Monday, February 25, 2008

Dick Gregory on Bill Clinton the "Black President"

Like Isaiah Washington's character in the film Love Jones, Bro. Dick Gregory breaks it down "so that it can forever and consistently be broken!" PREACH TRUTH BRUH! SPEAK TRUTH!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Asterisk (*)

"The only change is that baseball has turned Paige from a second class citizen to a second class immortal."
-Satchel Paige

An asterisk can be defined "a small star-like symbol (*), used in writing and printing as a reference mark or to indicate omission, doubtful matter, etc." In the last few years many journalists and fans alike have wanted to use this mark to place next to players that may enter the Baseball Hall of Fame under the suspicion of having used performance enhancing substances. Barry Bonds was, and for all practical purposes still is, the poster boy for this discussion. However, due to the release of the now infamous Mitchell Report other famous players...great white players, such as Roger Clemens and a host of others have come under the microscope of public opinion too, causing concern that the use, or alleged use, of substances such as steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) were widely employed by Major League Baseball (MLB).

I find it objectionable and almost ludicrous that tax payer's money has gone into an investigation in this matter. The number of billable hours that lawyers have accumulated dealing with issue are sure to be outrageous. Tom Brokaw, former anchor and news editor for NBC's Nightly News used to have a portion of his broadcast called "The Fleecing of America" and the investigation into MLB by Congress would surely to fit into one his sobering broadcasts.

Regardless, beyond the steroid debate about who used and who did not, I could really care less. I have been a fan of the game since I was a kid, and will continue to be. I know and understand that baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and golf are well beyond the insane cries for the preservation of the integrity of the game..."America's past time." That argument is about as flawed as Bobby Brown's sobriety or FOXNews one sided reporting. As long as people are paid inordinate amounts of money to play or participate in anything you generally loose "integrity" and you get entertainment just like motion pictures. We do not seem to hold the honor of movies in the same place as we do sport even though it too is entertainment and a business first and foremost. However, Woodrow Wilson's chilling comment that the racist film Birth of a Nation was "like writing History with lightning," is indeed questionable as his words helped to facilitate the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in the early part of the twentieth century.

Many members of Congress have argued that their investigation and hearings are about "saving the lives of the children of America" who look up to sports icons as heroes. Well, it is time that parents do some parenting and stop letting sports figures dictate how and what their children should be doing. Did I have sports heroes? Of course. In fact I still do. Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are two of my favorite sports icons, yet they are two of the grayest individuals on the planet, controlled by marketing/endorsement dollars and stand for nothing more than materialist culture of consumption and empty accomplishment. They are defined holistically by their profession. They along with so many others are simply successful, but will never be truly great men. That distinction was made for me by my parents, grand-parents, and a host of relatives and family friends who cautioned me to appreciate athletes for what they were, not what they were not. Yes, that can be disappointing, but it allows one to see life outside of the hyper sports media machines that now exist.

ESPN (the "Ma Bell" of sports media) is currently running an ongoing series every night on the show SportsCenter where they ask viewers to vote for their favorite highlights in sports history. Of those "great"memories, is Babe Ruth's famous 1932 World Series Home Run. That year, the New York Yankee slugger supposedly "called" his hit over the fences. I look at that highlight with wonder. Not with the mythical view of sports greatness, but I wonder would he have hit that ball if he was playing against arguably better talent had the Negro Leagues not existed and baseball was integrated from the start. Satchel Page, one of my favorite baseball players of all time, along with other greats like Josh Gibson, were denied the opportunity to play against Ruth. Actually in 1932, I believe that Paige had a 31-4 record. Therefore, I wonder if Paige was playing for the Chicago Cubs then could he have struck Ruth out. Would we be talking about the Cubs win because of the unhittable pitching of Paige? We will never know.

The question is will an asterisk be placed next to Ruth, and the whole list of other immortalized ball players in Cooperstown (and all the other sports Hall of Fames) to put these "White Hope's" accomplishments in their proper context?

Friday, February 15, 2008


I thought that with the current political climate it is worth reaching back to one of our greatest Americans for perspective and clarity about this republic and African Americans place within it.

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
They want rain without thunder and lightning
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters...
This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one;
or it may be both moral and physical;
but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a demand
It never has and it never will
find out what a people will submit to,
and you have found out the exact amount of injustice
and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and
these will continue until they are resisted
with either words or blows, or with both...
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the
endurance of those who they oppress."

-Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Substance of Things Hoped For...

