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’.

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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…

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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

Donald Sterling was finally racist enough

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As we all have heard, seen and read by now, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught making comments about Black people in a conversation with his mistress. The fallout of which first resulted in the team staging a non-logo-black-armband-wearing protest before a loss to Golden State, and peaked with the Commissioner Adam Silver banning Sterling from the NBA for life and fining him $2.5 million. Silver also said that he will try to force Donald Sterling to sell the LA Clippers, with people like Magic Johnson, Floyd Mayweather and David Geffen.

There are so many talking points that this scandal has raised. Will he be forced to sell? Clearly Sterling deserves the sanctions imposed upon him and many will be hoping that the sale of the Clippers happens as soon as possible. Whether or not he will be forced to sell is another talking point. If the other NBA owners decide to vote against Sterling having to sell, then he won’t have to, which in turn will raise further questions. The fact that this conversation was private but was leaked to the press is another topic. Should he be sanctioned for the views he expressed in private? Should the players boycott the team even though they have a legitimate chance to win the title this season? What I want to focus on is the fact that maybe things shouldn’t have gotten this far in the first place.

When it comes to racism, there seems to be a grey area and a line. Is it racist when a comedian like Chris Rock makes jokes about White people? Racist when Russell Peters makes jokes about Asian people? Were we little racists growing up in school singing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’? Is it racist that the only current black or mixed manager in the English Football League is caretaker manager/player Ryan Giggs? Is it racist when asked if Black people can get sunburnt? “You are Asian but you don’t wear a turban?”. Should Snoop Dogg have said what he said in response?

Donald Sterlings indiscretions started back in 2009 when he had to pay a settlement of over $2.7 million as he was accused of housing discrimination – not allowing Black and Hispanic people to rent out apartments he owned. Prior to that, in 2003, it is alleged that he tried to force out non-Koreans out of apartments he owned in Koreatown, LA. He had bought the then San Diego Clippers in 1981 but no-one had said anything. Neither the NBA nor players made any real protest about a man who had also been alleged to have made unsavory comments about Black people before the weekend. Great, the NBA, players, journalists and fans have reacted now, but what about back then? Does it really take hard evidence like a taped phone call for action to be taken?

Evidently it does. Maybe the NBA didn’t react because the housing scandal has nothing to do with basketball. Maybe the average fan turned a blind eye because they weren’t being forced out of their homes. Maybe the players said nothing because he was still signing their checks. There were no maybe about what Sterling said. I can own them, smile and like them professionally, but personally I don’t even want my girl on the side to be associated with them. It’s about the money. Btw this girl is mixed Black and Mexican. Go figure…
And then there is the Washington Redskins and Daniel Snyder. Many people feel as though the name Redskins is racist. Snyder continues to deny it is and the likelihood of the name being changed is very slim. Why? Why not change it? Because it’s going to cost millions. However, I’m sure if TMZ got hold of a recording of Snyder saying something negative about Native Americans, swift action would be taken. Fans and players are not boycotting the team because of this. There may be some action outside of the franchise, but inside they are preparing for the draft and skirting around the issue with some players referring to the team as “the Skins” to express passive displeasure.
Maybe its worth considering how being passive is ultimately rewarded. The peaceful protest leaders such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr have been praised while those who feel as though they need to be active are extremists. Malcolm X. Patrice Lumumba. It seems as though no-one wants to stand up like Muhammed Ali in 1967 and refuse to be a part of something they deem illegitimate.

Maybe we need to take a long look at what is happening around us and stop racist behaviours before they are allowed to go unchecked and understated. The NBA should have said something before. When Sterling was denying housing to minorities in 2009, the NBA was 82% black. The majority could have spoken but didn’t. The power ultimately rests with the fans. The majority. When the majority is united, then things can happen. Of course there were people clambering for Sterlings head back in 2003 and 2009 but they were in the minority. Maybe now when Blacks, Hispanics, Asians or even Whites; whenever a minority complains about institutional racism and we can’t see it, it’s up to us to listen. Institutionalised racism is a real thing guys. Burning crosses and Swastikas have been replaced by suits and smiles.

Racism still alive they just be concealing it – Kayne West