CSD Greatest Day Ever: Attending Lecture By James W. Loewen With My Couple Members Of My Crew

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Photo Source: http://www.snipview.com/

It was one of those GDEs (Greatest-Day’s-Ever).

It’s not often in life where you can meet the people who have written your academic textbooks, but my kids had just that opportunity as we attended a lecture with James Loewen. This is why I love homeschooling, and we’ve followed Loewen since I first heard about his book, Lies My Teacher Told Me.

This outing was perfect for me this week as my German colleague and I had a great time discussing history and compared a few interesting things about our countries.

1.) He noted that Germany has always taught its citizens about the Holocaust in an effort to acknowledge past sins and they have a desire never to see such a horrible atrocity happen again. I told him that I have a history book that I bought to use as a supplemental text this last year and there is no mention of slavery. The majority of people in this country know very little about the institution of slavery beyond its existence and could care less.

2.) Speaking of silence, Detroit had its version of the Berlin Wall as well. The  “Detroit Race Wall” was created to be a physical barrier dividing whites and blacks. As an NPR story noted, “”And the developer who wanted to develop in this area was told no by the FHA,” Horner says. “Because it was considered to be too close to an African-American neighborhood. And so the solution that the developer came up with was to build a 6-foot-high wall that runs for about three long city blocks.” This truly was a symbol of Jim Crow North.

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3.) Loewen has also done extensive research on Sundown towns. Sundown-towns required blacks to be out of town or face death by, you guessed it, sundown. Loewen told civilrights.org, “Well, the suburbs were all white for sundown policies, and this is clear after you read my book. So maybe there is some way to go after that decision and get it re-adjudicated. Certainly, that decision has left Detroit and the Detroit metropolitan area screwed to this day. And Detroit is the most segregated metropolitan area, it has the most downtown abandonment, and it had until the last five years the most sundown towns. Many of them have just recently broken and black folks can now live safely in at least three of the five Grosse Points, for instance, and in Dearborn, and in some of the others. But the damage has been done over the last several decades.” – http://www.civilrights.org/resources/bookclub/loewen-interview.html

There were actually MORE Sundown Towns in the north, than in the south! Source: Tolerace.org
There were actually MORE Sundown Towns in the north, than in the south! Source: Tolerace.org

4.) Loewen made dad right. CSD’s, you have to love that! He spoke of the importance of talking to people in order to find out real history. Young people today are far more text-savvy than they are book-savvy. Performing original research and interviews is becoming a lost skill, but it is vital in finding out the truth that (unlike Germany) our country has determined to suppress and modify in an effort to maintain a system of white supremacy. I’ve encouraged all of you to talk to your parents and friends about your past and race relations, because whether you realize it or not, it has shaped you. That past has shaped Detroit and if you live or lived in Michigan, Detroit shaped you.

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It was truly a great night and the only down-side…my daughter didn’t bring the book so we could get it signed!

Oh well, it was still the Greatest Day Ever.

You can find out more about James Loewen at:

http://sundown.afro.illinois.edu/liesmyteachertoldme.php

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The Struggle That Must Be, Today and In the Future

When I was in my early 20s, there was one non-professional athlete that impacted my worldview like none other. The man, Dr. Harry Edwards. I was always interested in sociology and of course I loved sports, and when I learned of this field created by Dr. Edwards called Sociology of Sport, it was love at first sight. While God by His sovereign grace has me where I am today, if I could do everything over, I’d head to a school with a Sociology of Sport program to earn the academic credentials and attack the profession like Mike Tyson in the ring during his prime. I remember telling my mentor that I wanted to become the next Harry Edwards when I first went to see her about transferring into sociology and out of sports medicine. However, she knew what I would later find out, yet she didn’t crush my enthusiasm, and that was the fact that I’d never be worthy to even tie up his shoe laces, let alone fill his shoes.

Source: www.dailytexanonline.com
Source: http://www.dailytexanonline.com; I should not have to tell you, but just in case you do not know, that’s Jim Brown (far left), Bill Russell (center) and Dr. Harry Edwards (far right)

I wish I could meet Dr. Harry Edwards. Whenever I find out that he’s done and interview somewhere, I’m on the hunt and all ears because I know I’ll become wiser after listening to this man. Now I just wish that we could hear more from him in our digital era, as it would be so much easier to have access to his knowledge. But then again, I wouldn’t be as proud as I am to have three of his great books, Sociology of Sport, The Revolt Of The Black Athlete and The Struggle That Must Be.

While we are proud of the stand the athletes like Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Reggie Bush and others are taking as they protest African-American men being gunned down in the United States by the police as if they were being caught in a Sundown Town of the 1940s, the protests are now being compared to that organized by Dr. Edwards at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The Black Power salute by John Carlos and Tommie Smith set the bar high, created a new path, and must be something our children (especially those that play sports)  never forget. My kids do not, as they have the poster right above the computer in our living room. My two oldest boys were given the John Carlos Story as Christmas gifts right after it hit shelves and when I worked with young athletes as a strength and conditioning coach, I even encouraged them to not just carry a ball, but carry a message. When you carry a message, you carry yourself with more responsibility as well. It’s a responsibility to hold tightly to the opportunity that’s been afforded to you.

