Archive for March, 2014

MARCH MADNESS: Dr. Leo Hill–Willie Jones–Dick Heller

Posted in Sports News with tags , on March 29, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Harold Bell

By Harold Bell

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
IN DC THERE WAS ELGIN BAYLOR and WILLIE AND EVERYONE ELSE FOLLOWED

Dr. Leo Hill, Willie Jones and Dick Heller, the common denominator, they were all DC Institutions and were Superstars in the Game Called Life. They touched hundreds of lives in the DMV and beyond. I owe each one dearly for my success in the community and in sports media. They loved me in spite of myself.

Dr. Hill’s coaching career began at Spingarn in 1952 where he taught and coached for 10 years. During this span of time Dr. Hill coached 9 championship teams: One in football in 1954, 2 in baseball in 1953 and 1957 and 6 cross country team championships from 1955 to 1960. He taught me that the most important game being played in the world today was not football, basketball or baseball, it was the game called life. It was the only game being played where being called a Super Star had real meaning. In my early years as an athlete at Spingarn High School in Washington, DC I was a mess and trying my best to go to hell in a hurry.

My savior Coach Dave Brown allowed me to dress for the DC Public High School football Championship game against Cardozo High School at Griffin Stadium in 1955 (freshman) but I never left the bench. Poor grades and bad attitude were the deciding factors and two 6’5 wide receivers by the names of Dickie Wells and Charles Branch. I could barely see over the line of scrimmage but I could catch a football. Spingarn played Cardozo in the championship game and we tied 0-0.  The game was decided on a rule called Penetration. The rule states, “The team that crosses the other’s 50 yard line more frequently is the winner.” Cardozo was declared the winner.

When I finally got some decent grades I went out for the baseball team in my junior year. I made the team and earned the starting position in left field for a talented team that had promise. For some odd reason I thought I was the Willie Mays of high school baseball. Dr. Hill watched me run from under my hat and make basket catches on routine fly balls, steal bases without permission and swing at pitches that he signaled for me to take. It all came to an abrupt end in a game against Fairmont Heights High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

It was a close game with Fairmont Heights leading 4-3 in the bottom of the 7th inning. I bunted my way on to first base with 2 outs. I would steal second base successfully without the go signal from Dr. Hill. He called time out and came on to the field of play. He reminded me that our best hitter Donald “Cornbread” Malloy was at bat. Before Dr. Hill could get back to the bench I had stolen 3rd base. I dared not look his way.

Donald stepped out of the batter’s box and just stared at me. He fouled off the next 2 pitches and the next pitch I took off to steal home—I was out by a mile game over.

I remember sitting in the Spingarn locker room when Dr. Hill walked quietly up to me and asked me to turn in my uniform. He reminded me that there was only one Willie Mays and he played in New York City. Spingarn would go on to earn the right to play Wilson for the DC Public High School Championship. The game would be played at Griffin Stadium home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Senators and where the Negro League Homestead Grays played their home games. It was a stadium I dreamed of playing in one day. Donald Malloy never let me forget that Spingarn lost 5-4 to Wilson. He reminded me years later that the player who replaced me in left field made 2 errors that cost Spingarn the championship.

My junior year was a tough one. Coach Brown locked me on the school bus during half-time of a game against rival Phelps because I needed an attitude adjustment. Basketball Coach Rev. William Roundtree gave me my walking papers my senior year. It looked like I was trying to make my Middle School Principal William Stinson’s prediction come true. He told my mother, “He won’t live to get out of high school.”
It took years but I finally learned the lesson that my coaches first tried to teach me. The lesson, no one is indispensable and baseball like the game called life is a team sport. Thanks Dr. Hill.

Willie Jones was “One of a Kind” in DC basketball history. There was Elgin Baylor and Willie and everyone else followed. Elgin was like poetry in motion on the court. He could rock you to sleep. Willie was like an AK47 (mouth almighty) on the court no time to sleep—he had everyone’s attention.

If he had a basketball he would travel. He was a winner at every level, playground, middle school, high school and college. If he had been given the opportunity he would excelled at the pro level.

As a coach in DC he was second only to the legendary Red Auerbach.  There are three coaches in the District/Maryland/Virginia (DMV) area who won National NCAA basketball titles, John Thompson, Gary Williams and Willie Jones.

Thompson and Williams were never in his class when it came to the Xs and Os of coaching basketball. Willie not only played the game at an extremely high level—he coached at an even higher level. He was a great recruiter because he had been there and done that. The young players loved him. He spoke their language (with many, many bleeps).

There have been many basketball discussions in pool rooms, on street corners, playgrounds, and the sports bars in DC. The topic: What if Willie had the talent that Big John had at Georgetown—how many championships would he have won? Every discussion I have heard it is unanimous, Willie would have won at least 3 National NCAA Championships.

The bottom–line, Georgetown is building a 60 million dollar sports complex on its campus in the name of John Thompson. This is a legitimate pay-off for putting them on the sports map and bringing in millions of dollars of revenue for the school and himself by any means necessary. The million-dollar question now is—can he save his son’s job?

