease.”

Monday I watched 50 Cent on Piers Morgan discuss a range of topics
.  I was so impressed with his intellect and
honesty, especially in discussing his upbringing and how it had convinced him
that the only real occupations available was thug, criminal, entertainer, or
athlete or some combination of all of them.
He states he believed this because this is what he saw in front his everyday.
This was a powerful statement because this is the overwhelming view of most
inner-city Black males (if not all young Black males), including myself (I had
decided on the thug/athlete life path)

50 Cent was very clear that he had this
understanding of his capabilities based off what he saw and experienced on a
daily basis.  In other words the
practically of his life while growing creating the expectations within his mind
that to strive for anything besides the before mentioned Blackman occupation
pillars was not a waste of time, but worse it NEVER was even a thought!  This underscores the fact that we must not
discount the fact that our kids of pragmatic, rational, and basis their
decisions and actions on their expectations, expectations which our based off
their experiences or worse lack of experiences.

What does this
mean in our quest to improve our community, and reverse the numerous negative
and deadly trends that our literally consuming of young men and our community
on a daily basis.  It means that we must
always do what we can, when we can, and how we can to raise the expectations
for our kids.  How do we do this?  One way is to provide our youth with consistent,
relevant, and practical experiences that counter-act the negativity going on
around every day (at home, in their neighborhood, on the radio, and on TV) that
proves that education, life skills, and following a certain “road map to
success” (i.e. study, avoid criminal activity, not engage unprotected sex, etc)
can and will led to a peaceful, prosperous, and healthy life for them and their
family. For some this means spending more time with your own kids.  For others its volunteering at your local
school as a classroom mentor relaying your own success story, lobbying your
local school board to provide funding for life skills and college preparatory programs
at the local community college, or becoming a “big brother” to a kid without a positive
male figure in his life.

Regardless of what it is today, find some way and
somehow to inform, inspire, and empower a young Black male to find and maximize
his opportunities

During  the last twelve months, the NCAA has arguably received the closest scrutiny ever regarding student-athlete recruiting and extra-benefit scandals costing  prominent, successful football and basketball coaches at powerful universities their jobs (Jim Tressel Ohio State & Bruce Pearl Univ. of Tenn), seemingly endless (proposed or actual) conference  re-alignments and discussions that appear to disregard the ethics of amateurism in order to satisfy an insatiable appetite for lucrative television revenues, and allegations of major recruiting violations and embarrassingly low graduation rates that taint the accomplishments of the two 2010 BCS championship teams (Auburn graduated exactly 0 of their African-african american athletes!).

 Such negative publicity has increased the assault on the NCAA as the sole arbitrator of major college athletics, which is driven by a wide range of critics, including  scholars, the media, state legislators, Congress, the courts, U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and even President Barack Obama.  As a result, the NCAA has once again discussed introducing surface “reforms” that hardly substantially address the situation such as increasing “full” scholarship amounts by $2000.00.

After extensive qualitative study of the literature, the law, NCAA rules and policies, court cases, interviews with former and current major college student-athletes, and my personal  experiences as a former D-1 football player at the University of  oklahoma.  I am convinced that the NCAA governance system is fundamentally flawed and divorced from the realities of today’s collegiate landscape.  Further,  the NCAA’s own rules and policies, and/or the lack of enforcement thereof, actually undermine their own antiquated  ideals of “amateurism” and “student-athlete” expressed in the NCAA’s mission and core values. In fact, I argue that the NCAA itself substantially interfere with the ability of student-athletes to holistically
develop and fully prosper in the current collegiate model of athletics.

The NCAA must significantly reform its policies and rules in order to improve its student-athletes’ academic performance, life skills development, economic opportunities, and graduation rates.  Therefore, I propose a number of specific new
policies and rules for careful consideration and adoption by the NCAA, including without limitation the following:

  • Extend athletic scholarships for greater than the five-year  undergraduate period;
  •  Increase the amounts of athletic scholarships to cover all living and student expenses since there is no time for outside employment;
  • Require each school to have the same ratio of academic coaches to student-athletes as it has athletic coaches to student-athletes in each
    particular sport;
  •  Require that the academic personnel working with student-athletes not
    be athletic department employees;
  • Enlarge amounts of athletic scholarships to cover all living and student expenses, WITHOUT ANY ARBITRARY CAP;
  • Provide  life-time injury and disability benefits for student-athletes injured while participating in their sport;
  • Allow student-athletes to take personal advantage of their own
  • Provide student-athletes with an equitable share of the revenue produced by their participation within their sport.

Without a doubt,  There are substantial legal,  equitable, financial, academic, and socio-cultural reasons for each proposed new policy and rule to implemented immediately.