Archive for Racism In Sports

America’s Police Brutality = Code of Silence and Blue Wall!

Posted in Black Men, Black Men In America, Racism with tags , , , , on December 7, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Barkley Poster

By Harold Bell

The names Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens, Paul Roberson and the list goes on and on when it comes to athletes and politics. Jack Johnson was the first black heavyweight Champion of the world. He won the title in 1908 and he was free in every sense of the word. He openly dated white women. Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens won four Gold Medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in spite of the cry of white supremacy by Adolph Hitler. He single handedly crushed the myth in Berlin, Germany with Hitler watching in a private box.  Paul Roberson is considered one of the greatest all-around athletes in American history. He starred in football at Rutgers University. He was also a star in both stage and film versions of the Emperor Jones and Show Boat, and established himself as a popular screen and singing superstar. Paul spoke out against racism and became a world activist and was blacklisted during the paranoia of McCarthyism created by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.

The uproar caused by the five NFL St. Louis players supporting Michael Brown in Ferguson was nothing new when it comes to the black athlete. They were not re-inventing the wheel. In the late 50s NFL legendary running back Jim Brown founded the Black Economic Union to encourage black athletes to give back to the black community and establish their own businesses. He was the leading force of the black athlete’s involvement in support of Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War!

In the 1968 Olympic Games sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos won the Gold and Bronze medals respectively. But their actions during the award ceremonies made the world take notice. They both raised their hands with Black Gloves opposing racism in America.  Dr. Harry Edwards of San Jose State. Dr. Edwards is the author of The Revolt of the Black Athlete and was the architect of the 1968 Olympic Project for Human Rights. Smith and Carlos were student/athletes at San Jose State.

Harry Edwards

Dr. Edwards was once an outstanding athlete on the San Jose State track and field team. He has been a contributor to The Original Inside Sports for over four decades.

When former NBA great and ESPN analyst Charles Barkley’s interview on CNN went viral as it related to his opinion on black men in America/Michael Brown and Ferguson. I contacted Dr. Edwards to make sense of the uproar. I also spoke to Michael Wilbon of ESPN to get his take on his friend Barkley’s views on racism and black men in America. Wilbon has agreed that we can disagree!

He has written two books on Charles Barkley. He said “Harold I didn’t hear the interview but I will see Charles tomorrow and I will get a response!” I turned to ESPN’s PTI to watch Wilbon and his partner Tony Kornheiser, but during that segment of the show there was no mention of Kenny Smith’s Open Letter to Barkley so I moved on.

This was Dr. Harry Edwards’ take on Barkley and Wilbon:  “I love Charles Barkley– as long as he is sitting on the sports desk at TNT trying to explain why the Clippers will never win a championship as long as their toughest, most consistently competitive player is a 6’1″ point guard.  But when he begins to offer jaw-droppingly ignorant and uninformed opinions on issues from Obama’s Syria/ISIS policy to the “criminal” predispositions and proclivities of the Black community, I find something more productive to do like taking out the garbage or cleaning up my lawn. And the saddest part of it all is that he apparently doesn’t realize that the networks and interviewers are just flat out CLOWNING HIM!!!  It’s a “What crazy crap can we prompt Barkley to say. And all the better if it is an attack on Black people!”

The “guess what Charles Barkley said on CNN?” factor is incentive enough for the networks to persist in presenting and promoting this clown show– long past the time when it is either funny or even remotely engaging. Now both Barkley and the interviewers look like clowns– and justifiably so.”

Forget Michael Wilbon – he is as sick and confused as Barkley. He is the guy who while sitting on a major cable network anchor desk said ” I call my Black friends “Nigger” all the time – and there is nothing wrong with that.” This is a sentiment that Barkley agrees with– until the White boy sitting next to them calls somebody “Nigger” and then they want him fired! So don’t hold your breath for Wilbon to exercise either the balls or the intellectual integrity to challenge Barkley on his bull shit.

