by Chris Stevenson
The head-slap didn’t go away after all, players just moved it from the turf to the carpets of their homes. Or as in one case to the elevator of a casino. The TMZ (9/8/14) video footage of Ray Rice formerly of the Baltimore Ravens will be looked upon as the breaking point, the case that changed things for all NFL domestic abuse situations. And it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, the league didn’t want anything to happen at all. But now they have no other choice.
If only they took the head-trauma (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) of their former players that seriously instead of just waiting for them to die off, maybe a lot of domestic problems would have been solved. The case of Rice seems to be a bit of a departure, both sides are responsible for what took place last February 15. I cannot stress more strongly the role Janay’s actions play in that horrible elevator incident, she is not just the victim. She is a co-perpetrator. I’m probably the first journalist you ever seen make such a statement in this case, but this begs being called down the middle.
The NFL is a $250 billion dollar industry that believes in accountability until it’s time to become accountable, or until you find out differently. This is pretty much how they have approached most of their off-the-field issues, brain-injuries, suicides, drugs, and now domestic abuse. It should go without saying that most of these matters are inter-related.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said back in September that he “got it wrong,” he forgot to add ‘now that you know.’ During the footage shown last summer of then-Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice dragging his unconscious then-fiancee Janay out of an elevator last Feb., everything was fine, so long as we couldn’t see what transpired that lead up to that point. Once the inside footage was released by mid-September, well… after further review, Rice’ meager little 2-game suspension now becomes indefinite. Outrage went viral, as it should have.
ESPN even suspended Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons for 3 weeks because he called Goodell a “liar” in an angry outburst he did on podcast. Grantland is a website owned by ESPN, Of course they know better, understand their letters really mean Enable Star Players’ Negative-Behavior. A 10/2 USA Today report reveals that since 2006 law enforcement has “pursued 50 domestic abuse cases against NFL players.” Welcome to the ITFL, the Ike Turner Football League. A league featuring a history of abusive players that go decades back, most visibly back to the days of OJ Simpson (‘89). After those 50 players were arrested in ‘07 Goodell stated “it is my job-not law enforcement’s job-to protect the National Football League.” Was this an arrogant swipe toward law enforcement for arresting so many of his boys?
Back in those days police officers would drive up to the home of a current or ex-NFL player, stare his black-eyed wife in the eye, and then ask him for an autograph. Those were the good ole’ days to Goodell most likely. Goodell did come out with a personal conduct policy, one with harsh measures against drugs, DWI, etc., but considerably light punishment towards players guilty of domestic abuse. Soon after the ‘07 arrests came the ‘08 rape allegations against Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the league and the fans would become more put-off by Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring, than a player’s amoral treatment of women. He would eventually be charged, convicted and forced to do hard-time in a league that openly pitched it’s product to a nation where killing dogs isn’t just normal, but a requirement (China)
Three days after Goodell’s new domestic violence policy, yet another Ray was hit with felony domestic violence charges; Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers. Other recent offenders include Jonathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals, Greg Hardy and Quincy Enunwa of the New York Jets, A.J. Jefferson and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson and Dwyer’s cases are particularly troubling because of their alleged treatment of children. Wikipedia summed it up best: “On September 12, 2014, Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges, and subsequently deactivated for Minnesota’s week-2 game against the New England Patriots. Amid child abuse allegations, on September 15, the Vikings reinstated Peterson and he was scheduled to play against the New Orleans Saints. Then, on September 17, Peterson was placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which requires that Peterson “remain away from all team activities… Photos posted onTMZ.com revealed his 4-year-old son’s legs with slash-like wounds. The prosecution in the case alleges that Peterson used a tree branch to beat his young son repeatedly on his back, buttocks, genitals, ankles, and legs.”
As of this writing Peterson cut a deal of no-contest to reckless assault of his son. In return he will not go to jail but will do community service (80 hours) and pay back some of the salary he was still receiving from the Vikings during his suspension.
Peterson is one of a long line of young parents trying to use old-style disciplinarian corporal punishment and simply does not know how to do it. What the above quote describes is by no means a spanking, not when you leave cuts and bruises going so far to even damage the genital area. From the standpoint of someone who probably holds the family record for spankings, I can say my parents never broke skin. They knew what they were doing. If you think Peterson is bad, Dwyer assaulted his 18-month-old along with the child’s mother.
A major part of the problem is between the players who balled while I was growing up, and the ones playing now. In between was a rising number of NFL players from broken homes, or raised by just their mothers. Knowing how to act around the opposite sex in a relationship, much less how to raise children is virtually an impossible dream with too many of them. But that’s the circumstance most of the players listed come from. Ordinary everyday situations seem to baffle many a single mom’s black boys nowadays, just compound that with the general spoiled treatment and attitude that goes with being an athlete. By the time he becomes a man, it’s like he’s a mutated man, a walking non-political sleeper-cell quick to hold grudges. Most of them are loud-talking, but not outspoken. What you are essentially getting is male-nagging due to the inability to adjust to “he looked at me” or “she left me.” The only persona he’s seen cope with this is his mother. So though not gay or effeminate, he still takes on much of her mannerism.
The domestic abuse cases I lumped together under the name of the late-famous co-founder of rock & roll, pop and r&b Ike Turner due to his brutal treatment of women-most notably then-wife Tina Turner-have already been a part of 767 NFL arrests tracked by a sportswriter. USA Today’s Brent Schrotenboer started his own database. Of course this type of behavior is not just exclusive to pro football. I recall writing roughly 20-years ago about goalie Mark Fitzpatrick of the then expansion-Florida Panthers mistook his 8-months-pregnant wife for a puck and began assaulting her. Then there was Krzysztof Oliwa, the NHLs ex-goon beat up his wife with a hockey stick years ago. Reportedly he broke her nose and some of her ribs. Even today the NHL has similar examples of domestic violence as the NFL, including a case where a player knocked his girlfriend unconscious. In 2013 Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche also faced charges of 2nd degree kidnapping of Evgenia Vavinyuk (then-24), along with knocking her out Varlamov was accused of stomping, kicking, and dragging her around the house. In time his misdemeanor assault charge was dropped.
Why aren’t news of these hockey players as common knowledge as the NFL players? If you just go by headlines and national exposure it looks like the leagues with the highest percentage of black players have the most domestic abuse cases, and the whitest league (NHL) has the most civilized husbands/boyfriends. One statistic even seems to support this; of the four major professional team sports leagues, the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL from January of 2010 to September 2014, the NFL and NBA take the lead with the highest arrest rates. Their numbers are reached by dividing each year’s arrest by the number of players and multiplied by 100,000, NFL 2,466, NBA 2,157 MLB 553, NHL 175. Given hockey’s well publicized reputation for fights during games, are we to believe these players all become Prince Charming at home? What is not widely-known is the NHL has a culture of no arrests, and no suspensions and the national sports media has obviously not been anxious to focus on them the same as they have with the NFL. I’m not saying these incidents happen more than with the NFL, I’m saying the amount of spousal abuse is much higher than their low arrest percentage reveals. Sports no longer seems important in the face of such tragic behavior.
The NHL has been watching the handling of Ray Rice and other suspensions and began suspending players as well. One recent ruling may be considered a step back, McDonald, a defensive end has been and will continue playing. As of 11/10 the Santa Clara DA’s office decided not to file charges, stating “we cannot prove a crime occurred” in spite of “visible injuries” to a woman believed to be his fiance noted on a police report. Emphasis seem to be on him being “cooperative” with police. Is that all it takes in these situations, or do the 49ers have some kind of invisible arrangement going on between them and their local PD? It looks like somebody fumbled the ball. If we are going back to the days of 2000 when the general attitude was ‘we can’t be bothered, Ray’s got a football game to play,’ then we are still getting it wrong. That “No More” campaign needs to include ‘No More Backdoor Deals.’
As for Ray Rice he is going through a grievance hearing he filed against the Ravens on October 21. TMZ just ran a report stating Rice will be interviewed by Matt Lauer of the “Today” show between now and the 11/26. Part of Rice’ contention is the September 8 video footage does not include actions by Janay that led up to him hitting her. I don’t approve of what Rice did, but there is always the possibility of two sides to a story, especially in today’s reality TV-era of crazy young women. It may be Janay was just acting out on what she was trained to do. I jokingly call it the Ike Turner Football League, but these are Ike’s with muscles and professional training, in other words strength and endurance. Most of their women are not Tina Turners; athletically built trained female performers. While how a female is built is no justification for physical abuse either, Janay’s petite figure provides no protection from any blows from Ray.
Given that football is a violent game, things still didn’t have to be as bad as they are now. If the NFL made honest efforts at examining, diagnosing and treating head injuries and swiftly disciplining players in domestic abuse cases the game would be much safer and still exciting to watch. But the league has demonstrated for decades it was never interested in player’s health.
Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentator, and a contributor to the Hampton Institute, his own blog www.thebuffalobullet.com, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice for clbTV & Follow his Blogtalkradio interviews on 36OOseconds. Respond to him on the comment link below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Karima Amin
Several years ago at one of our monthly meetings, we screened the film “Prison Song,” a 2001 film, produced by B.E.T. (Black Entertainment Television), starring Mary J. Blige (R&B diva) and Q-Tip (rapper from “A Tribe Called Quest). Upon viewing, our follow-up discussion centered upon the factors that promoted juvenile incarceration, and by extension, mass incarceration. The film’s prologue states these undeniable facts that have only been exacerbated over the years:
·7 million children have a parent in prison or jail or recently released on probation or parole;
·Black children are 46 times more likely than whites to be sentenced to juvenile prison;
·4.6 million Black men out of a voting population of 10.4 million have lost their voting rights due to felony convictions;
·Newborn Black males have greater than 1 in 4 chance of going to prison during their lifetimes.
Although this film is not a classic and may not receive a 5-star rating from everyone, it does a very good job of describing a community that is struggling with multiple social ills on a daily basis. Miseducation, weak community relations, poor health care, inadequate youth intervention, disrespectful and inhumane community policing, drug abuse and a criminal justice system that ignores the fact that victim and offender my both be victims.