Willie Jones put two universities on the basketball map, American University and UDC. But there will be no statures or sports complexes built in his name—which proves crime does pay.

What I will remember most about Willie is that he was flawed like most of us human beings but he was trust worthy to the point if he gave you his word you could carry it to the bank. He also took coaching seriously, especially when it came to his players. They were always first.
If you were a friend, he would go to war with you or for you. I am reminded of his co-worker the legendary athlete and coach Bessie Stockard when the UDC Administrators targeted her for dismissal from the school, it was Willie who went against the grain and testified on her behalf in court—she won.

He was like a brother to me. I could never stay mad at him. Whatever our difference of opinion, the next time we saw each other he would be joking and smiling like it never happen. A family member said it best, “You two where Kindred Spirits.” Thanks Willie.

Sports columnist Dick Heller was a class act. He was an officer and gentleman and a man of integrity. His word meant something unheard of in media today. He was a loyal friend and mentor to me for over two decades. Thanks to him I am still in the fight for truth in media and my eyes are still on the prize—our children. Dick was there for me and anyone else I supported. Especially, homegrown talent like Willie Wood (NFL), Earl Lloyd (NBA) and LA Dodger great Maury Wills.

Willie Wood was a benefactor after the NFL had blackballed him because he would not go along to get along during his NFL coaching days. There was some drug abuse by several NFL players on the team. He spoke out against the abuse and was not asked to return the next year. He was out of pro football for several years until the Canadian Football hired him as the first Afro-American Head Coach. Willie was voted one of the greatest defensive backs to ever play in the NFL. His coach, the great Vince Lombardi said, “Willie Wood is my coach on the field.” Still the powers-to-be shut him out of the NFL Hall of Fame. I went to Dick and brought him up to date. Willie was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989 two years after some timely stories appeared in sports media outlets (radio and print) spearheaded by Dick Heller.

Earl Lloyd was the first black to play in the NBA in 1950. He was from Alexandria, Virginia and played in the CIAA (BHC). He was overlooked for his contributions in the CIAA and NBA. I turned to Red Auerbach and Dick. They took charge and suddenly there was a story on Page One of the Washington Times talking about the trials and tribulations of Earl Lloyd’s early NBA days. The photo on the page showed Earl and Red in a forum at the Smithsonian during Black History Month. In 2001, over fifty years later Earl Lloyd was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.  Thanks Red Auerbach and Dick Heller.

Dick tried his best to help our homeboy Maury Wills get his just deserts. Maury revolutionized offense in Major League Baseball. He made an art out of the stolen base. He made the fans forget about the home run in the 60s. He was master of all he surveyed in ballparks around the country but his off the field antics of drugs and domestic abuse have been hard to ignore by the voters. He is still on the outside looking in as it relates to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dick’s first love has always been baseball and he tried his best to get Maury inducted with a brilliantly written two page story in the Washington Times over a decade ago but “The Haters” have refused to budge. Dick, Maury never said thanks but I will.

Dick was not only a talented writer and editor but he was also a risk taker. He never sit on the fence to see whether it was safe to fall on one side or the other. He loved his hometown of DC and all of its sports teams but you could never mistake him for a cheerleader if the home team made a wrong move. He would take them to task. For example, in 1977 he exposed several Maryland University players for poor academic records during the watch of Charles Driesell, aka Lefty.

He gave the players and Lefty the kind of fame they could have done without. He published their names with photos and their academic records in the sports pages of the Washington Star. Talking about opening up a “Can of Worms.”

The university student newspaper, The Diamond Back followed Dick’s lead and published the player’s grade point average. Six players on the teams sued Dick, the Washington Star, and their own Diamond Back newspaper for invasion of privacy, publishing confidential university records and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The players sued for 72 million dollars in damages.  In 1979, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld a lower-court decision and ruled in the paper’s favor in the case known as Bilney vs. Evening Star.

The court ruled “The Players had achieved the status of public figures solely by virtue of their membership on the university basketball team. Therefore, their possible exclusion from the team—whether academic or any other reason was a matter of public concerned.”
The decision continued: “Having sought and basked in the limelight, by virtue of their membership on the team. Appellants (i.e., the players) will not be heard to complain when the light focused on them on their potential imminent withdrawal from the team.”
Bilney vs. Evening Star remains an important case in the first amendment law and has been cited in legal proceedings, in text books and courses taught in media law.

Tim Kurkjian ESPN broadcaster who started his media career at the Star said, “Dick was a kind of mentor to the younger guys, I cannot stress enough how helpful he was and how patient he was with us.”  Dick Heller was not only a mentor to younger guys during his long and distinguishing career in print media. He was also a mentor, friend and brother to Old Guys like me. I am a better writer today thanks to Dick Heller.

I look at the sports media sitting at press tables, media newsrooms, talk show host and analyst they are “The New Jack City Spooks That Sit by the Door” and have blocked the door extremely well. They see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil and write no evil. All they care about is show me the money and “Look at me.”

