Category Archives: African Americans
“If you think the Democrats are bad, then wait till you see the Republicans in office!”….If I hear that weak, pathetic argument again, I am going to get sick. When black unemployment is the worst that its been in 25 years (as white unemployment has steadily improved), it’s not as if any party could do much worse. Black unemployment and mass incarceration are in a state of emergency, and it sickens me that people don’t seem to care about how our families are being destroyed because of it. If you want my vote, you must address my issues…if you’re too busy to address my issues, then I’m too busy to vote for you. PERIOD.
by Dr. Boyce Watkins – BlackLikeMoi.com
A former professional wrestler who went by the name “Gangsta of Love” and “Sweet Sexy Sensation” has been sentenced to 32 – years in prison for having sex with women without telling them that he’d tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. Andre Davis, a 29-year old man, was sentenced on 14 counts of felonious assault in the case, after it was determined that at least a dozen of his partners were not made aware of his status.
Davis claims that he is a sex addict and that his addiction was also driven by losing his dream of becoming a pro wrestler after testing positive for HIV.
“Drugs and alcohol are terrible, but sex is something everybody wants,” he said.
I received a phone call from a friend of mine who teaches elementary school. She told me that she’d spent the week excited about the fact that some college basketball players were coming to her school to eat lunch with the kids. She thought that her inner city students would gain from the chance to be mentored by the men they saw on TV.
Was she ever wrong. The men who came to her school left a less-than-favorable impression: Their chopped up speaking skills made her wonder if they’d gotten past a fifth grade reading level, some of them didn’t even know if they were Juniors or Seniors in college, and most of them barely knew their major (which was usually General Studies or one of those other “interesting” majors that happen to be chosen by half the basketball team).
As my friend described her situation, I thought about how far too often, collegiate athletics becomes nothing more than a virtual wasteland for African American men. Stuck on hoop dreams that will never materialize, many of these men throw away any chance or desire to obtain a meaningful education, and simultaneously buy into a culture of self-indulgent, counter-productive behavior that ends up making some of them almost worthless to our community.
You know the behavior I’m talking about, which is driven by commercialized hip-hop (that’s why rappers and athletes love to roll together): “I got many hoes,” “pass the weed n*gga,” “Shawty, I ain’t been to class in like two weeks”….that type of stuff. Rather than the strong black man who leads his family and community, these men are encouraged to become the weed-smoking, pistol-poppin, club-strollin, woman-gettin playa who grows old sittin in his girlfriend’s living room in his drawz playing Xbox all day…..how deep they fall into the stereotype just depends on how much of the cultural kool-aid they choose to drink.
What’s so interesting about this behavior is that it is in stark contrast to the way these men line up like soldiers on their chosen academic plantations, running offensive schemes to precision, practicing their hearts out and displaying Einstein-like brilliance as they master complicated playbooks that are 200 pages thick. They are managed like well-trained circus animals, working to the bone to fill the coffers of an athletic overseer who stands to earn millions from the team’s next bowl-game or Final Four appearance.
Of course I’m not talking about every college athlete. Some athletes understand the game of life, and are protected from the desire to sell their soul for someone else’s economic dream. They understand the value in being both athletic and intelligent, and look forward to their futures as strong husbands and fathers.
But most of us know the brothers who “just don’t get it.” These are the men who, like pigs being led to slaughter, have bought into a lifestyle that is going to lead to their demise and the destruction of everything they love. Some of them end up in prison, some end up getting shot at a club during a “fight wit dat n*gga who was talking sh*t,” and even more end up as unemployed, uneducated, washed-up ex-NBA wannabes seeking out dead fantasies in the bottom of a bottle.
Is the NCAA partially to blame for this? Absolutely. They seem a lot more concerned when a player affects their revenue stream than they are about that player being educated or fairly compensated. But are our men to blame as well? Most definitely – in life, some of us are victims and some of us are volunteers. The players are just as happy as their coaches to sign the lopsided contracts that give away nearly all of their labor and educational rights in exchange for a little “shine,” “swag,” and “ballerability.”
Even in prostitution, there are some situations where both the pimp and the hoe are happy with the arrangement. Collegiate athletics is the perfect pimp-hoe prototype and it makes me incredibly sad. Perhaps one day we will wake up and smell the exploitation.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and the founder of ALARM, the Athlete Liberation Academic Reform Movement. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.
Yes, she really is wagging her finger in his face – Wow.
I’ve never had a problem with money. It’s good, it’s green, you can do fun things with it. But as a Finance Professor, I learned long ago that there is a difference between appreciating the power of money and falling in love with it. America is a country that loves money the way Flava Flav loves clocks and fried chicken; it’s entirely over the top, and years of unregulated capitalism are serving to undermine the stability of our entire democracy.