Our most recent meetings have viewed Restorative Justice as an “umbrella theme,” directly and/or indirectly related to community policing, reintegration following incarceration, and community building. Since BaBa and I have had the opportunity to train core teams at various community spaces, I thought it would be interesting to view this film again now that Restorative Justice and Restorative Justice practices have been introduced. The dysfunction and sadness depicted in “Prison Song” might have been avoided if the community had been strengthened through peace circles and community conferencing, leading to community empowerment. In this film, locking up people is the ultimate solution to everything. The main characters are institutionalized in the mental hospital, juvenile detention, the group home, and finally, the state prison. This film offers a clear description of what can go wrong when criminalization trumps restoration.
PLEASE NOTE: This film is rated R for violence and language.
Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 24, 2014 from 7:00 – 9:00pm at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo. This is our final meeting for 2014. We will reconvene on January 26, 2015. Happy Holidays!
MORE INFO: Visit our website- www.prp2.org for more information about Restorative Justice. Go to the “Brother BaBa Speaks” page. Also contact us via e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. Like us on Facebook. This program is supported by The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of BaBa Eng.
“God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.” (Anonymous)
by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
For those of you who thought that New York had somehow changed its stripes and become more open, positive, tolerant and sophisticated, now that Bill deBlasio is Mayor, and the first lady is Black, guess again. It’s as much a police state now as it was under Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Case in point is this not so hidden vendetta against my sister/friend and colleague Rachel Noerdlinger. One of the most positive, organized, professional women on the planet – Rachel has proven herself in the field over and over again – however, the NYPD have made her a target of their considerable lopsided vengeance because she has a boyfriend who has a particular gripe against them – one they probably deserve by the way – and have made her the target for removal.
They’ve piled up bogus evidence that is supposed to show that she is not competent – parking tickets, back taxes, etc – what they really show is like many of us, prior to coming into this position, Rachel was “broke.” It happens to most Black people in the New York City area who have been routinely underpaid and overcharged for everything. None of that has anything to do with Rachel’s professionalism. Nor does any opinion that her boyfriend have. In point of fact, this being a society of free speech, she can hardly be held responsible for his opinions.
The interesting thing is this is a new form of transparency – it’s is crystal clear that the NYPD are harassing Rachel. It’s also crystal clear that Black women need to be much more vocal and supportive and demonstrative about backing her up. The “minor” infraction of “trespassing” launched against her son Khari, is clearly the NYPD showing her that they can get her or her family and that they are perfectly willing to make her life a living hell. The arresting officer should be penalized for even having brought the young man in, and demoted or desk-dutied to show that these kinds of actions will not be tolerated.
First lady Chirlane McCray should definitely not allow her to take an unpaid leave of absence, but make sure she has all she needs while she reorders her life; and make sure that she is allowed to return as her chief of staff – after all she’s done nothing wrong and has performed admirably in this position. It’s up to both the Mayor and First Lady to nip this in the bud and take a stand against the machinations of the NYPD to make NYC a police state. The NYPD is full of officers who have committed egregious acts against humanity who have gotten nothing more than a slap on the wrist, a desk job, and a PAID LEAVE of absence while things are being worked out. Rachel deserves as much consideration, and even more respect.
Commissioner Bratton, who said he would be a different kind of commissioner this time around, needs to get his boys in blue in check. Or step down and let someone who is more competent and capable do so. It’s unprofessional on the part of New York’s Finest to behave as though they were thugs, not put here to “protect and serve.”
While the National Action Network (NAN) is understandably dealing with other pressing issues, there definitely needs to be some serious attention paid to what is happening to Rachel Noerdlinger, so they can stop any further incursions to prevent her from doing her job in the fine, professional manner that she’s always done. While rallying for the brothers and sisters in Ferguson is of the utmost importance, so is the rally for Rachel Noerdlinger – one who has worked for and among the organization for years. Charity and action begins at home.
In the face of outrageous attitudes and behaviors totally unbefitting the cultural capital of the world, New York City needs to get a grip and get it together, and get RACHEL NOERDLINGER BACK ON THE JOB – post haste.
Stay Blessed &
bullet Columnist Gloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com
They won because they resisted their normal urge to sound like a hate-group or cult
by Chris Stevenson
“The average whitey, all he wants to do is drink his beer and watch his football. They don’t want the country run by the religious right.”- Walter (last name withheld for his protection. lol), an old friend of mine made this statement 20-years-ago just before the ‘94 midterm elections.
Don’t get me wrong, they were still divisive, they still tried their hand at marginalizing President Obama’s accomplishments, they still refuse to officially acknowledge the legitimacy of universal healthcare. But we all knew they were on a mission, you could feel it. The key thing to remember about the 2014 republican campaign is they were like Bud Lite; less venom, more organized. To millions of voters out there that tasted just great.
Another reason for the right’s resounding victory was the complacency of the left, particularly it’s most dominant faction, the black left. People were hinting at how black democrats didn’t fully understand the importance of the midterms because ‘it wasn’t like the Presidential Election or anything.’ The point that the midterm elections have a more than direct bearing on the President never seemed to gain steam. Fear of black officials is based on fear of the end of white policies.
A dispute has already arisen at a White House lunch between the Obama Administration and the “newly empowered Republicans” over immigration Friday (11/7). You want to know the truth? President Obama made a lot of white males feel impotent for 6 years just by merely sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office, add his policies along with it and you’ve got a national political erectile dysfunction among them. Much more tolerable to them would be a white male president with a hotel-list of either adulterous affairs or political convention spying.
The last presidential election and previous midterm were abysmal failures mainly because republicans let the so-called Tea Party influence and lead them. The GOP knew that in order to win in 2014 they would have to swallow even more pride than they were forced to in 2008, ‘10, and ‘12. But they did it. Some of the victors were the black republicans they ran. Swallowed pride. You know good and well most of them want nothing to do with black anything, yet and still there were three major victories by black republicans including one who is also a Mormon from Utah AND Haitian American, Mia Love. How’s that for Voodoo? I thought the white right was still mad at the Haitians for clobbering and purging their European ancestors in 1804. Desperate times, desperate measures. I wonder what that babbling-baboon Pat Robertson is saying about Love’s victory? In Texas Will Hurd-a former CIA officer-is now a congressman, and Tim Scott of South Carolina was elected to the same Senate he was appointed to in 2012. Scott became the 7th African American elected to the US Senate. There you have it, 2 southern states and Utah have black political firsts.
In Washington Mitch McConnell is the new majority leader. As tough and stubborn as he’s known to be, now that he’s in expect his promises to repeal Obamacare to go the way of previous republican claims before elections. While there were some Tea Party victories, they have just backed quieter more pragmatic sounding candidates. Some of you may have missed the kooky candidates who owned unscrupulous corporations that gutted their own subsidiaries from state-to-state leaving hundreds of their own workers unemployed even though the company wasn’t losing money, what about the lady who thought Africa was a country? What, did any of you miss the lecherous pizza man with the 999 plan? No no no, republicans looked themselves in the mirror and knew they couldn’t cart out these clowns anymore. Especially in the era of the Ferguson uprisings, the GOP finally learned to gauge the climate and adjust their sensitivity to it. How unlike before when these people were even scaring a lot of white voters who were busy trying to ram their theory that “racism is over” down the throats of black democrats.
Behind McConnell is a group of republicans talking people’s issues instead of rich people’s issues. Rob Maness of LA talked about black unemployment, Nathan Deal discussed reducing the number of blacks in jail. In front of McConnell may be the real reason for his sudden willingness to work with Obama, his days as majority leader may be short-lived. He may be at the tip of a tidal-wave of press coverage he won’t be able to filibuster; the new reports about the Ping May, a cargo ship owned by his wife’s family the Chao’s that is certain to cause some chaos. In late October during the final days of his campaign Colombian inspectors boarded the vessel and discovered 90 lbs of cocaine. Not to mention Florida congressman Trey Radel who was recently busted for cocaine possession in October shortly after signing a law requiring food stamp recipients to take a urine test in September. Talk about Limbaugh-level hypocrisy, yet none of these extremist consider how most of the nation have been forced to put up with them.
What Walter said in the quote above this column seemed highly questionable after the ‘94 midterm election of “Angry White Males,” this years midterm was won by angry white voters. Mitt Romney tested the waters to the limit as to how much the country is ready to be run by the religious right 2-years-ago, and failed to stay afloat. While this latest victory is important, in no way does it mean the GOP will win in 2016. They put all their eggs in one basket for this one, and to them it was worth it just to say “no” to Obama with even more power than before. Because the next big election will be the presidential one, blacks and dems will be more on point in their return to the voting booths. And unless republicans plan to make “Cocaine” their theme song in the next presidential election they got some closet cleaning to do before they come marching out talking about law and order, drug tests, and family values.
Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentator, and a contributor to the Hampton Institute, his own blog www.thebuffalobullet.com, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice for clbTV & Follow his Blogtalkradio interviews on 36OOseconds. Respond to him on the comment link below or email email@example.com.
Who is Blacker: Smart Afro-Americans or dumbass-Niggas?
by Playthell Benjamin
In the aftermath of the sudden release of highly-touted wide receiver Percy Harvin from the world champion Seattle Seahawks football team, we hear some black members of the Seahawks think that their superstar quarterback who led them to a Super Bowl victory last year “ain’t black enough.” This charge was first reported by Mike Freeman, an Afro-American sports writer who does not name names but who is considered a reliable source by his peers in the sports writing fraternity such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, two of the best in the business. A clearly frustrated Stephen A made a heroic effort to explain how and why some misguided black players could make such an embarrassingly stupid comment on his daily TV show co-hosted with Bayless; First Take.
