Visit The Barber?

By: S. Davis

Funny how in the aftermath of the Michael Vick interview with Jason Whitlock people are now jumping behind a guy that was maligned for his play as a quarterback and the decisions he made on and off the field of play. So he’s the one to rally behind as it relates to Colin Kaepernick’s abilities under center? Oh the lines people draw….

Vick had to ingratiate himself to any and all who would listen. Furthermore he needed the vetting of Tony Dungy just to get the ball rolling on his NFL career when he was released from prison. His advice to Kaepernick was genuine and I feel that he was doing it for the greater good of the quarterback’s future – but you have to view it from Vick’s distinct point of view. There were steps to take; he had a list of objectives he needed to meet in order to earn his desired result: employment in the National Football League. His whole existence – as far as the NFL is concerned – is to redeem himself in the eyes of the power brokers. Even now, as a retired player, he’s still on the redemption tour when doing goodwill for his  youth camps and outreach for his commitments related to charities involving animals. These are the lenses in which he’s viewing Kaepernick – and the barriers he’s facing in resuming his career.

It is not even close to being in the same universe.

Football is my favorite sport but I personally may go without my favorite way to kill time – until Kaepernick is signed or he retires. So people who have taken lives, although not through convicted murder, can line up on Sundays. You can beat your wife and assault other human beings, drive drunk and kill animals but someone who happens to be African-American QUIETLY protests and that’s the line? That’s the transgression that the league deems as too extreme?

We can’t have that in our game!

How odd is that? Why don’t white people, by and large, understand that the American experience isn’t the same for everyone? It isn’t.

Hey, white people do you remember that tiny, secret, work-exchange program called slavery. It happened. No matter how much you want to forget it. Listen this isn’t a diatribe against white America but we all view this country based on our experiences. Your worldview is built upon those experiences – and the black experience is not remotely close to those who happen to be in the majority in America.

Why the hell are white people so sensitive about the truth of this country? This ridiculous stance the league is taking against Kaepernick is proof.

Vick needed a fresh start. He was convicted of a crime and went to jail. He needed to make things right and be redeemed. There was a legitimate stigma and baggage that followed him. He had a mandate to be presentable to the 32 owners and general managers in the league.

Kaepernick carries no such baggage and, no, he doesn’t need to visit the barber. He doesn’t need to apologize. He doesn’t need to seek redemption. He didn’t do anything wrong.

On the “Dan Patrick Show” yesterday Vick was thoughtful and apologetic. “I think it was taken out of context in regards to what I was trying to convey, but I only want to help Colin Kaepernick. I’m not a general manager, I’m not the guy who makes the decisions on getting him signed, and I’m truly sorry for what I said. I think I should have used a better choice of words. Obviously we all know his afro has nothing to do with him not being signed.”

Why isn’t he signed to a contract yet? It’s the end of July. There are not 32 quarterbacks in the league fit to start. Kaepernick was a handful of plays away from having a Super Bowl ring on his hand. He had 16 touchdowns against four interceptions last season when possessions/turnovers is the most important facet of football. There’s not a single job for him?

Outside of the game, he’s an activist donating time and money to the causes that inspire him. If Tom Brady led the exact silent protest I wonder how he would be viewed, covered and dissected. I know the answer, he’d have a church erected in his honor and the country would cite him as the coming of a new deity. People already worship him as if he is one.

If whites protest an issue that draws their attention they’re viewed as passionate and true Americans whereas any protest involving African-Americans (and other minorities) get labeled as malcontents, mobs, and breeding a dangerous element. It’s shameful and the media covers things in such a way where it’s normal for them to pass those adjectives out.

This country was started on a rebellion. Americans wanted freedom of expression, clear of tyranny and rule from Great Britain. America protested. America fought. American gained its independence and in that same vein mandated that its citizens do the same. Yet a quarterback staging a quiet and personal protest against the National Anthem – which was penned by a slave owner and anti-abolitionist – is wrong for exercising his right? What he’s doing couldn’t be more American in nature.