Over the last 15-years, the real wage of the Average American worker has remained stagnant. Programs have also been sliced for the poor in record numbers. All the while, the wealthiest 5% of all Americans have accumulated more than half of our country’s wealth. Simultaneously, the bottom 40% only hold .3% of that wealth. This, my friends, is not healthy American free enterprise. This is the making of an oppressive society that is hell bent on self-destruction.
One of my former students is getting married in Houston in a few months. She has always had her pick of the litter, and I found it interesting when she said that she chose a man that a lot of her friends would have overlooked. She admitted that he wasn’t high on "swag," fancy clothes, smooth talk or material possessions. But she saw character, kindness, intelligence and affection from him that let her know that he has the capacity to love her for the rest of his life. I think a lot of women who "can’t find a good man" could learn something from her experience – good relationships are a matter of a) being able to choose the right partner, and b) knowing how to respond to the right partner in the right way.
A lot of people build relationships like a camp fire built using newspaper….newspaper might burn high, quick and fast, but it quickly fizzles out. Wood, instead of paper, might be a better option. But that’s just my two cents.
In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. –W.E.B. DuBois
I’ve heard people say that the expectations on Barack Obama are greater from our community than they have been for any other president. When someone highlights the fact that black unemployment has actually worsened under the Obama Administration while improving within the white community, the quickest reaction I typically hear is “He’s president of all of America, not just black America,” which appears to be an excuse for him not to do anything. There is no question that President Obama has bigger issues to worry about than us ‘lil old black folks,’ but we seem to become pretty important to the White House around election time.
While one might argue that some black Americans expect more from Obama than any other president, we must also remember that we supported him more than any other president. So, I argue that if we are being asked to expect the same from him that we would anyone else, then we should give him the same support as any other Democrat on election day. In other words, don’t ask for more if you are not prepared to give more. Extraordinary benefits and expectations are a double-edged sword.
Has the Obama presidency been good for black America? It depends on who you ask. But what I ask, quite simply, is that we focus on tangible results and not symbolism when making our assessment. Singing Al Green songs might seem pretty cool, but it’s not so cool when black Americans are singing the blues in the midst of foreclosure, poverty and unemployment unlike anything we’ve seen in the last 25 years.
I long for the day that the leading reason to support the Democrats in the next election doesn’t simply amount to, “Well, the Republicans are going to be much worse.” That’s like a woman choosing to work for the pimp who beats her or the one who steals all of her money. Perhaps she should remove herself from prostitution entirely.
Three years ago, the Obama Administration made it clear that they would not have a targeted policy to deal with racial inequality in wealth or unemployment. The president said that he believed that “the rising tide will lift all boats,” implying that targeted policy would not be necessary to deal with inequality. My Finance PhD led me to interpret these words as a racialized-version of trickle-down economics, another failed policy of the Reagan Administration. The notion that racial inequality will simply “fix itself” is socially lazy, naive and counterproductive. The same government that played a role in solidifying inequality in our society must also play a part in correcting that inequality – we didn’t get to this place by ourselves.
Well, the facts have made it clear that the “rising tides” policy has been a miserable failure. Over the last three years, white unemployment has improved, while black unemployment has gotten worse. During the last two months, when the Obama Administration celebrated improved employment numbers for the economy, the fact was that these improvements missed the black community entirely. During the past year, white unemployment has dropped from 8.3% to 7.5%, while black unemployment has risen from 15.2% to 15.8%, more than double that of white Americans.
Supporting a black president is very important. But the same courage that it takes for us to get out and vote for the president must be returned with courageous policy that reflects the interests of those who support him. You can’t ask for extraordinary support and then turn around and say, “Hey, I’m just a regular guy.” Also, avoiding favoritism toward the black community is very different from the abandonment of political responsibility. There are times when it seems that the administration works so hard to avoid appearing biased that it goes to the other extreme – sort of like when a father hires his son and then treats him worse than everyone else.
At the end of the day, the proof must be in the pudding. If the numbers on unemployment, foreclosure and wealth inequality show that Obama has done a good job for black Americans, then we should support him. But if the numbers do not justify his re-election, we should not allow anyone to play the race card to convince us to vote blindly. In fact, I don’t even blame those who choose to sit out of the election in protest. Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, Melissa Harris Perry or other Obama surrogates should not be making the decision for you – taking care of a few select members of the black community is not the same as taking care of the community itself. We must be sure to vote intelligently.