Five Questions To Take Advantage of a Black Sense of Urgency


I sent out five questions to folks (writers, bloggers an athlete or two) of all races–including The Starting Five collective–and I received 21 responses. To those who didn’t get an email I apologize, but please comment. Many respectfully declined and others simply ignored my request. I have to say maybe some didn’t receive my email or were too busy. The questions were worded to elicit candid thoughts of whom I consider conscious peers. I thank those from the bottom of my heart who chose to participate. My mind constantly wonders why this and why that, so this is a way of expressing my true concern of how we can all can move forward in a productive sense while also respecting the experience of our collective past.

I want to start a conversation to help ALL of us. The responses are in no particular order. Because there were so many eloquent responses, I picked names randomly for every question with the exception of the on regarding Tiger Woods.

Let’s Get It!

The events of 1968 personally affect me because it was the year I was born. Martin Luther King’s death and the silent protest by John Carlos and Tommie Smith in Mexico City are two reasons why my consciousness boils to the surface every time I write. I have much to learn for I am not perfect, but Dr. King’s legacy has given me a sense of purpose I hopefully will pass to my children and give them some perspective of how the Civil Rights era shapes our present and future.

This is what it’s all about

While making an appearance to help raise money for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on 8/28/06, I asked Golden State Warrior forward Chris Webber how Dr. King affected him personally and he offered, “My parents made sure we knew of Dr. King’s legacy growing up. My mother was a teacher so there was no getting away from respecting his affect on our people and the nation as well. The only thing I can do with my “celebrity” to further his dream is to make sure I give kids–specifically Black boys–a positive role model to look up to. I’m not perfect, but I try to make sure I live my life in a way Dr. King wanted us all to.”

Fast forward to one of the best moments of my life, November 13th, 2006. The MLK groundbreaking ceremony was special. MLK will be the first of his race to have a monument erected–between Jefferson and Lincoln–and the happiness seemingly on all the faces gave me a feeling similar to what I had during the Million Man March.

Admittedly, I was a little disappointed there weren’t more professional athletes present. I did see Bill Russell and Bill Walton, but no active players in any of the major sports. It’s likely scheduling conflicts were an issue or athletes just weren’t invited, but a huge opportunity was lost that day for the three major sports leagues to affect change. I have a new found respect for Bill Walton. Walton was a prominent figure the entire day and in my opinion represented the NBA and his generation very well.

Congresswoman Diane Watson shook me up a little when I asked her, Jesse Jackson or Dick Gregory could they ever see someone as great as MLK gracing our existence and Congresswoman Watson came with this response: “From the African proverb, there are always three spirits in the room: Those who came before, those who walk in the present and those yet unborn so those on earth can have justice they deserve as a people. I want to say this, all great messengers have left this earth in their thirties. Think about it. Jesus and others who brought a message. Once that message was delivered, they were taken back to be with God. So please understand how important this day is and the monument as well.”

Her eyes seemed to pierce my soul with those words. Those who were on the front lines during the Civil Rights Era have a special sense of consciousness we’ll never get back. They deserve our respect as we are the bridge to the next generation.

Speaking of the next generation, I was surprised to see actor Nick Cannon among the mature folk. He gave an eloquent response when I asked what MLK meant to him: “Martin Luther King meant so much to me. He was someone who strived for equality. He paved the way for us all and I would be remiss to not realize I would not be able to do what I do today without him giving the ultimate sacrifice, his life.” Nick was impressive. I hope he continues remain positive.

When you were younger, did any of you ever think for sure MLK was president?

What if he were alive today?

Now to the questions. This isn’t about me personally or TSF. This is about us. I wanted something consciously documented as we enter into a unique period in our history. I interjected some of my personal beliefs on some questions just to drive home points that need to be made historically. On others, I left it up to those who gave great responses. Putting this together was a lot of work, but I assure you it was well worth it. Thank you.


1. What does Martin Luther King represent for you personally past, present and future?

Dan LeBatard, Miami Herald Columnist radio host and ESPN TV personality

Not just the greatest African-American leader ever, but in the discussion of greatest leader, period — any time, any place, any country, any ethnicity. Greatest orator of my lifetime. Astounding bravery. Peaceful beyond human reason. Deserves a place on a more modern Mount Rushmore. An enduring and echoing greatness that should require genuflection from any person in this country, not just any black person. But his dream remains deferred. I’m not sure how he would feel if he looked around today. You have to wonder if he’d ask, “Seriously? We’re not equal ital:yet:ital?”

Walik Edwards, lead writer and content editor.

MLK was somebody to fight for. I was one of the people who did the loud screaming, stomping and etc. in Arizona when they decided that having a Martin Luther King day was irrelevant. It only became relevant when their Super Bowl privileges were being threatened. Can’t lose that Super Bowl can we, Sun Folk.”

Whenever I hear the “N” word justified in some ignorant way (spelling, term of endearment, etc.), I think of MLK and all of the non-violent folks who were hung, incarcerated, ridiculed, and tormented because of that word, and oh yeah, the perpetrators didn’t care how the word was spelled.

Can you imagine? “Hey, Nigger! What’choo doin’ around here?! Grab his black ass!”

As he’s about to be hung from a tree, the black man says, “I’m not a Nigger, sir, but a Nigga.”

“He’s got a point.”

“Alright, boys. Get that noose from around his neck! We’re sorry for the misunderstandin’.”

If you use the word, you can’t say you respect Dr. King. The two don’t go hand-in-hand. You have to follow the man’s words all the way.

Jemele Hill, columnist–The first Black female sports columnist in the nation

I’ve always felt affection toward MLK, but in my later years I’ve learned that while Martin preached a message of turning the other cheek, he wasn’t soft. MLK could have been our next president because he united disenfranchised groups and empowered them. His legacy has, sadly, been romanticized to fit racist agendas. People don’t understand he preached EQUALITY, which is a lot different than color blind-ed-ness. Being colorblind suggest everyone is the same. But we don’t really want that kind of America. We should want an America that recognizes, preaches, understands and learns from different cultures. It’s most important that America give equal opportunity and respect to all peoples. That is what MLK stood for. MLK didn’t hold his tongue. He wasn’t soft. He spoke for the underclass.

Unfortunately, if he were alive today, they’d probably castigate him like they do Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. They would call him a whiner and a race baiter. But if you read through his speeches, you’ll see MLK wasn’t playing around and I just find it interesting that the mainstream has made him into this benign, transcendent figure. Yes, he loved all people — white, black, yellow or green. But he stood up for what he believed in. He represented those who couldn’t represent themselves and gave a voice to the speechless. We’ve made his legacy one that doesn’t insult or offend, but trust me, if he were alive today, he wouldn’t be giving everyone the message they wanted to hear. He’d be giving them the message they needed to hear.

Dave Zirin, author, sports writer and social commentator

Dr. King stands as the embodiment of three ideas that I believe are essential to any analysis of social change. The first is the idea that change doesn’t begin in the back rooms of Washington DC but in the struggles of ordinary people – as they become extraordinary through struggle. We know and remember Dr. King precisely because thousands upon thousands of people whose names we will never know, fought in the streets for a better world. The second idea is that the fight against racism can’t be separated from the fight for economic justice and against poverty. At the time of his death, King was immersed in the Poor People’s Campaign, and his assassination of course went down in Memphis where he was providing solidarity to striking sanitation workers. He said, “There is no point in being able to sit at a lunch counter if you cannot afford a cup of coffee.”

And lastly, King understood and was vocal about the fact that the fight against racism at home could not be separated from fighting the US empire abroad.

In his famous 1967 speech at Riverside Church, Dr. King said, “We were taking the Black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools… I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today–my own government.

He made this point at great personal cost. The Washington Post said that Dr. King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.” Time magazine described his words “demagogic slander.”

This is why it infuriates me to see the Democratic candidates – particularly the Clintons – claim King’s legacy so blithely. The Clintons deployed US troops 36 times between 1992 and 2000, and enforced the horrific sanctions on the Iraqi people that killed – according to the UN – 500,000 children. The idea that they would claim to have been inspired by King is cheap theater, and a slap in the face to anyone who actually believes that the history of struggle should be revered and not used as a political punchline.

Temple3 blog writer, who is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve come across on the web.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. represents many things to me personally. There was a time in my life when I closely identified with him and his life’s mission. I, too, graduated from high school at a very young age. When I enrolled in college at age 16, I thought of what it might have been like for him to be off on his own three decades earlier. His work was also influential in causing me to look critically at Christianity as a system of belief and as a religion. When I refer to Christianity as a religion, I mean organized Christianity and its leadership – and that may mean the Vatican for Catholics or something else for persons in various denominations. It may mean Nigeria since there are as many Christians there as just about anywhere else on the planet. The organized history of Christianity is not identical to the system of belief – just as the history of political leadership in the United States is not the same as the history of democracy. Hell, the United States was not even a democracy when I was born. It may have masqueraded as such, but it was not the genuine article. Dr. King’s life work demonstrated the inconsistencies within organized Christianity and organized American politics. When I was a student in undergrad, I took a class about Dr. King and Malcolm X. For me, that was one of two classes that would critically shape my ability to understand this world. So, Dr. King’s life and work form one critical aspect of my development as a thinker, writer, community member and human being. I’m not a Christian. I’m not a believer in non-violent civil disobedience as a principle. I’m not many of the things Dr. King was, but his influence is there.

In graduate school, I coordinated a rather large conference to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. Our celebrations were unconventional to say the least. The focus was never strictly on segregation. Segregation was a tactic. Slavery was a tactic. Red-lining is a tactic. Redistricting is a tactic. Voter intimidation is a tactic. Too little attention has been paid to the principle which unified these various tactics over time and space. Moreover, too little attention has been paid to viable solutions. Our celebrations/conferences, then, focused on solutions and predicting tactics based on dynamic conditions. Those solutions were always framed in economic, political, environmental and cultural terms. My perspective of Dr. King is not widely shared in the United States. Most persons and institutions continue to focus on a singular speech made in 1963. There is no question that it was a great moment in the history of American rhetoric. Nonetheless, for many reasons, our national media, schools and information centers continue to focus on the second half of the speech. The first half of the speech passes in relative silence year after year after year. If this great speech could be formally divided into two halves, the first segment might have been entitled, “I Live a Nightmare.”

Dr. King’s nightmare was etched in vivid detail. He speaks of his ancestors being seared in the withering flames of injustice. This description is as figurative as it is literal. Thousands of Africans were burned alive for reasons ranging from curiosity to capriciousness. This is part of Dr. King’s 1963 address. So too are references to manacles, narrow jail cells, police brutality, poverty and entrenched efforts to dehumanize and justify years of moral turpitude. Dr. King warned the nation that the summer of 1963 was part of a continuum – that it was not the beginning or end of a movement. He was right. He also set preconditions for America becoming a great nation. He spoke not merely of suppressed voting rights in Mississippi, but the absence of authentic political choice in New York. This is part of Dr. King’s 1963 address. There is a great deal more to this speech than generally meets the ear. America’s perpetual need to feel good (as if a drug-induced stupor would actually resuscitate him or do service to his memory) has obliterated half of this speech and the last five years of his life. In 1963, Dr. King was the most visible face of a people subjected to terrorism by the state and wide factions of the public. He was killed by the concerted actions of that state and the public. He lived a nightmare – and in many respects, he never saw the sun.

As for the future, I believe it is imperative that Black folk and persons of goodwill do the work of understanding the last five years of his life. If you are talking to young people about Dr. King and all you know is that he “had a dream” and that he opposed segregation, it’s time to do some work. I strongly suggest reading “Why We Can’t Wait” and “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.”

