Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

Don Cornelius, a class act with a lot of soul

February 1, 2012

Video on CNN.com: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-740045

Summary: Like many across the globe, I would like to say rest in peace to Don Cornelius. He brought us the best in music in a format that has been often imitated, but never duplicated.

Kevin Powell is wrong about the elite black athete

October 19, 2011

Earlier this fall, I was vacationing in Puerto Rico with several of my friends. While walking near the coast of an historic castle, I saw one of the cleanest and colorful basketball courts I have ever seen. I looked more closely at the court to try to make out the name of the court. To my amazement, it said “The Carmelo Anthony Court.” I was shocked for two reasons. The first reason is that I was not aware of Carmelo’s half Puerto Rican ancestry. The other reason was that I never heard of this park dedication on the news, which is one of two that Anthony created through his “Courts 4 Kids” program in Puerto Rico.

What I witnessed in Puerto Rico is really at the heart of my frustration with Mr. Kevin Powell’s Ebony Magazine article entitled “The Decline of the Elite Black Athlete.” While well-intentioned, the article serves to scold our young athletes as if they are little careless boys running around like chickens with their heads cut off. He also chides them for not being involved in political issues of the day as iconic athletes such as Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali were. While this may be true to some degree, an argument can be made that elite black male athletes are more engaged in their community and more engaged in being positive role models than they ever have since Jim Brown’s time.

I do not think I could have said this nearly a decade ago. This was around the time where Ron Artest, then with the Indiana Pacers, charged a fan in the stands and initiated what came to be known as the “basket brawl” involving several players and fans. This was the time where the NBA Portland Trailblazers were referred to frequently as the Portland “Jailblazers” due to members of that team frequently being involved with legal matters. Weapons and weed being found in the passenger seats of these athlete’s cars also seemed to be a weekly headline. While Powell’s article takes more of a paternalistic tone, it may have been more appropriate back then, though it may have fallen on deaf ears given that many of these athletes were probably not reading Ebony Magazine. In this new decade, however, the game has changed.

It is important to note that Powell said the “elite” black athlete. Just taking the NBA into account, I think of the elite athletes being Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, and Chris Paul. Of course there are others. I cannot think of a single incident where any of these men have been involved in illegal activity. They have not only been upstanding citizens, but also dedicated fathers in the example of Dwayne Wade fighting for his children in a bitter custody battle. Several of them are married or in serious relationships, and they all have some form of foundation such as Carmelo’s where they are investing in athletic endeavors as well as educational programs such as LeBron’s foundation.

Lastly, the NBA lockout has solidified my positive view of these athletes. Without getting paid, these athletes have traveled the country playing basketball and have paid for their own travel arrangements. Ticket prices for these games have ranged from $5-50 in some cases. They have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities and have given NBA wannabes a shot at them. Some of these games have taken place at nice colleges, while other games have taken place in some of the most notorious areas of major cities such as Anacostia in Washington DC, where I happen to live. I have seen Kobe Bryant hit game winning shots at the Drew League gym and let kids swamp him who would never have a chance to pay for a game at the Staples Center. To cap it all off, Amare spoke publicly that these players have spoken seriously about starting their own league should the lockout continue. Is that not black entrepreneurship at its best?

It is time that we who have a platform within the black media sphere start celebrating our athletes. Let the rest of the media condemn the thug actions of a select few. The athletes of today will never be able to achieve the political stature of an Ali or Jim Brown because there are not as many examples of overt racism and oppression as existed during those times where the State was just as much the enemy of blacks as the KKK. Having said that, these athletes have flexed their political muscle in support of then-candidate Barack Obama, contrary to Michael Jordan who, at the same age of these players, refused to endorse a democrat for political office because “republicans buy sneakers too.”

Let’s prop up all that is great about our athletes. Most of these men (and women) will not speak about their charitable endeavors so let’s do it for them. During the NFL lockout we have seen a player go into teaching and another player turn down a multi-million dollar contract in order to go to business school. Let’s be the ones responsible for showing our youth how they can look at these athletes as role models. Let’s praise our elders like Magic Johnson and Tony Dungy willing to be mentors. Lastly, let’s not act as if it is only our black athletes have a void to fill in our community as it relates to black male role models. We are missing black male teachers, doctors, lawyers, and others who can be role models. Let’s stop criticizing what we are against and celebrate what we are for and the athletes who represent that in every sense of the word because the elite black athlete is reflecting a positive image on black America that we have not seen in quite some time.

Omékongo Dibinga, M.A., is a diversity consultant, motivational speaker, and musician. He is the author of several books including G.R.O.W. Towards Your Greatness! 10 Steps To Living Your Best Life and The UPstander’s Guide To An Outstanding Life. He serves as Director for UPstander International. Email him at omekongo@iupstand.com or follow him on Twitter @omekongo.