Wednesday, May 21, 2008

speak on it

some mc's be talkin' and talkin'
tryin' to show how black people are walkin
but I don't walk this way to portray
or reinforce stereotypes of today
like all my brothas eat chicken and watermelon
talk broken english and drug sellin'
See I'm tellin, and teaching real facts
The way some act in rap is kind of wack
and it lacks creativity and intelligence
but they don't care cause the company is sellin' it
It's my philosophy, on the industry
Don't bother dissin me, or even wish that we'd
soften, dilute, or commercialize all our lyrics
Cause it's about time one of y'all hear it
KRS One (My Philospohy)


Have you ever lived for those moments when you opened your mouth and you had an entire room hanging on every word? Have you ever said something before a group of people and you saw eyes lighting up? Have you ever wanted to speak your mind and change the perceptions that people may have had about you? My answer to all of these questions is YES! When I was in college, I really felt these things. I enjoyed doing presentations and reports in front of my classmates. Everybody in my class...including my professors...knew that I played football. But when you heard me speak, you knew that I wasn't some dumb jock. Actually, they didn't I was a jock at all. I'd hear the whispers after I wooo'd the crowd...

"He's smart. He's articulate. He doesn't sound like a football player."

I was one of the few football players who didnt major in education or criminal justice. Nothing wrong with those majors but the School of Business was no joke. That was my home. Rezidl was in there, too.

Here's my point...as an athlete I loved to have the opportunity to give people a chance to see me as something more than a athlete.

I thought about this topic after watching an episode of Outside the Lines on ESPN this past Sunday. The episode was about whether athletes should be vocal about the political and social injustices that plague this world. It examined the dilemma that the NBA is facing b/c as they try to globalize their game this summer with the Summer Olympics, their athletes are being asked to address some serious issues. The Summer Olympics are being held in China. China has played an active role in the genocide in Darfur. It has been reported that 400,000 non-Arabs in Darfur have been slaughtered.

LeBron James is looking to use the Olympics to increase his popularity in China. However, a year ago his former Cleveland Cavalier teammate, Ira Newble, gave James and the rest of the team a petition to sign to protest China and Darfur. LeBron declined to sign the petition. He told Newble that he didn't know enough about it to sign off on it. Keep in mind that LeBron James is one the faces of the NBA. China's record on human rights issues was, and remains, a sensitive topic, especially for James' employer, the NBA, which has had its eyes on China for more than 20 years. And then add the pressure of James' $90 million contract with Nike, which has its own designs on the vast Chinese market. James is so wildly popular there that he already has two China-only marketed shoes and his own museum in Shanghai, filled with artifacts from his life, including a copy of his birth certificate. And right now, China estimates it has 300 million basketball fans -- the same amount as the entire population in the United States.

Newble understood why LeBron James was hesitant about signing the petition.

"I told him the same thing I told everybody else, except I understand by you being LeBron you have a lot at stake," Newble said. "You can't just put your name on anything, so you need to go back for yourself, get as much information as you can, educate yourself and come to me if you want to sign. He came back and we talked a little bit about it, but at the end of the day he decided not to sign the letter and that's his decision. I respect that's what he chose to do at the time."

Newble's letter made news. But not as much as James not signing it. This took place just as the NBA Finals were beginning between the Cavs and the Spurs, and suddenly James was cast with those athletes who don't know and don't care. And he was ripped from coast to coast, by pundits, columnists and social observers. They all characterized James as a greedy, spoiled athlete who cared more about his business interests in China than about what was going on. James now states that he has more information and he can talk more about it.

"At the end of the day we're talking about human rights," he said. "And people should understand that human rights and people's lives are in jeopardy. We're not talking about contracts here. We're not talking about money. We're talking about people's lives being lost and that means a lot more to me than some money or a contract."