Dr. Harry Edwards

Summary:
Jeff Roorda business manager of a white St. Louis Police Association called for disciplinary action against the five NFL St. Louis players whose “Hands Up” gesture was an expression of their Freedom of Speech as they ran on to the field of play. He demanded that the players be punished and that the team issue an “public apology.” Roorda has a history of corruption as a St. Louis police officer.

In the meantime, the black Ethical Society of Police (220 members strong) said, “We completely supports the actions of the St. Louis Rams football players in which they showed support for the family of Michael Brown by entering the stadium with their hands up.”

I had the opportunity to listen to the videotaped debate between Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on Inside the NBA held on Thursday night. The topic, Kenny’s Open Letter to Barkley as it related to Michael Brown and Ferguson.  I was further confused by Barkley’s response to Smith for adding the word “Slavery” to the dialogue in his Open Letter, but he found nothing wrong with his friend Michael Wilbon using the word ‘Nigger’ as his word of choice while addressing his everyday buddies? What ever happen to common sense?

My opinion, Kenny had every right to bring slavery into the conversation. There is an old saying “If you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it.” It is evident to me that Barkley does not know his black history. Shaq O’Neal made a valid observation when he said, “I don’t believe all the evidence is in the Ferguson case” but he was smart enough to leave the debate in the hands of Smith and Barkley. Shaq is a big supporter of law enforcement.

Any objective person no matter the color of one’s skin could easily see that black folks in the town of Ferguson were set-up to fail—they were in a no win situation. Still burning and looting should not have been an option.
First, it does not take a Grand Jury 100 days to reach a decision on whether Officer Darren Wilson should be send to trial. Second, why would the Governor of the state of Missouri put 400 National Guardsmen on standby before the decision is handed down and why is the decision read at 9:00 pm? Why would a responsible leader put the town in danger by giving the looters an opportunity to seek and destroy under a cover of darkness? Where were the 400 National Guardsmen that the Governor put on alert once the burning and looting started—nowhere to be found? Why were there no arrest made on the first night of the looting and burning? Smells like a set-up to me. The same set-up I was an eye/witness to in DC in 1968 when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, TN.

I was working in the U Street corridor when the orders were send down to the police to only moderate the looting and burning on the first day. The next day there were wholesale arrest, much too late for many businesses and residents of the inner-city—they had lost everything! A piece of Black History Charles Barkley knows absolutely nothing about because of his hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil mentality.
Charles Barkley claims without the police many black communities would be like “The Wild, Wild West!” And his most ridiculous observation ‘I don’t think the death of Eric Garner was a homicide.”

Garner was the black man choked to death on a New York street corner while selling loose cigarettes. He died while six white cops wrestled him to the ground, one had an illegal choke hold barred by the NYPD. He said several times to his attackers, “I can’t breathe.” But no one was listening. The Grand Jury freed the white cop.
But there are still claims that body cameras are the solution to police brutality but when the crime was caught on camera the guilty cop still gets a free pass. Something is wrong with this picture!

I have spent 50 years working in the schools, streets, playgrounds and courts here in the DMV.  I have seen the Good, Bad and the Ugly in law enforcement. There are some goods cops but they are outnumbered by the bad and ugly. The bad and ugly are usually the cowards who hide behind their guns and badges. In today’s world it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish the thugs from the cops. Some people say, “They are one of the same.”

For some reason beyond me the Powers-To-Be can’t see the Big Picture when it comes to police brutality in this country. No amount of body cameras are going to solve the Ebola like disease of racism embedded in police departments throughout this country. “The Code of Silence and The Blue Wall” established to protect crooked and corrupt cops are the real problems. Plus, the criminal justice system is overrun with judges who go along to get along with the corrupt cops. Until we can find a way to change the plantation mentality thinking of Charles Barkley and the “Us against Them” attitudes of cops around the country, we are going to continue going in circles while the Al Sharptons and the Jesse Jacksons are allowed to keep hustling the black community pretending to keep hope alive while our children and black men die in the streets.

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.

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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