Alas, Stephen A is a sports reporter and thus his comments, although valid, suffered from an inadequate knowledge of history and sociology which a thorough understanding of this question demands. He is certainly right when he attributes anti-Wilson animosity partially to the jealousy felt by players who do not enjoy the adulation that is heaped on Wilson by the press, fans and management; which is a result of how Wilson carries himself on and off the field. He is not only hands down the best player on that super talented team he is also the most impressive personality, displaying an embarrassment of riches in intelligence, eloquence and old school elegance of style and manner.
When I was playing high school football in the 1950’s a guy like Russell Wilson would have been roundly revered by me and my team mates; he is everything that we would have wanted a black star athlete to be, especially a quarterback! The rap on black men back then was that we were not smart enough to play quarterback because of the rapid analysis and cool decision-making under pressure the position required. Hence a feeling of intense pride in Russell would have been universal!
This begs the rather obvious question: What happened over the last 50 years that radically changed the values of a considerable segment of black America so that the ignorant, inarticulate, blinged-out brute is now preferable to an elegant, articulate, gentleman from a great Afro-American family like Russell Wilson. Obviously an in-depth exegesis on this question is beyond the scope of a single essay – and also the attention span of the Facebook generation who are accustomed to reading brief, semiliterate, graffiti – hence I shall venture a capsule explanation that will at least identify the major elements of the problem.
Reduced to its lowest terms we can sum up the problem as a consequence of the collapse of the nuclear family structure that left far too many poorly educated, poverty stricken, single mothers to raise their sons with little or no involvement from their fathers – who are often ignorant, impoverished teenagers who know as much about parenting as a mule knows about playing the fiddle. Then there was the great Civil Rights revolution that destroyed the de-jure caste system and the racially restrictive housing covenants that was a fundamental feature of the apartheid system in America and forced Afro-Americans of all classes to reside in the same neighborhoods.
This development dramatically exacerbated the class divide in the black community by freeing middle and upper class Afro-Americans to live wherever their incomes could afford, and opened up myriad opportunities to the educated and talented beyond the black community, which they were no longer confined by law and custom to serving exclusively. Hence the caliber of community leadership I grew up under no longer existed when the present generation of young Afro-Americans came of age.
Alas, the class of men and women who set the high standards we were expected to achieve and the institutions molded by their vision and values – black church, schools, nuclear family, coaches, etc – which shaped the character of Russell Wilson, Jackie Robinson, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, myself, and legions of other upstanding black men was gone by the time many of today’s athletes came of age. Hence instead of listening to the wise counsel of black fathers, teachers, coaches and preachers, they took their notions of Manhood from Tupac, Biggie, Lil Wayne, Master P. Sleezy E. Schooly D, Too Live Crew, Fitty Cents, and the like. The result is both obvious and horrifying.
For instance, my generation was taught to aim for the stars and always put our best face forward when in public because we were representing our race, whether we chose to or not that was how it was. This instruction was accompanied by the admonishment to “never cut the fool in public” because it served to confirm the worse racist slander about us, which would surely be used to justify our oppression, and under no circumstances call another Afro-American a “nigger” in public! It is obvious that many young Afro-Americans were never taught these things by anyone: not their parents, teachers or church. That these young people were failed by these basic institutions, and thus the socialization process by which a culture indoctrinates their children with its most cherished values, was distorted and thwarted.
Alas, these failures do much explain why some of the present generation of black players in the NFL is presently fighting for the right to call themselves “niggas” on one of the largest stages in the world after the NFL banned its use and is levying penalties and fines at violators. And some black players with the Miami Dolphins franchise sided with a white racist bully and borderline criminal Richie Incognito against Afro-American player Johnathan Martin, a well-spoken Stanford Grad with highly educated parents like Russell Wilson, because they said Incognito was “blacker” and “more of a brother” than Martin. And thus, in their considered opinion, it’s cool for Incognito to call them “niggers.”
Well, I don’t argue with people who proudly announce that they are niggas, since I cannot be more royal than the king, so I have only to say that they are some of the dumbest niggas the Gods ever blew the breath of life in! The question for the black community is which model of manhood we want for our young men: Russell Wilson and Johnathon Martin, or Tupac, Lil Wayne, fitty Cents and their thugged-out “niggas? Who would you rather have for a son or son-in-law?
And compliments about what good businessmen they are is no argument in favor of their values; for some of the richest businessmen in the world are criminals! It does not require a mastermind to figure out that you cannot build a healthy, life enhancing, society based upon thug values. As Dr. DuBois pointed out over a century ago, “If you just teach people to make money you will produce money makers but not men.” Civilization is about something far different and much more, and that is what is at stake here.
The nature of athletic talent is such that, like all of “God’s” gifts, it is spread out among every segment of the population. Hence we get some highly educated athletes and more than a few muscle heads who know little else besides sports. However due to the incredible amount of time and hard work even the most gifted athletes must invest in a sport in order to succeed on the professional level, we find more players from lower and middle income backgrounds than the scions of the plutocrats. This is the natural result of young men from the privileged classes having many more avenues to success and thus don’t have to gamble on something as fragile and elusive as a career in professional sports.
This partially explains why in the sports of football and basketball, which attract the largest audiences and generate big dollars, the majority of the players are Afro-American. It is also due to physical gifts that are tailor made for these sports, and the dedicated work ethic of hundreds of thousands of talented young men who view these sports as their ticket out of poverty and into the great American dream of incredible wealth and celebrity – a dramatic transition in life style that literally happens overnight.
Alas, a lifetime of preparation and anticipation for success in professional sports does nothing to prepare young men from impoverished backgrounds to handle this new life of sudden affluence. And strangely enough most colleges don’t offer courses or guidance counseling on how to handle the next stage of their lives. That’s why so many of them cut the fool, squander their money, and wind up at the end of their athletic careers scuffling to try and maintain some semblance of the lifestyle they enjoyed during their playing years.
Since many of these players did not receive the education promised to them by the colleges they attended, which would have mitigated some of the deficits of their class backgrounds, many leave college with the same essential values they entered them. They came from neighborhoods where education and good manners were not valued; a sub-culture where poverty and ignorance is the norm, out of wedlock births are common fare and most people value toughness over intelligence. And they bring their “Hood Rat” values with them into the world of professional sports.
Having grown up in the kind of urban wastelands described by Dr. William Julius Wilson in his path breaking sociological studies – “The Truly Disadvantaged” and “When Work Disappears”- where the presence of strong, loving, intelligent fathers are absent from the majority of homes, these young men have to figure out how to be a man on their own, or seek the counsel of other fatherless, clueless, peers.
For many of these young men that now fill the rosters of professional football teams those peers were rappers like Tupac Shakur, a young man who was so confused about the meaning of manhood that even fame and wealth could not prevent him from self-destructing. Yet Tupac still inspires a group of devotees among black and Hispanic males that approaches the status of reverence for a guru or demi-God who spoke some divine truth. For an analysis of how Tupac Shukur’s thug life philosophy helped put former New England Patriot star tight end Aaron Hernandez behind bars possibly for the rest of his life for committing multiple murders read “Thug Life” on this blog.
The same self-destructive tendencies, although far less dangerous to the rest of society, can be clearly seen in former basketball great Allen Iverson – who refused to grow up and shed his B-Boy demeanor even after he became a big star and had millions in the bank, or Mike Tyson, who squandered 250 million dollars before he was thirty! Lacking education and thus the rich internal life and moral compass it provides, these young men make a fetish of money in the false belief that it can bring instant and permanent gratification. Hence they are solely concerned with making a living rather than making a life. Alas, they do not seem to even recognize that there is a difference between the two even when they can sense there is something missing in their lives.
The great prize-fighter Floyd Mayweather is an excellent example of this. One need only watch the numerous You Tube videos that provide us unprecedented access to his lifestyle outside the ring. One gets the impression that he is trying to make up for all of the deprivations that he suffered as a child, which he provides in harrowing detail in numerous recollections, as he showers himself in expensive toys and pretty girls far beyond what a mature well-balanced grown up would need to feel real. One gets the impression that everybody around him is on payroll, paid flunkies not real friends, and the thoughtful observer must ask what would Floyd be without the money and bling?
Hence among this crowd of rich-but-spiritually impoverished and psychologically-wounded young celebrities, material affluence is their measure of a man; education holds such a low priority that Floyd’s former ace-boon-coon “Fitty Cents” says that Floyd can’t read! Fitty even challenged him in an online video to publicly read a page from a Harry Potter book, after which Fitty pledged to give $750, 000 to any charity designated by Floyd! Despite the opportunity to give a gift of three quarters of a million dollars to say, The National Negro College Fund, Floyd, who has given himself the sobriquet “Money” Mayweather, refused the challenge and responds to his critics by flashing stacks of dollar bills of large denominations and announcing that he is worth “500 million liquid!”
It does not seem to occur to Mayweather that the reason so many celebrities go from rags to riches to rags is because they were not smart enough to manage their money and keep track of it. And in any case, what kind of example is that to set for his children… whom from every indication he loves dearly. What does it say to them about the value of getting an education? With a role model like him how are they to come to the understanding that in making a great life – as opposed to a merely a good living – education, not material possessions, is the most valuable thing one can acquire.
The idea that having money is an adequate substitute for an absence of intelligence is a fairly recent phenomenon in the Afro-American community. When I was growing up acquiring a great education was at the top of the black community’s value system. Hence the eloquent well-educated Jackie Robinson was the preferred role model for most Afro-American parents over the uneducated Willie Mays who spoke with a “country Bama” accent, or the mumbling Heavy-Weight Joe Louis, despite their great admiration for him as a pugilist and a man. However there was a big difference between Joe Louis, Willie Mays and many of today’s young black athletes: They did not celebrate lumpen values like “thug life.” In their day people who flaunted rolls of cash money were hustlers who were dismissed by people with real money as “nigger rich,” a joke. Today we have a new and bizarre phenomenon: really rich Afro-Americans who behave like Niggas!