We live in a different time than our parents did. The athletes of the 60s and 70s were trying to gain their civil rights so they often spoke about the injustices that were going on in this country. Things are different today. Do you think it's fair to ask a 23yr old brutha about his stance on Darfur? What about the war in Iraq? Should athletes say more? Should they be doing more? I have some strong opinions on this. I'ma hold off and let my peeps speak first.

holla at meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

28 comments:

The Jaded NYer said...

My humble opinion:

I suppose everyone is entitled to their own political opinions and views, but people should be able to choose whether or not they want to be vocal about it, even athletes (and by extension, celebrities).

Honestly, I'm not paying $10 for a box of Cracker Jack at Shea to hear Johan Santana's views on Dafur; I really could care less what he thinks. I just need for him to NOT give up anymore runs when he's on the mound.

I don't know about you, but I like my entertainment to be just that- entertainment. I don't need some ball player telling me who to vote for or where to send my money; just play ball, dammit. I'm not there to think, I'm there to escape. I'll watch cable news or Charlie Rose or something if I want to think.

Athletes shouldn't be put in a position where they have to take a side or speak out. If that's who they want to be then cool, but there is no need to expect athletes to take a public stance on any major issues.

Mizrepresent said...

I'm with the jaded nyer on this...unless he is running for political office...i don't really care what he thinks, nor do i hold him accountable for his beliefs, stance or no stance at all. He is in the business of playing basketball...that's it. He is not the God of basketball, although a shrine (OMG) would indicate such...but he didn't erect it so, it's the people that are stupid.

This is crazy.

12kyle said...

@ Jaded NYer
Johan who??? Mannnnn, one more Santana reference and we fighting. lol

*side eyein' you*

Ok. Lemme ask you this. Would you not want to hear him speak out about some issues going on in the Dominican (I'm not sure if he's from there but let's say that he is). I'm not saying that he had to be an activist but what if he were able to use his position to bring light to some things that were going on?

@ Miz
"He is not the God of basketball, although a shrine (OMG)"...lol. Ok, Miz let's stay on task here.

I feel u, tho

The Jaded NYer said...

You know I do it to bug you, right?

SANTANA SANTANA BLAH BLAH SANTANA

lmao

He's actually from Venezuela, and he could be talking about crazy ass Chavez right now if he wanted to, and if he did then *applause*

But if he doesn't I'm not gonna think any less of him, because my only interest in him is whether or not he's bringing it home this year for the Mets.

12kyle said...

@ Jaded NYer
I know that's why you do it! LOL

I didn't know he was from Ven. Thanks for the info on "that dude"
LOL

Brad said...

How does that line from SpiderMan go? "With great power comes great responsibility".

I believe that certain people are blessed with gifts to do certain things. Some can jump from the foul line and dunk, some can hit a baseball 400 feet. And some can throw a football 60 yards in the air. But does that mean they should be inclined or feel obligated to discuss their personal views with the world? Should every athlete in front of the camera be compelled to discuss the plight of the world after every win or loss? Michael Jordan never spoke on political issues. Is he any less an hall of fame athlete?

And what if his views differed from yours? Would you want him to publicly speak on a topic that you were passionate about? What if Lebron James was pro McCain? Would you look at him as an enemy, or less of a black man? It's such a slippery slope.

All that being said with that power one has the great responsibility to be just that RESPONSIBLE. They must understand how influential they are and channel their passion and energy into helping the world be a better place. And contrary to popular belief, sometimes the best way for them to do that is shut the F up and stay out the news.

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

I believe that athletes and celebrities should not be obligated to speak on certain issues. If they're not a political figure, we really shouldn't expect them to speak out on issues that they may not want to disclose to the public. We give athletes/celebrities way too much power!

Great post!!

The F$%K it List said...

uhmmm yeah 45 minutes after I said something! Now I'm taking my time to answer *me pouting*

Rich said...

