Saturday, February 27, 2010


A Vancouver newspaper reporter recently said this about the no nonsense, Chicago-born gold and silver medalist, Shani Davis-— "Davis has been portrayed as a complicated athlete, misunderstood by a media he refuses to court, at odds with a national governing body he distrusts, and caught up in controversies created by his own uncompromising honesty and candor..."

Ever read something that described you to the Truth? It's more than astrology; deeper than pointing the finger, but one of those cosmic events that fly right passed you but your quick hand manages to catch it, hold it and allow it in. You gotta be more than just asleep to not get what I'm saying. And you'll have to do your homework to find out what the reporter meant by a media he refuses to court. But since it's Black History Month and all, lemme bring up Tommie Smith and John Carlos who got their Olympic medals revoked for displaying the Black fist and Muhammad Ali losing his fighter license after refusing to go to Vietnam to, as he put it, "kill folks who didn't do anything to me". When you make the connection between these brave men of honor and the notion of a socially-conscious athlete, you can then understand why the fuss over Shani Davis choosing to define his star power on his terms. He didn't necessarily need to show the fist as well. Both his speed and gold medal would've done that for him. But it was the point of it-- I'm representing! My rep as an athlete might be one who won't let the media tag me as a Black skater, but a skater. But I'm Black when I win!

So besides sending the message that he wasn't doing the dance for the usual suspects, Shani Davis was demonstrating what an informed sports fan can look like. A more evolved spectator who ackowledges the Black rage and White guilt, as opposed to avoiding it. But the corporate heads don't see it that way, especially since they make money off skin color politics. They can't sell an African American speed skater without highlighting his skin color and downplaying who he is as a person. That's how they keep things neat and categorized. That's how they keep one sport White and another Black. That's how they control the images. And that's why Shani Davis said, no.

But even a progressive like Davis has to show some tolerance by agreeing to allow a rival White skater hold up the American flag with him to call an end to a public feud. (Think of how Sports Illustrated needed to put a blond next to Tyra to make the very first Black cover issue not be so threatening to insecure Whites. Consider how Tyra must've hid her black fist behind that bikini!) Davis' rival teammate, and the brand names who backed him, wanted him to fall back some but Shani wasn't willing to play the supporting role (now you know). So after he beat the odds, most likely pissing off his haters, he made a Marvin Gaye move after Motown's first daughter put on the pressure-- a gesture, a symbol for all to see that ultimately meant nothing. And affectionately, with bright smiles, he said to America-- Here, my dear.

We love bullsht!

Still, Davis is the kind of Black athlete our young males need to see. The same types of sport figures who understand their unique role in our collective struggle, whether it's showing the black fist or refusing to go to war. Both actions leading to the stripping of titles, yet with a satisfaction of having left a legacy of unapologetic sense of Black maleness. Not ballers who brag about how many females and cars they got or the sellouts who help push $200 sneakers that an impressionable inner-city kid and his single mom can't afford.

Our latest hero is virtually absent on TV and in the mags. You gotta get a German or French paper, or turn to The Stephen Colbert Show, to get to know Chicago. The price you pay for not going along with the Program. The price you pay to keep your dignity.

Ever read something that described you to the Truth? Do you stand for something? Could you handle standing alone? Could you handle the isolation from both sides? Whites labelling you arrogant, Blacks calling you troublesome just cos you want more?

1 comment:

primamyrna said...

Wow! Thank you much for your coverage on this extraordinary young man.
As always your posts are food for thought.

Myrna Rodz.
Puerto Rico