He doesn’t need to apologize. He doesn’t need to seek redemption. He didn’t do anything wrong.

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Got An NFL Starter Here, Wait…

By: S. Davis

There are 32 starting quarterback jobs in the NFL. There are a few depth charts where the man taking the snaps is completely locked in at his position; New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Green Bay, New York (Giants), Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, etc. However there are not 32 starting caliber quarterbacks in the league (I’m counting rookies projected to start this upcoming season). I count 11-13 franchises that should take a deep look at the man tasked with being their leader, on the field.

Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned. It’s July.

Is it possible that an injury brings him into a camp in a few weeks? Yes. Possible, yet improbable as I’m sure a new, manufactured, reason would quickly sprout out of the blue to justify keeping him floating in free agency. The NFL – as a whole – has made a decision and it fills me with dread. I care more about the NFL than just about every other sport I consume, maybe combined. I love football. The chess match of offense versus defense, the coaching game plans, how a certain defense will strategize all the ways to limit the best offensive player – and vice versa. It’s such a layered game.

This space, here, covers a multitude of topics, genres, sports, etc. My passion for the NFL is a pillar of my website as I write about it more frequently than anything else. How the league has banded together, in unison, to exclude Kaepernick puts me in a corner – and I may focus more on MMA and the NBA. In the ongoing issue regarding his return to the field, I don’t think I’ll be able to write about football in the same way I’ve grown accustomed to. I may put my pen down for the whole season. This makes me want to stop writing about the game altogether.

I wasn’t a cheerleader of Kaepernick during his glory days but I’ve always respected his abilities. I respect what he felt he needed to do. Let’s not forget that he didn’t seek out cameras during his silent protest. There were two or three weeks where it wasn’t picked up by ANYONE…and then, well, we’re in July and he doesn’t have a job when he should be under center…today.

The stats don’t need to be drawn out here but he threw 16 TD/4 INT while completing 59.2% of his passes. He had the sixth lowest completion percentage of any quarterback in the league – which is nothing to disregard. He did have a record of 1-10 in the games in which he started last season and that means something. What about the coaching changes after Jim Harbaugh left town? Jim Tomsula? Gone. Chip Kelly? There’s the door, sir.

Shouldn’t stability speak for something? What about roster turnover? The San Francisco 49ers’ roster is comprised of spare parts that can be purchased in Spanish Harlem – and has been a revolving door in the last two seasons. Does none of that factor into the equation here? How about the fact that his receiving group led the league in drops; isn’t that substantial? That isn’t something he can control and yet the league is keeping him out.

It only matters that a man of color didn’t stand for the national anthem. Why is the NFL comfortable with a national anthem that was penned by a slave owner and an anti-abolitionist? Why is the country? That’s fine though. Why isn’t that disrespectful?

A starting caliber quarterback will sit on the sidelines – his career probably over – because the powerful NFL felt it was out of line for an African-American to highlight that the American experience isn’t the same for every citizen within its borders. By and large the masses are totally fine with their stance and it’s disgusting but not surprising at all in 2017. There are things about this country that will never change. It’s now being viewed through the lenses of the biggest sport in the United States.

Democrat, Republican or American?

By: S. Davis

trcl

Which are you?

It seems like an odd question to drop at someone’s feet or is it? I don’t think it is – and if I did I wouldn’t have much to write about honestly. When you take into account all the missteps that Donald Trump has, and will continue to make, you have to look at those still firmly in this corner. How does it make any sense at all? Maybe that’s another point because none of this seems plausible.

Is America an evolved nation? It’s hard to say that when half of the country is determined to bleed for a party whose current face is belligerent, hateful – and if not glaringly racist, then racially dismissive to frightening degrees while being a known bully to women. Republicans, are you really going to vote for this man?

Once it was clear that Trump would be the nominee of the GOP I considered the vision of him actually taking up residence in the White House. I know how divided this country is, across too many issues to count, so I took a moment and realized that enough dedicated republicans could make that a reality. The feeling that turned in my chest wasn’t one of comfort. The fact that he was doing well in the polls didn’t frighten me per se, I was far more alarmed at the support he garnered to boost him forward. He cultivated a following that would not mute themselves or sit idly on their hands waiting for their turn. There was a level of support that caught a lot of Americans – and those around the world by surprise.

