No more free passes (violence and athletes)

This past year (2014) has added yet another case of a high profile athlete bringing violence and aggression home with them.  What will it take before we as a society realize that something wrong here? Violence isn’t inherent in sports, nor are sports necessarily a cause for violence. However our culture of hero worshiping athletes, throwing money and PR people at them to cover up scandals in order to continue oiling the machine are glaringly obvious contributors. Of course it goes without saying that we as a people know more about these cases because the people involved are famous. Yes thats true. But what can we learn from them? What can we learn and improve on using these cases as examples?

On April 10, 2007, after more than 50 NFL players had been arrested in the previous football season, Commissioner Roger Goodell was widely hailed for instituting a newly stringent personal conduct policy. Mr. Goodell threatened to banish players for off-the-field transgressions and installed himself as the judge and jury presiding over every case.

In another case in 2008, Michael Boley, a linebacker with the Atlanta Falcons at the time, was suspended by the league for a game after he was charged with battery. His wife at the time had told the police that he “became physical with her.” The case did not go to trial.

In one of the higher-profile cases, Brandon Marshall, a wide receiver with the Denver Broncos at the time, was initially suspended for three games over events that included his being arrested on charges of assaulting his girlfriend. But his suspension was later reduced to one game.

In 2010, Tony McDaniel, a defensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, was suspended for one game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct after a domestic dispute with his live-in girlfriend, according to The Sun-Sentinel newspaper in South Florida. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to attend counseling.

And of course 2014 brought the domestic violence cases involving Ray Rice and his wife.

Out of these examples, one player was kept of out one game and then reinstated before an outcry led to his being suspended indefinitely.  Another player played in one game, but is being kept out while still being paid.  McDonald has continued to play for the team, which has said it is waiting for his case to be resolved judicially.  And Ray Rice, well, that was a mess made worse by the NFL’s initial unwillingness to acknowledge it. There are countless others in sports that have been high profile cases of not just domestic violence but far more serious offenses: i.e. OJ Simpson’s “trial of the century” for the murder of his ex wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman; Michael Vick and his very high profile dog fighting case (separate blog on this later).

It’s not clear if on-field violent behavior leads to off-field violence. Common sense suggests that people who become accustomed to using physical intimidation and violence in sport naturally revert to those behaviors when facing conflict outside of sport. “Athletes who hang out at bars, restaurants, or clubs are often targets for other tough guys, who bait them with insults and disrespect. The athlete, who feels his manhood is being challenged, may struggle not to respond with physical force. However, athletes who do respond physically may be simply reflecting cultural upbringing that was established outside of sport.” (Social Issues in Sports) Sport may not be the cause of violence, but rather a result of the athletes’ upbringing or natural disposition, which led them to choose a violent sport. It would be difficult to sum up one cause or contributing factor.

Nationally, statistics suggest that 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence.

If you need help or want advice on how to help a friend or family member escape a violent situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Kinky Boots teaching us to walk in others shoes

Last month I went to San Francisco to see the stage production of the musical “Kinky Boots.” I’ve listened to the soundtrack for years and have been waiting to see the stage production.  Prior to attending the stage version of “Kinky Boots” I knew the story through the songs. I would say the story is genius as well, but it actually is based on a true story…one that still rings true, almost more so, today.  The musical tells of a struggling British shoe factory’s owner Charlie, who forms an unlikely partnership with Lola, a drag queen, to save the business. Charlie, the storys main charachter, had gone off to London to live an artists life leaving his father and his fathers company, the aptly named,  “Price and Son” behind.  When his father dies, Charlie is forced home and takes over the shoe factory but struggles to be the person his father was (and the person his father wanted him to be). Charlie develops a plan to produce custom foot wear for drag queens, rather than the men’s dress shoes that his firm is known for, and in the process, he and Lola discover that they are not so different after all. We could learn a lot from the examples of Charlie and Lola. In one song, “Not My Fathers Son,” a duet between Charlie and Lola, both sing about a longing for approval to be who they are.