Chris Broussard, author, Senior writer ESPN the Magazine and NBA analyst

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. represents courage, love, peace, intelligence, godliness and faith to me. As I look at the current plight of African-American people (and really, Africans worldwide), I draw strength and hope from the movement Dr. King led. His was a movement of faith in the power of God to overcome any and all circumstances, for there was no earthly, tangible or natural reason for Dr. King and his followers to believe that we would indeed overcome the horrors of Jim Crow. It may be hard for those of us born in the 1960s and after to understand, but Blacks had been absolutely ingrained with the notion of White supremacy, molded for nearly 400 years to believe that servitude and second-class citizenship to Whites was our place. So for a man to come along and believe that he could change that in one generation – nonviolently at that! – was simply amazing. He and his followers were inspired by belief in God’s Word rather than discouraged by belief in the White man’s power. We’ve got to get back to that as a people. So when I look at all the things plaguing us as a people today – seemingly insurmountable obstacles such as 70% of Black children being raised in single-parent households, the growing prison industrial complex, outrageously high Black male unemployment rates, a changing global economy that seems to be leaving us behind, continuing racism, etc… – I try to have the same faith Dr. King had and believe that with God, even the seemingly impossible is possible (that wasn’t just a cliché’ to Dr. King).

Dr. King also represents unity. Man, how I long for African-Americans to display the same unity and fortitude we showed during the Movement. All the movements of that era: Civil Rights, nationalist and Black Power. Not a unity that attempts to bring Whites down, but a unity that attempts to lift Blacks up. To be pro-Black is not synonymous with being anti-White.

Finally, we often think of Dr. King as merely a Black hero, but Whites owe him a major debt of gratitude as well. Mainstream White society, particularly in the South, was incredibly sick back then. When you read about and watch in films how they treated and regarded Black folks, it’s almost unfathomable that seemingly civilized people could be so prideful, hateful and torturous. While they regarded Blacks as less than human, they were actually the ones behaving like animals devoid of rational thought. Dr. King’s work went a long way in humanizing them, and even though he couldn’t necessarily put love and fairness in their hearts, he did put a degree of fairness and justice in their laws. In the grand scheme, with an Almighty God judging us all for how we treat our fellow man, Whites (not just Blacks) need to be thankful as all get out that Dr. King helped deliver them.

Better known as youngvito voice of the young people…Vincent Goodwill, writer The Detroit News and The Starting Five

He represents something pure, a standard that cannot be touched, but can be used as a goal. For the past, he strived for something most thought was unattainable. If he stayed alive, maybe he could’ve been president or opened doors from people like Barack Obama quicker. We, as black people have also had a greater sense of pride, actually, he helped us develop a sense of pride, a sense of tolerance, a sense of humanity in an inhumane world. He was the greatest speaker, the most compassionate, the greatest visionary I’ve read about or seen in my limited time here. He didn’t want us as blacks to stand above or below. He wanted us to be equal and act as such, instead of being second-rate citizens. He wanted a smart black man to be looked at as something other than an anomaly, but as the rule. He gave ME a chance to have a voice.

S2N writer, Signal 2 Noise

Dr. King, for me, represents unity, sacrifice, and selfless dedication in the pursuit of a noble goal — one that all of us, hopefully, are still trying to work towards today — and I don’t mean just on the subject of race alone. So much of his words and work is intrinsically tied to American society’s economic inequity, much of which revolves around race, but whenever the discussion of Dr. King’s dream comes along in the mainstream media, it’s superficial. It glosses over the man’s full philosophy and the context in which he fought for social justice, allowing society to ignore the defining issue of poverty in this country. When I read about him now, as opposed to what I read while still in school, I think about the man who said that funding unnecessary wars abroad is the excuse for not taking care of the problems in our own country, on top of what he had already accomplished.

Sankofa, writer Black My-story and one of the wisest brothas I know

Growing up in Jamaica in the 60’s during the rise of the African conscious movement in the Corporate United States and the Rastafarian movement at home, I was conditioned towards a particular mindset. The post-colonial knee-grow factory and the legacy of the latent colonial world view of Anglo -Saxon on top and African at the bottom experiencing disenfranchisement and poverty made my peers and I rebellious. The first book of substance I ever read was the “young Warriors,” an account of the rights of passage of
young Maroon warriors during the British-Maroon wars.

By the time I read my second book of substance as a high schooler – the Autobiography of Malcolm X, followed by Soul on Ice, my path was set. Therefore when Martin Luther King came with his movement and speeches on none violence and living as one, my
African fist, clinched in an iron glove wasn’t hearing any of that. It was not but decades late, after more in depth reading on MLK, particularly after his opposition to the Vietnam invasion and studying Vernon John (his predecessor at Ebenezer Baptist) did I have an appreciation for MLK and his moral and physical courage.

He is the kind of Christian I can appreciate because he walked the walk after talking the talk and gave his life so that others may live.

Marcellus Wiley, former All-Pro defensive end and current ESPN football analyst

Martin Luther King was a man, a voice that attempted to re-align American society with fundamental human and spiritual laws. He put his life on the line in an effort to regain the freedoms and liberties lost during slavery and other times of indiscretion towards Blacks. He spoke with a spirit and knowledge that was heard by the popular powers, thwarting a change of direction in our society.

Jordi Scrubbings, writer The Serious Tip

To me, a middle class white guy from Central Florida, Dr. King represents hope, courage, understanding, equality, success, and the idea that justice can be accomplished without the threat of violence. I personally believe that without Dr. King and his message, the Civil Rights Movement would have been marginalized and there would an even greater disparity between whites and blacks in America. He was the healthy alternative to the fear people had for the Nation of Islam, the Black Panthers, and pre-Mecca Malcolm. What Dr. King stood for was the idea that people can stand up for what they believe in, and no matter how difficult the opposition, they must keep marching. For to give up would be to live a life unfulfilled. And if they died yearning for basic equality, then those who denied them those basic freedoms must live with the fact that they denied a man from being a Man.

Diallo Tyson writer, The Commission

Honestly? Everything, but nothing at the same time. There are so many things that I’m able to do on a daily basis because of MLK, but I rarely, if ever, think of how his actions are directly impactful. Maybe it’s because my generation always seems to be at odds, in some way or another, with the Civil Rights generation. Whatever the reason, I don’t think I have a personal connection with MLK. That sounds pretty fucked up. I went to Morehouse, passed by his statue on the way to King Chapel a million times, watched the speaches, and went to MLK Day programs. I respect, appreciate, and appluad his efforts. I am grateful, even though I often take it for granted. But on a personal level? On a conscious level? On an everyday level? It just doesn’t reasonate. To take a step outside of myself and look at that, that’s a pretty sad indictment. But I don’t know how else to express it.

Stop Mike Lupica of the innovative blog of the same name

It’s an interesting question. As a Latino, it most likely does not hold the same meaning as it does for African-Americans. My family choose to come here to America voluntarily, and though I think most Latinos have been exploited in some ways here, the struggle of the African-American is grounded in a much larger historical exploitation of labor and capital.

Never the less, the current struggles of poor Latinos in an urban environment have much in common with the struggles of blacks in the inner city. In the west coast there is a bit of tension nowadays between Latinos and Blacks; but in the east coast, particularly here in NYC, there is still a general feeling among Blacks and Latinos that “we are in this together”, struggling to get ours. I certainly grew up with that sentiment, and with Latinos and Blacks who felt that way about each other.

So for me MLK Day has always been a day of deep reflection. Sort of like a New Year’s Day for some, only without the resolutions, replaced with the thoughts of “what’s going on in our society”, and “is it getting better”? If so, why do I feel more jaded every year?

This past MLK Day, I was going to do a post on my site called “Reflections”, which would touch on these topics. Because of work and personal issues, I was unable to. I’m hoping that next year I can restart this personal tradition.

As for MLK himself, he represents many things: the idea that he has become in death, but also what he really was, and what his beliefs really were, too. Like Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson, his image has been cleaned up over the years, removed of all “dirt”, and used as a hammer to bring down modern MLKs who try to follow in his footsteps. It’s very disappointing. The real MLK was much more three-dimensional than his legacy.

Charles Modiano staff trainer in youth development and writer

Past? I agree with those who say that Martin Luther King is the greatest American our country ever produced. Hundreds of years from now, his writings and speeches will hold up because at his core he is not just a leader but a philosopher. That is why unlike other Americans in history he is a global figure that transcends our country. For me he represents a man of ACTION. I use that word deliberately because, unfortunately the mainstream media has basically reduced him to little more than a “dreamer” by manipulating a couple of lines in his most famous speech. Author Michael Eric Dyson expound on this point quite well in “The True Martin Luther King, Jr.” And the strategic and moral leadership that MLK provided during the Civil Rights Movement was nothing short of extraordinary. From that period in his life “The Letter From a Birmingham Jail” is probably my favorite piece.

Present? It is the post-Civil Rights Act King that is most relevant to our times today. Whether it was his views on the Vietnam war (article here), combating poverty, or black economic empowerment. These are messages that matter now. Unfortunately they are also messages that have been written out of popular history and children’s textbooks. This is quite unfortunate because I believe that MLK, despite being so famous is completely misunderstood. That, of course, is quite intentional on the media’s part.

Future? I think that there has to be a concerted effort for the entire legacy of MLK be taught and redefined beyond “the Dream speech” so that he is relevant. I don’t quite know where this should start since mass media is such a monster at controlling images. However, I just know that this needs to be done. Perhaps a definitive motion picture must be made. There seem to be many TV specials, but never that epic motion picture. Why is that?


Michael Tillery: In The Great Debaters, professor and future renowned poet Melvin Tolson used his wisdom and intellect to develop a champion debate team, although his character was much deeper than the film depicted, Tolson was very mysterious in the film. He had an unspoken radical side that almost gave me the impression he was a man who traveled back in time to give organization to Black and White sharecroppers way before this was deemed possible (1935). Dude was that intelligent.

Men like Melvin Tolson helped to revolutionize our thoughts and transformed Jim Crow fear into a boundless–albeit brave–thirst for knowledge while mocking (respectfully) the perceived enemy.

How many of you knew about Melvin Tolson before The Great Debaters?

An excerpt of Tolson’s masterful poem Dark Symphony:

Lento Grave

The centuries-old pathos in our voices
Saddens the great white world
And the wizardry of our dusky rhythms
Conjures up shadow-shapes of ante-bellum years:

Black slaves singing One More River to Cross
In the torture tombs of slave-ships,
Black slaves singing Steal Away to Jesus
In jungle swamps
Black slaves singing The Crucifixion
In slave-pens at midnight,
Black slaves singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
In cabins of death,
Black slaves singing Go Down, Moses
In the canebrakes of the Southern Pharaohs.


Andante Sostenuto

They tell us to forget
The Golgotha we tread…
We who are scourged with hate,
A price upon our head.
They who have shackled us
Require of us a song,
They who have wasted us
Bid us condone the wrong.

They tell us to forget
Democracy is spurned.
They tell us to forget
The Bill of Rights is burned.
Three hundred years we slaved,
We slave and suffer yet:
Though flesh and bone rebel,
They tell us to forget!

Oh, how can we forget
Our human rights denied?
Oh, how can we forget
Our manhood crucified?
When Justice is profaned
And plea with curse is met,
When Freedom’s gates are barred,
Oh, how can we forget?

The common response to Blacks “dwelling” on the past is to get over it. This is used with so much brevity it exacerbates fear and dooms a future continuum of realizing whatever OUR society has a chance to potentially become.

Those who have said these three words must get over it themselves if they want to understand why some Blacks are so angered by the word lynch. Everyone is primitively stunted by the laziness of our thoughts when we diminish an opportunity to discuss race.

If we’ve listened to it. If we see it. If we live it. If we are affected by it. It is real.

Lynchings were teaching lessons to Black folk who didn’t bow down in the face of oppression. Entire communities were affected for years by the sights, sounds and smells of a family loved one dangling from a tree burned and skinned alive with amputated appendages.

Out of the 4,752 (approximate) lynchings between 1882 and 1968, 3,445, or 73% were Black. How many were unreported? Combine that number with the millions that died during the Middle Passage and you have all the reasons you need why Blacks get upset.

How many ancestors of future Black astronomers, doctors, teachers, judges, scholars or presidents died?

