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.

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.

That Second Amendment

By: S. Davis

At the time when pen met paper to create the U.S. Constitution, our country was young and still strengthening its walking legs, we were in our infancy as an independent nation. The true threat of foreign invaders – predominantly British – was ever-present and to combat that the Constitution reflected the feelings of this country’s architects.

The Second Amendment is a product of its time; it was thought out and written as a response to the fear that Great Britain would invade our shores once more and place us under their rule. As humans, as Americans, have slowly evolved we’ve noticed that there are a myriad of laws and subjects concerning the creating of this nation that we now view as misguided, wrong and appalling but were quite fine with the Framers at the time they were conceptualized and scribbled on paper.

Some legislation needs to be put in place, any legislation. There shouldn’t be a time where people go to safe places such as schools, churches, malls, movie theatres, etc., and take their last breath on this planet by unknowingly walking into a whirlwind of bullets.

Guns will always be an ill of society – like drugs, greed, abuse of power, income inequality, etc. – and I’m not suggesting that law-abiding citizens be punished or have their homes raided for their weapons. However the thought of inaction in the face of another shooting is disappointing. Mind you, two more shootings took place on the campuses of Northern Arizona University and Texas Southern University in the last 24 hours.

Are we Americans? Are we humans? Are we devoid of compassion? How can we boast to the rest of the world that we’re a civilized society with the archaic gun laws in the U.S.A.? How can we point fingers at others in judgment while we simultaneously point easily accessible firearms at one another and pull the trigger without a second thought?

Sure, gun rights advocates will offer condolences to the bereaved but I get the feeling that in the very moment they turn their backs – and cock their guns – they think to themselves, “Well…they should have been armed.” That was the ongoing narrative in the wake of Sandy Hook, overwhelmingly. Will it take a school full of kids that have parents with influence inside the NRA to die tragically, in senseless gunfire, before something tangible gets done in Washington?

It’s time to tackle, revise and evolve the gun issue on Capitol Hill, it’s long overdue.

Where Are We Going?

By: S. Davis

Deadlocked
Nothing gets done
Republicans
Blatantly dismissive of the rank of President

This President

Destructively serving as an obstacle for any progress
Democrats outnumbered
Bewildered at every step
You are Left
You are Right

Not anyone meeting in the Center
You know, attempting to run this country

The World Cup shows how inclusive and glorious America
And the world can truly be
Everyone deserves a seat at the table
A chance to lead our nation

If you’re not Native-American
We are all, honestly, second citizens in terms of settling these shores
This was their land before Europeans
Before the slave ships
Before countless others fled religious and social persecution
Has the expansion of this country been fair to them?

What of our women?
Do they not replenish the planet with sons to be sent to war?
For one warlord, czar, prime minister, president or another to manipulate like chess pieces
Who is the woman who will be titled Madame President?

Is it an obvious choice or someone yet to arrive on the scene?
Men have brought the world and America close to ruin one time too many
Women have run this country anyway
It’s time they set up in the Oval Office

Think the boys club is upset with having an African-American in power?
Wait until a woman makes her presence felt

The cesspool that can be comments sections on the web believe racism is over
Didn’t exist or
Believe since a man of color has taken office in D.C., minorities at-large should sit quietly

“Things are even now, look at who the country elected.”
I’m a progressive thinker but it’s still obvious that our country is overwhelmingly uncomfortable with the family in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
And disgusted by the gridlock permeating our stagnant government

Change did occur
Briefly
You might have missed it

The initial euphoria abated,
Republicans currently wait for things to return to the Same

Tea Party:
“We’re taking our country back!”
Witness their rallies
Listen to their rhetoric
Reading between the lines
Needless, for the aforementioned proclamation to land
Ruminate

Have a thirst to gain enormous riches, commit crimes, see yourself unscathed and gain more wealth?
Head to Wall Street
They’re always hiring

Higher education, the greatest equalizer of all
Affording it has turned the country into two groups
Those who can pay to learn and those who watch the divide deepen
How can we elevate and innovate when only a precious few matriculate?

Loan…
Best wishes
When did complete debt become part of the collegiate experience?

Imbued with a ferocity to defy
To fight the president at every turn
Yet they don’t see the harm
They’re waiting for 2016

The Washington political machine is being programmed to make sure a future, tanned, Commander-in-Chief is an anomaly
It’s 2014 and Republicans pout in their sandbox refusing to work with a figure they didn’t choose
Sitting on their hands refusing to honor the rank of the presidency
Which should never wane regardless of who holds office

Some Republicans venture close to the Center
Once they do, however
They wrangle the “ol’ boys” club and have their political futures suddenly looking less than ideal

Party allegiances overrule reason and critical legislation
Domestic and foreign
Impeachment threats towards Obama when he acts
Critical when he doesn’t
Often on the same issue

Have all politicians lost sight that we are all Americans?
Did I miss something
Where are we going”
Being a world power isn’t a right

Must we lose our position, globally, to cherish what we have

Roman Empire, Qing Dynasty, Egyptian Empire, Mongol Empire, Ottoman Empire and countless others…
Common thread throughout time?
History depicts their impossible fall
Are we immune?

Are we not human as they were?
Can not the same be written of us?