What’s the conscience of this country?

Factoring the damning evidence, video and audio recordings that portray Trump in unflattering ways how can any American look to him as a leader; as the person fit to represent the entire country? His followers defend the indefensible, adorn him with praise at his rallies and keep up their fierce loyalty. It’s as if he’s a deity in their eyes.

From the time I could remember, I was taught in history class how church and state should be separate. I could also realize how that’s not remotely possible being that God and religion is intertwined in government and United States legislature at every level.

Americans scream to the mountains about keeping religion out of politics but isn’t following a candidate, strictly due to party affiliation, a form of religion in itself?

Believing in a message? Check. Ignoring the inadequacies a candidate may express? Check. Defending the most abhorrent transgressions? Check. Crying about being misunderstood when there are decades of evidence proving that the masses truly understand the human you are? Check. Acting with aggression towards a dissenting faction, namely, democrats or independents? Yup.

This isn’t a public service announcement for the campaign of Hilary Clinton, not at all. As a registered democrat I have no qualms about the fact that I will vote for her but I can say with a clear heart that I have voted across party lines in the past because I’m American before I’m a democrat. Is she perfect? No. Is she trustworthy? Maybe I’d let her baby-sit my nephews, maybe? The most important thing to me is that she seems capable of handling the highest office, she has experience – and above all else she seems reasonable.

Republicans, are you Americans or members of the GOP first and foremost?

I’d really like to know. How can anyone think that Trump is fit to be president? I find those that are unrelenting in their support of the republican ticket, knowing the platform – Does he have one besides bluster? – and positions he’s taken to be a kind of human being I probably couldn’t agree on dinner plans with. (On that hypothetical evening, she and I would have to avoid talking about politics at all costs which is fine in my book.)

Remove all political party ties from the equation and think to yourself, as an American citizen, can you vote for him to be president? If political parties did not exist, could you walk into that voting booth and select him?

Un-American?

By: S. Davis

AFlag

Disrespectful.

I see you America. I see exactly what you’re saying in attacking Colin Kaepernick’s right to protest (quietly) by refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As an American citizen he has the right to stand (or sit) for his beliefs, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. I guess that a large number of those angered by his choice forgot how this country was founded.

Those feeling disrespected are focused on what he did instead of why he did it. Of course that’s the case because that’s what the ignorant chorus is likely to do….it’s standard operating procedure.

“He’s disrespecting the military.”

Is that true? He clearly stated in his chat with the media over the weekend that he means no disrespect to anyone in the military, past or present, and that he has veterans within his family. Veterans are voicing their opinion and it seems that most disagree but there are some that don’t have an issue with his actions.

When did joining the military drape someone in a halo and a cloak of perfection? So every single person that’s active or former military is above everyone else? The professions I hold in the highest esteem are the armed forces, teachers, social workers and firefighters but there’s not a single person on this planet that’s perfect and can’t be wrong.

People are infallible, clearly, and that extends to those in the military. Military members have received traffic tickets, screamed at their children, cheated on taxes, got into fistfights, cheated on their spouses, been incarcerated, etc. You get the point, right? They’re human just like the rest of us. I don’t agree with veterans who call his position wrong but I respect and value their opinion.

America does a great job of disrespecting its own military by not paying them enough and not caring for them post-active duty. How many homeless veterans do you encounter regularly? How many of these soldiers are returning, broken, to a country that does little for all their sacrifice? It seems the best ones love this country more than it loves them. I could be wrong though. The country conveniently ignores the plight of service members once they return to our shores. Why isn’t that un-American?

“He’s disrespecting those that died for our flag.”

There’s not a single person that died for the fabric that makes our flag – which is increasingly manufactured OUTSIDE of America, by the way. They sacrificed themselves for what the symbol represents.

They died so he could protest; so he could speak against wrongs in this country. It’s that simple. He’s honoring what they took up arms for.