We must not forget, but we must be careful how we assess blame. It’s just a word to some, but conjures despicable images of death to Blacks.

Gotta do more than swing the club bruh

Tiger has to understand that by not speaking out he made Whites–both moral and immoral–comfortable while allowing himself once again to be demoralized publicly.

What’s his response the next time something similar happens?

Warranted, he does a lot of work through his foundation but when was the last time you saw Tiger in the ‘hood? How many country clubs does he enter that didn’t allow people of color up until he blasted on the scene?

I didn’t see Tiger objecting when pundits called his historical win a first for Blacks.

Was it all about money potentially generated strictly on the basis of race?

I am not Tiger Woods.

No one is asking Tiger to jump on a soap box and scream “Injustice!” (imagine that) to the high heavens, but saying it was a dead issue because Kelly Tilghman is a friend was laughable. A mere statement standing up for himself would have sufficed.

2. By not speaking out, did Tiger Woods blow an opportunity for America to discuss race more objectively? Is it his responsibility or any athlete for that matter?

Ron Glover writer The Starting Five

Silence can represent many things – in Tiger’s case it represented his separation from the Black community. It was if to say, “C’mon we all know I’m not Black, I told you so myself, so how serious can I take that comment.” For him to finally speak out about this incident tells me that he wanted it to go away without him addressing the situation. Like it was forced upon him. He calls it media-driven, and I agree that it was – but guess what it wasn’t the white media behind the wheel.

There are many hats that must be worn when you’re at the top of your sport. Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s athletes that were more receptive to current events outside of the sports page were received better by the fans and are remembered for a longer period of time. It shows that we’re all in the same boat – a common thread that is missing with many of today’s top athletes. How can an athlete not comment on the war in Iraq or the escalating murder rate in our inner cities? He can care less about being in our best graces because he has nothing invested in us – meanwhile those in the white media are thankful they’ve dodged another bullet.

Delinda Lombardo San Diego based writer who shines the light on athletes giving back

Unfortunately, I would say no-he didn’t blow an opportunity for America to discuss race more objectively. Why? Because had he opened the dialog it would have fallen on the white-ears of the golf-gods. Out of the thousands of people I’ve seen following Tiger on the tour, I would say less than 10% are African-American. Of all the golf-fans I discussed the issue with, not one of them was remotely interested in the ‘noose’ incident. As far as owning the responsibility to speak out- I feel that if you’re in a position to influence or improve this world, then it becomes a moral decision of whether you’re gonna represent the love in your heart or the rims on your car.

Charles Modiano

Yes, Tiger obviously blew an opportunity, and yes, I do believe that “Spiderman” concept that “with great power comes great responsibility” – whether that power was requested or not. However, I will let others harp on Tiger, as that is not necessarily my personal battle. My battle — from a white perspective-is that I would like to see more WHITE ATHLETES step up and speak out on racial injustice and more white mainstream reporters implore them to do so. Until this happens, these matters will be perceived as white-black issues instead of right-wrong issues in the eyes of the mass white public. What if there was a white golfer who spoke out about the “lynching Tiger” comments? Okay, I’m pushing it! J Let’s set the bar lower. What if white players indignantly took offense to Don Imus’s Rutgers remarks or Rush Limbaugh’s McNabb remarks? Better yet what if a white athlete became active in the Jena 6 cause? Couldn’t that have a great effect? Now it may not happen, but the fact that it is not ever REQUESTED from a media member is very troublesome to me. Anti-racism is not even an expectation from whites.

Jordi Scrubbings

Yes, absolutely. Without provocation, I would hesitate to say it is any or all athletes’ responsibility to speak out about racial issues. Many athletes now spend most of their youth preparing to be professionals. They might understand the economic disparity of race, that, for example, they may live in the city surrounded by people of their own color and they are all poor, while the white people on TV look like they have money, but this doesn’t make them qualified to discuss race relations. However, if provoked, as Tiger Woods was, a Man has every right and should exercise every right to insure he is not attacked like that again. To put his foot down and say “Here is why you do not treat me like that.” Now what outside of advertising pressure would stop the next golf announcer for saying Tiger Woods should be lynched?

Stop Mike Lupica

Tiger Woods didn’t blow the opportunity for America. He blew it for himself, but that’s his choice, and his choice alone to make. Regardless of what he said or did, the opportunity was certainly there for Black America and White America to discuss what happened. And there was some discussion, to be sure. Did it go as far as it could and should have? No, the media skimmed the surface, but then it got buried when the next big story came along.

The question I have, and I’ve asked this before, but I really think it should be discussed more, is this: White America, and the press, have laid down the template for how Black athletes should behave, if they want to be “accepted”. I call it the “Michael Jordan template”, which can now be called “Tiger Woods template” (ex: LeBron James). It basically states that act this way, be apolitical (at least on “controversial issues”) and we’ll leave you alone. Act outspoken like Muhammad Ali, and we’ll destroy you. (some examples made by other commenters in response to this question include Chris Jackson/Mahmoud Abdul-Raof and Gil Hodges, to a degree). Follow the “Jim Rice” template (belligerent to the media), and they’ll destroy you, too. (ex: Barry Bonds).

So here’s the question: Would Black athletes, and Black America, be better off if the media flipped out on Tiger Woods (or MJ)? Because right now, it’s established that there is one path, and only one path, for the modern Black superstar athlete. But if MJ or Tiger Woods should have media disaster occur, then there would be no template. And in that manner, maybe more Black athletes would be willing to choose to speak out more, since either way they know they’ll get screwed by the media (see Donovan McNabb)….

Anthony Gilbert, writer The Starting Five

Tiger Woods did what he felt was the right thing to do for both himself and his family. I am not married and I do not have any children, but I understand why he didn’t want to make any waves. He did not want to bring that to his immediate family and he did not want to discredit his mother, but by saying nothing and then releasing a statement way after the fact, I feel that he did more harm than good. All in all, he did what he wanted to do and as a man, I have to respect that. He is a professional athlete, and the world waited in horror for him to speak, but he was not obligated to talk about it. I just wish that he would have spoken up sooner. Because of his hesitation, our culture took a much harder blow, than when the “lynching” statement was first made.

Jacinta Howard, author, hip hop artist and editor AUC Magazine

Athletes of today suck in terms of using their voices to move the people. What happened to the Jim Brown’s, Ali’s, etc.? They died with the globalization of Michael Jordan. Of course, I’m speaking generally here– but yeah, of course Tiger missed an opportunity for America to discuss race. And yes, it is the responsibility of anyone in the limelight to defend his or her culture when it’s being attacked and belittled nationally without any regard.

MCBias TSF commenter and writer of his own very well put together blog

Kelly was Tiger’s friend. People keep glossing over that in the coverage, as if they can’t believe that a married black man would be friends with a single (I think) white blond woman. (That in itself says something about our society, ahem.) But it’s true, apparently, and as such, Tiger has every right to let his friend off the hook. We have to be careful that we don’t look to our athletes as our representatives or as symbols. While it’s right to expect SOME athletes to discuss race and be open-minded, it becomes wrong when we expect a certain athlete to discuss race just because he can hit a ball.

Top-down support by current black athletes will help…but bottom-up, grassroots instruction is what will change the teenagers of today that will become the black athletes of tomorrow. Forget this generation; it’s already lost. Aim for the next one. That sounds so brutal, but that’s what I think as an outsider. Due to the destruction of the strong black family unit in this generation, the black community needs to reload with the next generation.

Vincent Thomas, writer and fellow contributor to SLAM magazine

One of these days, Tiger is gonna have to sit in front of Tavis Smiley or Greg Gumble or Mike Wallace and seriously discuss race within the context of his life. For all I know, he could have sent billions of anonymous dough to Darfur. That would be awesome. But it is another thing to use his celebrity and public-reverence to enlighten his far-reaching audience on how real it is. If you said, “pick one athlete to speak out on current social issues”; I’d choose Tiger. His audience is so vast and everyone respects him. He could do so much. Duality is a burden sometimes, but it is what it is. Speak up, man.

Signal 2 Noise

I really do think Tiger let an opportunity go, a chance to prove what his father said about Tiger truly changing the world and becoming much bigger than golf in and of itself. Every time I read his response, I kept hearing Michael Jordan saying, “Republicans buy shoes too.” Even if he was not personally offended, I would hope he knew that the remark dredged up such poor and violent images for a whole community in the U.S.

Diallo Tyson

Yes, but that would mean Tiger would have to discuss race objectively. And Tiger doesn’t do race. He doesn’t want to say the wrong thing and piss off his black fans who don’t think he’s black enough and he doesn’t want to piss off his white fans who think he’s become too militant. Black athletes have a responsibility to discuss race when the topic comes up because they have a much different prospective. They are often the object of affection from people who would otherwise hate their guts, because of their ability to catch a football or shoot a basketball. They’re obviously aware of that, and it’s an interesting position to be in. But fear often keeps them from speaking out.

Vincent Goodwill

Yes, he did. And he failed miserably. Tiger, when he accepts the dollars from Nike, Buick and other businesses, makes himself a “brand”, but he also makes himself subject to this type of criticism. Think: As much as he doesn’t pride himself on being black, he received so much attention just off his skin color. Otherwise, he could’ve been just another phenomenon on the golf scene. It wasn’t because he was caublanasian that he got that attention. He got it because he was black and he knows it. If he ever chose to speak up on it, even moderately, it would have been taken in hand by those more qualified to discuss race, those with more passion, but he had the door to open and he refused. For monetary reasons only. So he wouldn’t upset his handlers, or his wife.

Now black athletes, some of them have that specific talent and aren’t qualified to speak on race. But they don’t place themselves in the public eye. If they did their jobs, almost anonymously, I’d have no problem because some don’t have the passion or the panoramic view to comment on certain subjects like we present on TSF. If something happens regarding them, they should speak up. Sometimes if athletes like Tiger spoke up for himself on a personal level of pride, first and foremost, as a man, then the other things would follow. At least we could see that you aren’t just worried about capitalistic gain while stepping on the past and future of black folks by not speaking up.

Alan Gray, Editor NewsBlaze

Tiger Woods is a great golfer and a great role model and a great human being Tiger leads from the front. Don’t damage Tiger by having him speak for others. No matter what he says, it will damage him and he will lose his power. Rather, use him from a distance as a positive example. Bill Cosby speaks out. What came of that? Who has he helped, who is with him, who is against him? Find other positive examples and promote them too.


Tiger Woods is who he said he was. To me it would have been more tragic if a Jim Thorpe had not spoken out. Tiger Woods is a product of his father’s failure to teach his son to be a man and fighter against oppression. It is tragic, however, because the media-those who control our image or tell us how to think- portrayed Tiger as a symbol of African success.
Beyond his melenated state, when you see and hear evil, you are obligated by your station and the fact that you are human, to fight against that. It is 10 xs imperative for our celebrities to do so, knowing the state of our position in the world.

Alex Reed, writer The Starting Five

During this last incident, Tiger Woods had no obligation to anyone to say anymore about race than he did. Now, with that being said, it would be nice if he did say more. But the issue with Tiger always seems to come down to money. He is safe to white America. He doesn’t rock the boat, he’s clean cut, and he gets handsomely rewarded for it via endorsements and commercials. Now, had Tiger gone Al Sharpton on Kelly Tilghman, his image as the “safe-negro” would have been tarnished among white folk. America loves Black people they don’t fear. And Tiger seems to know this. So it comes down to personal choice: “Do I want all of the money I can get in the future and keep my mouth shut?” or “Do I seize upon an opportunity to address race in hopes of reaching even one person?” Tiger is his own man and people should respect his career-long decision to stay away from discussions about race as much as possible. But they don’t have to like it.

Thug Life Army, editor of progressive hip hop news site of same name

I will not diss Tiger Woods and this is not meant to do that, but yes he should have spoken up but he may have been ‘afraid’ of the consequences if he had done so. After all he is still existing and making a living in the mainstream white world. He is ‘acceptable’ as long as he doesn’t make waves. He is like the ‘Sammy Davis Jr.’ of the sports world.