It's interesting how we want someone like Lebron who is starting his career, quite well I might add, to make a statement when you can't get the average citizen who has worked the majority of their lives to speak on the social ills in this country, let alone China. Just because he plays ball doesn't require him to take a stand. Ask him how he feels about police brutality, low infant mortality rates among african american children, racial profiling, ask him about how hard it is for brothers that look like him to find a job, ask him how he feels about Hillary playing racial politics on the sly by insinuating that because "Billy Bob" will vote for her that she is a better candidate than Barack. Better yet, ask the average white american some of these questions and see what type of response you get out of them.

Making an extreme amount of money doesn't obligate you to become "every man".

DA REASON said...

Correction I thought it was Etan Thomas !!

You have to sleep at night and if it means taking a stance, and or stating your real feelings about various political issues publicly, particularly as it relates to your community and, or your race then you have to be real to yourself. You are going to always be an asset if you can put the ball in the hole, period. If the corporate suits don't want to sale that image then that's there missed opportunity. But you rarely see a marketable athlete who the coporate thugs can't use to sale something. I don't think it comes down to how much you have to lose monetarily versus how much can you live with as a person.

Don't think the Olympics are not in the business of exploiting these athletes to sale the event. So at the end of day you have to analyze the sum of all these parts and determine where you fit in the equation. You may be able to make a stance that could change the world or be the 100 million dollar slave. The question is your soul for sale. Tough but it is what it is.

DA REASON

karrie b. said...

i guess i thought all athletes were uneducated morons bc they (for the most part) got drafted right outta high school...

-kb

The F$%K it List said...

I have to say I don't seek out the opinions of celebs and athletes. But when young people of color with influence especially step up for a cause I am very happy.

Why because its not expected of them. Everyone wants to believe that they are nothing more than those dudes that throw a ball around, get paid millions and live in a bubble. And that shows differently.

I think it was different for our parents because these athletes still lived next door. All of the Brooklyn dodgers lived in the same area (and Queens) of the stadium so though they were famous for baseball they were still just regular joes.

12kyle said...

@ Brad
Good points. I'm the biggest Jordan fan. But I had an issue with him. When he was playing, he took heat for not backing a black senator who was running for office vs a white republican in his home state of NC. His response was... "Republicans buy sneakers, too." And the media killed him for it. That wasn't my issue with him. I took issue with him about his lack of knowledge and unwillingness to discuss the sweatshops overseas where his Air Jordan shoes were made. How do you NOT know what's going on with YOUR product. You can't play dumb when kids are getting sick from smelling the glue on your kicks and you're paying them .50 an hour.

You're correct, tho. It's a slippery slope. If Kobe Bryant or LaDanian Tomlinson backed McCain, I would think that they were less of black men. I think sometimes you have to open your mouth about something. You should definitely be responsible about what you say and do.

@ BGG
We do tend to give a lotta power and credence to celebs and athletes

@ The F$%K it List
Lmao!!! Mah bad

@ Rich
Great points!! One thing that we must keep in mind that these bruthas are very young (LeBron is 23). If you asked me, at the age of 23, what I thought about what was going on in the world...then you'd get a crazy answer. It'd be totally different than what you'd get from me today at the age of 35.

"ask the average white american some of these questions and see what type of response you get out of them." Sooooo true!!!

@ DA REASON
U made some good points, bruh
There is a lotta pimpin going on. I'm reading the book 40 Million Dollar Slaves by William Rhoden and he discusses these same issues. It really depends on where you put the athlete in the equation.

One thing that we all know that "freedom of speech aint free."

@ karrie b
Nahhhhh! LOL. Athletes aren't all morons. You're talkin to one right mow. LoL

@ The F$%K it List
Good points. You see how hard it would be for an athlete to step outside of that bubble. If you can speak out and do it intelligently...you never know what you may accomplish

Kieya said...

I think it's perfectly fine; they're human too, aren't they? Athletes are role models, I'd like to know that the athlete my child may idolize has a brain to go with athleticism as well. The war in Iraq effects everyone, they should have a stance on it. I think as Black men, they should especially know about Darfur and if they're so moved, they can go the extra mile to speak out, donate -- something. Our ancestors didn't fight long & hard for them to even get into the league and act all brand new, forgetting about people that are getting the shitend of the stick. And this should go to all issues, not just Darfur & Iraq.