What exactly does the flag represent?

It’s a conflicting sight for African-Americans and other minorities. We don’t know how to feel about the flag, the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. The three of them were created by whites during a time when slavery was big business, the main business. The national anthem wasn’t written with African-Americans in mind. The Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t created to include minorities. The flag is a symbol…of something.

There isn’t a single thing about Kaepernick’s position that’s incorrect. He’s right on all accounts. Systemic racism, injustice for minorities… “Liberty and justice for all?” Where is he off-base? America is this proposed utopia…for a select few. Ignorant whites are really uncomfortable about that and they need to wake up and realize there are two versions of America. Informed people – of all colors – understand and don’t run from it. African-Americans, specifically, see the contradictions in what this country actually is and what it claims to be.

Why doesn’t America care about racism?

Why does America continue to oppress non-whites?

I hear the screams about the rich, black, quarterback and how “he needs to leave the country.” I’ve read the outrage about him making “millions” and “cashing his American checks” because I guess being rich overrides his skin tone. Where is the outrage about how divided this country still is? There is none except for those suffering: Americans of color.

Why does the Civil Rights Act even exist? Why did it have to be written into law? Whites didn’t have to fight for the right to vote, ever. Why did minorities? This country was so vehemently against equal rights that millions of black people had to die just so we could gain the same equality that whites are gifted at the time of birth. There isn’t a white Civil Rights Act, it isn’t needed.

Why does the hypocrisy of this country go unnoticed?

I remember paying attention in history class when the topic of World War II was on the syllabus. (Personally, it’s a moment in time that fascinates me. I’m completely enthralled by it. It has so many layers.)  So America finally entered the war, reluctantly, to stop an evil dictator who was killing a select group of people due to his own twisted bigotry and ideal of racial superiority. Thousands of innocent Jewish people where being exterminated for…being Jewish. That’s it.

We were steadfast in our resolve to make a statement and end the racism, oppression and murder that Adolf Hitler was dolling out across Europe. Our troops played their part in ending the war, returned home and America continued to oppress and limit the rights of African-AMERICANS. That was America, then. We fought for the freedom of Europeans but resisted the same freedom for fellow Americans…whose only crime was darker skin.

Is that disrespectful? Is that a symbol of a united America?

America is proficient at this. We fought for our rights when we felt we were under an oppressive regime. We rebelled against Great Britain because they blocked our freedom, our rights to exist, our religious freedoms, our right to form a nation, etc. We revolted against subjugation – and then subjugated an entire race.

I remember asking my grade school teachers about this in comparison to what happened during WWII – and I recall blank stares and a great deal of stammering.

Can we still ignore that? Are you still cool with that white America?

This is directed at white people who keep their heads in the sand or say he’s “un-American.” What does being American truly mean? The answer will differ depending on the person being asked – and their skin tone…and that’s bullshit. It was bullshit during the formation of this country, during the Civil War, Reformation, the Civil Rights Era and it’s bullshit in 2016.

That Kaepernick is an athlete doesn’t matter much. I like that it’s a huge story because he’s an athlete and this country worships sport and celebrity. There’s no way to avoid it but it’s ok, America. The news cycle will churn swiftly to sweep this under the rug. We all know that.

People don’t like that he protested in the manner in which he did, ok. What type of protest would’ve been acceptable? What would’ve made his actions easier to digest? I respect that he stood out, alone, instead of with the backing of other athletes.

Liberty and justice for all? Not if you have a natural tan.

This country loves symbols and maybe that’s why it has such a hard time removing the Confederate flag. Why does that flag still exist? The only place that piece of cloth should hang is in a few museums and that’s it. However its defenders claim it’s a sign of “southern pride and values.” Who do these values belong to exactly? It’s racist. It’s disgusting. It’s hurtful.

People lauded the politicians of South Carolina for taking it down but it should have never been raised in the first place. Does this country want to keep racism alive? Does America want to really end racism? Or does it just need to hold on to these little trinkets to remember that they held that power in an overt way?