Chris Broussard

Honestly, those who wanted to discuss race discussed it regardless of Tiger’s “non-issue” comment. The only way there would have been real major discussion about the issue would have been if Tiger had come out with a real strong response, which just doesn’t seem to be in him.

As far as athletes having a responsibility, I personally believe that until African-Americans en masse truly have equality in opportunity and justice, every African-American in every facet of life has a responsibility to try and uplift the Black community in some way. Speaking out is really a small part of the picture. I would rather see Black athletes use their financial strength and their connections in the business world (Nike, McDonalds, Gatorade, etc…) to create employment, training and educational opportunities for African-Americans. It’s a darn shame that we entertain Whites so much (through sports, music, etc…) yet in the real everyday meat and potatoes aspects of life, we are so disrespected and taken advantage of.

In my opinion, one of the reasons the athletes don’t do as much as we might like is because African-Americans as a whole are far too reactionary. When things are going good (at least on the surface), we seem to almost completely forget about the need for unity and building up our people. It’s only when we see an occasional act of overt racism that we talk of the need to unite and rise up as a people. Well, world-class African-American athletes are treated like kings (at least on the surface), so it’s easy for them to forget about (or not recognize at all) the need for Black unity and empowerment.

Is that asking something of them that’s not asked of their White counterparts? You bet. But the history and contemporary situation of their White counterparts’ people is completely different from that of their own. A very small percentage of White Americans are disenfranchised, meaning that the system typically works for them. But a very high percentage of African-Americans are disenfranchised, meaning that one mistake can put them outside of the system for good. Those of us who have the means need to try and help those who don’t. Our “haves” need to reconnect in some way to our “have-nots.” To whom much is given, much is required.

Temple 3

Tiger Woods, if I understand this correctly, is a golfer by training. I don’t know what his preparation has been to engage in this discussion. There are thousands of athletes who’ve never had even a bit of education about the history of “race” or racism. If we were discussing athletes like Derrick Brooks or Warrick Dunn or Chris Webber or Mahmoud Abdur-Rauf, my expectations would be different. We’re not. The issue is not that Mr. Woods plays a sport…the issue is his capacity to talk about the issue. On the golf course, he has demonstrated mastery. In this arena, I’ve yet to see it.

Back in the late 1800’s, DuBois talked about how “every school boy” had an opinion on “race” and Black people. Of course those opinions were largely uninformed – but “race” is an area where everyone’s opinion is granted an equal footing in many forums. I find that absurd. This could only happen in a country where there are minor consequences for being wrong. For all of DuBois’ life and Dr. King’s life, there were no discernible consequences for “whites” being wrong about “race” and/or Black folk. It has only been in the law two decades that people came to be relieved of their employment…Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder was wrong. He was empirically wrong, and his words were ugly. Don Imus was empirically wrong and equally ugly. His return to work signals “Justice Fatigue” on the part of American “whites.” The recent incident with Mr. Woods which resulted in one firing and one suspension reflect that trend. The fire starter, Kelly Tighman, has only been suspended. She claims to be a friend of Mr. Woods. If she were a friend of mine, I’d pull her to the side and tell her she needed to get some serious help.

Discussing “race” and “racism” is simply not for everyone.

If Tiger Woods is ready to talk about nuclear physics, I’m all ears – after I hear his credentials. It’s no different here. Ward Connerly and Clarence Thomas have no standing in a conversation on “race” or “racism in America because their positions/beliefs have been bought and sold to an alien bidder. While Mr. Woods has not aligned himself this far outside of the realm of reason, he has no standing based on biology…none of us should. He has no standing, from what I can see, based on his knowledge or grounding. He has an opinion that, absent additional information, I might rank with the school boys. “Race” is something that most of us perceive, but don’t understand.

With that said, athletes are part of the human community and would bear the same responsibility for action and understanding that a postal worker or dentist or porn star would have. If Sean Michaels can talk about discrimination in his business, why can’t an athlete? Our respective fields of endeavor are secondary to the question of “racism” because that -ism follows you wherever you go. The difference between today and 40 years ago is that the opportunities for growth are unprecedented. The first step is ceasing to focus on “white” folks as the be-all and end-all of life.

Jemele Hill

I realize Tiger Woods is biracial and has two cultures he must represent. But I don’t know if he’s aware of this, but these racial controversies never have to deal with his Thai roots. Fuzzy Zoeller didn’t say they should serve pad thai at the Masters’ dinner. He said fried chicken and collard greens or “whatever they eat.” Kelly Tighlman’s comment had nothing to do with his Asian heritage, but connected his African-American roots. Tiger Woods must understand that because he seems to create distance between himself and his African-American heritage, it gives off the perception he is not proud of that part of himself. This isn’t about him claiming one side over the other, but being equally proud of both. As someone who has been subject to racial incidents in the past, you would think Tiger would have a better perspective, but he seems more content to use his heritage (s) as marketing tools, instead of as real bargaining chips for progress. It’s not a matter of speaking his mind, because Tiger is fine with that as long as it suits his advertisers. Funny, Tiger had no problem using his skin color in Nike commercials. He had no problem saying that Augusta shouldn’t admit women, willingly content to pass down the discrimination that was used to prohibit his own people.

It’s just like the old Bible verse: To whom much is given, much is require. I’m old school, but every athlete of color in a position of influence should use that influence for the betterment of their people. Some will point out that white athletes aren’t forced to do that, and that is true. But I counter by saying white America is not at the same precarious position as African Americans. With escalating crime rates, the number of black men in prison vs. in college, and the unemployment rate, it is all of our responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves. Tiger is a model of excellence. His father said once he thought he’d be more influential than Gandhi. Well, Gandhi put himself on the line for what he believed. I’m waiting on Tiger to do the same.

Dan LeBatard

So hard for me to say. Not my place. Who am I to be telling Tiger Woods what he should endure for a cause he may or may not believe in. I wouldn’t want him telling me what to endorse. Jim Brown says it, he’s entitled. He sat at the knee of Dr. King. He has been an activist for five decades. And he’s entitled to want Tiger to be a part of his cause. And I’d like him to be too. I’d prefer that he use his power to move people and instigate social change instead of just to sell things and earn more combined than Peyton, Kobe and ARod did last year. But you can’t be opinionated AND beloved in sales. Barkley is about the only one who has managed it. So it is safer to stay away from the flammable stuff. Has Tiger ever said anything interesting? That has to be by design. But his father said he was going to have the impact of Buddha. And he can’t have that by just swinging a club and being quiet on this kind of stuff. Tiger could have kept that story alive with just a few words, but does he want to ruin a friend in the process, especially if he believes she meant no harm? Is there a way for him to be outraged without a friend getting ruined? And I always wonder if Al Sharpton is helping or healing when he instigates, so would Tiger becoming angry make people take sides or come together?

Walik Edwards

Firstly, when a dude calls himself a Cablanasian, he’s never going to represent the black race fully, so people should stop thinking that he will. That ship has sailed. Golf itself is a racial issue, and if the world’s best player’s not going to blow about that, what else is there to talk about? There are plenty of athletes who step up regarding race. Are the numbers large enough? Probably not. But don’t expect those large numbers until the NBA, MLB and NFL start paying their players minimum wage – and that’s go as much a chance of happening like the Knicks winning the NBA title this season.

Marcellus Wiley

Tiger Woods would’ve did a tremendous work towards the progress of our racial equality goals if he would’ve spoken out in disgust over the tasteless, insensitive Golf cover. His platform is so large that when he speaks, the powers that be, as well as the people will listen, and more importantly, they will move! It’s unfortunate that those with the most influence and access, and are in direct communication of those who can promote change don’t say anything while those without any leverage or opportunities scream at the top of their lungs to deaf ears. Black athletes must remind themselves of the fact that the origins of their athletic prowess was not to win a gold medal or lucrative contract. But, rather to show all oppressors that believed that Blacks were intellectually inferior as a people that we could perform, do something better than those of their likeness, in hopes of gaining their slightest respect. Athletics was a means to an end. And that end was equality and shared opportunity. We have been disconnected with our social and political umbilical cord, forfeiting it for fame and fortune.

Dave Zirin

Tiger says he doesn’t want to be political. he just wants to play golf. On the one hand, just as we should support the right of any athlete to be political, we should also support the right of any athlete not to be political as well. But Tiger – when it comes to selling us Nike products – is all too willing to commodify the very Black Freedom struggle that got him through the country club doors. The “I am Tiger Woods” ad comes from Spike Lee’s movie where the children say “I am Malcolm X” which comes from an old Panther film
after the police assassination of Fred Hampton where one child after another said, “I am Fred Hampton.” There are other ads as well that speak to his historic role as an African American (or Cablinasian) golfer. If you are going to trade on the blood sweat and tears of the struggles past, people have every right to call you out for cowardice and timidity in the face of struggles present. If the Black Freedom struggle is relevant enough to sell Nike products, then Tiger owes a debt to make it relevant in other ways as well.


3. How do we persuade our children to firmly understand the need for thorough knowledge of English, math and science?

Tracey, writer of Blackgivesback, a blog highlighting Black philanthropy

Recent research has shown that schools, particularly in urban communities, are not preparing youth for life beyond high school. These youth “graduate” without the basic fundamentals of English, math and science. So whose responsibility is it to persuade our children to understand the need and importance for this basic knowledge? Is it the school system? Or the home? It’s the home – parents and guardians- that has the greater impact of persuasion. The home needs to value education and make it a top priority in the household. So if you’re a parent or guardian ask yourself these questions: Are you an active member of the PTA? Do you communicate regularly with your child’s teacher? Do you have a quiet area in your home for your child to study? Have you looked for free or low-cost after school and summer enrichment programs for your child? Do you have educational games in your home? Do you have a computer in your home with internet access?

It is the home who has the responsibility of reinforcing what is learned in school. Teachers and schools cannot do it alone.

Stop Mike Lupica

Good question. This one is the toughest one to answer. I can only say that a child’s values and standards are determined by the environment around him/her. We all need to change that environment for such understanding to really have a chance to take hold.

Charles Modiano

Well, since my day job is a staff trainer in youth development who works with out-of-school teens, I could probably write a book here… but I won’t bore you. The bottom line is that there is a dropout crisis where 1 of 3 students in America is not graduating on time, and in most cities black and brown youth are dropping out at a 50% clip. This is nothing short of a national crisis. Amongst a variety of other commonly cited structural and monetary reasons, the schools often bore the hell out of students who leave in droves. Teaching is often not experiential or relevant to a young person’s life. Staff also rarely respect the concept of “youth culture”, youth know it, and they rebel. In staff training we call this phenomena “adultism”. Finally, there has to be a coming together between Republicans and Democrats to put politics aside in order to help youth. Yes, money is often a major issue as there are great class and greater racial disparities in cost-per-student. Just as important Democrats need to get off this teacher’s union bullshit. If no one in a teacher’s class is learning or improving their yearly math or reading levels, then their ass needs to go. I’ve done trainings for burnt out staff and it is a very sad thing knowing the a youth is the end product. There are many other issues to be sure, but I’ll get off the soapbox for now.


If you want children to speak the King’s English and master math and science, you have to hire them. However, to do that effectively, you need to invest in education. The US does not have a serious investment in the education of young people. In fact, the big US expenditures in education are in higher education. Much of the research in math and science at the university level is done by foreign students. There is enough international capacity that the US has not suffered because of the relative ineffectiveness of its own students.

The US’ greatest efforts at compensatory education funding (federal dollars) have been dwarfed by war expenditures in two eras: Vietnam and Iraq. The very idea of an “education President” is patently ridiculous. What has happened over the past few years is that many of those US-trained foreign students from China and India have not become so acculturated as to forego building solutions at home. They may wish to acquire wealth and live large, but many are continuing to work on home-based solutions.