My grandmothers, Mrs. Ilene Wells, living at ninety-six years young, and Mrs. Rosie Mae Mitchell, who transcended this existence in 2005, repeatedly told me as a young boy and even in young adulthood to "never lose faith." Theirs was an undying faith that fueled their lives and spirituality. In recent days and weeks, the very faith they could (and have) conjured up in in a moment's notice has been hard to have for many of the so called "heroes" or "old guard" of the civil rights movement.

However, I must say that I am glad to see Congressman John Lewis pledge to cast his superdelegate vote for Senator Barack Obama. Lewis for me was the standard for which I measured myself thinking that at my age now he had accomplished so much more than I could dream of. His sacrifice as young man caused me to compare my own life to his. Daily I would ask myself, "How have I worked for the good of my people?" Lately however, Lewis had indeed become an anathema to my hope and spirit. "How could he turn his back on the same spirit of change that propelled him from a sleepy eyed Georgia college student at Fisk University into one of the organizing faces (and forces) of the youth of the Black Freedom Movement?" That question went round and round in my mind over the past few days.

I guess that small faith...that mustard seed of hope must have hit his soul and remembrances of what likely Dr. King would say to him now filled his mind. Maybe it was thoughts of the Edmund Petits Bridge Massacre of 1965? Whatever the reason, he has been moved to change. Should Lewis be ashamed? No, I do not believe so. We all make mistakes but it takes courage to admit you were wrong. "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where stands in moments of trial and controversy," Dr. King once poignantly stated.

I salute Lewis for taking time to reflect and arrive at the decision he made to use his superdelegate status to support Obama. I think he must have heard the spirit of his grandmother's whispering to him, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence fo things not seen." (Hebrews 11:11, KJV)

To see New York Times Article click here

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A New Crossing of the Potomac

It is hard not to get caught up in the moment of the current political climate. Spirits and hopes run high no matter who you may be pulling for in the recent political races. For the first time the American people have a viable woman and a black man as candidates, vying for the highest office in the land on the Democratic side. The Republicans are seeking to find their own forgotten voice that Nixon's presidency rested on and whom Bush as effectively alienated. For my efforts I cast my gaze to Barack Obama's wins tonight in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and in Maryland. I find that these victories are symbolic in myriad ways.

Many opponents of Obama find his rhetoric to be too idealistic. My answer to that argument is did Patrick Henry base his claims of "give me liberty or give me death" in the halls of idealism or did his patriotic cry for independence drown in the pessimistic waters of doubt? Of course not. This republic and its founding has been anything but perfect and it never will be. However despite the "lack of experience" that gets repeatedly thrown against Obama, or his sense of "hope", it is time to believe that something positive is possible. Did not that belief in this democracy and what it could and should be inspire and cause young people like Congressman John Lewis to put his life on the line for "freedom" during the Modern Civil Rights Movement?

I think he and many others have lost sight of the very lofty idealism that moved their minds, spirits, and hearts into action decades ago. I attended at lecture last night, by historian Nick Salvatore, who spoke about the inner connectedness of the Labor Movement with Dr. King. Salvatore spoke candidly about how important it is to view King as a complicated figure for justice not just simply a man with a "dream". He rightly pointed to the first part of his "I Have Dream Speech" (actually entitled "Normalcy Never Again") illustrated the sophistication and depth of King's thoughts and convictions about change. More importantly he keyed in on a phrase from King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail":

"We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny. An inescapable network of mutuality. I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be."

Barack Obama is the very embodiment of that network of mutuality, and I believe that he understands how important it is for this nation to see itself and the rest of the world as part of glorious garment of destiny. No, it will not be easy, life is never that way. The great abolitionist and American, Frederick Douglass reminds us that "there is no progress without struggle," and Obama's road to the White House will be no different.

To those who still find Obama lacking a certificate of authenticity for his claims of being a black man I say that tonight, Barack is Peter Salem...he is Crispus Attucks, he is Paul Cuffe, and so too is he Prince Hall and the defiant David Walker. Just as important his wife, the brilliant and supportive Michelle Obama is our Maria Stewart and Phyllis Wheatley.

When George Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas Day 1776, he went against the odds armed with a deep sense of conviction and purpose. Noted colonial historian David Hackett Fisher argues that what emerged from the icy waters of the Delaware was a distinctively American way of war, based primarily on a single idea: civil and military leaders were accountable to a citizenry through their representatives. Similarly, on an equally cold February night in Virginia, Barack has crossed the Potomac, emboldened not only with the patriotic zeal of an abstract America, but he is a vessel that the ancestors, (especially Peter Salem who was with Washington) would indeed be proud of along the possibilities that this young senator from Illinois represents. May God Bless us All.

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Negrointellectual by Vernon C. Mitchell, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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