Some even claim that it is okay to use the N word as a term of endearment. You would think that it would be names like Michael, James, Jason, Stephen, etc. leading the fight to right the wrongs of a Willie Wood, Earl Lloyd, Maury Wills and Spencer Haywood, but it was names like Dick, Rick Snider (Examiner) and Dave (McKenna, City Paper) kicking down the doors for other brothers of another color.

Coach Leo Hill, Willie Jones and Dick Heller—–we never could have made it without you (RIP).

This Ross Is The Boss Too!

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Gary A. Johnson, Music, Women's Interests with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Rhonda Ross Pic

Rhonda Ross Logo

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

Last night, I had the pleasure of having front row seats to see singer Rhonda Ross perform at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, located just across the Washington, DC line in Bethesda, MD.  I also met Ms. Ross after the show.  Rhonda Ross is the daughter of singing legend Diana Ross and Motown-Founder, Berry Gordy, Jr.  This Ms. Ross proved that she too can be the BOSS and in a very different kind of way. 

Rhonda Ross is a singer, songwriter, actress and writer.  One of the things I learned about Rhonda is that she is most proud of being a mother and co-parent with her husband of 15 years Rodney Kendrick.

Make no mistake, Rhonda Ross is NOT trying to be her mother.  She is carving out her own path and establishing her own musical identity.  Rhonda holds her mother in the highest regard–as a mother, but she is not trying to emulate Diana Ross the singer.  I’ve seen Diana Ross perform live and there are some similarities.  Rhonda Ross has stage presence like her mother.  When Rhonda stood center stage in that long flowing dress with her arms outstretched, she reminded me of Diana Ross.  That’s where the comparisons end.  Rhonda sings in a slightly lower register and has a stronger voice.

Rhonda Ross

I would describe Rhonda Ross’ as a Neo-Soul and jazz song stylist.  In my view, Rhonda Ross’ music is purposeful and inspiring, largely due to the fact that she writes a lot of her music.  Last night Rhonda spoke with the audience between songs.  It was clear to me that she is a spiritual and religious woman with a lot of inner strength.  When she sang the song “Nobody’s Business,” she explained that “your joy comes from the inside and that it’s nobody else’s job to make you happy.”

Ross’ live performance moved her and some in the audience to tears when she sang a song that she wrote that pays tribute to her mother.  Other songs were motivating and inspiring.  There were probably more women in the audience than men.  The Masters of Ceremony (MC) was Dr. Jeff Gardere aka “America’s Psychologist.”  Dr. Jeff reminded the men that we should take heed and listen to the lyrics too.

If you get a chance to see Rhonda Ross perform, do it!  Treat yourself to some nourishing and fulfilling entertainment.  To learn more about Rhonda Ross click here to visit her official website.

I would personally like to thank Miriam Machado-Luces of TVA Media Productions, Ltd and Elva Mason of Mason Management for the royal treatment afforded me.  Ladies you are the best!

I have one last and deserving shout out that goes to Rick Brown, the Proprietor of the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.  Rick you have done a great job.  Everything was great from start to finish including the Coat Check personnel, Wait Staff, Ushers, Bartenders and Chefs.  Your establishment is one of the best kept secrets in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  I will be returning to your supper club soon.

Gary J. & Rhonda Ross

Gary Johnson and Rhonda Ross after the show.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog.  Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

65 Students Of Color Share Their Experiences Of Life At Oxford University

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Racism with tags , , , , on March 13, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Students of Color2

This project was inspired by the recent ‘I, too, am Harvard’ initiative. The Harvard project resonated with a sense of communal disaffection that students of colour at Oxford have with the University. The sharing of the Buzzfeed article ‘I, too, am Harvard’ on the online Oxford based race forum, ‘Skin Deep’ led to students quickly self organizing a photo shoot within the same week.

Students of Color

A message that was consistently reaffirmed throughout the day was that students in their daily encounters at Oxford are made to feel different and “Othered” from the Oxford community. Hopefully this project will demonstrate that despite there being a greater number of students of color studying at Oxford now than there has ever been before, there are still issues that need to be discussed. In participating in ‘I, Too, Am Oxford,’ students of color are demanding that a discussion on race be taken seriously and that real institutional change occur.

Students of Color3

Click here to see all of the photos.

Click here to learn more.

Gun Control

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists with tags , , , on March 12, 2014 by Gary Johnson

John_Kirksey_photo_at_MN_State_Shoot_2013

By John Kirksey

Issues concerning gun control and the Black community and Black people in general have commanded a lot of media attention in the last few years. I have had an interest in firearms since I was four years old. In the middle to late 1960’s there were numerous Westerns and military shows on TV, and of course they further fueled my interest. Some of my childhood favorites were Combat, The Cisco Kid, The Rifleman, and The Rat Patrol. My favorite Western of all time is “The Good the Bad and the Ugly.” While thumbing through an old family photo album I found a picture of myself sitting on my grandparent’s bed, with about 10 toy guns in front of me. I looked forward to the hunting trips with my father, grandfather, cousins and uncles. Of course until the age of about six all I could carry were “cap” pistols. By my seventh birthday I had a BB rifle. I spent many hours with this rifle. I even still have it, but of course it is well worn out. By the time I was in sixth grade my father bought me my first shotgun so we that together could hunt rabbits and squirrels.