Black children in the US constitute a surplus education group whom the government and corporations perceive as adding no value to the empire. So, the schools black children attend are staffed with the least experienced teachers, have the smallest budgets, the least experienced administrators, the oldest text books, the smallest and most-outdated science labs. A black child in a high-need district in New York State is 30 times more likely to taught by a poorly-qualified science teacher than “white” students in low-poverty districts.

This means that emphasizing math and science at an early age is critical. The world is different than it was a generation ago. For example, one of the leading science institutions in the world (M.I.T.) has put its curriculum online. Accessing the curriculum is as easy as bridging the digital divide – and that means adults need to ensure children have access to libraries. The work is there to be done. The challenge is significant, but it is hardly insurmountable.

It doesn’t hurt to tell children that children who master math and science employ people who don’t – and pay them what they believe they should make, not what they may actually be worth. Dependency is a real bitch.

Signal 2 Noise

I don’t have kids myself, and I don’t know if I ever plan to. But speaking as someone who is the son of journalists, teaching that love of English, math, science, and learning in general is so connected to the parents — that means everything. It means your children read at earlier ages if you encourage them. It means your children will find ways to enjoy homework and solving problems. So much of it is dependent on parental encouragement and involvement; finding the things children are thrilled by in the learning process. Nurturing a natural love of learning early is so crucial to kids before they get to school and when they are starting. The problem is society values parents working until they drop dead, so there is less and less time to spend that quality time to encourage the learning habits of children.

Chris Broussard

Well, for those of us who are parents, it’s simple in my eyes. You control your children and you pour your values into them. For example, I don’t understand how parents can have children who don’t do their homework. Don’t you have control over what your children do? Make sure they do their homework or else! One problem is that we as a people watch way too much television. We watch far more than every other race. According to a 2004 Nielsen Media Research study, African-Americans watch 40% more television than any other race. Our children ages 2-11 watch 4 hours of television a day on average, compared to 3 hours for children of other races. Too much of just about anything is not good, and when you consider how much negativity there is on television, specifically BET, it’s a travesty, an exercise in self-destruction, for us to watch so much TV. My kids are 9 years old and they can’t watch TV during the school week. They spend that time reading, on the computer, doing homework, practicing piano, dancing and doing other extracurricular activities. On weekends (Fri. – Sun.) they’re free to watch TV. I think we should all start by drastically reducing the amount of time our kids have in front of the TV set. Dr. Ben Carson, the world-renowned surgeon, is a great example. He was a terrible student into the fifth grade, the worst in his class. That’s when his single mother ruled out television and made him read two books -with corresponding book reports – a week. His grades in every subject began to improve almost immediately, as did his vocabulary, writing ability and comprehension. Soon he was the top student in his class, and the rest is history. If our children are sitting in front of the TV all evening, they are not exercising their brains. And an unexercised brain is like an unexercised body: it’s lazy and incapable of doing much. If other children are exercising their brains, but many of our kids aren’t, they’re going to be behind in school.

But of course, most of our children don’t have two parents present, and it’s much tougher on them (many of whom are struggling just to make ends meet) to govern their children. That’s why I think we need to try and have a “village mentality.” We men in particular have to try and reach out to young boys through Big Brother programs, the church, 100 Black men, etc… We need to give these brothas a real, live alternative to the negative role models they may see daily. When I lived in Cleveland during the ‘90s, I spent a lot of time working with young cats in the juvenile detention centers, and many of them told me they had never met a Black guy like me. That just meant they had never met a young, stable, educated and employed brotha who could still relate to them about hip hop, sports, etc… and speak their language. Lots of our young men need to meet more brothas who are “down” but also about the things (education, family, etc…) that will strengthen and liberate our people.

We also need to take back hip hop. Rap music is the most powerful music there is, in my opinion. Whereas conventional songs say very little, rap songs preach sermons. Couple that with the dope beat and it’s almost hypnotic. Ever since I first heard Rapper’s Delight, rap music’s been my favorite form of music, and it still is to this day. I know how much of an influence hip hop had on me. During the late ‘80s, when conscious artists like KRS-One, Eric B. and Rakim, Public Enemy, the Jungle Brothers, etc… were popular, that was the first thing that sparked my interest in Black history and Black empowerment. Not all rap music back then was conscious or morally neutral, but there was a balance.

Let me specify, the problem is not hip hop or rap music. The problem is the type of hip hop that our kids are exposed to on the radio. Chuck D put it so beautifully in an interview I did with him years ago. He said most of the popular rap artists are really adult entertainers. He wasn’t trying to censor them, he was just saying that in reality, they’re adult entertainers. Yet, their music is marketed to children. That’s the problem. When I was growing up, I heard about Millie Jackson and I admit to sneaking a listen every now and then to my dad’s Richard Pryor albums. But I wasn’t listening to that stuff on a regular, daily basis, and it certainly wasn’t on the radio! Today, our kids are growing up listening to hip hop equivalents of Millie Jackson and Richard Pryor probably four hours a day on average. We’re foolish if we think that’s not having an affect on them. And while White kids listen to hip hop as well, for most of them, it’s not their reality. They are just peering in on an alien culture, and as many of the rappers say, viewing them as actors. But to our kids, rap is real. It’s ours; it’s a part of our culture. It’s a visible example of strong Black men who appear to be powerful and no nonsense in a society where that type of brotha is not often seen. We take it as our reality and emulate it.

Nowadays there’s no balance in what’s being played on the radio. Our kids are now being bombarded with violent, crime-glorifying, pornographic, Black life-hating music all day everyday. If it’s having as much of an impact on kids as the hip hop I listened to had on me, then I feel sorry for those cats. That music is glorifying many of the major things that have us filling up the prisons and graveyards. I’ve often been approached by young brothas on the street selling demo CDs. When they ask me to buy a CD, I say to them, “How many Black people did you kill on that CD?” That gets their attention quick. Then we start a conscious discussion. Do we realize how many Blacks (niggas) get murdered everyday on your average blazing, hip hop and R&B station? To think that many of these stations and record labels are white-owned really makes it ugly considering our nation’s historical context.

I believe many of our young men are dumbing themselves down to fit the mold of what they believe a true, authentic Black man is – the kind that’s often presented in commercial rap. They may not go totally buck wild and anti-education (especially if a father’s in the home), but they may still dumb themselves down and perhaps get involved in negative activities that limit their growth and potential.

As I said, the problem is not hip hop. Probably 80 percent of the music I listen to today is hip hop. But I go on the internet and get underground, conscious, morally neutral and spiritual hip hop. My girls love hip hop – and hear plenty of it – but it’s positive stuff they hear, not the negative junk that gets most of the airplay on the radio.

Even old-school hip hop pioneers are speaking out against the overwhelmingly negative nature of popular hip hop today. I believe a large, unified group of strong, responsible Black men who appreciate and respect hip hop culture need to unite and take a national stand against the record labels and radio stations that refuse to play positive hip hop and insist on playing this minstrel music. I am certain that no other race of people in America would allow a form of music that degraded them and openly spoke of murdering their men to be blasted on the airwaves all day every day. We need to stand up, because many of our kids (and all kids) are getting the wrong impression about Blacks and Black life.

When I grew up listening to hip hop, there was nothing in the majority of the music that even hinted at anti-education. Heck, we had “The Educated Rapper” in UTFO, DMC talking about “after 12th grade I went straight to college,” KRS-One speaking down on brothas who weren’t “college material, and woke up every morning to their Lucky Charms cereal,” and of course, all the conscious groups I mentioned. Now, I personally feel that today’s popular hip hop is very anti-education, if not overtly then certainly in the images it presents. While that won’t derail all of our young folks from doing something productive and positive with their life, it can certainly influence a significant portion of them to underachieve, or worse.

No, I’m not saying hip hop is the source of the problem. It’s actually a symptom of the dysfunction in both White and Black America. But it is exacerbating the problem, and at some point, we have to take responsibility for things we can control. We have to stand up and refuse to be pawns in a game that’s harming the Black community.

Anthony Gilbert

This is a very tough question. I was given a good education, because my parents did not receive a good education. My mother saw the need for private school and college before I was even born. Now how do I pass that message on to the next generation…I first lead by example, in my everyday life and within my career field of journalism. Outside of that, I do donate my time and energy, as I lecture at various high schools, and colleges around the country. But the desire and ambition has to come from within, I can and will continue to lead the horse to the water, and I pray that they will drink!

Marcellus Wiley

Kids learn largely what they are shown and not told. So parents must stress in their own lives the importance of education, rather than preaching or chastising their kids to reach for a level that they are unwilling to travel as their companion upon. Parents need to put the remote control down and pick the book up for their kids. Every kid is impressionable, so they will follow their first role models lead, their mother and father. I think too much attention and blame is placed on the kids of today without criticizing the source and root of the problem, the unprepared, selfish parents of today. The parents who want their cake and eat it too. You don’t need a nuclear family to ensure your child is receiving proper values towards education. Basically, many kids have turned their backs on their parents because, “Talk is cheap”. In football and all sports, it always amazes me how many of my teammates children become great athletes, receiving athletic scholarships and other rewards for their talents. Those talents were a result of nature and nurture. The same is true with intellectual strength and education. Parents need to pass intelligence down to their kids and then nurture their habits to harness their genius. Remember, the fruit doesn’t fall to far from the tree!


I’ll tell a story instead of answering the question directly. A young man and I were friends; he was half-black/half-white. He had a chance to get a college basketball scholarship, but he couldn’t score high enough on the ACT to earn it. I myself did well on the ACT, and so I ended up tutoring him. At the time, I quite honestly wondered to myself if he might not be better off going to trade school instead of my helping him get a qualifying score to go to college and take Mickey Mouse courses for four years. Anyway, I helped him enough to get the min ACT and go to school. There, he fell in love with school and realized that if he worked hard enough, he could pass classes and make something of himself. It took him 6 years, but he’ll graduate with a degree in engineering soon.

Moral of the story? The kids can do it, but they need patience and opportunities. We need to make it easier for kids to go to school, and give them better guidance. We need to stress fundamentals like memorization while pushing upon them the need to take ownership of their own education. We need innovative classes where the kids can do their own projects instead of listening to a teacher drone on and on, and we need better trade schools so that the kids whose strength is in their hands, not in their heads, can still support a family. Oh, don’t even start me, I have more words on this topic, ha. I’ve seen too many smart kids (many of them white–I’m telling you, our edu. system is messed up) not go to college or do well in school just because the system was too hard for them to navigate or they had no school support.

For the record: I’m 100% white. My parents were immigrants to this country, loved it, but also taught me to question many of our culture’s assumptions and behaviors. So that’s why I’m so much a contrarian at times and feel comfortable hanging out at TSF, because some of the same problems they notice is what I’ve noticed. Overall, I’m not convinced that some of the same questions blacks struggle with aren’t the concerns of many minorities, and that there’s more common ground and potential support for TSF issues out there than you may think. I know that the uniqueness of the black experience in this country is another can of worms I should leave alone, but just throwing that out there.

Jordi Scubbings

I think all the discussion in the world is not going to get kids away from their PS3s or Xbox or Xiis. This importance, that English, math, and science must be learned and learned well, begins with the role models and direct influencers of those kids. Without putting too much pressure on them, kids need to understand that only with those skills can they succeed in an ever-growing, more competitive world. However, these skills need to be taught as to make better members of society – not soulless, competitive, cutthroat, capitalist clones.

Jacinta Howard

Actions speak louder than words. We need to show them through our actions. And that can’t happen if we’re at home dancing around to Soulja (notice the spelling of the name) Boy with our kids while he talks about throwing some D’s on his report card. Attend parent teacher days. Take your high schooler to visit some college campuses when he/she goes on spring break. Make your kids read during the summer. Buy them a journal. Do the times tables with them before desert. Teach them about educated black folk that have made contributions. Little things like that go a long way in terms of instilling the importance of education.