The old school Afro-Americans and Athletes presented themselves in style and manners as gentlemen and responsible citizens that their fellow Afro-Americans could take pride in. They would have been shocked and scandalized by rich and famous young black men choosing street thugs as their role models! Even the vicious boxer Sonny Liston – who unlike the Hip Hop play-play gangstas had been a real thug that had formerly been an enforcer for the St. Louis mob – wanted no part of the thug image after he became World Heavy-Weight Champion. And he said as much in an interview with Ebony Magazine, where he pointed out that he was a married man with a daughter and he wanted her to feel proud of him.
The reverence for education in the black southern community I grew up in had deep roots in our history. Reports of former slaves flocking to any school that was available to them in the aftermath of slavery during the 1860’s are common fare in the accounts of educators from the period. Frederick Douglass considered education so important that he risked death in order to learn to read when he was a slave, and once he escaped slavery and gained a measure of freedom he became one of the best spoken and accomplished writers in America: and he achieved this on his own!
Describing the aftermath of Civil war and Emancipation Dr. W. E. B. DuBois tells us in his masterpiece Black Reconstruction, “A whole race went to school.” Dr. DuBois considered education so critical to the freedom and development of Afro-Americans that he called for the development of a highly educated “Talented Tenth” to arise and lead the masses of Afro-Americans away from “the worst in their own and other races.” This advice was taken to heart and the leaders of the black community who answered the call to uplift the race took charge of the black community, filled its pulpits and ran its schools all preached the value of education!
One of the virtues of education was to impart values that would serve help to advance one in a racist society that portrayed Afro-Americans in the organs of popular culture as fools and buffoons; a tradition that reached its apotheosis in the wildly popular blackface minstrel shows. Hence one was to present oneself in public as well spoken and well dressed – elegance complimenting eloquence. And these values took deep root.
Indeed Frederick Douglass had set the standard; as a man who spent his life as an advocate for oppressed black people in America, during and after slavery, he had an acute understanding of the importance of public perception of the race. In fact he considered it so important in the struggle for equality in American society that he mastered the art of oratory and became arguably the best dressed man in America! And he enlisted the practitioners of the budding art of photography to splash his image all over the public arena, by some estimates he was the most photographed man in 19th century America. (See: Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” on this blog.)
Thus it is no surprise when we behold the elegant style and eloquent speech of Duke Ellington, who bewitched audiences around the world and hobnobbed with royalty in places where few white Americans would have been admitted. And in so doing he enhanced the stature of black people around the world by the power and dignity of his presentation of himself and his great orchestra, whose music was an extension of his style and personality.
People came from all over the world to hear his concerts. I had the good fortune to attend a party at Dukes place one evening after a big concert at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, and the variety of people there was fascinating. They represented several races and included artists of various stripes, assorted intellectuals and European Aristocrats; since I regarded my presence there as an event of historic importance to me, I of course wrote an account of the affair. (See: “An Evening with Edward Kennedy Ellington,” on this blog.) In Ellington’s day all Americans danced, dined and made love to his poignant musical portraits celebrating the grace and beauty of Afro-American women such as: Sophisticated Lady, Satin Doll, Black and Tan Fantasy, etc.
Today these celebrations of black women have been replaced by the notorious “bitches and hos” of HIP Hop fame, which is the only music many young black males listen to and now defines them around the world. And it is the portrait of black American culture and character that they are referring to in deciding who is really black, “A FOR REAL NIGGA!” Anyone who cannot recognize that that this development represents a decadent and dangerous trend in Afro-American popular culture, a precipitous decline in taste and judgment, is a part of the problem. The extent of the problem was driven home to me when I was seated next to a young black man on a bus trip through the South where I informally interviewed people about their reactions to the recent election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States.
When I put the question to the young brother, he sat there looking like a clown with his baseball cap cocked at an angle where it was hard to see if he was coming or going from a distance. “Well that’s cool old school,” he said, “but Barack just ain’t street enough.” My first impulse was to slap his cap straight and then drop some science on his silly ass, but I decided to just school the kid instead. I told him that the only thing the “streets” could prepare him for is to be a rapper, go to jail or the graveyard. By the time I got through he was so embarrassed he got off the bus at the next stop. Tis a pity that there is no wise older man in the life of these boys to help clarify their confusions and put them on the right track, because the values they hold will lead them to self-destruct even after they achieve their goals of wealth and fame.
Most black football players know but little about the history of Afro-Americans in the game of football and display even less interest in finding out – a natural consequence of having slept through or cut history classes – hence they do not know that the first Afro-American greats in the game of football were Ivy League graduates. (See: “On Race Culture and Sports” on this blog) Perhaps the greatest of these early footballers was Paul Robeson, who tutored his white Rutgers classmates in Greek and Latin while starring in four sports and graduating Valedictorian of the class! Upon graduation Paul played in the first professional football league formed in the US, where he teamed up with Fritz Pollard – an Afro-American graduate of Brown University and the first “duel threat” quarterback in professional football – and they went undefeated.
However racism and financial problems prompted Robeson to go back to school and earn a law degree from Columbia University, but he soon abandoned a racist legal profession and went on to become a world renowned concert singer performing the sacred songs of our enslaved ancestors – that beautiful body of music Dr. DuBois called “The Sorrow Songs” as well as one an accomplished Shakespearean actor who performed in the US and Europe, breaking all records for a Shakespeare play on Broadway. One wonders what the black football players who say Russell Wilson ain’t black enough would think of a man like Paul Robeson.
This question goes to the heart of the matter and the cultural state of black America can be gauged by it. It is more than reasonable to suspect that the people who think Russell “ain’t black enough” would surely have felt the same way about Paul. When asked about the comment Russell said “I don’t know what they are talking about,” and neither would Paul Robeson, whose father had escaped from slavery, acquired a college degree, and personally taught him Greek and Latin.
Well, rumor has it that the comment questioning Russell’s Black Quotient came from running back Marshawn Lynch; which would be easily understandable because aside from football Russ and Marshawn have nothing in common but skin color, and since Russ is tan and Lynch is darker one is tempted to conclude that’s what Lynch was referring to. But I think not. Considering the context I am convinced that he was mainly talking about Russell’s style and manner, his values and aspirations. If that’s the case, would to God that he was referring to a pigmentocracy where blackness was graded on a scale of light and dark, a reversal of the old “paper bag” and “blow hair syndromes,” for we have survived color schisms in the past, but cultural and moral decadence will destroy us.
The greatest danger to the survival of black males in America is not white racists, and that includes those who wear police uniforms; rather it is the growing inculcation of a vision of manhood defined by the ability to coldly afflict violence on an adversary who is almost always black like them, and show no remorse. This value system is embedded in a popular culture which celebrates ignorance and bad taste as if they were virtues. The evidence is abundant; you can hear it on countless rap records that celebrate “Thug Life,” and witness it in the tragic self-destructive behavior of confused young men like Aron Hernandez. Those who argue otherwise are either charlatans, fools, or the human equivalent of ostriches that refuse to pull their head out of their ass and take a good look at what is really going on. For instance, much fuss is made over the “Stop and Frisk” policy initiated by former Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, it is widely portrayed by black community activist and the white liberal/ left as a sinister racist plot against young black men.
Since I grew up in the apartheid South during the 1940’s and 50’s I know how white racist mayors react to blacks murdering blacks: They didn’t give a shit!!! They wouldn’t even dispatch an extra squad car to stop it let alone spend millions of city dollars on a Stop and Frisk operation! Since most of the people who are speaking the loudest in this debate make their arguments without the benefit of historical perspective they lack any basis for comparative analysis, and their arguments suffer because of it. I have consistently argued that this point of view is transparent nonsense that avoids the main issue: The havoc inflicted on the black community by armed black criminals committing murder and mayhem 24/7!
In comparison to those wounded and killed from black criminals, the number of black men killed by white police appears to be few and far between. Furthermore we can control the behavior of the police just by adding body cameras and changing the rules of engagement – All of these issues are thoughtfully discussed and statistically demonstrated in several essays on the subject See: “Mend it Don’t End It” on this blog – but how to turn our youths away from a seductive popular culture that romanticizes lumpen criminal behavior and makes it the standard for black authenticity is a far more perplexing problem.
Furthermore, the highly publicized violent antics of the niggas which the world can see on You Tube – check out the links below to videos showing armed young black criminals brandishing their assault weapons, which are illegal for police to carry, and bragging about the havoc they are wreaking on the black community just for the thrill of it – causes white Americans to side with the police when unarmed black men are murdered by the police. Hence this criminal class has put law abiding young black men in a double bind: caught in crossfire between the cops and the robbers. If we do not soon come up with a solution, these self-destructive tendencies will destroy far more young black people than white racist violence in the 20th century ever did!
Already the numbers of black men killing black men has greatly exceeded the number of black men killed by white racist violence during the height of the lynching phenomenon, the most intense period of white on black violence in American history – 1880 to 1915. Since I have given the numbers in previous essays published on this blog I shan’t belabor the issue here, but if you really wish to understand the period to which I am referring read “The Negro in American Life and History: The Nadir” by the outstanding Afro-American historian Rayford Logan. It would be an enlightening experience to read this book, it will change your views about American society and race relations, but trust me, I’m right on the figures!
These are sad facts indeed, but to shirk our duty to confront them honestly and seriously is to betray both an ancestral imperative to continue the struggle to uplift the race, and the first law of nature: The instinct for self-preservation. It is instructive to note that African descendants elsewhere in the American diaspora have virtually disappeared after having played a vital role in the history and culture of the nation. The story of Afro-Argentinians is the most poignant case in point. During the 19th century when the nation was constantly at war Argentina sent forth it’s “Black Legions” composed of conscripted Afro-Argentinian men who were either fighting to escape slavery or prison, and they were slaughtered in vast numbers.