Fast-forwarding into my college years, I still had an insatiable urge to shoot and become proficient with firearms. Because there are not many opportunities to shoot when hunting, I took up the sport of shooting clay targets. My favorite game was trapshooting. After winning several state Trapshooting championships I become interested in shooting rifle competitions. This is when I realized that there is a problem in this country related to the ownership of firearms. Most recently I tried to purchase a rifle to shoot service rifle competitions. These are military rifles used to shoot paper targets at distances from 200 to 600 yards. When I went to the gun shop to purchase my rifle of choice, I was informed that I could not purchase it in my state of Maryland. The reason is that my desired rifle is on a gun ban list. All I want to do with the rifle is to shoot at paper targets. This led me to consider, what is gun-control really all about? First, a little history.

Gun-control and gun-rights regulations share a long history in the United States. Adult White men in the American colonies had the right to own firearms for hunting and self-defense. In many instances they were required to use them in the service of local militias, often in battles with Native Americans. But the colonies also placed restrictions on gun ownership.

Colonies forbade Roman Catholics, slaves, free blacks and people of mixed race, who in some states far outnumbered whites, from owning firearms, fearing they might revolt. After the American Revolution in 1776, the Founding Fathers addressed gun rights in the Second Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights attached to the U.S. Constitution in 1791.

In 1813, Kentucky and Louisiana became the first states to ban the carrying of concealed weapons. Indiana did so in 1820, followed by Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama. Most of this legislation came about due to the “culture of honor” and dueling matches.

Federal Gun Control

The NRA was not initially a gun-rights organization. Its primary goal was to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” The NRA held target-shooting competitions and sponsored gun clubs and shooting ranges. The NRA also helped write model state gun-control legislation containing some provisions similar to those opposed by the association today.  For example, the NRA recommended that states require individuals to apply for a license to carry a concealed gun in public and that states issue such licenses with discretion.

Congress later entered the gun control controversy. The federal government’s first major attempt occurred in the 1930s as Prohibition-era gangsters with compact machine guns out gunned city police. The National Firearms Act of 1934, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, imposed a $200 tax on the manufacture, sale or transfer of machine guns and “sawed off” shotguns and rifles with barrels less than 18 inches long. Anyone possessing such guns had to register them with the U.S. Treasury Department.

The National Firearms Act of 1938 requires gun dealers to be licensed and to record sales; prohibits gun sales to convicted felons and carrying concealed handguns is either prohibited or permitted only with a license in every state but two.

By the 1960s America witnessed a turning point in the cultural war over guns. Rising crime, racial tensions and a loss of public confidence in the police “led millions of Americans to buy weapons for personal protection.”

Congress took no action on guns after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. But opinion shifted a few years later, as race riots engulfed the nation’s cities and members of the Black Panther Party displayed their guns in public to attract media attention.

After the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 President L.B. Johnson pleaded with Congress to pass gun-control legislation. In October, LBJ signed into law the Gun Control Act of 1968.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 requires:

  • All persons manufacturing, importing or selling firearms as a business to be federally licensed.
  • Prohibits the interstate sale of firearms through the mail.
  • Lists categories of people to whom firearms may not be sold, including convicted felons and the seriously mentally ill.
  • Dealers must maintain records of gun sales.

NRA Split

1968 saw a dispute within the NRA leadership over the Gun Control Act of 1968. Their objections didn’t necessarily stem from opposition to any specific sections of the legislation; it was over the concept of gun control itself that younger members disliked, while older members believed the NRA should focus on teaching gun safety, organizing shooting competitions and sponsoring hunting clinics.

The National Rifle Association opposed gun laws that restricted African-American gun ownership and in some instances offered support to Black Americans seeking to defend themselves with firearms.  In 1958, retired Marine Robert Williams opened a chapter of the NAACP in Monroe, North Carolina. Monroe was also Klan country, and the KKK mounted several vicious assaults against African-Americans in Monroe.   In 1960, Williams applied for and was granted a charter to establish an NRA chapter in Monroe; the association also provided firearms training materials. Mr. Williams and other black NRA members in Monroe subsequently successfully defended themselves with firearms against an attack coordinated between the KKK and the local police.

At the NRA’s 1976 convention in Cincinnati, OH, the young “hard-liners” took control and changed the face of the NRA. It becomes more than a rifle club. It became the Gun Lobby.”

In 1986 the NRA scored a victory when President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act which prohibits the federal government from maintaining a registry of guns and  their owners; and mandates that the BATF inspect licensed gun dealers no more than once a year.

By December 1993 President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act instituting background checks for gun purchases through licensed dealers.

In 1994 Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which was a measure banning what it defined as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines for 10 years.  Magazines holding 11 rounds or more are considered “large capacity”.

In 2005 President George W. Bush signs the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act granting gun manufacturers immunity from civil lawsuits involving crimes committed with guns.