Vincent Goodwill

I think it starts with what our children see every day. We can use some of the visually appealing things, even the crap on BET, and put it to our advantage. “No, it’s not just the person performing on the stage, but there’s a director, a writer, an accountant, all behind the scenes.” I think as we push our children into athletics, we have to let them know there are others options, as well as the odds facing them from all sides. We have to prepare our children, for what the world is like and use what their passions are, no matter how trivial it may be on the surface, for their advantage and ours. I’m probably the youngest person commenting on this panel (23 years old) so I’m not that far removed from the process of childhood, what worked, what didn’t and who fell between the cracks. We have to point out the failures, the success, present positive examples, not perfect, but positive of people who achieve. Play to their emotions of capitalism (on a small scale) and respect from the masses (on a grand scale) and you can’t get those with an uncultivated or prepared mind.

Jemele Hill

Heck, it’s not just those three subjects. The question is how do we persuade our children to thirst for knowledge, period? History is our greatest teacher. I’m appalled by the number of people — black, white, red, brown, etc — that have very little grasp of what’s happened in the past. I am tickled by those who spout off what they know about black folks, but in the same breadth admit they don’t know about lynching, Civil Rights, slavery, or any of our struggles. Every time an issue of equality or respect pops up, I can count on getting a number of e-mails saying stupid things like, “how come nobody says black fraternities, sororities and colleges are reverse discrimination?” Or, “how come there isn’t a white version of the NAACP?” Sadly, most people don’t know why those things of important because they have no idea about the history of exclusion in this nation. And, I can’t just put this on white folks, either. Young, black kids, don’t know where they came from, have no idea about the rich history of HBCUs, etc. I just want America to take one, all-inclusive, history lesson. That would generate a ton of understanding.

Vincent Thomas

When I was a shorty, my Pops used to drive me around my hood, show me winos and bums and say things like, “See that dude? How old you think he is? 50? 55? Man, that dude is my age. He went to school with me. But the bum didn’t learn anything! That’s why he’s scuffling, looking like he’s ’bout to die! Keep coming in here with them Cs and 85s and you’ll be just like him!” Those were scare tactics. I guess they worked, somewhat. But as pre-teens and teens, it’s hard to understand how school is going to help you. Examples — both good and bad — are great tools…starting with parents, older-siblings and mentors’ examples. If the environment is conducive to and awarding of learning and achievement, kids have a better shot.

Ron Glover

My son is learning to put write words, tell time and do some addition problems at age 4. It’s fun for him now but I have to drive he point home that there is a reason for you to know these things. Mathematics is what drives the world, if you don’t know the simplest of mathematical terms you cannot survive in this world. You cannot produce or consume with out the use of numbers.

English is something that I loved as a kid, there is nothing greater than to hear the English language used in its proper form and have it all make sense to you. One of the things that I take pride in is the fact that I can sit down with the CEO of a company and speak with as much confidence as I would if I was hanging out with the guys on a Friday night. You have to know how to speak and what you’re speaking about. Be able to elaborate on a point, be ready to deal with a rebuttal, and have one ready yourself if need be. One regret that I have is that I didn’t join the debate team in high school, I think it would’ve better prepared me in some areas of communication.

Science is the study of life and is overlooked as a ho-hum subject. A friend of mine sends her son to science camp every summer he’s 10 and he loves it. She talks about how he’s not into sports that much but he loves science, I told her you may be raising someone that may cure Cancer or AIDS that’s huge. As much as I would love for my son to carry the rock for the Eagles, how can that compare to him discovering curing Cancer, becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning author or discovering another planet. It doesn’t – we have to realize what we missed in our development and not have it repeated in our children.

Dave Zirin

It’s easy to say that it starts at home. But when you have two parents working full time jobs, sometimes just getting dinner on the table is an effort (speaking from experience). Call this quaint, but it starts not at home, but at school. Unfortunately our public schools are in rough shape, despite thousands of committed teachers, parents, and administrators. We have to abolish No Child Left Behind. I write this as a former third grade teacher and a parent. Teaching to the test, and cutting funds if students don’t meet national test criteria, is a disastrous way to excite our young people about the prospects of learning. It kills the creative impulse, and what makes us human. We should all thank George W. Bush for his efforts to make all of us as stupid, uncreative, and mediocre. Maybe he was just lonely for someone to talk to.

Dan LeBatard

Good god, I have no idea where to even begin on this one. I’m not a parent. We talking white and black and Hispanic kids or just black kids? Who the hell am I to tell black people, or anyone, how to raise their children?

Diallo Tyson

It works on two fronts: setting expectations with the child. Making the knowledge of english, math, and science a part of the parents’ value system. The child has to know from an early age that this is something that is expected of them, and parents have to constantly reinforce constantly. Once a kid hits high school, it’s probably going to be too late. But if you get them early, and stay on them you could have success. You chances of success are increased when you practice what you preach. If a kid feels like a parent is just feeding them a line, it’s gonna go through one ear and out the other. Do the parents read the newspaper, speak proper grammar, read books, watch the Discovery channel, etc. If not, then the kid probably won’t value it.


4. We all know if there were persons of color in the noose cover shot decision making process, the art wouldn’t have been approved. Please explain passionately why there is a need for progressive Black ownership in journalism.


I’ll be weak here and toss out a link on a related topic. Basically, blacks bring a new perspective to journalism that whites usually will not. They are not as much a part of the mainstream culture because of the color of their skin. Thus, thoughtful blacks better understand the biases of mainstream culture, and that prevents them from falling into some of the traps that their white, mainstream peers do. However, it should be clear by now that it is not skin color alone that leads to diversity of thought, but also diversity of soul. Black ownership by itself is useless without it being progressive and willing to take unusual, controversial stands when the evidence supports that action.

Delinda Lombardo

If we’re speaking in general terms of journalism, whether it be about sports, celebrities, or the local church bake-off, we need writers who can connect with readers of all races, particularly the black community who’s news coverage is often times reported with a sense of racial bias. At other times, the racism is thinly veiled- for example- I recently saw an ad for a hotel chain (don’t remember which one) that showed several couples checking into various rooms. The White couple opened the doors to a beautiful Suite; the Asian couple got the Penthouse, and the African-American couple? A standard room. This type of adverting sends a powerful message to members of the Black community, and is particularly impressionable upon children (of all races). We need to protect the next generation from learning racism, and the only way to do that is to infuse the field of journalism with a steady and increased voice from all races.

Vincent Goodwill

I Believe that for many reasons, the mainstream media needs more voices, period. Diverse voices that not only dissent from what the majority says and believes, but gives people, all people, something more to think about than the status quo. It could be two-fold. We could have Bob Johnson running a sports news division and what would it represent? A lot of Jason Whitlock’s. So I think we need progressive ownership that realizes there’s more than one way to do things, more than one way to look at a scene. Progressive black ownership would not only give voices like Mike Tillery and Dave Zirin more exposure on an individual level, the people who don’t know how they would think when presented with other options would benefit greatly, which could result in wholesale change. Unfiltered voices, opinions without the threat of wondering who you work for could change the industry all around. The ESPN’s, the Fox Sports’ would all be forced to assess how they do things, what the expectations shouldn’t be on the writers. Imagine of Dr. King or Brother Malcolm never had a mic? Some things we would never know if access wasn’t there, if someone didn’t dictate that what these two were saying didn’t have substance and deserved to be heard, on some level, regardless of motivation.

Jacinta Howard

Without black ownership in journalism, there is no real black voice. It’s really that simple. We all know how powerful the media is and how much influence it has on us consciously and unconsciously. The lack of black ownership in the media is a huge issue– one that has been glossed over and ignored. The madness has to stop. Jet, Ebony, Upscale and Black Enterprise are the only prominent black owned magazines in the entire U.S. That’s sad. You want to talk about black people’s images in the media? Let’s have a real discussion about ownership– then maybe we’ll get somewhere. Anything less is nothing but rhetoric.

Anthony Gilbert

This question is an easy one to answer, this is something that I have been saying in all of my years in journalism. We as black people need to have ownership in all facets of the media, because if we do not control and write OUR stories then we have and will depend on what other people write and tell us about ourselves. The problem with that is we know our culture and people better than any other group, and things are often slanted against us or lost in translation. If we do not write our own stories, then someone else will. Throughout history that has happened and black people in America and around the world have been either omitted, or shown in an improper light.

Jordi Scubbings

People like to call the media the 4th estate of government. It is supposed to be the final check and balance on our government. And as the government is, in theory, supposed to be a representation of the people, so too should the media. There is no way a body of journalism can effectively claim to represent the people if there is a lack of any minority group involved. This is also important in sports journalism. In professions where a majority of those playing are minorities, shouldn’t it make sense that those that cover or discuss them be of the same race? It is easy to spout the company line when you have no attachment either to those you cover or your audience, but if the writer was more involved and had a higher stake in the subject or the result, as would happen with progressive Black ownership, then the writing becomes more passionate and people feel the words and the impact.

Chris Broussard

On one level, we need progressive Black ownership in journalism for the same reason we need progressive Black ownership in every other sector of society: so we can have some say in the future and destiny of our people. When you don’t own anything your future wellbeing (i.e. employment, image) is really in the hands of someone else.

In regards to journalism specifically, we need Black ownership so we can have a voice in the national/global dialogue. That will allow us to present our views from our perspective. While we in journalism of course, strive for the ideal of objectivity, in reality there is no complete objectivity. One’s personal views, background and experiences always enter into the picture. Well, mainstream America’s views, background and experiences are often at variance with those of Black America, so who’s telling the news of the day from our perspective?

I see this firsthand when I travel outside of America. The news in Europe, specifically the BBC, is much different than the news in America. The BBC does a much better job of covering the world than American news channels do. In regards to Africa specifically, I saw many positive pieces on what’s going on on the Continent. Really, they covered the Africans like they were human beings, reporting on both the positive and negative. Whereas in America, the overwhelming majority of what we read or see concerning Africa is famine, civil war/strife, disease, poverty and debauchery. That’s not the whole story by any stretch, and perhaps if we had stronger Black-owned media outlets, we could tell the whole story.

Dan Lebatard

Different voices. We need different voices in journalism. That starts up top, with a movement from people on high. Things gets so loud in this kind of discussion that people don’t make the delineation between race playing a factor and racism playing a factor. It isn’t overt racism that leads to that cover. It is an absence of black voices at the top of the power structure because white people tend to hire those who look, act, think like them. Not beause of racism, overt and ugly, I don’t think, but because of comfort and familiarity and laziness. Wayne Huizenga hires people with whom he has commonalities, just like the owner of BET does. But there is only one black owner in sports, right? So when all the school presidents and ADs and owners are white, white people are going to be the voice. And when so many of the publishing leaders are white, so too will be their employees. You go to a white boss’ house or wedding or funeral and I’m guessing you’ll see mostly white people. Same goes for black people, I’d imagine. That magazine’s mistake doesn’t change until that atmosphere does.

Alan Gray

It depends what you mean by progressive. I see many “progressives” whining, complaining, blaming and being negative. That has to stop. You can change almost anything if you work at it and you have a believable story and you get the ear of the people. Can you get a big enough audience? Can you give them a direction they can believe in? Can you treat them as individuals and not as a block.

ED is not caused by a lack of Viagra. Headaches are not caused by a lack of Tylenol.
When you have a headache, there is a reason – treat the cause. Black Ownership in journalism – what do you mean? Truth in Journalism or slanting speech to one side. What would black ownership do for you? Is that the right place to start? How do you overcome negative messages and project the positive?


“If the Lion could right, his tale would differ from the hunters.” Over standing that propaganda is the first tool to demonize and prepare a people for subjugation will help us to over stand the necessity for positive imagery, the positive symbolism of pride in knowing that our own can and do own shit, and that this is one avenue our community and children does see as a viable and legitimate career alternative.

Marcellus Wiley

There must a representative of color in power if there is to be a true reflection of honesty and integrity in covering Sports or any other forum of mass popularity. They are needed to decipher the “unspoken” language of the people that has been muted by authority or ignored by it, just the same. This helps alleviate senseless and useless antics such as the “noose” comment and its graphic cover.