I think once you come into a position of power/wealth - whether you want to or not, you're a role model & you have a responsibility to help those in need. Cuz those athletes did not make it to the NBA (MLB, NFL, NHL, etc) by themselves. Its like hip hop. If people like Jay Z & big names decided to make hip hop more positive - things would change, not just in the culture but within communities and such.

Yea, we get the usual "thats not what sells" but when are WE gonna start to dictate what needs to happen. Why is $$ placed above lives? When are gonna see past the money & band together? If we did that, then money wouldn't be an issue. You may not get millions in endorsements but you'll have the support & spirit of the people. But think about it - if one person takes a stand, oh well thats just one person. Yank goes the Nike, Reebok, Vitamin Water, etc deals. But if a large number decided they wanted change - are they really gonna do that? And like I said, its not just about Darfur or Iraq, but poor school systems, lack of funding, increased death rates of youth, etc...

And look at the negative stereotype that surrounds athletes - dumb jock. And then when you get on the professional level - dumb jock with big money. As an athlete, wouldn't you want to disprove that? Cuz you know folks are categorizing you as the typical "black man good at all sports but not intelligent." Is that who you want you kid looking up to? I don't...so show me something - a letter, a button, a picture carved into the side of your hair - show me something that says I'm more than what I can do with a ball.


Sorry for ranting! lol

PrettyBlack said...

Good Post Kyle!

Let me say this. I believe that man, or any other man or woman didn't sell their souls when they signed a contract...They did it to make money. If he wants to speak out...that's him. But guess what will happen if he does? The media is going to find something albeit small and insignificant to blow up to mass proportions about the way he treated a teacher or smacked a little smart mouth chinese boy in 3rd grade...then they're going to say, How can he speak on that when this happened.

At the end of the day these men are NOT role models, and they are not people we should "look up too" they are lottery winners with a talent, and some TV time...we would like to think that they are role models...but they are NOT...We are. Parents, and mentors, and guardians, and at the end of the day, when it comes to injustice anywhere, it is us as parents, mentors, and guardians, who should be teaching our children about it. How many normal people do you think really knows about what is going on in China? Darfur?

Michael Jordan never spoke out publicly against anything, but his tax returns show he gave a lot of money to a lot of causes.

So basically, at the end of the day he's doing the best for him...because he is the only one who will have to take repurcussions if anything he says negates anything he may have done in the past.

Athletes, at the end of the day are just human beings, human beings who have a right to speak out, or not.

PCD (Pretty Circle Drawer) said...

well, i know you're an athlete and all, but aside from the amount of money that (some of) these guys make....it wouldn't kill them to pick up a book, watch some news, or read some articles....even take a class.

the world is going on around us and our little piece of it and it would be foolish (imo) to not even attempt to understand or be aware. no one is saying you should be able to write a thesis or a 2-hour speech about current events, politics and the like...but for the sake of your own enrichment.....don't be a lazy brain. also, i do feel that even if lebron was unaware, he could have used the opportunity when he was asked about the petition to do some digging. i'm not expecting him (or anyone) to walk around like a well of knowledge...but in certain instances, there is a connection that you probably need to address, even if only in your mind....just like in your post...

bouncing, throwing, hitting a ball/puck/whatev is NOT rocket science...you CAN do other things and it won't kill you. someone just asked him a question...not to re-write the constitution.

Jeff S- Class said...