In 2008 the Supreme Court held that Americans have an individual right under the Second Amendment to possess firearms for self-defense within the home, thus, nullifying Washington, D.C.’s ban on handgun ownership.

New York was the first state to pass gun-control legislation after the 2012 Newtown, CT shooting. The legislation makes New York’s regulations some of the strictest in the nation. It essentially:

  • Broadens the definition of banned assault weapons.
  • Requires the owners of existing assault weapons to register them with the NY State Police.
  • Reduces the limit on magazine capacity from 10 rounds to 7.
  • Requires background checks of not only gun purchasers but also ammunition buyers.
  • Expands background checks to private sales, and establishes tougher penalties for the use of illegal guns.

In response, 34 of 62 NY counties have passed resolutions demanding that lawmakers repeal the act. In reality many believe the chances of the Congress banning assault weapons are close to zero. The Republican-controlled House is waiting to see what the Senate does before it takes up the issue of gun violence; so the debate continues.

So, the question remains, how does the issue of gun control affect Black people? The answer is simple. Black people primarily need to arm themselves as history has shown from a tyrannical government, the Ku Klux Klan, and gang violence in certain neighborhoods. In order for citizenry to attain proficiency in firearms I believe that black people should acquire arms, take lessons and join organizations such as the NRA and their local gun clubs. Most if not all of these organizations will provide training.  Some municipalities sponsor gun buyback programs. Usually they give people pennies on the dollar for what their guns are actually worth. The means chosen to purchase a firearm is up to the individual. The right to purchase is constitutional. The reason to purchase purchase a firearm is determined by the specific environmental situations of an individual. Familiarity with firearms and their use makes all of the above easier. Why bother with being armed as a regular citizen? Well, the world is a dangerous place; criminal elements in the community, political government excesses, home safety in an increasingly dangerous society. These kinds of things speak for themselves. For it is better to be prepared than victimized.

The United States of Excuses

Posted in Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists, Ramey Commentaries with tags on March 11, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Ramey

By Mike Ramey

With the cries of: “Hike the Minimum Wage!” making the rounds of the nation’s capital, a report released late in February, 2014 by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is worthy of mention. The report concerned the ‘real’ cost of such a move.

It seems that, IF the Minimum Wage is raised–again–the economy would lose yet another 500,000 jobs. President Obama has already ‘issued’ his decision to hike the wage to $10.10 per hour as it impacts those working under federal contracts. Members of Congress, spurred on by Democrats in the Senate, are putting forth legislation to expand the hike. Since teens are the most impacted by Minimum Wage hikes, I’ll leave it to you parents who read my column. Would you advise your son/daughter to give up their part-time, Minimum Wage job ‘for the common good’?

I didn’t think so.

THE HEAT IS ON!

 When it comes right down to it, many Americans ‘love’ the appearance of acting charitable in public. When the issue of charity starts to impact their children and a future shot at a job and college, it’s amazing how ‘stingy’ they become.

Let me say up front that this is going to be one of ‘those’ columns that should be shown to a teen you may know. Their future is–literally–hanging in the balance.

A few months back, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the criminal justice system. I can remember a time when one who drew prison time was called a ‘convict’. When that person served their time, and was released, they were called an ‘ex-convict’ or an ‘ex-con’. Many of them who returned to society were humble, because they KNEW that they had done wrong in committing crime(s). They also knew and accepted the fact that they had a long way to go in order to ‘climb the mountain’ to successful employment. My how the times have changed. In the continuing social quest to ‘negate’ individual responsibility, we have seen men and women emerge from prison–unrepentant. In fact, the attitude among many ex-cons today is that ‘society’ is at fault for putting them behind bars in the first place.

Say ‘Amen’, somebody!

Furthermore, the term ‘ex-con’ has undergone urban renewal as it has been translated to ‘ex-offender’; then translated again into the ‘PC’ term ‘reclaimed citizens’. Even US Attorney General Eric Holder has been heard making comments to further ‘pacify’ the egos of those who have done prison time by urging that society quickly restore their right to vote–ahead of their ‘right’ to getting a job, paying restitution and becoming upright citizens by paying their taxes.

 CAN WE TELL THE TRUTH?

 A few years back I addressed this issue in several columns. I never thought that I would have to bring up this matter of individual responsibility again, but there are some who are new riders of the ‘short bus’ and have to be re-taught the basics of common sense and proper social behavior.

Can we get back to telling the truth?

It seems to be worthy of noting that there are some–repeat, ‘some’–in our society who fly to trouble, innuendo and wrong doing like a moth flies to a flame, and demand the hard-working, regular people of society to wink at, overlook and cover the damages and consequences of their antics.

‘Rebels’ fail to understand the racial implications of their abuse of other cultures. They fail to understand the sexual implications of STDs and OOW births. They fail to understand the damage to their family name by going to juvie, jail and/or prison. They fail to understand the damage to their community by living deliberately destructive lifestyles: BUT…they want to have the ‘freedom’ to ‘do their own thing’ without consequences, while active citizens of “The United States of Excuses”.

