Sunday, February 23, 2014

How the NFL is Perpetuating Racism

A HuffPost article.

I've got to say a big thanks to the editors for not changing my "Blacks" to "blacks."

Here it is:

In a league that is built on the backs of Blacks, where one of its biggest stars came out and compared the NFL to "modern day slavery," it is no surprised that the NFL is trying to police a Black cultural expression (albeit one that is very controversial and divisive within the Black community).

The NFL wants to penalize players for using the N-word on the field.

The NFL is looking at first penalizing a player 15 yards on the first offense, followed by an ejection for using the N-word.

(You can still call someone the F-word, or B-word, or C-word on the field.)

I find it appalling that the NFL who has a whole team -- I repeat a whole team -- that is named after a racial slur against First Nations peoples, the Washington Redskins, is all of a sudden in the business of "politically correctness."

In terms of the Redskins, the NFL finds all kinds of excuses on why they should keep the name.

Last month NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell once again supported the Redskins and stated that "nine out of ten Native Americans" support the nickname.

In the same report, he also said that the name represents a "positive meaning" and is a "unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect."

The Redskins name is big business and the team's owner, Dan Snyder, argued that the name is a "badge of honor" and refuses to change it.

It is not as if the Redskins controversy is old news that people have forgotten about because of Putin's Winter Olympics. This is an ongoing debate with new stories coming out this month, especially those surrounding Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.

There is a whole lot of hypocrisy with the NFL and its policy towards "acceptable" racial slurs.

With the Miami Dolphins saga, you have a White man -- Incognito -- allegedly call his teammate, a Black man -- Martin -- the N-word and other derogatory terms in the locker room.

Moreover, back in November 2013, you had a Black NFL referee call a Black player the N-word (again, allegedly). In the end, the referee was suspended one game without pay. The irony of it all is that the athlete plays for the Redskins.

You think it would be acceptable if a First Nations or Native American athlete played for the Washington Redskins that a Black or White player or official called him a "redskin"?

Of course not.

Personally, I am not a fan of the N-word. I'm Black, but I'm not a n***a. Or a n****r. I don't see it as a term of endearment, nor would I call a fellow Black man or woman the N-word believing that it unites us in some form of racialized and oppressive kinship.

However, I do understand how Blacks use the word for those very same reasons. Furthermore, I will never stand on a pulpit and postulate that Blacks no longer have the right to co-opt a word that was used by Whites to ridicule, abuse, and confine those of a darker phenotype to a perpetual condition of mental and psychological slavery.

I will admit that using the N-word for Blacks and by Blacks, is a form of resistance.

So how does the NFL and its White commissioner have the right to tell Black people what they can and can't say when it comes to their race?

Has it ever stopped the many (White) music industry big wigs from selling artists (and making big money) like Trinidad James from using the N-word as a musical refrain? Or what about the pop culture cross-over star Nicki Minaj? Or half-Black/half-White Jewish Canadian rapper Drake?

(Drake uses the N-word the same way Canadians use the word "like.")

One answer is that the NFL is trying to cover its butt to avoid the (legal) ramifications of a White player calling a Black player a n***a. People love to sue, so why not put a rule in place that can avoid a potential future lawsuit.

The bigger issue is that this comes down to privilege.

White people have a privilege issue with the word:

They don't like that they can't say it.

They can't call a Black person the N-word, even though they hear it in the locker room day in and day out by their teammates, some of whom are good friends off the field. They press the mute button in their heads when their favourite Minaj song comes over the radio, while their Black teammates shout in unison that "they ain't no lookin' a** n***a." Unlike Riley Cooper, they bite their tongue when they have the urge to call a Black man that wronged them on the field the N-word.

Why?

Because they know better. They know you just can't use the word.

That being said, the NFL is like the kid at the playground who takes their ball home if they can't win, so that no other kid can play:

"If we White people can't call you the N-word because of centuries of slavery, colonialism, and racism, we're sure as hell going to stop you Blacks from saying it amongst yourselves."

It's funny how racism works in 2014, eh?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

P.K. Subban is our Black Canadian Saviour

This article is posted on HuffPost.

Again, the "blacks" should be "Blacks," with a capital "B."

Here's the post:

I have officially appointed P.K. Subban the (un)official representative for all black Canadians.

Not just black hockey players, or athletes, or men, but all blacks irrespective of race, class or gender.

No disrespect to Lincoln Alexander, Viola Desmond, Dudley Laws and the many black Canadian pioneers that have and continue to make vital contributions to Canadian society, but Subban has the potential to be the most important and influential black in Canadian history.

Ever.

Period.

And to boot, he can do it during Black History Month.