Some athelets don't have the intelligence to speak on subjects like this. That's like asking a 12 year old are you a democrat or republican. Come on people. Lets take a moment to first look at who the question was addressed to? Lebron James? Why not Micheal Jordan? Or Magic Johnson? How about Sir Charles. Hell even Jim Brown.
My point is these guys have been around the block to answer you with a straight face without words being put into their mouths. I believe whatever your passion is whether your a athlete or not My opinion is my opinion. As they, "An opinion is like an Asshole, everybody has One". Certain Big Time athletes, the media set up so they can make something out of nothing. Honestly I could care less about what they say or do, because the bottom line is they don't have the power or ecomonics to change anything. If they really are that concerned about that go to your local senator, president or state representative.
I enjoy sports for entertainment. If I want a news break I'll look at Cnn. Hell I am still waiting on my 40 acres & mule. With as much bullshit going on over here I don't have the time to the things I use to With the price gas?

Rich said...

@ pcd -- well, i know you're an athlete and all, but aside from the amount of money that (some of) these guys make....it wouldn't kill them to pick up a book, watch some news, or read some articles....even take a class.

That sounds good, but when you think about it, most of us in the working class are looking to enhance our lives by reading and taking classes. Some would even say they hope to parlay it into a way to make some more loot, but you are talking about KID MILLIONAIRES for the most part. Lebron went into the league straight out of high school, around the age of 18, he's 23 now, that's 5 years in the league. If he goes 5 more years, he'll be 28, which is around the time guys start really getting serious about life. Up to that point, most urban males are all about "macking" the ladies and "kicking it" with your boys.

To be honest, most chicks put dudes up on books, at least the fictional pieces, unless the dude grew up with that influence in his life, but you have to know most of those cats didn't grow up in those environments and for the most parts the sistah's that are stepping to them ain't trying to get them to flip the pages of a book. And if you've seen Lebron's momma, you already know she didn't put him up on anything other than street game. I would say that is probably the case with 75% of athletes in the NBA/NFL.

12kyle said...

@ Kieya
Dayyyyummm!!! That's a pretty good rant. I dunno what else to add to it. Preeeech on!

Trial sermon for Kieya is this sunday. LOL

@ prettyblack
I agree with you. If an athlete does speak out, he will be facing some criticism from the media. That's the price of fame. In some ways, it comes with the contract.

However, I will disagree with you on one point. These athletes are role models whether they want to be or not. Should they be held as such? No. But they are. Guess what...you are a role model...so am I...and so is everyone that is reading this blog. There is some kid (or grown up for that matter) who is looking at you as a role model for them. It could be someone in your house, your church, someone who works with you, etc. We may not think so...but we are. We don't ask to be but there is someone watching me and watching you.

@ PCD
Good points. I think most athletes are well rounded with pretty good intentions. Their willingness or unwillingness to be educated and speak about society is no different from their colleagues. That said...there are some who want nooooo parts of a dealing with a book or any people outside of their circle for that matter.

@ Jeff S-Class
You are correct. Every athlete can't speak on a subject like that. However, if you get one or 2 young bruthas to speak on not just worldly issues but social issues in our country it'll shed a lotta light on the situations. Think about it. If you have a kid like LeBron James or Tiger Woods doing a anti-gun PSA or a JUST SAY NO commercial, they will reach some kids who we'll never reach. These guys have more influence (positive or negative) than some parents do with their own kids. It won't change the world but it's a step in the right direction.

@ Rich
LeBron's momma is soooooo hoooooood!!! LOL

Good breakdown. The age thing is so true. Women mature soooo much faster than we do. Women do a great job of educating us. The level of our education (reading books or going to school to further your education) usually changes with us with the help of our women.

TravelDiva said...

Hey Kyle!

I'm back from Jamaica--blogged about the trip on CITC.

Anyway, that's a tough call. I guess I feel that African Americans in positions of power or affluence should want to speak out on issues affecting our community. It is how things were conducted in the past and I think it is good when celebrities use their fame for important issues.

On the other hand, if someone doesn't want to, I guess that's also their right too.

PrettyBlack said...

I'm sorry Kyle...These men are not role models. They are, just as anyone else is, what we make them out to be. I would never tell my nephews to watch any of these men and follow their example.