Stop making an issue about what Kaepernick did. Please, focus on why he did it. I’ m not rich but I’m black and I’m conflicted about the flag and this country depending on what day it happens to be.

He protested the country and its government. Like it or not it’s American. If anything else lives up to the definition it’s his actions. It’s akin to the time during the birth of this nation when we spoke out collectively and were stamped as “un-British.”

Focus on why he protested. That’s where all the attention should be pointed. The reasons of his protest are the only things that matter here.

Black Lives Matter

By: S. Davis

BLMatter

When the response to anything related to Black Lives Matter is “All Lives Matter,” well, it directly comes across as short-sighted, disrespectful and heavy-handed in nature. It carries a subtext of “shut up and go away.” When activists are chanting it, having it applied to shirts and banners and making it newsworthy, it’s not because they believe that black lives mean more than any others on this planet or more specifically, America. It’s just to simply highlight that for most of this country’s history ONLY white lives have been deemed relevant, important and worthy of defending.

Black lives don’t matter as much as white ones in this country. There’s no disputing that. This country was built on the back of slaves, Africans. They were viewed as property so of course they held the same level of relevance as a cup, dish or scissors but they were far more lucrative to their owners based on the amount of work – and commerce they were able to generate. Remember those good ole Southern boys wanted to ensure “southern values” and their “way of living” by dying in combat over their position to have slavery exist in perpetuity.

In addition to blacks being owned in this land of the free they had the glory of being counted as three-fifths of a person in the U.S. Constitution of 1787 (Article I, section 2). Over time the clause has been misinterpreted to mean that blacks were counted as three-fifths of a person or three-fifths of a complete citizen of the country – although I clearly see why anyone could make that argument. I won’t even dispute them. The clause was written to count enslaved blacks as three-fifths of their white counterparts for direct representation in Congress. Even with the correct explanation of the clause a simple question of, “Why aren’t all lives equal on a one-to-one basis?” can easily be posed. This is another instance of black lives being devalued.

Why don’t people understand this? Why are some whites afraid to admit that blacks and other minorities have been discriminated against since…forever? Why do they insist racism is “in the past” and slavery “wasn’t that bad”?

In an interview on the Brian Lehrer Show, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said “The Black Lives Matter movement, and what it stands for, is important for this country. The very phrase ‘black lives matter’ is an absolute and direct response to a broken history in this country of structural racism in this country. It is a necessary movement.” De Blasio is a white man if things like that matter to any of you and his wife’s black as well…again, if that matters.

While I don’t agree completely with the BlackLivesMatter movement – in so much as I find their lack of response to black-on-black crime to be unsettling – I understand what drives them and what they’re doing is important.

When Black Lives Matter is heard there should be NO rebuttal at all. It isn’t needed. It’s not being expressed as a matter of dissension. It’s being said to remind those who pine for the days of slavery, segregation and ignorance that we won’t just sit idly on the sidelines and accept death. Simply put, black lives deserve an equal amount of respect as any other humans in this country – and on this planet. Yet there are those that want to fight against that…in 2016. Just take a look at the Republican nominee in the race for the White House.

I’m Just Black…Don’t Kill Me

By: S. Davis

I don’t like to write with anger. There are obvious reasons why but the last few days in America make it damn near impossible. So now it’s not safe to reach for my wallet…ok. How can I provide my identification without being pumped full of bullets?

We surrender and we die. We raise our hands in the air and you still shoot. I tell you that I can’t breathe because you’re putting pressure on my throat and I die. I’m fleeing arrest – and maybe I shouldn’t have run, I get that – but that’s no reason whatsoever to kill me in a hail of bullets that all enter my back.

Do you want us to leave your country? Because I honestly feel you still want us in chains, subservient and asking permission to look you in the eyes while we shine your shoes and press your clothing. Still, in 2016, we aren’t given the same respect as human beings. Pets are treated better in this society than the African-American male. That’s not a hyperbolic statement! An animal is treated badly and there’s such a vicious reaction and sympathy but a black man is gunned down by authorities and thoughts are expressed such as, “Well, he should’ve complied with the officer” or “Why did he talk back to the police?”