There was a time in American history when our fore parents told us–in no uncertain terms–that we needed to be a ‘credit to our race’. Those words are still true, but have lost their luster and power, thanks to our becoming a nation of card-carrying excuse makers. In short, we have backslidden to social adolescence; demanding full rights and restoration after spending years of putting our churches, families, friends and communities through a very real hell on earth.

A SIMPLE CHALLENGE TO THE EXCUSERS: Years ago, a veteran homicide detective appeared on a local radio talk show fielding a call from person who was against capital punishment. The detective, with a great sense of cool, listened to his opponent rant and rave about the ‘rights’ of the criminal. Then, the detective spoke. “Sir, if you will come with me to the scene of my crime victims, I would be more than happy to honestly listen to your point of view.” What the detective was saying–if I may put it in a nutshell–is that there are too many do-gooders who have not seen the end product of a criminal’s inhumanity to the person on the receiving end of his/her crime spree.

To those of you who are ‘anxious’ to place ex-cons back into the workforce AHEAD of those young men and women who have taken the time to live crime-free lives, I offer you a challenge. Let me see YOU do it, with your own family as the sacrifice. Tell your son or daughter who are going for that first job, or continuing their education, that they must ‘give up’ their dreams for someone who has been to jail or prison. I’ll wait for word of your sacrifice…but not for too long.

Think that my challenge is a little bit too harsh? Well, let’s take this one step further: For those who write hour after hour about the ‘need’ for companies to hire ex-cons ahead of those who don’t have criminal records, try this one: I have yet to see a study of businesses–owned/run by ex-cons–citing how many of their behind bars brothers (and sisters) they have exclusively hired.

Do you see where I’m going on our excursion?

LET’S WRAP THIS UP:It’s always easier to be ‘charitable’ with someone else’s money or livelihood. It’s hard to be as generous or magnanimous when it comes to the economic security of those who live in our own homes. If I may get personal for a moment, if more homes did THEIR jobs, the ‘excuse’ community would dry up overnight, and the prisons would close!

Want to see our country get back on the right track? Let’s start shucking the excuses. A criminal lifestyle is MEANT to have a downside, no matter how many movies and TV shows may glorify the opposite.

Remember the Bible basics: A good name is worth more than diamonds, rubies–or excuses. The rebellious must change; NOT the righteous.

MIKE RAMEY is a syndicated columnist, book reviewer and Minister who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Emails always welcomed to manhoodline@yahoo.com  (C)2014 Barnstorm Communications

Why Conservative Blacks Aren’t Black Conservatives

Posted in Black America, Black Men, Politics with tags , , on March 11, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Raynard Jackson 2013

By Raynard Jackson

Within the Republican Party, there is what I call this mystery of the black conservative. Let me explain.

Over the years, I have had a running conversation with leading conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Ollie North, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour and others. They would argue that there was this growing trend of “conservatism” within the black community. I told them all categorically that this was bunk.

Blacks have always been conservative or, more accurately, traditionalists. This DNA was embedded in us from the depths of our African ancestry. The basis of this African culture was strict adherence to tradition. These traditions recognized the man as the head of the household, that was his birthright; but in exchange for that birthright, he was responsible for the upkeep of that family — the wife, children and, when needed, the extended family.

Children were not given choices, they were given direction. The daughters would sit at their mother’s feet and learn of their ways; the sons would stand with the tribal elders to hear their wisdom in all things.

Children were not told they could decide their own sexuality, their sexuality was determined at birth. Children were not allowed to disrespect their parents with no consequence. Those that violated the established values and mores were swiftly punished and, when necessary, removed from the community. There was no 20 years of litigation and appeals.

In other words, the traditions demanded and expected strict adherence to certain norms of behavior because the elders knew that without rules of conduct the family would disintegrate and their nation would soon follow.

So, when Africans were exported to the U.S. as slaves, whites were amazed at the devotion Africans had to family, God and discipline despite their newfound circumstance as slaves. What whites failed to understand then, as well as now, is that these traditions are still part of our DNA; some in the black community have allowed this DNA to become dormant, but it is still there.

Part of the reason for this dormancy is psychological. I have attempted to educate white and black conservatives on this issue, but to no avail.

When you go into the black community and use the word “conservative,” what blacks hear is Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. Thurmond and Helms (both deceased) were U.S. Senators — Thurmond from South Carolina and Helms from North Carolina. At the height of their power they both represented the worst of America and the Republican Party. They both were the embodiment of America’s racist past. (In fairness, in his later years Thurmond was travelling a path toward redemption illustrated by some of the legislation he sponsored, like increased funding for black universities.)

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The N-Word According to ESPN’s Michael Wilbon

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Sports News with tags , , , , , , on March 11, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Mike Wilbon and Harold

By Harold Bell

STICKS and STONES MAY BREAK HIS BONES BUT THE N-WORD WILL NEVER HURT HIM?