Just because a person is in the public spotlight does not make them a role model. As with everyday people like ourselves, they probably should act like role models, but at the end of the day those men and women, just like us, are just normal people with flaws.

I act accordingly because I was raised accordingly, but if I wasn't raised properly and I'm out there acting like a knucklehead, at the end of the day I have to live with the choices I've made, just as at the end of the day you teach your sons to NOT follow the example of the knucklehead.

When it comes down to it WE, as I said before, as parents, guardians and mentors are our kids role models, and if we are setting an example for other peoples children so be it.

But we are not bound to be anyone's role model, and neither are athlete's. Morally, and respectfully it is the right thing to do, but neither they, nor we, as a collective HAVE to do it.

As I stated before, they are just lottery winners, with talent and tv time. The repercussions are much greater for them speaking out than it is for us.

Proactiff said...

First off, let me just say "stay out'a my head." Somewhat. I just posted (4 something in the afternoon; also when I'm able to go through my complete blogroll and come to find you asking something similar in nature. Digressing).

Wow. So, yes, this is a grown ass man. He should not only have an opinion, he should at least be able to have someone on his own personal team to keep him abreast. And by personal I mean someone on his personal payroll that is equipped to school his ass on all things not basketball. Ya dig? Sort of like a 'TT' from The Game (UPN). Damn, I miss his ass!

Now, 12teach', go be first (again) today over in my classroom. LMAO.

Holla'd!

STILL POCAHONTAZ said...

IM A LOSER SO I DONT HAVE A REAL OPINION...I dont want to hear them talk though...I just want them to look good and sweat and allow me to invision slappin them on the ass every now and then...."atta boy"

JEFF S-CLASS said...

Well it still comes down to your values. If you are a outspoken athlete then your considered anti semetic or pro bono. If you keep quite then your considered uncaring, not involved or looking out for your own interest.
I think the best commerical I ever seen was Charles barkly "I am not your role model".
I strongly agree with you KD on the point they can reach far more people than we can... but if they are athletes like Pacman Jones. Odell Thurman, Travis Henery (9 kids by 8 women) then what message are we truly sending to people? So its a catch 22 situation.
You would not dare ask these dudes to speak on that issue my question to you would be why not? They are in the news just as much as anyone because the media don't wanna hear from guys like this because they are marked with unintelligence, garbage answers.
Whatever your morals are
remember, " You must stand for something, or you will fall for anything".

Kieya said...

lol u got jokes

but i agree, if we could control who a child looks up to, then they may be looking up to a range of different folks. however, we don't....unless we put them in a bubble and cut them off from life. there's nothing wrong with looking up to a public figure -- but those in the spotlight need to realize their influence & the impression they leave

DreamCop08 said...

I dont know what to say about that one??? But if i had to say something i would say just keep giving me my entertainment. I dont even know why these issues even have to come up??? Just let Lebron keep on entertaining me and making that money.

I dont want to hear about blah, blah, blah. that is one of our outlets and they have to ruin it with all the negativity.

i.can't.complain. said...

it's cool to ask them these questions on worldly issues.

but we have to be conscientious to the fact that they may not hold a well informed answer.

not because they are unintelligent people.

it just may not fit into their daily rotation of sports practice, meetings w/agents, and banging groupies.

i.m.o.

-1-

Anonymous said...

Of course its not required for anyone to have a view... but isnt that part of our responsibility as a human... to seek out injustices in the world and find a way to make them better. Are we not all EQUAL? Dont we all deserve to have the best life possible?

In America- we all take for granted all that we have. Why should we not see all the problems in other places and long to help make their life a little bit better.

So NO- athletes are not required to speak out... but with all the influence they have- if they have a passion for people and the desire to make this world a better place, like we all should... then they should use their power to raise awareness.

So good for LaBron and Ira and Kobe... and all the others using their voice for all the voiceless around the world...

One Planet-One Love-One Voice.

www.AidStillRequired.org