You're probably wondering if Subban twilights as a mad scientist on the brink of discovering a way to eliminate winter, all the while Canadians across the country can still enjoy a nice February evening
playing shinny on a frozen pond.

Or you're probably wondering if Subban has secretly solved the crisis of world hunger. You know, something that can change the lives of billions of people in the world.

No, he's doing something that's even more important (to Canadians at least):

He can be the man that scores the winning goal to make Canada win the gold medal in men's hockey at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

At the Olympics, Subban has the (very real) potential of being the next Paul Henderson from 1972, Sidney Crosby from 2010, and a whole lot less like black (Jamaican-Canadian) Ben Johnson from 1988.

In recent Canadian sporting memory, both Donovan Bailey and Perdita Felicien captured the hearts of Canadians with their performances on the international stage.

The problem was, and is, that they did it in a sport that Canadians only care about for two weeks every four years, historically dominated by blacks and tainted by drug scandals.

Canadians are still trying to get over how black (Jamaican-Canadian) Johnson broke their hearts and their international image of peaceful integrity, in 1988.

Subban can remove those scars and change how everyday Canadians see, and treat, black people.

Hockey in this country is a religion. If Subban can do what Crosby did in Vancouver, he will rise to the status of a black Canadian demi-god. The most popular baby name in 2014 in this country will either be Pernell or Karl. For boys and girls.

More importantly, his recognition as an eternal Canadian hero will force mainstream Canadian society to re-evaluate how much black people can contribute, and have contributed, to this country's national identity.

Blacks will no longer be on the margins. And I, for one, would like to thank Subban for working hard to get to a place that can make more change than any black academic or activist could.

Pernell Karl Subban, we're right behind you.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Good Men Project

I'm featured on The Good Men Project site.  Check the link below:

http://bit.ly/1bQfqKV

Russia's Anti-Gay Stance is Only the Tip of the Iceberg of its Human Rights Violations

The big news coming out of Western (Canadian) media for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics hasn't been of the athletes, or the sports, or even the potential of a terrorist attack:

It's been Russia's stance against any and all things gay or the LGBT communities.

I applaud the Canadian Government for not sending Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Olympic opening ceremonies - although they stated the move was not politically motivated. I firmly believe that one must take a stand against injustice, even if the move may seem to be entirely symbolic.

I applaud the widespread media coverage being given to the global plight of any marginalized group(s).

I applaud the courage of gay athletes to attend the Games and compete to the best of their abilities. I understand the feeling of having to live and work in a space designed to exclude who you are as a person and what you believe in.

However, I think the media, and our politicians, have been blinded by Russia's anti-gay policies and have turned a blind eye to the country's rampant xenophobia, racism, and human rights violations.

The focus of most major media outlets, and discussions during the Opening Ceremonies, have been centered around gay rights. Yet, no one is mentioning the fact that there is a large - and growing - neo-Nazi movement in Russia.

There have been numerous attacks on foreigners and "Russia for Russians" and "White Power" movements sweeping across the country. In 2012, 19 people were killed and approximately 200 were injured in racially motivated hate crimes across Russia. The numbers stayed relatively the same in 2013. 

Many more acts of violence go unreported.

If you needed more proof than Vladimir Putin with his shirt off riding a shark down a mountain while delivering a baby, and the Opening Ceremonies montage to Russia's hardworking "yeoman" characteristics, there is a growing Russian nationalist sentiment fuelled by violence.

You would think that when a state turns a blind eye towards violence against marginalized groups that comprise of millions of people, it would get some kind of attention during the Olympics from the international media. Especially when said xenophobia has been well documented.

The attacks are against Muslims, Central Asians, and groups from the Caucasus.

Yes, Caucasians.  White people.

We have been so programmed in North America to see race relations in Black and White, literally and figuratively, that we can't fathom that the "Other" is a social construct. We can't fathom that "Whiteness" is not necessarily a "get out of jail free" card wherever one goes in the world.

We celebrate Black History Month with the belief that Blackness and Black identity are reified concepts, while not understanding that brave souls like Dudley Laws and Viola Desmond fought for human rights and social justice.

A while back on vacation in the Caribbean I met a Russian and in conversation she told me that in her home country she is considered Black.

She had dark hair, blue eyes, and was sporting a red corvette-coloured sunburn.

Injustice is colour-blind and while I applaud the West and the media for covering Russia's anti-gay policies, I think it's time to recognize and shed some light on the fact that human rights are human rights. 

If someone is being persecuted/violated/assaulted/killed for being different, it must be acted upon.  We can't pick and choose what group we believe has more of a "right" for recognition and protest.

Maybe Putin is doing a better job than we all thought:

He gives us in the West something to chat about for two weeks in February and he continues on with his "business-as-usual" nationalist movement. Without a shirt.