The black women were forced to marry men of other races because available black men become so scarce. The government encouraged large scale immigration of Italian men and encouraged them to take black women. Hence by the 20th century a popular slogan arose in the Argentine: “There are no blacks in Argentina.” The strongest evidence of the once prominent presence is the national music they gave the nation: The Tango. To read about this intriguing and tragic story see: “Tango: A History of the Dance of Love,” by Dr. Robert Farris Thompson, Professor of Art History and Dean of African Civilization at Yale, and “The Negro in Argentina,” University of Florida Press. Also see the section on Argentina in Professor Henry Louis Gates’s PBS series “Black in Latin America.”
While it is nearly impossible to imagine the physical disappearance of Afro-Americans, who have also fought in all of our nation’s wars and left an indelible print on American culture, it is quite possible to envision a scenario in which a large segment of black men become obsolete in a knowledge-based economy based on a Darwinian ethic that is red of tooth and claw and only the fit will survive. One could convincingly argue that we are well into the beginning stages of such an economy.
Hence in a predatory privately owned corporate-dominated economy that prizes intelligence, competence and good interpersonal skills young black men whose characters are formed by a lumpen culture that prizes antithetical values are doomed to a life of unemployment and jail, unless life is prematurely ended in the grave yard. Already there are far more young black men in jail than in college, and what is worse it is a badge of honor for many of them!
Hall of Fame basketball star Charles Barkley, from whom I have rarely heard an intelligent comment unrelated to sports, was moved to speak out on the reason why some black players on the Sea Hawks might not think Russell Wilson is black enough during a recent radio interview. Although Barkley greatly overgeneralizes when speaking of the black community’s failings, albeit he does make some attempt to correct it, he speaks frankly to white radio host Anthony Garano, who was thoroughly puzzled by why any black player would hate on Russell Wilson.
“Young black kids, when they do well in school the loser kids tell them ‘you are acting white.’ The kids who speak intelligently they tell them ‘you are acting white.’ So it’s a dirty dark secret in the black community and one of the reasons that we are never going to be successful as a whole because of other black people. For some reason we are brainwashed to believe that if you are not a thug or an idiot you are not black enough! If you go to school, speak intelligently and not break the law you are not a good black person. It’s a dirty dark secret in the black community Anthony. We are the only race or ethnic group who tell people if you don’t have street cred, that means you have been arrested, like that’s a compliment. We are the only ethnic group who says ‘hey, if you been to jail it gives you street cred.”
Of course, Charles Barkely is not very deep in his analysis, but he knows some self-destructive shit when he sees it. As of this writing Barkley’s interview has nearly a half million hits on You Tube, and over 700 comments. Since this is such a painful discussion for self-respecting, law abiding, educated, successful Afro-Americans to hear it is predictable that Barkley would be attacked as a “sell-out” and “Tom.” But even if this is true as a general proposition – and I offer no opinion on that account since I do not follow his affairs closely – what Barkley is saying here has the ring of truth regarding an increasingly large portion of Afro-American youths. I do not have exact statistics on this but I know that whatever the actual percentage is it is far too large!
Not all of the respondents disagreed with Barkley. Of course the white racist loved it because it confirmed all of their racist “fakelore” about black people – as the great writer and cultural critic Albert Murray calls it in his masterpiece “The Omni-Americans” – which no doubt compelled some black listeners to attack him, but others thought he was just telling it like it is. A Ms. Tosh, who is visually black, responded:
“I agree with Charles Barkley 100% and I never liked this man before until now!!! He is absolutely right and for those Blacks on here who are saying that he’s a coon and denying that the Black community have dark secrets, then you never listened to what this gentleman said. It is a fact that there are far too many Blacks who belittle other Blacks if they speak intelligently, obtain a college degree, own a business, get married, don’t have any kids, and didn’t go to prison. If you are not pro-hair hats, then you’re labeled a sellout or an uppity Black b***h who think that she’s better than the rest. I have personally witnessed this far too many times with these mentally-enslaved Blacks, all of what Charles is stating. The #1 enemy for Black people are BLACK people. The #2 enemy of Black people are White people. The #3 enemy for Black people is stupidity. #1 and #3 are me being redundant. I apologize for the redundancy”
One of the tell-tale clues as to who is authentically black among this swelling lumpen crowd is that they do not speak standard English, and they dress like rappers because evidently no one they trust has managed to convince them that the only people who can make a living dressed like that is rappers! And as that Hip Hop head in the White House, Chilly B. Knowledge, done told them: “We can’t all be Lil Wayne!” You can look around any black community and find them easily enough, they seem to be everywhere. And they, in the hearts and minds of too many black youths, are the “real black people.” “These niggas keep it real!” Unlike squares like Obama, these niggas got “Street Cred.” It is an absurd and self-destructive philosophy of life.
Based on these standards it does not require more than a casual glance at the Seattle Seahawks football team to see who is the “realest nigga on the squad,” and it ain’t Russ, who is the antithesis of all that. Wilson comes from several generations of highly educated successful professional Afro-Americans. He was born and raised in Richmond Virginia, the home of the late great Tennis champion and eminent sports historian Arthur Ashe, who was no doubt one of Russell’s role models.
Arthur Ashe is the only black person whose statue reposes on the Avenue of Heroes in down town Richmond Virginia, the former capital of the slaveholding Confederacy, right alongside all of the generals and leaders of the Confederate States of America, those beloved southerners who committed treason against the USA in order to keep black Americans in the chains of slavedom.
Ashe’s statue is unique as a sports monument because he has a tennis racket in one hand and a book in the other. It symbolizes what Ashe believed about black youths and sports. After completing a three volume history of Afro-American athletes, Arthur was asked how he would sum up what he had learned from all of his research during an appearance on a national television show: “I would advise black youths to spend most of their time studying their books because they are going to outrun and out jump everybody else anyway.”
There are many examples of this but Paul Robeson is the quintessential example. The personification of the Greek ideal of mind/body perfection he was a star at Baseball, basketball, track and football and was still elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. John Wideman, an All-American basketball player at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, where he won a much coveted Benjamin Franklin Scholarship which was awarded on a statewide basis and paid all of his expenses.
Wideman turned down a chance to play professional basketball in favor of a Rhodes Fellowship that provided an opportunity to do graduate study at Oxford. Wideman has since gone on to become one of the greatest 20th century American writers, whose works have inspired an international community of scholars that have devoted their academic careers to the critical study and teaching of his many works. It is officially known as “The John Wideman Society.”
Paul Robeson however played for a brief period in the first professional football league on a team quarterbacked by Fritz Pollard – an Afro-American and Brown graduate who was also a college All-American like Robeson. They went undefeated!!!! Then Robeson left the gridiron and took a degree from Columbia Law School. After briefly practicing law Robeson became a world renowned concert singer and Shakespearian actor whose performances of Othello on Broadway broke all attendance records. And he accomplished all of this in an openly racist world where racial discrimination was legal; which is why he became a militant activist who fought racism and oppression all over the world! He is one of the greatest black men in history! Yet I would venture a guess that those ignorant black hood rats who are hatin on Russ never heard of Robeson, and based on the criteria by which Russell Wilson has been judged by them Big Paul wasn’t “black enough” either.
The magnitude of this problem and the danger it represents to the survival and progress of black America ought to be clear to every reader by now. Russell Wilson: great athlete in two sports, record setting quarterback of the Super Bowl Champions, graduated from college in three years, eloquent, charming, elegant of style, upstanding citizen, ideal role model for ALL American youths – especially black males – who want to succeed at anything in life because his values and approach to life will work in any field: simply the best the country has to offer!
Like his homie Arthur Ashe -a soft spoken military officer, gentleman and scholar who also happened to be a world champion athlete – I am certain that Russ, who intends to follow his deceased father and hero into the legal profession, will continue to be a credit to Afro-Americans just as his family has been for generations. But he is spurned by some black team mates as a phony because he has no “street cred” and is therefore: not “black enough.”
Yet all the arbiters of niggerism agree that Marshawn Lynch is “A FOR REAL NIGGER.” And just what, pray-tell, are Mr. Lynch’s qualifications for this honorific? Well from all appearances he is certainly inarticulate and fairly empty headed, in fact he seems terrified whenever a microphone is put in his face for comment. On the face of it we can see that he is squandering opportunities to use his football stardom off the field, which will become very important after his playing days are over, which could be with the next hit since he is a running back.
In fact his style of attack is such that it will almost guarantee a relatively short career. He will not last 1ast 16 years like Walter Peyton, let alone 20 years like the great Jerry Rice. This is partially the reason why the Sea Hawks are reluctant to give him the big contract he is asking for and based on past performance apparently deserves. But I believe that his attitude and character also has much to do with management’s decision.
Although Lynch is notoriously silent with the media, we are provided some revealing glances into his personality and character in several videos where he unintentionally opens himself up to scrutiny. One of these is the video “Hooker Boy Filmz Presents Marshan Lynch,” where he is seen strolling through the streets of Oakland and Settle Washington with his homies while rappers shout in the background “Beast Mode Bitch! All my Niggas yelling Marshan Lynch!” If we had any doubts about his fascination with the “Thug Life” this video leaves no doubt. At one point in the beginning of the film he talks about how he hosts a football camp for the kids in Oakland on a weekend during the summer, however the next minute we see him shouting “you bitch!” at a woman driving by in a SUV because she wouldn’t stop for the great Marshan Lynch.
Since every other word out of their mouths is a curse one wonders what sort of values they will teach kids in a football camp. When he talks about his camp the focus is all about identifying pro-football prospects and putting them on the road to the NFL, with college being a short stop to better prepare for a career in the pros. But what if they don’t make it, what then? His a very different philosophy from that of Doug Williams, a gracious southern gentleman who was the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl and then went on to coach his Alma Mater Grambling state. Williams says he does not recruit his players with a promise that they will go to the NFL, because he is far more interested in players concentrating on getting a college degree, because if they have the talent the NFL will find them.