(LOLA)

When I was just a kid
everything I did, was to be like him
under my skin
My father always thought,
if I was strong and fought
not like some albatross, I’d begin
to fit in

Look at me powerless and holding my breath
trying hard to repress what scared him to death
It was never easy to be his type of man
to breathe freely was not in his plan
and the best part of me
is what he wouldn’t see

I’m not my fathers son
I’m not the image of what he dreamed of
With the strength of Sparta and the patience of Job,
still couldn’t be the one
to echo what he’d done
and mirror what was not in me

So I jumped in my dreams and found an escape
maybe I went to extremes of leather and lace,
but the world seems brighter six inches off the ground
and the air seemed lighter
I was profound and I felt so proud
just to live out loud

I’m not my fathers son
I’m not the image of what he dreamed of
With the strength of Sparta and the patience of Job,
still couldn’t be the one
to echo what he’d done
and mirror what was not in me

The endless story of expectations swirling inside my mind
wore me down
I came to a realization and I finally turned around
to see

that I could just be me

(Charlie)
I’m not my fathers son
I’m not the image of what he dreamed of

(Lola)
With the strength of Sparta and the patience of Job,

(Charlie/Lola)
still couldn’t be the one
to echo what he’d done
and mirror what was not in me

(Lola)
We’re the same, Charlie boy,
you and me.

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg, rapper, actor, entertainer is also a criminal. As a teen and young man, Mark committed many heinous, racially motivated crimes that nowadays we refer to as “hate crimes.” These are serious things that strem from some very serious feelings and ideas. Mark now wants the state of Massachusetts to pardon him for this slew of crimes committed because now hes a good person. I have no doubt he is. However I do not believe Mark Wahlberg should be pardoned. He did not commit one offense. He committed MANY. racially charged offenses. These are not the act of a foolish kid who didn’t know better. These acts-throwing rocks and chasing schoolkids, beating up a man and shouting racial epithets-are an increasing pattern of racial violence. These should be a part of his permanent record, That is a consequence of his actions.

I would understand better if Mark had committed one act as a kid who didn’t know better. If Mark had gone on to take classes in conflict resolution, or learned how to deal with others in a diverse population, then that would be different. But Mark hasnt done anything that outstanding beyond what others who learn from experiences do. He got out of jail. HE got a successful career. He got married and had kids. Good for him. But he doesnt deserve a pardon for that. As a responsible adult who wants to take responsibility for these actions, Mark should accept this with understanding.

I have a dream

MLK day! And what have we learned so far in 2015? Well we have 1 black President out of all the Presidents ever. This is hailed as historic and wonderful. Which of course it IS but this one win should not be it for us.By no means should folks sit back & think “well we made it! we can rest easy” and put their feet up thinking everyone in this country is treated and regarded equally by everyone in society.

It IS Great we have a black President. Mr Obama is intelligent and articulate. He is also much more privileged than the average black man. I do not feel he often uses his position to push for equality or to speak for others as much as he should. President Obama grew up in an upper middle class home. He lived in Hawaii which is by no means a cheap state to live. He is half white which certainly helps in terms of his opportunities in life, his upbringing, opportunities etc. He does not speak for the lower class black man struggling to survive in the projects, in my opinion. That said, his election to President (even the Senate before that) has heped make strides in equality for this country. IT broke the tradition of the good old boy network in the White HOuse.

However in the rest of this country we’re still battling whether women have rights to birth control. LGBT people still dont have full rights in many states. Racism and treatment of black lives throughout the country has been a “hot topic” in the media of late. Racism in America is quite alive & well, as are a lot of other “isms.” The internet is a battleground full of extremists on both liberal & conservative spectrums who all need to check themselves. (IE There may be bad cops, not all cops are bad. Westboro Baptist may be “religious” but not all religious ppl are like Westboro Baptist. 99% of rapists might be men, but not all men are rapists, and you get the idea) Folks if you find yourself falling for an us/them way of thinking, no matter how you spin it, you might need to check your own prejudices, it starts with you. Everyone can battle prejudice – starting w/ themselves. We still have a long way to go.

Happy MLK day!

Here for MLK day is Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech from 1963. It is still timely to this day.

 

“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?”

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Leelah Alcorn

This is a reposted article from Yahoo News…I know I know, not the best of online news but very poignant. I will be blogging no this a lot when I get my thoughts together.

http://news.yahoo.com/transgender-teen-leelah-alcorn-commits-suicide–leaves-behind-suicide-note—my-death-needs-to-mean-something-234758770.html