Alex Reed

When there are few-to-none African-Americans with decision making power in journalism, it creates severe problems. Black people simply cannot be represented as accurately as they could be by someone who has minimal-to-none knowledge of the black community and black culture. Sure, there are exceptions here and there, but I doubt that people at the top of the journalistic food chain are sincerely worried about the plight of the black man. This leaves the reader (or viewer) short-changed. In a story centered around black people, both black and white audiences won’t get the story they could have gotten if someone representative of the black community would have included his or her input in the decision making process before the story came out. The danger with the white audience is that, for example, when the media beats to death stories about Michael Vick’s problems or Pacman Jones’ nights on the town, they promote the stereotypical notion that all young black men are thugs (with “thug” meaning you-know-what). Then you have the white kids grow up in this media climate and absorb this information that’s fed to them and… some of them will own T.V. stations or newspapers themselves, in the future. And the cycle will continue.

Stop Mike Lupica

You just did, in much less words than I would have! That’s exactly why the Black perspective is needed in journalism, in much higher quantities than you currently see. The sad fact is that those same people involved in the decision-making process that came to the conclusion that putting a noose on a magazine cover is totally fine would never have made that mistake with, say, a swatzika. Why? Simply put: “awareness”.

I might be too generous here, but I’m going to say that those guys that made that decision weren’t racist in their thought process. They were simply unforgivably ignorant. I’m not sure that better, and I’m not making that argument. But the latter is theoritically easier to fix. It simply involves getting more diverse perspectives involved in all levels of the journalism industry.

Signal 2 Noise

Progressive black ownership, hell, more integrated and/or non-white ownership in media is necessary for the very basic premise of different interpretations of historical context. So much of our history and our backstory in this country is written by the majority that it begins to define our writing and understanding processes. If there is someone in the editorial room to say, “Stop. Wait. Think about this for a second and what it means,” the conventional narratives can be broken. This is necessary in ALL levels of media where “conventional wisdom” dominates actual discourse in politics, sports, and art. We need to be able to write our own stories, with the context and point of view sorely missing and/or unsupported by the larger media.


5. Do you agree with Congress having hearings on steroids while our men and women die in Iraq?

Dan LeBatard

No. Its absurd and irresponsible. Never mind the war. Government shouldn’t be involved in this, period. Chasing around Dana Stubblefield and Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Marion Jones just because it is easy to be anti-steroids and get near the TV lights. It only adds to an already hysterical media and smears entertainment because it is easy. It is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in my journalistic lifetime. HGH? Seriously? It is OK for the governor of California to get his position and fame because of what this stuff did to his body, but our leaders our outraged by ballplayers using healers and seeking edges? Seriously? When any of us — and any of them — would have done the same thing if I offered them a fountain of youth that could add years and money and fun and happiness to their lives?

Vincent Thomas

Only if it’s to help kids. Congress responsibilities cover many things. Steroids are illegal and dangerous. If these hearings are proving helpful, in terms of information, then, by all means, interrogate away. Those dudes don’t do much work. There’s room for steroid inquiries, and much, much more. Earn your dough.

Diallo Tyson

They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Congress should be able to multi-task. As a potential public health concern, I see no problem with holding hearings. The problem arises when the hearing is, more or less, a dog and pony show with no intentions of getting to the heart of the matter. And of course we should be out of Iraq, but the Democrats put their balls in a Crown Royal bag and leave them on the nightstand every morning, before heading to Capitol Hill.
Dave Zirin

Ummmm…. No.

Signal 2 Noise

Congress has the right to hold hearings on steroids in any sport it has granted anti-trust exemptions to. The MLB made its own bed on this years ago. I think our representatives in both houses have better, more important things to be dealing with, though. Steroid hearings are Kabuki theatre on a sick, sad level — trot out the man whose son committed suicide due to steroids, wag a finger, extend the War on (Some) Drugs, which lawmakers cannot get enough of in the first place. I would be less cynical about PED hearings on Capitol Hill if Rep. Henry Waxman saw fit to invite scientists who would debate whether steroids, HGH, and other PEDs are useful and beneficial for certain athletes in the proper age range and under strict supervision. The panel that Bob Costas hosted earlier this month in NYC with WADA’s Dick Pound and Dr. Norman Fost should have been part of a Capitol Hill hearing. Otherwise, it is a grandstanding moment for congressmen and women who could not be bothered to get a staffer to edit their grammar in prepared statements or get the name of Rafael Palmiero right.

Jemele Hill

I don’t worry about professional athletes that take performance-enhancing drugs. I never have. I worry about impressionable youngsters who won’t have the benefits of trainers, agents and a medical staff monitoring their dosage. Some kid, somewhere, is wondering how he can get some hands on some HGH or steroids so that he/she may put themselves in line for a multi-millionaire contract. They won’t have the same monitoring system in place as a multi-million dollar athlete, and I worry they will be unable to make the proper decisions. Extraction from Iraq is going to take time, and there will be plenty of argument. Steroids and performance-enhancing drugs is something I believe Congress can impact in the short term. I’d like our soldiers home, but it’s naive to think that without a steroids probe they’d be home sooner.

Chris Broussard

I don’t think one has necessarily anything to do with the other. Just because there’s an unjust war being fought in Iraq doesn’t mean Congress should stop addressing other issues in American life. To my knowledge, abuse of steroids is very dangerous, especially to youngsters (who idolize and often emulate these athletes), so we must make an attempt to stop the rampant use of steroids. That doesn’t mean I support the war. I don’t. I’m just saying that we can’t ignore other important aspects of life while our troops are at war.

Walik Edwards

Considering no one cares about these dudes taking steroids, I mean, how many people have you heard that’s given up their favorite sport because a player on their team was on the “Snitchell Report?” This is a no-brainer, the loss of lives always comes before insignificant things happening in “games.” The onus is on the sports organizations themselves to govern themselves.

Jordi Scrubbings

This is a tough question for me, especially as a veteran. I firmly believe there is only so much Congress can do to affect the war in Iraq. You mention as men and women dying over there. But is that a direct result of Congressional lack of attention? I don’t believe so. What happens on a military mission is not the result of Congressional action or reaction. It is the result of the command to carry out the mission. If all the troops stayed in bunkers all day and all night, I doubt there would be any casualties. That said, all Congress can do is threaten to reduce the war budget. Unfortunately, this would probably lead to more deaths as the remaining troops would be even more outnumbered. Congress knows “bringing them home” is not an option at this point, so they have changed the subject. I do however, think discussion on education or poverty is a much more worthy subject than messing around with baseball.

Temple 3

What else do they have to do with their time? They’re not actually representing the American people. They’ve spent billions of dollars on a war that is more critical than people imagine, but have let infrastructure suffer. If you live in New Orleans or in Minneapolis, you know full well that Congress is a sham. They supported the gangster move of seizing Iraq’s oil. The US will be in that region for a long time. Unless Congress intends to forego its special role as protector of the national pastime, the steroid hearings would be on hold for at least a decade.


Loaded question much? ha. Until Congress also gets serious about the NFL steriod problem, the steroid hearings are worthless in my mind. But, I think that artificial enhancement is a topic Congress needs to consider now, before we’re all walking around with chips in our hands and making clones to harvest for body parts. Yes, I read too much Sci-Fi as a youngster, ha.

Ron Glover

This is the first time I’ve heard anyone even mention this, it doesn’t make sense to me either. This isn’t the first time Congress has placed the cart before the horse. But of course they’ll say that they’re doing the right thing and how dare we question the decisions they make. The fact that these young men and women are fighting a war that did not have to be makes me sick to my stomach.

Thug Life Army

I do not agree with most of the meetings that they waste their time and our money on. The war is an important thing true but this country is in decay and we are loosing young people at an alarming rate. The true condition of this country needs to be address before we concern our self with who did what in what sport. As the country falls apart the important things are being overlooked. It seems the government creates problems and then sits back and has a meeting on why there are problems. It seems like a bit of ‘job security’ for them. An example would be the three strike law. Then there is massive prison overcrowding and they need to find a solution for that. Well when a man can be locked down for life for stealing a pizza then maybe it is time to take another look at some of the laws they have come up with.

Vincent Goodwill

I would agree with it, if the coverage, if the focus all seemed to come from a genuine place. Yes, steroids are a problem among the youth, but that was never the focus to start with. If was a witch hunt on a couple characters for various reasons and a parade of something simple, something without real substance to make Congress look good on the surface, to take attention off Iraq and on to our national pastime. To take a stance on the war would mean they would have to risk admitting being wrong several years ago after 9/11, and they don’t want to do that. If the focus was really on teens of high school age, why no hearings on gang violence, the screwed up Public school systems in Inner-Cities, things that affect all students, not just one isolated segment. So, no, the rampant steroid use was only an added incentive, not the main or targeted focus. And the fact many of our brothers and sisters die every day is just a diversion, and Congress doesn’t wanna admit they have no answers concerning the war.

Stop Mike Lupica

I don’t agree with the steroid hearing in general. However, I don’t think that we should put the two in the same category. As much as I disagree with the Iraqi War (since day one), Congress is entitled/required to focus on other issues besides that one. It’s just that in my opinion, steroids in baseball is not one of the issues they should be focusing on. Especially while they are ignoring football completely. It’s both making an mountain out of a molehill for the purposes of grandstanding, all while being hypocritical and pandering to special interest groups!

MT: I know this was a very long read, but I wanted to give you all a sense of my everyday thoughts.

Like James Farmer Sr. said to his son James Jr. in The Great Debaters, “We do what we have to do to do what we want to do.”

I appreciate those who took the time to read this.

Thanks Scoop.

56 Responses to “Five Questions To Take Advantage of a Black Sense of Urgency”

  1. thebrotherreport Says:

    Beautifully done – We need one of these every month. Our guys Sankofa, Temple 3 and others did a great job. I hope this is something that opens up some eyes.

  2. Wow. Mizzo, you’ve just covered more important topics than both parties have in the presidential race! Because I’m a teacher in an urban district, I read most carefully your guests’ comments on education. I particularly agreed with Tracey, Chris B and Dave Zirin. There are so many important points to make, but to make just one, I would echo the above folks and say to parents, please please please, get involved and be an active participant in your child’s learning.

  3. “We should all thank George W. Bush for his efforts to make all of us as stupid, uncreative, and mediocre. Maybe he was just lonely for someone to talk to.”

    I knew a Bush reference was coming from that Socialist Zirin! Coming from the same guy who said Military Appreciation Nights are “vile,” well, I’m not surprised. Well done Zirin!

  4. Thanks brothas.

    C’mon Friedman. Be creative. You’ve said that before here 😉

  5. This is a great post Mizzo!

    Mark: I’m echoing your comments 2x! Parents need to be more involved in their child(ren)’s education. Does everyone know that February 11th is National African American Parent Involvement Day? It’s saddens me that we need to observe a day to get parents involved – but hopefully it will get some parents off their behinds and into the schools.

  6. It is amazing that Friedman could not drop his politics for one second to intelligently comment on the 3482 other points in this rich dialogue. DavidMac and Friedman often get lumped together on this board, but I don’t think that is accurate. They may often share the same politics, but I have never caught a Friedman post that wasn’t an adversarial stance. He fights simply for fighting sake, where on sparse occasion I have witnessed DMac engage in a discussion. Now sure, I may be splitting hairs here, but I thought it worth mentioning…

    But on to more important matters. This is a wonderfully rich and important dialogue and, mizzo, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in it. After reading so many other viewpoints (yeah, it took a while — but I read them all!), I found myself wanting to expound forever on 75 different topics. Everybody’s take on MLK; Temple dropping the history lessons; reaction to “Dark Symphony”, the Tiger discussion, everybody’s take on youth, Broussards multi-layered hip-hop post (in contrast the standard-fare we are used to)… there is enough for 10 separate discussions here…

  7. Mizzo,

    You have truly out done yourself with this one. First I want to thank everyone who took the time to answer your thought provoking questions. I truly enjoyed this piece. DZ, JH,CB,MW, wow! Sankofa and Temple 3, your guys really represented TSF well. Mizzo, the point was made as to why Tiger needed to respond. If you haven’t seen The Great Debaters please do so it was a great movie. Good to see my boy C-Webb raising money for Martin Luther Kings monument and good luck with the Warriors.
    If you have children, I suggest you sit them down and have them read this tonight. The children are our future and it is all of our responsibility to make sure they have the tools to be the best they can be. This was really a joy to read! Thanks again!

