Category Archives: African-American

Why It’s OK to Root for the Colts in Super Bowl

The Colts did it!  They were able to slay their nemesis of so many years and win yesterday to make it into the Super Bowl.    Manning sucked it up and he did the necessary things as QB to help the Colts come back from an 18 point deficit and win in the closing minutes.

And this was clearly not just a “Peyton Manning playing great so the Colts win” kind of game.  The defense stepped up to hold the Patriots to field goals instead of touchdowns.  Rhodes and Addai ran the ball great to keep the ball moving down field and Clark, Wayne, Harrison, Morehead, Utecht all made the catches on those all important 8 – 15 yard passes to help Indy ring up those first downs.

As for the other game yesterday, I am disappointed that the Saints and Drew Brees could not pull it out.  It really was a great Cinderella story.  Fortunately, I am not sad that it is the Bears who are going to the Super Bowl.  Having grown up in the midwest, I like all (ok, most) things Chicago – especially compared to anything in NY or LA.  I am a die hard Cubbie fan and grew up at a time when Dick Butkus roamed the D back field for the Bears.  I like Chicago and I like the Bears (the ’85 team rocked), so I am glad that they are going to the Super Bowl.  It is just too bad they had beat this year’s Saints to get there.

The bright side is the Colts are going to the Super Bowl. And if you are a Colts fan consider this about why it is better to play the Bears than the Saints

  1. You won’t feel bad when the Colts win because they aren’t dashing the hopes of the Katrina victims
  2. Tony Dungy is also African-American so you can’t feel bad if Lovie Smith loses
  3. Tony Dungy has been so close, so many times to making it to the Super Bowl that it will be okay to be happy when he wins
  4. The Colts have shown that no matter how great one of your players is, it takes a team to win
  5. Rex Grossman – ’nuff said.  Ok, maybe not.  He is from Indiana (good) Bloomington, Indiana (bad).  He chose to go to Florida to play football instead of staying in state and playing for the “Cradle of Quarterbacks” – Purdue University (BAD).

GO COLTS !

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The Third Man on the Podium

The time was 1968 and the Civil Rights Movement in America was at its peak.  Only months earlier the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated and there was unrest in the streets and hatred in the air.  Faced with the challenge (or opportunity) to make a statement on a World Stage about civil rights as a white person, would you have the courage to do it?

Peter Norman did.  Peter Norman, an average white Australian male who just happened to be in the right place, at the right time didn’t hesitate to make a statement.  And he never wavered on his position until his death last week.

Who is Peter Norman?  He was the Silver Medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City or “The Third Man on the Podium”.

podium.jpgNo matter how old you are you surely have seen the picture.  Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their fists clenched above their bowed heads.  But have you ever stopped to think about the third person in that picture?  Who he was or what his reaction to this must have been?  I hadn’t.  Not until today when I read Mike Wise’s article “Clenched Fists, Helping Hand” in The Washington Post. 

In ways it was refreshing to know that Smith and Carlos told Norman beforehand what they planned to do.  Instead of alerting officials he chose to actively participate in the protest by wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge. 

  

You have to ask yourself, “What would I do?”

This is a question many of us have asked ourselves since 9/11.  If we were on Flight 93 or any flight where terrorists tried to hijack the plane, how would we react?  That is a pretty extreme situation that is truly a matter of life and death and we all would like to think we would be like Todd Beamer and those heroes on Flight 93. 

But what about a situation that does not put your life or others immediately at risk?  What if it is a social statement that could risk you stature among your friends or in Norman’s case, his country.  Would you have the courage to do the right thing? 

I always enjoyed John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage when I was growing up and always felt it should be required reading in school.  I am sure if they were updated today, Peter Norman and his courage at the 1968 Olympics would be among the stories.

So ask yourself and answer honestly, “What would you do?”  If you find it hard to answer then you are in the right mindset because nothing of great consequence should be easy to answer.  The next time you are faced with the dilemma of doing the right thing or just ignoring the problem, think of people like Peter Norman and know that you can make a difference.

Does the “N” Word have an Equivalent?, Part I

If you are a regular of my Blog, then you will recall a few posts I have had under the title “When “Ocho” is a “No No”  If you haven’t read them  – go do it now. 

Interestingly enough I actually started this post BEFORE the whole “Ocho Incident”.  This has just taken some time for me to complete because it is such a sensitive subject I have wanted to be clear on my message and get it right.  What I have found is there may be no “right” on this topic. 

I decided to put this out there, unfinished, and solicit thoughts, comments form you…..

I had a an interesting conversation via Instant Messenger the other night with my 18 year old daughter.  She is a freshman at a large university in the south and while she certainly hasn’t lived a sheltered life, she has been surprised at some of the “experiences” she has had there already.

I am not referring to drinking or the parties or even the way people act at SEC football games although the latter was eye opening for her and the former, I hope, was not something she has gotten *too* involved in.

No, I am talking about people’s attitudes toward race. 

The town we live in – the same town she grew up in –  is not very diverse even though we live within commuting distance of two moderate sized metropolitan cities.  Even so, I believe my kids have had many experiences with people who do not look like them or do not talk like them or who believe differently than they do so as not to see people’s differences as a bad thing.  Instead, I believe my wife and I have raised them to understand that these differences between people,  be it color, religion, Coke drinker v. Pepsi drinker, or whatever, are what make us all interesting and worth getting to know.  While my children are certainly not “color blind” they do not let a difference like that stop them from being humans.

But, sadly, this is not the case where my daughter goes to school.  There are still people who openly use the “N” word.  Inter-racial dating is heavily frowned upon. Minorities even practice “segregation by choice.”  Again, my daughter is no more naive than any young adult (her college room mate is black and one her best friends and prom date this year is black) but given her attitudes toward race it is shocking to her to see these things are practiced so openly.

As my IM session with my daughter continued I started asking her questions about her room mate.  A young girl from a small town in the south who was randomly put together with my daughter. All we knew about her when we took our daughter to school, was her name, where she was from, that she was salutatorian of her high school class, planning to major in chemistry and that she was black (our daughter had found a picture of her on the Internet.)

Since my daughter had mentioned how shocked she was that people used the “N” word so commonly, I asked her if she had considered asking her room mate what she thought of the word. We have all heard one black person call another this word but in reality how do black people really feel about the word?  What does it mean to a black person? And, how is it different if a non-black uses it in the same way as a black person does?

This led to my then suggesting she ask her what slang for white people do black people consider to be truly offensive in the same way that white people view the “N” word?  As I thought about what it might be (honky, cracker, red neck, whitey, bubba, ice mutant, casper) nothing really came to mind that really equaled the offensiveness of the “N” word.

So why is this?