The white folks who approach him to pay respects seem both awed and a little scared. After all, he happily goes by the nick name “Beast Mode” and plays like a wild beast smashing into opponents and grinding them into the dust with his powerful physique. He is scary enough on the football field but in a chance encounter on the street in his thugged-out rapper gear he can be… well, frightening. And it shows on the faces of his white well-wishers. The few comments uttered by Lynch in barely audible grunts reveal a simple minded man child and borderline thug. Going to college helped to prepare him to play professional football, but certainly didn’t do much to polish up his rough edges. We must demand more from our colleges in the education of the athletes who make millions of dollars for their schools.
Unlike Russell, who graduated from college in three years, “Beast Mode” quit the University after three years and turned pro. Normally I would consider this a smart decision, but Marshawn does not seem to have received the education that a great school like Cal could offer. In fact he gives me the impression that he would probably be locked up doing from now until if it weren’t for football. Marshawn Lynch is everything Russell Wilson isn’t! I believe that is the true source of his hatred for Wilson, Jealousy growing out of feelings of personal inadequacy, the same syndrome Charles Barkley describes.
It appears to be pretty much a foregone conclusion that Lynch’s days in Seattle are numbered. He is seen on the Hooker Boy film threatening to leave Seattle if he does not get the money he wants. I am certain if the front office views this film it will hasten his departure. The Sea Hawks know that they have a golden boy in Russell Wilson; he seems almost too good to be true. He will be the face of their franchise for many years to come – a great player, solid citizen, movie star handsome, and fan favorite – while Lynch will become a faded memory.
However the problems revealed by this imbroglio remain, and coming up with a viable solution to it is the challenge that now faces the leadership of the Afro-American community. I am not blaming Afro-American leaders for this situation; the people who have not properly parented their children must bear most of the blame. Yet even when they do their best parents can’t guarantee that their children will find meaningful – or any work –at a living wage. This is a problem that confronts the working class – white and blue collar wage workers – across the board as millions of manufacturing jobs are transferred overseas through globalization, and millions of jobs are eliminated through robotization.
These are the questions our community should be concentrating on with our working class allies from all quarters, but Afro-Americans must first solve the problem of neutralizing and reversing the nihilistic trend among the black lumpen element whose sub-culture celebrates ignorance hedonism and violence, while trashing intelligence, discipline, and even good manners. It is way past time to put the lumpen element back in their place and not allow their values to replace the traditional values of black America which prized those things that would uplift the race: Industry, honesty, study, love of family, church fellowship and trying to be the best at whatever you do. These are the values that helped me stay on course despite the trials and tribulations of being a black man in the openly racist American society of my youth.
They are the rocks on which we as a people stood in the most trying periods of our history, and oh what mighty rocks they are! Let us measure our blackness by these tried and true standards that have stood the test of time, not the nihilistic antics of self-destructive clowns who emerged from the projects spouting semi-literate rhymes with various degrees of artistry and mesmerized listeners around the world. For white middle class fans in the suburbs listening to these rhythmic rhymes was a sonic excursion into a strange forbidden menagerie populated by exotic others, but for far too many young blacks it was “the truth.”
However some young black men who grew up in the hood around thug life rose above their environment through setting high goals for themselves and working like hell to achieve them. Richard Sherman is an excellent case in point. Although he grew up in the heart of the hood in LA, he became a serious student –athlete who graduated from Stanford, one of the world’s most prestigious universities where he was a star on the football team. Now he is the most feared and highly paid corner backs in the cornerbacks in the NFL. After a playoff win last year that put them one game away from the Super Bowl he engaged in a bit of animated trash talking with a San Francisco wide receiver that almost caught the winning touchdown and it was caught on the microphone of a reporter.
White racist and paternalists of all sorts tried to label him a LA gangbanger, but he was having no part of the “thug” image that Marshawn Lynch wears so proudly that when he heard Percy Harvin had been cut he tweeted “They cut my nigga!” And he threatened not to play in the coming game. On the other hand Sherman quietly pointed out that he had grown up around thugs and knew them well and that he was nothing like a thug, that he was a Stanford grad, a great athlete and a law abiding tax paying citizen with no criminal record. Of course he is a big supporter of Russell Wilson, whom he regards as a great quarterback and fine person…which he is. It is clear by his personal style, intelligence and easy eloquence that Sherman like Russell Wilson is headed for great things off the field and after football is but a memory.
Recognizing the injustice done to this young man by his white critics in the press, many of the same scoundrels who tried to paint he and Michelle as “angry blacks who hate white people,” President Obama invited Sherm to the annual White House Correspondents Dinner and used his much maligned rhetoric in his comic routine, calling Sherman out by name and asking him if he was doing it right. And when he invited the Seahawks to the white house to honor the team for winning the Superbowl he singled Sherman out to Sherman with a special recognition of his accomplishments.
“I joke about Richard Sherman,” the President said, “but he grew up in Compton amid some wonderful people, but also gangs and drugs and guns. His dad had to wake up before 4 a.m. every day to drive a garbage truck. But because of his dad’s hard work and his family, and his mom, Richard ended up earning a 4.2 GPA in high school. He won a scholarship to Stanford. (Applause.) He showed kids from his neighborhood that they could make it. And if he seems a little brash, it’s because you’ve got to have attitude sometimes if you are going to overcome some of this adversity. And the fact that he still goes back to inspire high-schoolers for higher goals and making better choices, that’s all-star behavior.”
It was a great moment for Sherman and all black men in America who are trying to make their mark in some worthwhile endeavor. As the often insightful Afro-America comedian Chris rock aptly pointed out: “Everything black people build niggas try to fuck it up!” Hence Black Americans must make a clear choice as to what model of man we want our son sand sons in laws to be: smart upstanding productive black/Afro-American men, or destructive dumbass “niggas?” To be or not to be: That is the only question!
Benjamin is a veteran political journalist out of Harlem NY. His essays can be read on his blog site Commentaries on the Times.
by Charles M. Blow
The Republicans proved Tuesday that the establishment still knows how to win.
They fielded stronger candidates. They had few gaffes and little going off script. Extreme views were couched in softer language or played down altogether.
Candidates adopted a faux rustic aura, like a strip mall Olive Garden. The campaigns were savvy in their simplicity: anti-Obama, anti-Washington. Republicans damaged the Obama brand as best they could, then attached all Democratic candidates to it.
As the Weekly Standard reported last week:
“According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), Republicans ran nearly 12,000 anti-Obamacare ads in Senate races during the week of October 13-19. That’s almost twice as many ads as they ran on jobs/unemployment, more than twice as many as they ran on international affairs, and more than three times as many as they ran on taxes. In fact, it’s more than they ran on jobs/unemployment, taxes, and social issues combined. It’s also more than they ran on jobs/unemployment and immigration combined.”
Over the same period, but to a far lesser degree, Democrats focused more on issues like education, Social Security, prescription drugs and social issues.
And outside money played a large part in it. As Nicholas Confessore reported in The New York Times, “All told, Republican outside groups spent about $205 million on television advertising, according to a Democrat tracking media purchases, while Democratic groups spent $132 million,” and “the political network overseen by the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch appeared to be the largest overall source of outside television spending on behalf of Republicans.”
The nearly dimwitted, Goober-esque affectations came together with an ocean of dark money in a midterm where the map and the math already favored them to give Democrats a drubbing.
It didn’t help that the Republican strategy pushed Democrats so far back on their heels that they never found enough footing to trumpet their own successes. Many were so busy running away from an association with the president that they never got around to running on Democratic principle.
This was a huge mistake. When someone from your party occupies the White House, you are shackled to them no matter what you say. Better to move together than chop off your own leg trying to free yourself.
Now the president has to determine if there is common ground to be found with a newly ascendant Republican legislature, and Republicans have to determine if they want to squander their victory on vengeance and if they can quash their own internal civil war.
One could certainly make the argument that the president, with an eye toward legacy and posterity, would want to find some areas of compromise, possibly on tax and energy policies. Part of a presidency is judged by which major bills are passed during it, and the present obstructionist do-nothing Congress has certainly hampered the Obama presidency in that respect.
Taking the next few months, before the 2016 presidential race truly sucks all the air out of Washington, to make some headway might be good for him.
However, during a news conference on Wednesday, the president was not contrite or cowed. He presented as a man hopeful for a little compromise but bracing for a lot of fighting. He didn’t tuck his tail as much as bare his fangs.
This defiant stance could actually stiffen the spines of some staunch progressives who are already looking at a list of promises by Obama, only about half of which have been kept in full, according to PolitiFact (some compromises were made and some efforts were simply blocked), and feeling some commingling of betrayal, buyer’s remorse and battle fatigue.
There may even be a compromise to be had on immigration. The president reiterated Wednesday that he would issue an executive order first but, if Congress could pass comprehensive legislation afterward, the order would be supplanted.
On the Republican side, they have a conundrum. As the saying goes: “Be careful what you set your heart upon — for it will surely be yours.”
Republicans ran against Washington, but now they are Washington. Now that they control both houses of Congress, they must demonstrate that they are capable of solutions, and not just sullenness. They have to pass actual legislation and not just demonstration bills that the president will be sure to veto.
Obama has vetoed only two bills in six years. That’s the fewest since James Garfield, who held the office for only 200 days. Obama’s pen has plenty of ink, and I’m sure he’s itching to use it.
The American people, for their part, are eager to have their faith reaffirmed that Washington is not irreparably broken and that our politicians aren’t implacably insolent.
There is only a small window for politicians in Washington to provide some proof.
(This column originally appeared in the New York Times Nov. 5, 2014 under the title “Looking Back, Looking Forward“)
Charles M. Blow is a New York Times Columnist and nationally-known commentator: “I invite you to visit my blog By The Numbers, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
by Pat Freeman
The Buffalo Bills are right in the middle of the playoff hunt which is exactly where they felt they would be coming into this season. The only difference that I think they were hoping that EJ Manuel would have been their starting quarterback, and not the veteran Kyle Orton. The following are a list of grades for the Buffalo Bills at the mid-season point.