What’s the excuse now? “We feared for our lives” is the common response. Fear? When you have the advantage in numbers and the benefit of the doubt in the justice system? You’re afraid? You should feel emboldened to keep the status quo in this country alive and well. I can’t even see straight right now, I’m seething.

Race relations in this country aren’t better; not at all. They’re far worse than at any time since the Civil Rights Movement. You shoot, we die, there’s outrage, it soon evaporates and then another African-American male is riddled with bullets while the world feigns concern and then the news cycle just motors forward. Race will always be a problem in this United States of Racist America. The country was founded on it and that stain can never be washed from the fabric. That needs to be understood before we can mend relations going forward.

We need authentic understanding, dialogue and action. Cops don’t have to kill but they’re trained to use lethal force in almost every instance when tensions are on the rise. Apparently death is the only way to remedy conflict of any kind. I get it. Why can’t training be altered? Is that impossible? Can you just stop pretending to protect and serve and just put on the white hoods already? At least cut out the pretense of justice and get right down to your true nature.

All Caucasians aren’t racists, obviously, but a good portion of their population doesn’t care about race because they say it doesn’t factor in their lives. That’s part of the problem as well. Hey racists, you do know that whites had important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, the abolishment of slavery (this does NOT include Abraham Lincoln) and all the protests currently? Ignoring race and color only exacerbates the problems for everyone in this country. Look at the faces in anger gathered together in the crowd, they’re not all brown and dark tinted.

The problem is too many whites in America just don’t give a shit about anything outside of their bubbles. They don’t feel that they’re part of the larger issue because they have black friends to prove they are clearly not racists. (Because having a minority friend is the end-all to these issues, right?)

I don’t feel American at all today and looking at that flag makes me want to fucking puke. Dialogue is full of shit, action is needed. A(nother) black man will be killed very soon…and America will do nothing about it.

My heart goes out to those in mourning today. My prayers go out to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. My heart goes out to the families of those officers that died in Dallas. It’s just more tragedy…on top of tragedy. It’s savage, disheartening and not a single answer will come out of it.

Land of the free…

And On It Goes

By: S. Davis

They say we constantly complain
But where’s the change that we crave
In trying to live our lives
They let us know we’re not the same
Fearing the past, the suffocating oppression
And we will never forget the chains
And the cops, with our system
Yet they escape all the blame
And we’re falling behind swiftly in the American success game
Can we be more than skin tone
Can’t you just respect our names
We’re not asking for permission
To take part in this country anymore
As we built this damn thing
It’s a fact
Not a single ethnicity can ignore
We went from the bowels of those ships
To business ownership
We will not be held back
We will not be silenced
Let your ignorance dissolve
It’s undeniably outdated
Rewrite those voting laws across states
They are glaringly racist
They chant “Black Lives Matter” and I agree that they should
You see for hundreds of years
You hung us from nooses
While laughing under your pointed hoods
You didn’t need disguises to hurt us
Or blatantly kill us dead
You didn’t need reasons to attack us
With knives, dogs, fire or lead
America let this happen
Not a single reprimand
We were only fit to farm and break our backs
But not live freely on the land
All men are created equal
That’s how you began framing the country’s laws
And Lincoln was not some sympathetic emancipator
His edict was to preserve The Union by winning The Civil War
Textbooks omit this so our children are educated yet uninformed
Screaming “White Lives Matters” or “All Lives Matter” is an egregious retort
We want to be respected
And not be killed for sport
When we are forced to riot
Believe, it’s a last resort
Congress dials for dollars daily
When they’re elected to govern and work
Where’s Congressional reform
When the leaders are glorified telemarketers?
Be kind and die off
Don’t pass your hate to your kids
LGBT, straight, all skin tones and religions
Deserve the right to thrive…to live
We pledge allegiance to a flag
When a portion of the country
Views us with a high level of scorn
I care for this land of liberty
But it just has to be more
We must foster acceptance
And inclusion on these shores
When we all work together
The American Dream is available for us all