Monday, August 3, 2009


In a time when Black athletes are treated as semi-gods and getting stupid money without being expected to have any kind of social consciousness, Dikembe Mutombo made the choice to open an all-star hospital in his native Congo, not only to save a village but his country. Just the kind of pride you'd expect a brotha with mad money right here in the States to show. Not to hold down the very same projects he came from but to create legit jobs, so more of his folk can get out of them. This is what giving back looks like. No handout, but a lookout; and not more exploitation of things already gone bad. You already know. Time to step up the game or pass the ball to someone who thinks in terms of us rather than I; we instead of me, if that's even in style anymore.

No, I'm no news reporter, though my words and images inform and if I'm fortunate enough, sometimes inspire. What I am is a responsible educator who understands the importance of young Black boys, especially, needing role models who have a strong sense of self and community.

So while we're taking polls on which athlete is hated the most or whether or not dog-fighting is cultural or just plain evil, lemme bring up Muhammad Ali who refused to enlist in the Vietnam War to go shoot at people he didn't have beef with. It cost him his championship belt but supersized his rep as a global hero and a proud, undisputable Black man. He didn't buy a ghetto mansion, twelve cars and crazy jewelry to prove his manhood. He simply stayed true to self in a manner that not only helped shape the icon he is today but also exemplified to the rest of us what Black manhood can look like, particularly when the images that are pushed the most are either demonic or show total buffoonery.

This is what we need. More Alis, more Mutombos, more Magic Johnsons who stand for the Black Collective; more principals like Steve Perry and Frank

Mickens (R.I.P.) who think out the box...

More rappers who choose to drop knowledge instead of their pants!

Whether we're re-acting to racism or tolerating misogyny in our music videos, we're still missing out on coming up with a healthier, more significant definition of what pride looks like or what Black manhood is supposed to be about.

Or how'bout I put it to you this way--

Fiction: All Black males are good in basketball
Fact: Most Black boys who want to be NBA stars will not be picked

Fiction: Flash and cash make you important
Fact: Acting like you matter, without using a crutch like an excuse or a pit bull, is part of being a man

Fiction: Black people don't love themselves
Fact: Mutombo's and Wyclef Jean's foundations are saving lives every day

Fiction: Blacks need money to become better students
Fact: All of Perry's low income high school students move on to college

Fiction: Progress means teaching Black kids to be better test-takers
Fact: Progess means testing Black kids on their natural know-how, rather than administering exams that don't take into account culture, income and social class

Fiction: Black children don't like school
Fact: Black parents don't get involved enough in their children's education

Fact: A typical Black kid can regurgitate an entire Rap verse filled with self-hate and woman-hate yet can still fail English
Fact: Mutombo speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, five African languages, and never uses the N word!

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