Running game- This was supposed to be an area of strength of this team but has become disgraceful. The running plays for the Bills have been shut down by opposing defensive coordinators, and our offensive staff has failed to find an answer so far this season. This problem became worse in the Minnesota game with the injury of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller in the same game. Grade D-
Passing game- The passing game of this team has become our strength led by rookie sensation Sammy Watkins but with Kyle Orton has the quarterback look for more mass protection packages the second half of the season to cut back on 16 sacks in four games as the starter as compared to only six sacks for EJ Manuel. The Orton advantage can be found in his completion percentage which is around 67% as compared to EJ Manuel at 58%. Grade B
Offensive line- This is the most disappointing group on the offensive side of the ball this year. The play of our interior linemen has been terrible. Both Guards and center Eric Wood has struggled all year in run blocking. Pass blocking will become more of an issue because of Kyle Orton who is an immobile quarterback. Grade D-
Offensive Coordinator- Nathaniel Hackett in my eyesight is in way over his head and has been bailed out by a very good defense and a veteran quarterback. The Bills need to upgrade their offensive coaching staff in the off season because this group lacks the experience to mentor young players. Grade D
Defensive line- This is the strength of the Bills with an effective 7-8 man rotation. Marcel Dareus and Jerry Hughes are playing their best football of their careers, and are leading the team in sacks. There were two areas of concern for this unit from the off season this year. Those areas were stopping the run and limiting big plays, especially on third down. Well mission accomplished so far. Grade A
Linebackers- This group has performed extremely well despite the absence of Kiko Alonso for the year with a knee injury. The addition of Brandon Spikes and the emergence of Nigel Bradham as tackling machines have made this group one of the best in the AFC. B+
Defensive Backs- This group has just gotten better each week being led by Leodis McKelvin who is leading the team in interceptions, and the addition of veteran Buffalo native Corey Graham. This group has played solidly the entire helping the Bills to a winning mid point record.
Special Teams- Kicker Dan Carpenter and punter Colton Schmidt make this one of the most effective units in the NFL. The kick off specialist Jordan Gay to me is a waste of a valuable roster spot. Grade B+
Offensive Coordinator- Nathaniel Hackett has struggled since being named offensive coordinator and the decline of Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel and EJ Manuel in my eyesight rests with his inexperience to develop the most critical position on the team. This season Nathaniel Hackett owes his job to the experience of Kyle Orton, and the futility of our current schedule. The Bills offense has struggled in all the major categories despite having incredible talent.
Defensive Coordinator- This is the strength of the team and Jim Schwartz has done an outstanding job this year. Grade A
Head Coach Doug Marrone- First we have to give him credit for the team being 5-3 at this point but I think the problem with Coach Marrone is who he’s hired on the offensive side of the ball including himself. The offensive staff of this team is the Achilles heel of this team, and if they do not make the playoffs I believe that will be the reason. Grade C-
If you enjoy talking about the world of sports tune into the number#1 sports show in the nation every Saturday from 4-5:00PM hosted by WUFO Sports Director Patrick Freeman on 1080AM WUFO radio or via the internet at www.wufoam.com. Or catch Sports Update for clbTV (ch.20 Buffalo) and YouTube. Also join us for the number#1 recap show every Monday at 7:25AM with Lee Pettigrew, and The Mighty O’Ba Pat Freeman.
DON’T GIVE IN TO FASHIONABLE CYNICISM – GET OUT AND VOTE!
by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
This is the last post until after the election – but thought you who weren’t able to get tickets to see President Obama in Philadelphia on Sunday, might like this photo for further inspiration – actually this should be inspirational to everybody, regardless of where you live.
Over 5,000 people – African America, white, Asian, Latino, young, old – showed up for President Barack Obama when he stomped in Philadelphia, at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, last Sunday. He threw his weight and support behind this first time candidate, who may well bring about a much needed upset and unseat Corbett whose administration has been a disaster for the entire state of Pennsylvania, but most notably the City of Philadelphia. School closings, budget cuts, withholding of medical insurance programs, substandard housing have been the hallmark of his reign of error over the state’s largest city, with an African American population of 68%. Many have rightly called it discriminatory to the core.
President Obama, in addressing the enthusiastic gatherers stated: “The biggest corporations, they don’t need another champion. The wealthiest Americans don’t need another champion, they’re doing just fine, but the hardworking single mother and the first-generation college student need a champion like Wolf, somebody who understands that opportunity for all is what America’s all about, opportunity for all is what Pennsylvania’s all about.” The speech, which was about 20 minutes in length, highlighted Wolf’s support for raising the minimum wage, ensuring women get equal pay for equal work, expanding access to college, and investing in public schools.
As usual, President Obama regaled the audience with a new and pithy turn of phrase: “Don’t give in to fashionable cynicism. Cynicism is sometimes passed off as wisdom. There’s nothing wise about it. Cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon. Cynicism never started a business, or cured a disease, or fueled a young mind. Cynicism is a choice. And hope is a better choice.” (I don’t know if the comment was “tweetable,” but it was definitely quotable and memorable)
In addition to Philadelphia, President Obama has campaigned for candidates in Maine, Illinois, Connecticut and Michigan. The mid-term election is pivotal for the balance of Obama’s administration, which has been beset by racially based backlash from repuglycons who have shut down the government and performed egregious acts against the Administration as a means of stopping him from completing his campaign promises to ameliorate the problems that had their genesis in the Bush Misadministration.
Tom Wolf is a self-made millionaire, who successfully ran his family’s business for over 25 years. It is hoped that he will handily defeat Corbett, who apparently used his time in office to undergird his cronies – by lowering business taxes, while increasing homeownership taxes, and not collecting taxes against natural gas companies which are raking billions in income from Pennsylvania’s rich cache of natural gas.
It was later learned that N.J Governor Christie had appeared in Bucks County on Corbett’s behalf – drawing a crowd of approximately 500 people.
At the appropriate moment members of the audience held up 10 foot high letters that spelled out the word V-O-T-E!
In a call and response fashion, President Obama shouted “Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!” The crowd shouted the word back at him. He also implored them also to make phone calls, knock on doors, and “grab the people you know.”
FYI: There are phone banks in the Germantown Area at 5537 Germantown Avenue and 5630 Greene Avenue. Or contact the Tom Wolf Headquarters to find out where you can be of service.
As I close this article, I am likewise shouting out to all of you:
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
Stay Blessed &
bullet Columnist Gloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com
Personal Justice or Distributive Justice?
by Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
The illegal, chokehold death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2014 by “rogue members” of the New York Police Department is actually a class action because it is an action directed at a particular class but ambulance chasers have chosen to depict it as a personal injury action. A hubcap case is also a personal injury action.
In a class action, a settlement requires that justice is extended to the class before compensation is granted to the victim. Among other things, there must be a deterrent component in the settlement to give the class an opportunity to protect itself against future occurrences. A perpetrator must feel the wrath of the class. The “Central Park 7″ should have been a class action.
Ramsey Orta videotaped the chokehold death of Eric Garner. As should have been predicted, the New York Police Department falsely arrested and immediately indicted Orta. This is of no moment for an “ambulance chaser” who, by definition, elevates “hush money” over justice. An ambulance chaser makes no waves. It is all about “hush money.”
A human rights attorney would not leave Orta unprotected in People v. Ramsey Orta, Ind. No. 162 (Sup. Ct., Richmond Co. 2014). The first priority would be to send the “rogue cops” to prison. This is the ultimate punishment. With criminal records, “rogue cops” would be unable to act under color of law again. If Ramsey Orta is wrongfully convicted, a successful, criminal prosecution of the “rogue cops” would be unlikely.
In violation of Orta’s Sixth Amendment right, New York has chosen to assign a former assistant district attorney in Richmond County to represent him. This is a conflict of interest but it will happen if Blacks continue to believe that the chokehold death of Eric Garner is a personal injury action and not a class action.
When the “Central Park 7″ was indicted in 1989, only four Black lawyers answered the bell even though every Black lawyer should have filed a notice of appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court. The four lawyers were disciplined for not behaving as “slaves.” Three were disbarred.
All Black lawyers and Black selected officials should make it their business to be at the Richmond County Supreme Court, 18 Richmond Terrace in Staten Island, Part 6 at 9:30 a.m. Give them a ring early and often on Thursday. It is their job. As oath-takers, justice should be their number one priority.
I received a regrettable call Wednesday evening. A true warrior in the legal profession had made his transition. He was in a special class and you knew he had your back. He was also an associate of Louis Clayton Jones and Chokwe Lumumba, revered ancestors.
With them, you were picking in high cotton. I am thankful that Sis. Karen Mason made it possible for me to be in Chicago on Thursday. I will see everyone on Saturday morning at Brooklyn Christian Center, 1061 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Take the “C” train to Franklin Avenue.
Call a Black attorney in addition to Eric Garner’s attorney and give notice of Orta’s court appearance and Black Solidarity Weekend. The prosecution is a class action directed at all Blacks and Latinos. Orta is the victim. All Blacks and Latinos are the targets. It is Orta today. It may be you tomorrow. Who will have your back?
For more than two decades, several thousand persons have received my invaluable, writings on politics, law and military science, free of any cost, even though the fixed costs to publish them including research, writing, editing and publishing have exceeded over Twenty-five Hundred Dollars monthly. There is also now a need to upgrade equipment, legal literature and software and to resume the practice of law as the private attorney general without “judicial bullying.” “Freedom is not free.” No one should ride the back of another person. This is an accounting principle.
Make contributions for a free and educational press only to:
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Too honest for the White Press and too black for much of today’s Black Press; bullet columnist Alton Maddox upsets the same people and status quo as he did as an uncompromising Defense Attorney. He is also a founding member of the Freedom Party. Please support the movement to Reinstate him. Contact him at c/o UAM P.O. BOX 35 BRONX, NY 10471.