I could go on and on, but that’s what made me feel encouraged about the discussion at ESPN by Jemele Hill, Chris Broussard and Stephen A. Smith. The discussion was on Athletes and Activism.

See video HERE.

First, just the fact that one black woman and two black men can sit on a major network and discuss and frame what the black athlete is doing is quite an accomplishment. Yes I’m aware, as Smith and Broussard know first hand, that if they go too far out, the dominant-society will take them out to the woodshed. But just to at least be able to talk and teach, that’s progress and that is the kind of talk we have in our homes and at family gatherings.

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Why? Because in 1968, here was the response by Brent Musburger (yes, that one), as described by David Zirin (if you don’t listen to the Edge of Sports podcast, you should) in The Nation in 2012:

“In 1968 Musburger was a restless, ambitious young sports writer looking to make his name. He found his opportunity when Smith and Carlos made their stand. Musburger didn’t see a demonstration. He saw a target.

“One gets a little tired of having the United States run down by athletes who are enjoying themselves at the expense of their country,” he wrote. Musburger then infamously called Smith and Carlos “a pair of black-skinned stormtroopers.”

Second, the athletes of our past dawned the “Scarlet P” for protester, called trouble-makers, said to have had bad-attitudes or received labels like above and were considered uppity negroes. In the case of John Carlos, he lost relationships that money could never replace. Yet, I’m hopeful that some of today’s athletes understand their power, prestige and privilege. Their brand is the trunk of the tree, and now they can have multiple branches (i.e. revenue streams) to feed that tree. So they are no longer beholden as much to the league or owner that believes if he lets him go for not being a “good boy”, that another owner won’t break the code and pick him up.

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That said, I hope that athletes of today protesting are doing more than just sporting t-shirts, but I hope they are writing checks as well. I understand that a grown person can spend their cash any way they would like, but money gets movement in our Land of Milk and Honey. So if athletes can show all the bling on Cribs, I’m hoping they can put some skin in the game as well with some dollars.

Remember, C.R.E.A.M.

So we’ve come a long way and I’m happy to see my kids take a strong stance on civil right issues at the age of 25 down to the age of 8. They know whether they carry a ball or not, I expect them to carry a message, and it’s those messages that I know will out live me and provide hope for so many of my upcoming generations as I have a feeling that they will still need to put on their gloves and continue to fight for justice years from now.

Book Thought Of The Day: Double-Standards For Sons And Daughters?

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The weather’s getting ugly, it is getting cold, the daylight hours are ever so elusive, so I’m stuck indoors. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that maybe I can get more reading done.

Today, I’m reading Don’t Hate The Player, Learn The Game – How To Spot Ineligible Eligible Bachelors, by Lyn Lewis.

Lyn makes a point early on in the book that we often develop and approve the player mentally as parents. Therefore, we lay the soil in which the idea of having multiple relationships is acceptable for boys but not for girls. Her example goes something like this:

Son comes home from school and says, “I have five girlfriends!” Dad says, “See, he’s a chip off the old block!” Mom says, “I’m so happy to hear that you are so popular!”

Daughter comes home from school and says, “I have three boyfriends!” Dad says, “It’s not right for a girl to have three boyfriends and you are not even allowed to think about dating until your 18…”. Mom reinforces dad’s comments (after he likely storms away) and says that it isn’t lady-like for a girl to have that many boyfriends as only certain type of women have many boyfriends.

Does that scenario sound familiar? Has a similar scene played out in your home or the home you grew up in?

Lewis’s point is simple. At a very early age, we teach our sons that the more girls he “has”, the better he is as a “man”. Yet when it comes to our daughters, that same behavior is seen with disdain. My show Good Times even highlighted this fact. Let me take some of you back to a promiscuous JJ, who throughout the series was known for having his mind on nothing but girls, juggling one after another. James would come along with that infamous grin and laugh as he saw JJ’s ability with the ladies as an extension of us own masculinity as well. However, when Thelma came in talking about being in love and getting married to Larry, the reaction was, “Girl, what do you know about love?” James blew up, Florida had to calm him down and well, look at his classic reaction to the “nice guy” that his daughter wanted:

Leveling the playing field is not the solution and has never worked in the past. It’s beyond the scope of this article to prove why this is the case. But for now, I’d like to encourage you to examine whether you are creating a player in your home? Are we reinforcing a mentality that tells men that the more women you have, the better? To our daughter are we saying, “You can’t do what the player does, but consider it an honor if he chooses you as one of his girls.”