John Feinstein a former colleague of ESPN’s Michael Wilbon at the Washington Post was on the record saying “Michael Wilbon is the biggest ass kisser in sports media.”  Those words were rather harsh and hard hitting.  In other words, Feinstein was saying, “Wilbon is sports media’s biggest cheerleader!”  This was after Wilbon’s co-host on ESPN’s PTI was suspended for making fun of co-worker Hanna Storm’s dress on national television.

Wilbon’s response to Feinstein:

I don’t need Junior (Feinstein) to get suspended. Junior caught an earful of language and heat that was both deserved and will stay private. I’ll match my credentials as a journalist with John Feinstein anytime. Junior has often mistaken his opinion with fact and with legitimacy. Thing is, my father didn’t raise me to be subservient to Junior, or anybody else. My opinions about Tiger Woods or any other issue are mine and I could give a damn about what Feinstein or anybody else thinks about them. The only thing special about Feinstein’s opinions is that they’re his. And I let him know that in very specific language that best belongs on HBO.

This isn’t the first time Wilbon has been called out for “sucking up” to athletes (he has written books with Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan). In what we think is one of the 10 best sports books we’ve ever read, Michael Leahy of the Washington Post beautifully deconstructed Jordan in “When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan’s Last Comeback,” and in the process took a shot at Wilbon.

“All along, I thought that Wilbon’s treatment of Jordan highlighted the basic danger in getting too cozy with a subject,” Mr. Leahy writes. The access that Mr. Wilbon prized, Mr. Leahy argues, came at the cost of ever being able to write something critical about his celebrity subject.

Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser are immensely talented individuals and about 15 years ago, they were our sports writing idols. In their prime at the Washington Post, they were among the best sports writers in the country. What they don’t do well is take criticism from colleagues. They’ll definitely make the thin-skinned sports media member list

I missed the initial viewing of ESPN’s Outside the Lines show that aired on Sunday February 23rd.  The show hosted by Bob Levy examined the use of the N-word.  I heard from several different sources that Michael Wilbon lost a lot of credibility when he justified his use of the N-word as a term of endearment.

Since I had not seen or heard the show I held back judgment and waited until it re-aired on Sunday March 2nd.

It is rather ironic that Wilbon and I had a recent conversation about the use of the N-word.  The conversation took place in the Press Room before a Wizard’s game at the Verizon Center.  He told me ESPN wanted to have a conversation on the use of the N-word on Outside the Lines.  The show would be hosted by Bob Levy.  He said, “I am not comfortable doing the show with Levy.” Wilbon cited that he had no problem with Levy as a journalist but he had “No horse in the race” and he refused to participate.” These words out of Wilbon’s mouth got my undivided attention.

I have questioned Wilbon’s mindset on different topics on several occasions as I have questioned others in media.  It has never been anything personal it is a price we all pay for writing or voicing our opinions in public.

He said folks had asked him about our relationship and he said “I told them everything is cool with me and Harold Bell, we have talked.” But what Feinstein said about him sounded real personal.

I first met Wilbon when he became a sports writer for the Washington Post in the 1980s.  He and members of the sports department were often regulars on my radio sports talk show Inside Sports. Sports Editor George Solomon was a regular participant.  Since he was the leader of the staff most of the black writers followed his lead. He even allowed me to write a couple of freelancing articles for the paper.  When the paper established their own television sports show I became a regular guest.  I was up close and personal with the sports department.

Dave Kindred and Norm Chad were talented writers but you could not trust them, Kornheiser and Feintstein’s talent, they easily blended in with the landscape of the paper.  Feinstein called Wilbon the biggest ass kisser in sports media, if that is true he had great teacher in Kornheiser.  When Solomon tried to kick Kornheiser to the curve (fire him) in the 80s he was able to move to the Style section of the paper.  He carried the toilet paper around for Post owner Donald Graham.  One black female Washington Post columnist wrote a book titled “Plantation on the Potomac.”  She was describing her employer.

During his days at the Washington Post Wilbon and I bonded and became good friends.  We often discussed the politics of sports media.  He has called me a mentor.  I was proud of him taking a stand and refusing to participate in the forum on the N-word because I agreed with his logic as it related to Levy.

Wilbon has sought my advice on several important topics, but not since he has become an ESPN celebrity and I don’t take it personal.  I think my friend former NBA player/coach Al Attles said it best recently, “Some people it is not that they forget, they just move on.”

My problem with Wilbon is that he never kept his word after the Washington Post.

I thought to myself, “Why with all the blacks working on the Plantation/Set of ESPN why would they choose Bob Levy a white man to host an important forum on the N Word?”  The bottom line—no respect.  Former 60 Minutes and CBS Investigative Reporter Byron Pitts had a horse in the race but was given only a bit-part in the forum.  Remember, this is the same 60 Minutes that has yet to find a black reporter to replace Ed Bradley.

For example; if I tried to host a forum on the Holocaust with the leaders of the Jewish community—it would never happen.

Bill Rhoden a sports columnist for the New York Times wrote a book several years ago titled “Million Dollar Slaves,” as it related to black athletes in pro sports.  Rhoden could not see the forest for the trees.