  8. To those writers who were too busy to respond to just one question, you should be ashamed. For this is truely the reason our society is in such a bad state. I guess talking about Brittany Spears or who Tony Romo is dating is more important.

  9. TSF, this is very good stuff and I appreciate the various perspectives your contributors dealt with, ranging from Dr. King, education to Eldrick.

  10. Tiger doesn’t care about the support of the black community. Jemele made some excellent points regarding Tiger. I agree with her 100% Tiger is bought, paid for and he only works for his master. I have to disagree with Dan L. It’s almost like the movie Soul Man when the white guys kept making racist jokes in front on the black guy,afterwards they would laugh and say they meant no offense. Many whites don’t seem to care about the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow. They think it’s ok to make such a joke and then say I didn’t mean any offense. Tiger first has to care about black people to be offended and he doesn’t. Don’t give me his foundation BS either. That’s a tax write off. Like Mizzo stated when has he stepped foot in the inner city to reach out to a young child in need of guidance? As far as I know never. He is not a role model. Men died for him to be in the position he currently holds. Yet he shows them no respect.

  11. clowntooth Says:

    Martin Luther King, Playboy Interview (with Alex Haley, 1965):
    ‘The essence of the Epistles of Paul is that Christians should rejoice at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believe. The projection of a social gospel, in my opinion, is the true witness of a Christian life. This is the meaning of the true ekklesia — the inner, spiritual church. The church once changed society. It was then a thermostat of society. But today I feel that too much of the church is merely a thermometer, which measures rather than molds popular opinion.’
    I’m hardly a Christian, but I find him convincing. In my opinion, his is the most relevant Christian voice.

    Frederick Douglass is also no joke: ‘Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference’…

    Yet I look to Malcolm X first in the immediacy of his demands for change, for justice.

    Justice has never been an easy fight, however you frame its terms — Christian, Muslim, consumer… The majority (whatever their color) will always turn to survival, to sameness, the pursuit of luxury, of illusion. Even education is becoming increasingly detached from economic realities — as the middle class’s position weakens and new technology and pragmatism take over, idealists can and will be left in the dust. Myself included. History for some is the Mickey Mantle baseball card. Honus Wagner. The first Star Wars. And this is serious. When the battle for knowledge is lost the battle for justice can’t begin to be fought. Don’t ever stop…

  12. So many points, good read.
    Things to think about.


  13. Dave Zirin I enjoyed all of your answers but your answer on the steroids question was classic. LOL!

  14. No, MODI, what’s amazing is that Dave “Military Appreciation Is Vile” Zirin could not leave his “politics” out of his answers. The man will not be happy until Hugo Chavez is running this country.

    My comment was in response to his comment re Bush, which I quoted above.

    Dave Zirin is scum. Period.

  15. Military Appreciation nights are vile and I’m personally tired of sitting through them. They could at least be honest about it and roll out some caskets…

  16. @Myles Brown

    How is rolling out caskets of fallen soldiers a sign of appreciation. You and people like you are what is wrong with America.

    There is nothing vile about supporting the troops and families, of those who put their lives on the line to make sure you have to freedoms that you enjoy in this country. There is nothing at all wrong with that and if you have a problem with that, shame on you.

  17. I was about to respond…

  18. Care to expound on your opinion, Myles?

  19. Sup Max Air? Bring yo ass back home bruh 😉

  20. clowntooth Says:

    why do we/should we defend our corrupt institutions?

    ‘Take the Army again: lay down as a basic principle the scientific fanaticism of its engineers, and their blindness; show all that is destroyed by such a pitiless rigour: human beings, couples. And then bring out the flag, save the army in the name of progress, hitch the greatness of the former to the triumph of the latter’ (R. Barthes, ‘Mythologies’)

    blind patriotism demonstrates an utter lack of imagination. not that america or any other damn country isn’t great in its way. be an iraqi and iraq is bloody great and no denying it. but what exists is not worthy of celebration simply by virtue of its existence. that’s why it’s necessary to DISCUSS martin luther king to this day — to learn and know for ourselves what he said, taught, lived and died for. then we can know for ourselves. it’s a little less clear cut with war than MLK, i’m afraid…

  21. The problem with the phrase “support the troops” is that it has come to mean ” support any military intervention that the United States happens to be involved in at the time, no matter how stupid, misguided, or unproductive it happens to be.” My brother in law is in the military, and he was furious with my wife and I that we would attend massive protest rallies against the war in Iraq. In his mind, we were not “supporting the troops.” I believe that protesting against “stupid, misguided and unproductive wars” is inherently patriotic, and the ultimate statement of supporting the troops. Dissent protects democracy.

  22. I like clowntooth’s point of view. He’s making some sense for real.

  23. A lot to digest. Man! and I thought “War & Peace” was long. Excellent read. I applaude you Mizzo for trying to make a difference in the way that you believe in. I applaude all those that responded, your ideas were insightful, honest, in some cases thought provoking. Thank you.

  24. With all due respect to brother Broussard, when hip hop was Black, it was out on the street and reviled and poor. As soon as hip hop moved from the streets, it’s production, marketing and distribution were controlled by whites. If by taking back hip hop we mean blasting it back to the BLACK STONE AGE so that we can retrofit its production, marketing and distribution, I would agree – however, I doubt that there is scarcely a single employee earning wages as a performer, producer, dancer, viddy-hoe, A&R, flunky, fool or coon willing to part with a single solitary dollar for the sake of an independent power move. Black hip hop is a “performance myth.”

  25. Michael Fisher, a former industry insider, has written what I consider to be one of the definitive pieces on this. Here’s the link…

    there are several other pieces on his blog – but I’d start here.

  26. Yo Mizzo I like the Boodock’s video it’s damn funny and real. A lot of people trying to jack the MLK legacy will do the exact same thing or worse. And I’m not talking about the none Africans.

    This is why MLK is not relevant to all but a few, because the man put some substance in his thought and action. Almost every body else on the, “I have a dream” trip out is full of shit!

    That too is part of the education of our children, if we don’t respect the giants by emulating their works how can we expect our children to respect anything we say or do?

  27. Temple3 and Sankofa,

    Thanks for your insight.


    Welcome back bro. Good to see you around these parts again. I think. LOL!

  28. I loved the poem by Melvin Tolson. Our children should know more about this man. Men and women like him stood for something. Have we become so consumed with making money that we fail to see the truth? Have we become punks in just a 30 yr time span? All I know is many of our children don’t know black history or don’t care to know. We have to change that now. Again, I applaud all the participants in this piece.

    Dan L. it’s ok. We know it’s not your place to tell people how to live. You are one of the few guys I still watch on ESPN.

  29. Temple,
    Thanks:) Great links, by the way. Nice to know I’ve got company in the wilderness.

  30. […] Bettis, Bill Russell & the Absurdity of Scapegoatism knicksdefense on Best Wishes to Michael WilbonFive Questions To Take Advantage of a Black Sense of Urgency « The Starting Five on The RELEVANT Dr. Martin Luther King: Part 1 – Vietnam or Iraq?Okori on Thin Line Between Love […]

  31. “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today–my own government.” (Dr. King’s quote spotlighted by Dave Zirin)

    This is exactly what LastPoet, KevDog and not a few other folks have been trying to COMMUNICATE to some of our esteemed sports writers and moralizers around the sphere.

    Folks who carry the banner of social responsibility (while in the employ of purveyors of anti-Black agendas) should consider these words as they profess their love for all things MLK. If he figured this out in 1967, don’t YOU think it’s time to shut the door on this. It’s been 40 years. SNAP OUT OF IT.

  32. Mizzo…this is as comprehensive a piece as one will find anywhere in the sphere on any topic. Thank you for raising the questions and providing the forum. You’re my MVP in 2008.

  33. gyangstah Says:

    Mizzo. This is one of the best and most important reads I’ve done in a long time. I feel guilty that I have been found wanting in my knowledge of self, but I challenged today and feel I need to improve on that, not just for myself but for the sake of children.

    Thanks for the information and for all the responders for your perspectives.

  34. This is great, and we need to do this more often. We have to continue to work together!

  35. I second that gyangstah. This was absolutely the right topic at the right time.

  36. I’m really pleased to see how many of us readers tried to read every word, good stuff. There were so many good replies, this easily could have been 5 posts (one for each question). Thanks for letting me participate, Mizzo!

  37. You guys have to stick together. I love this website. The community here is very unique. I even welcome Friedman. LOL! We are all important regardless of color or financial status. All cultures should be celebrated.
    We need to give our Native American brothers and sisters some shine. Hopefully Mizzo can interview folks from that culture. His interviews are great.

    I enjoy reading your articles and I’m happy you are a part of TSF family.

  38. thebrotherreport Says:

    Thanks Michelle I’m happy to be here.

    I have something really special lined up for tomorrow, I hope you enjoy it.

  39. Great job brotha Mizzo………great job.

    I also agree with what sista michelle just said, except the whole Friedman thing….LOL!!!!!!

  40. TBR,

    Your welcome. I’ll be looking forward to your piece.


    What’s up! Love your post to bro. I may reget my words about Friedman LOL!

  41. I love the picture of Chris Webber speaking to the child. Our children need to see more of this. Thanks Mizzo! I’m tired of the MSM putting the spotlight on athletes that don’t work in the community but try to paint guys like Webber who has done a lot in the hood as a bad guy. He has a foundation but he has always been seen the communities that he has played in. With his african american collection touring schools and telling kids about their true history and their potential to be anything they want to be.

  42. I have to find the pic of Chris signing either the child’s shirt or a hat.

  43. In case you guys didn’t know, John Edwards drooped out of the race for the democratic nomination for president. Now it’s just Hill and Obama. This should be good….

  44. OOPS! dropped out.

  45. Mizzo,

    Please find it.

  46. Argh! This campaign is bringing ALL the nuts out of their caves. They are so afraid of Obama that we get this lynching image from a Ron Paul supporter:

  47. […] Read Thoth’s View on the Fusicology’s Blog and 5 Questions To Take Advantage of a Black Sense of Urgency on The Starting Five […]

  48. Ron Paul apparently has quite a racist history.

  49. Ron Paul isn’t a racist and his history clearly shows that. If you are talking about the newsletters, it has already been established those views aren’t shared by him those were written by someone else.

  50. Awesome job guys. Just awesome. The plurality and sophistication of the arguements here was enlightening to say the least.

    Keep up the good work. I’ve strongly disagreed with some of what gets posted here and yet I keep coming back (mostly as a lurker) because whether I agree or not, these viewpoints need to be heard.

    Thanks MT, or Mizzo (same person?) or whomever else put this together. AND PLEASE, keep it coming.

  51. Thanks to everyone for the comments. I’m humbled by the response.

  52. Mizzo,

    Thanks for having me as a part of this. My only wish is that I had more time to answer. As I’m sure others would agree, I could talk or write for hours on some of these subjects. Ever since I emailed you my answers I have been looking forward to reading what everyone else said. Well done, my friend. Whenever you want to do this again, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks again.

  53. mlk has been dead for 40 years. and i’m sure hip hop and sports wasn’t what that guy had in mind. time to get your people’s asses in line.
    hey temple3, if you want hip hop back, please take it. it’s wretched and boring. time for those hip hoppys to pick up a book and take an english class. christ, cosby’s been saying this for awhile. also, temple3, if it wasn’t for whites taking control of the hip hop industry and marketing, your little rappers wouldn’t be buying luxury cars with a 4th graders education. go ahead, pat yourselves on the back. whatever makes you folks feel like you’re actually acomplishing something.

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