Investigate the Fed!
by Playthell Benjamin
The revelations of a former Bank Regulator with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Carmen Segarra, provides a shocking insider’s view of the unhealthy relationship between the nation’s top financial institutions – the Wall Street crowd that wrecked the US economy and sparked a global recession – and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which is tasked with regulating them. Ms. Segarra, a highly qualified lawyer who holds degrees from Harvard, Cornell and Columbia universities, and has also studied international law at the Sorbonne in Paris, has not only spilled the beans about shady dealings between federal regulators and the mammoth Wall Street investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs, but has charged in court that she was fired for vigorously pursuing her duties.
Usually these kinds of shady dealings are inside stuff, the kind of secret palavers that never enter the public sphere; hence should a whistle blower go to the press it’s a “he says,”, “she says,” dispute. Ms. Segarra realized this, and took steps to negate that problem by secretly recording the meetings she had with her superiors. When she recognized what was happening, that bank regulators were still looking the other way at financial mis-dealings even after the great financial crash of the Bush years – she went to the Spy Store and purchased a miniature recording device that was easy to conceal and recorded 48 hours of meetings.
Ms. Segarra recognized that these kinds of massive organizations, whether government bureaucracies or private corporations, enjoy the services of powerful legal firms, while the whistle blower stands alone. When one considers the fact that taking such a stand means that one’s career in the industry is over because no one wants to employ a squealer, and the whistle blower is left with what they can get from suing the employer for wrongful termination, a process that can take years – which is the situation in which Ms. Segarra now finds herself now – it takes a person of heroic character to step forward with allegations of wrong doing.
However Ms. Segarra’s actions flowed from her motives for becoming a bank regulator. Whereas many of her colleagues viewed their position as a stepping stone to employment in the banking industry, Segarra took the job because she witnessed the financial devastation of her friends and family as a result of the Great Recession resulting from the Bush Administration’s policy of non-regulation of the financial industry.
After the passage of the Dodd-Frank Bill establishing a new regulatory regime on the nation’s financial institutions the FED hired a new group of regulators to vigorously enforce the new regulations. Ms. Segarra took one of those jobs in the belief that she could use her expertise to help fix our broken banking system. “I actually studied business law and regulation in law school.” She tells us. “I co-wrote a law review article on Y2K [the millennial computer bug], which ended up being published. As a result of that, my co-author and I were asked to work on setting up the Y2K legal and compliance program for a bank. I discovered early on that I enjoyed learning about a law and immediately applying it, much the same way that I enjoy learning and speaking a new language.” She speaks several languages by the way.
Ms. Segarra goes on to tell us “as a general practitioner, I have worked closely with a wide range of laws and regulations that apply across the banking and investment sectors, as opposed to just specializing in one particular type of law or regulation. As a bank examiner, you get to use that knowledge and those skills to evaluate what others have built, and, if and when necessary, point out ways to improve them.” However she would soon discover that there were obstacles in her path as she tried to do her job, and what was worse those obstacles were placed there by her supervisors, the very managers who were supposed to assist her in carrying out her duties – which was to put procedures in place that would help prevent another financial meltdown that could imperil the world economy.
She first noticed the lack of diligence on the part of FED regulators when she witnessed the Examiner embedded in Goldman Sachs make a statement that suggested the investment banking house was too big to be subjected to certain regulations they were charged with enforcing. Shocked by the comment she later questioned her manager about it and suggested that this was a situation she should look into. Instead of getting the enthusiastic green light she expected, the manager told her “you didn’t hear that.” A regulator from the FDIC, which insures the assets of depositors against bank failures up to $250.000, was also present in the room and she asked him if he had heard the comment and he assured her that he did.
Since she was lured to the bank examiner’s job by their mandate to investigate and monitor the practices of those very financial institutions deemed “too big to fail,” which the government had just spent hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars bailing out of the red in order to prevent the total collapse of the banking system, which would have ushered in a depression worse than the 1930’s, she was appalled by the attitude of the embedded regulator at Goldman Sachs and her supervisor.
Segarra was to discover that even after the passage of Dodd-Frank, which the disloyal Republican opposition who controlled the House of Representatives refused to fully fund, many of the same old practices that had permitted the kinds of shady financial dealings which led to the collapse was still going on. She would also come to realize that this problem was fostered by the close relationship between the regulators and the institutions they were supposed to regulate. The FED’s well-intentioned but misguided decision to embed regulators in the institutions they were watching over had resulted in overly friendly relations with the top executives of those institutions. And this led to a bending of the rules.
The extent of this cozy relationship had already been described in an independent 2009 report written by David Bind, a Columbia University professor of finance who had previously been a banker. Professor Professor Bind led an investigation into systemic problems that contributed to the financial crash; his report concluded that the regulators had failed to do their job of vigorously policing Wall Street to prevent them from engaging in risky or illegal activities.
Instead they had fallen into a condition that he calls “Regulatory Capture,” which resulted the bank “Examiners” treating the banks like “a watch dog who licks and intruder in the face and plays catch rather than bark at him.” Since the report had attracted so little attention Ms. Segarra does not seem to have been aware of it. But based on her experience the professor got in right.
The evidence Ms. Segarra has compiled on her secretly recorded tapes amount to a smoking gun with finger prints and DNA samples on the handle. It’s irrefutable! We hear her supervisors try and discourage her from following leads regarding wrong doing at Goldman Sachs – some of it blatant. For example she uncovered an acquisition in which Goldman Sachs was advising both sides for millions of dollars in fees, and the firm also had a large ownership share in one of the companies, in which her supervisor had a personal stake of several hundred thousand dollars. Carmen Segarra correctly flagged this as an egregious case of conflict of interests.
This led her to interrogate executives at Goldman Sachs about their conflict of interest policy and found that they had none. She thought this was incredulous, an outrage for a company that was conducting deals all over the world amounting to billions of dollars. How could a financial behemoth with global reach not have a clearly defined conflict of interest policy? If ever there was a situation that cried out for an investigation this was it!
Yet when she reported her discovery to her supervisor she was met with a lukewarm response bordering on indifference. She was told that this was her personal “perception” of the situation and the FED arrived at conclusions on important matters by “consensus.” She thought this was a ridiculous line of argument when the evidence of conflict of interests and the absence of any policy to deal with it was overwhelming. When she said as much she was told by her supervisor that she was considered “arrogant” by higher ups in the agency, and that if she wanted to advance in her career in the agency she should learn to become a team player. At which point Segarra asked outright if she was in danger of being fired for trying to do a good job. The supervisor sidestepped the question but made it clear that she was on the road to nowhere. And we hear it all loud and clear on the tapes! Ms. Segarra was eventually fired, and she is suing the New York Fed for unjustified termination.
Now that the tapes are being made public there is a growing outcry for an investigation of how the FED operates and their relationship with Goldman Sachs. The outrage is reflected even in that voice of the Wall Street establishment, The Wall Street Journal, which has denounced the preferential treatment given to certain gigantic Wall Street firms by both the FED and the federal courts. Carmen Segarra has opened a gigantic can of worms and provided us an unfettered view of what’s going down on The Street, which allows us to see the anatomy of a system that continues to produce financial crises that devastate the middle and working classes while the investor class continues to get richer.
It is even more important that the federal regulators do their jobs honestly and efficiently now than it was before the crash, because if a major banking institution fails now the government has less authority to bail them out. And as we are told in a New York Times article of September 30th 2014, it was the fall of Lehman Brothers that set the forces in motion that led to the world-wide financial panic. What is clear in retrospect as we learn from the Time’s extensive interviews with major players in the government who decided not to rescue Lehman Brothers – Ben Barnake, Federal Reserve Chairman, Tim Geithner, President of the New York FED bank, and Hank Paulson, Treasury Secretary – is that they had the authority to rescue Lehman and made a political decision not to.
Having already received scathing criticism from the left and the “free market” crowd on the right for employing the resources of the US Treasury to rescue Bear Sterns, a private investment firm, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – two giant government backed mortgage companies, in 2008, when FED Chairman Ben Bernanke approached him about rescuing Lehman Brothers Paulson refused, telling him that he did not want to become known as “Mr. Bailout.” However after the financial system crashed like falling dominoes from forces set in motion by the fall of Lehman Brothers, Paulson did indeed become “Mr. Bailout.” Hence it is frightening to learn from Ms. Segarra that it could all happen again because bank regulators are not doing their jobs.
That’s why we are blessed and highly favored to have an intrepid intellectual warrior and fearless defender of the working class and public interests such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard law professor – who is calling for a thorough investigation of the relationship between the FED, Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions. It is one of the most important issues of our times and it should be thoroughly investigated. Like Carmen Segarra, I too know honorable, law abiding people who were wiped out by the Bush Crash, including my sister Melba, a career educator and as fine a citizen as ever lived in America, whose life savings were ravaged!
So I not only support Senator Warren’s call for a congressional investigation, I think she should chair it. This would be a historical irony and poetic justice for those who torpedoed her chances of heading the regulatory agency she designed to regulate Wall Street bankers, now she’s baaaaack! And she has returned in an even more powerful incarnation; at least as a government regulator the reactionary Republicans in Congress would have exercised some authority over her; but as the Senator from Massachusetts they have none!
We should also make this an election issue. Let those who are opposed to an investigation into the dirty dealings of the avaricious plutocrats, and their unholy alliance with government shills, go on record with their opposition. I believe their ranks will be thin! Furthermore I think we should demand that President Obama appoint a special prosecutor under the auspices of a Department of Justice headed by a new Attorney General named Kamala Harris, the brilliant, beautiful, energetic Attorney General of California.
She would be the ideal Attorney General to oversee such a historic investigation because along with Bo Biden, the Delaware AG, Ms. Harris has been a leading figure in investigating and prosecuting financial institutions whose wrong doing led to the Bush crash that caused so many Americans to lose their homes and life’s savings. The lead investigator in this case would be Carmen Segarra and the Special Prosecutor would be former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer who was death on the Wall Street crowd when he was the New York AG. Nobody knows those scoundrels better and he is a ruthless prosecutor. This is my dream team… are you listening Chilly B?
Benjamin is a veteran political journalist out of Harlem NY. His essays can be read on his blog site Commentaries on the Times.