When it comes to segregation, a media pressroom at “deadline” is second only to a church on Sunday morning in America.

During the reign of George Solomon as overseer of the Washington Post sports department, there were some great writers and columnist who crossed its threshold.  In the 70s, 80s and 90s, my favorites, the greatest was Shirley Povich, followed by Tom Callahan, Byron Rosen, Donald Huff, Michael Wilbon, Dave Aldridge and Dave Dupree.  The worst, were Leonard Sharpiro, Norman Chad, Dave Kindred, Tom Boswell, John Feinstein and Tony Kornheiser (aka Howdy & Doody).  The common denominator separating the best from the worst, was H&TWW (Honesty & Integrity While Writting).  Huff once told me that Solomon ran the sports department like Adoplh Hitler ran the Nazi Army.
The panel of Common (Rapper/Actor), Jason Whitlock (ESPN writer), Ryan Clark (NFL Player and ESPN Analyst) and Michael Wilbon (ESPN PTI) I found it to be rather odd and not well thought out.

There was no Dr. Harry Edwards, Hank Aaron or Jim Brown who can be a contradiction.  Jim can often be found talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to the black athlete and community involvement.  Especially, when it comes to where the black athlete spends his money.

His rallying cry, “Show me the money.”  The common denominator is that all three black athletes have a track record of being forerunners in the Civil Rights Movement in America.  Hopefully, they were asked to participate and were of the same mindset as Wilbon not comfortable with Mr. Levy as the narrator for the forum.

There were several legit participants like Joe Lapchick a white man who has been in the war zones of the Civil Rights Movement and has the scars to show for it.

Another contradiction, the policing of the N-word by the NFL is hypocritical.  The NFL owners are members of the“Good Old Boy’s Club.”  They have shown in the last few decades that they are not interested in having blacks or other minorities as owners.

How can you police the N-word when in your own background you have one owner say to the media “No matter how offensive the word is I will never change the nickname of the Washington Redskins?  You can put that in CAPITAL LETTERS!”

NFL owners are paying Commissioner Roger Goodell $44 million dollars a year and they think the players are making too much money?  Goodell makes more than any player in the NFL and he never has to make a tackle or catch a pass.

The owners recent pay out to the players for injuries suffered on their watch was peanuts compared to the billions they make year in and year out.  I thought it was an insult as soon as I hear it.  A federal judge denied preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement of NFL concussion claims, fearing it may not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players.  U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody asked for more financial analysis from the parties, a week after players’ lawyers filed a detailed payout plan.

I mean who is zooming who?

I never thought there would be the day when I would see and hear Jason Whitlock sound like he was smarter than Wilbon.  There were two previous blogs I read by Whitlock and one said, “Georgetown Basketball Coach John Thompson had revolutionized college basketball by opening up the game for other black coaches.  The other said, “I see NFL legend Jim Brown to be a hero in the black community?”  Both observations were totally out of focus.  I was thinking that John Feinstein could add Whitlock to his list of bigger than life ass kissers in sports media.

Common and Wilbon cited the use the N-word as a term of endearment and Jason having an opposing view was both logical and smart.  The introduction by Common proves he knows the history of the Civil Rights Movement but has no respect for the sacrifices of those who prepared a way for him.  When he refused a request by his mother to cease using the word and a similar plea by poet Maya Angelo.  The brother just don’t get it—he lost me.

In my conversation with Wilbon back in January I told him I once used the N-word and the MF words as a regular part of my vocabulary.  My wife Hattie stepped in and made me re-think my position.  My work with youth and as a radio personality helped convince me that I needed to make a change and lead by example.

Common’s opening introduction was a compelling reason for all of us to stop using the N-word because it was not our word in the beginning.  It was our oppressors who use the N-word to violently destroy us by any means necessary.

The N-word can still be found in our work place and in organizations that are overrun with black folks.  Thanks to envy, jealousy and self-hate white folks no longer have to take the lead as oppressors, blacks are now their own oppressors.

There are blacks who think since they have two more dollars than their employees or neighbors they have arrived.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They are just N—–rich.

It has been 50 years since Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington and 46 years since his assassination in Memphis, Tenn.  The facts: a white man still doubles the salary of a black man, black unemployment doubles that of the white community, 60% of the inmate population is black, segregated schools are returning to American neighborhoods and the list goes on and on.

Stand Your Ground Laws have given whites a license to shoot and kill blacks for no other reason then, “They looked suspicious or the music was too loud.”  Have we forgotten, how the system has use bankruptcy, redlining, white collar crime, crack cocaine laws, minimum wage and now the Stand Your Ground law?  I recently read that Stand Your Ground laws are like bleach, it works miracles for whites and ruins colors.

Use of the N-word is comparable, whites use the N-word to keep their history alive and blacks using the N-word as a term of endearment insures and measures how far we still have to go.  Someone once said, “If you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it.”

Sticks and stones may never hurt you Wilbon, but the N-word is slowly stunting the growth and progress of our black community.

Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC.  Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities.  The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc.   To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site The Original Inside Sports.com.

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