I Can’t Breathe

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Scrolling through my TeamStream feed this morning catching up on the weekends sport, I came across the headline ‘Giants, Yankees Step Up for Fallen NYPD Officer’. The article went on to say that the NY Yankees will be paying for the education of  murdered NYPD officer Rafael Ramos’ sons, and that the New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, wore ‘a black strip on his left arm + a peace sign under the NY on his shirt in honor of slain NYPD officers’. While these gestures will in no way make up for the loss of life, they do show that sports teams are truly supportive to victims of heinous acts like murder, brutality and domestic violence. Or are they?

After the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, many basketball and football players joined in the public outrage and showed their support of the fallen men. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Kevin Garnett and others wore the last words of Eric Garner emblazoned across their chests ‘I Can’t Breathe’.

LeBron James

What happened? The NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that although he respected the players’ stance, he would prefer the players to ‘abide by our on court attire rules’. He might as well have said ‘Yeah do it, it’s good that you have those views. But post it on your Instagram or Twitter. Don’t do it on the NBAs time. We have a brand to protect. Now drink your Gatorade and make sure the cameras see’. Images Tommie Smith and John Carlos come to mind.

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5 members of the St.Louis Rams including wideouts Tayvon Austin, Kenny Britt and Jared Cook, came out of the tunnel before kick-off, and made the ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ gesture in reference to the killing of Michael Brown. What did Missouri Police labelled the gesture as ‘tasteless, offensive and inflammatory’, also calling for the players to be disciplined. Disciplined?? These are grown men! No sorry… they used to call us ‘boys’. Almost forgot…

ADDITION Raiders Rams Football

And now 2 officers are murdered in New York, and sports teams are first on the scene to offer support.

So it’s not about looking after those affected by murder is it?

The police officers were killed in cold blood. They just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Paying for the education of the Rafael Ramos’ children is a wonderful gesture (Wenjian Liu had no children) and we all wish we saw more acts of benevolence like that in this world. Eric Garner was killed with the use of an illegal choke hold. He was the father of 6 children and 3 grandchildren. The Yankees, the Mets, the Jets, the Giants, the Nets, the Knicks, the Rangers and the Islanders are all professional sports teams in New York. No money. No apology. Don’t show any support for him at our games. We have a business to run.

It seems as though there is this undying loyalty shown towards law enforcement, where they can do no wrong in the eyes of America. They are enforce the law, and are above it at the same time. And it’s not even about race! It’s not like these 2 officers were white. But they are part of the police force. Law enforcement. There’s a reason why the word force is used rather than police team or law upholders. It means that the values they hold true, will be upheld by force. So go ahead and protest against what we do. Just know that your sports teams are on our side. Your favorite tv shows are on our side. Politicians are on our side. Speak out against us and we will force you to comply, even if it means death. We’ve got you in a choke hold.

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#icantbreathe

Kissing strangers is overrated

On a recent trip to an unnamed country, I was standing on crowded bus and saw a woman who was seated, hand her handbag to another woman who was about to get off the bus. I thought nothing of it until I saw another woman get on the bus and nonchalantly hand two shopping bags to a young man who was sitting by the window. 10 minutes later, a young child was handed back to his mother by a woman who was seated on the bus. People were getting on the bus and handing their handbags, shopping bags or children to random strangers for safe keeping for the duration of their journey. This kind of blind trust was totally foreign for me, coming from a country where it is usual to sit next to someone for a half an hour and not even smile.

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Ok sure, there are many reasons why people don’t talk to each other for many reasons. Maybe they don‘t look friendly, are busy listening to music, playing Candy Crush or occupied with their Kindle. I just find it slightly sad that in some big cities, people can have more desire to connect with someone via Twitter than a real person sitting next to them for half an hour. Because we hear of violent attacks, stabbings and verbal abuse on public transport everyday, we automatically keep ourselves to ourselves, often for fear that a simple smile will be misconstrued as a threat. Sometimes, a small step out of our comfort zones act can have results you can never imagine.

The video that went viral last week in which strangers kissed each other was interesting for many reasons. It showcased behaviour which totally goes against non-a-few-tequilas-too-many etiquette, as well as a well shot and edited video with fitting background music. The fact that the video featured models, actresses and musicians – people who for different reasons have generally less inhibitions than the average person, is irrelevant. What the video showed me was that we are all fascinated by the connection two total strangers (ok…we were led to believe that they were total strangers) can have. A connection that possibly many of us crave every day, our daily commutes being a perfect opportunity rarely taken.

I was on a short flight a couple of years ago and after offering to switch my ham sandwich for his cheese, had a great conversation with the guy sitting next to me. He was travelling to take part in an annual marathon but worked for the UN. He spoke about 5 languages and gave me some great advice about which languages are the most important to learn for communication purposes (English, Russian, Arabic, Spanish and Cantonese). I invited him to see a show I was playing in and we parted wishing each other a good weekend. Nothing more, nothing less. Maybe we never meet again. Maybe he doesn’t even remember that conversation. I do, and now able to pass on some of what he told me, maybe someone reading this will learn something from this post.

‘…people can have more desire to connect with someone via Twitter than a real person sitting next to them for half an hour’

I’m not saying that we should all unplug, talk, and give our belongings to any and everyone we happen to sit next to. A pleasant word to a stranger on a train doesn’t have to reference the 1951 Hitchcock movie of the same name.  Maybe, just maybe, to have a small conversation with someone who makes you both smile can make the difference between an OK day, and a pleasant one.

And you don’t have to kiss them either…. because it really looks like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLKmr_aI5rg

Peace and blessings