This country has so much promise
Yet institutional racism, political posturing, fiscal irresponsibility and other ills keep us segregated

Dr. King, Robert Kennedy and so many others were killed in the name of equality and progress

Of fairness
Of opportunity for all
All

Where Are We Going?

Filled with pride I am when hearing “The Star Spangled Banner”
Should I feel differently?

Where Are We Going?

Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney: Steel Cage II

By: Shawn Davis

“Our combatants this evening, ladies and gentlemen.”

So we have President Barack Obama coming up all roses in the second death-match against opponent Mitt Romney. Great? I have no clue to be frank. Most of the talking heads, news reporters, and popular columnists – and least on the political left – are asking one major question: Why wasn’t Obama this stern and confident during the first debate?

It is one worth examining, isn’t it? What I find too often in Obama – for all his charisma – is that he can be timid at times, so much where it can be vomit inducing. The level of passivity he displayed was the very reason Romney looked so strong a candidate at night’s end, whereas the president looked flummoxed. The laughter Obama exhibited during some of the exchanges looked to be out-of-place, disingenuous and downright smug. So whatever winning a debate actually does, Romney clearly won.

Looking back on last night – after a few instances where it seemed the two would, clearly, get physical with one another – Obama looked like he absolutely should: like the Commander-in-Chief. He was forward, self-assured, confrontational and presidential in stature; no more of the lazy behavior from the first round. There was no point where I felt Romney was weak, at all, it’s just that the president landed when he needed points (and he did) and it was his night.

I have to say there were a few moments last night where Romney came across as obnoxious, and dare I say, entitled. He looked like a CEO that was being challenged in the boardroom (he clearly didn’t like it) and his face expressed his discomfort.

At this point in time most of America knows who they’re going to vote for. These debates are really geared to capture those who are undecided. The election is three weeks away and this is the final push to give those unclear of where they will lean a clear picture once they walk into the voting booth and close the curtain. Everyone registered to vote has two choices: do so or stay at home. That’s all there is to do.

Most news outlets proclaim the president to be the winner, overall, but when the debate is broken into sections Romney scored higher on the subject of the economy. To counteract that, Obama shined in areas concerning the middle-class. What does any of that even mean? We’ll find out in three weeks.

Would the race for the Oval Office even be as tight as it is predicted to be if Obama made a stronger showing a few weeks ago? Ponder that.

Next week we get treated to the third, and final, debate before the stretch run and this time there will be a clear winner. Can we just put these guys in a steel cage the next time and have it co-produced by WWE and UFC? Is it too late for that?

 

Photo: npr.org

 

Just Writing

By: Shawn Davis

Disclaimer: This may, or may not, make much sense to anyone who chooses to read it. These are just some thoughts running through my mind.

I often find myself thinking about the direction of humanity. Will war ever stop? Not just tied to U.S. interests, but on a global scale? After looking at it closely I know there’s too much profit on the line for weapons manufacturers so the conclusion is a simple one. Most people, I say, want world peace but is that even logical? A terrorist to some could be a beacon of hope to others.

Will there ever be a time where race isn’t an issue? In my lifetime, I regretfully have my doubts. I would love though, just for once, a major news issue of any kind that didn’t get divided along racial lines. Playing the “race card” can be an underhanded way to advance an argument, at times, and it bothers me when it’s used only after other forms of defense have been exhausted or discredited.

Ultimately, what is the goal of the 99%? I completely understand the angst and disdain OWS has for the 1% but being a movement without a face – a tangible one – could serve as a reason to be ignored. I admire the resolve and the fight (as someone who attended in the winter of 2011) but I’m confused on where it’s all going to lead. Maybe it just clunks out like an engine over time – or it will galvanize and organize into a political party that really cares; it’s not clear. Maybe its destiny is that of a grassroots organization that rants every so soften so people are aware they still exist, barely. I hope not.

Why won’t Barack Obama stop trying to placate to the political right? It’s clear they ONLY want to see everything he’s associated with fail so why not rule until the lights go out? Republicans clearly refuse to work with him – and his administration – so why should he try to be the peacemaker? Also, how the hell can this nation even say we’re united with all the endless division at the highest level? I know this is a democracy but there’s a fundamental problem when the other dominant party operates like they have a mandate to oppose any and everything that comes from the other side? Am I seeing straight? The president should do whatever he feels and let America decide his political fate later this year.

Americans complaining about the people they elect is something else that gets to me. We vote and then moan over what’s going on – or what isn’t. If instant gratification is what you want from your government then I suggest you find a dictatorship and see how you like how policy is handed out. I hear people gripe all the time about the “promises Obama broke” and how “he let the country down.” Our system of government is NOT centralized into one, sole, person because that would funnel too much power to said individual, which could ultimately lead to tyranny.

The political machine that is Washington is vast and has been operating as its own organic life-form, regardless of who’s renting the White House for four or eight years. So Obama couldn’t change anything that the machine wouldn’t allow him to. Just think about that because it’s deeper than red and blue states, parties or campaign appeal. Washington exists in a way that a select few even get a chance to understand. Democrats and Republicans are a part of the problem, not the core one though. They get all the shit from the media and the public because we see their faces and know their names. There’s an undercurrent that most aren’t even aware of.

Why is homelessness such a problem in a country where money is abundant? There is no doubt that a good number of those in such dire straits put themselves there but that isn’t the case for the majority. Maybe I’m just that naïve. I don’t think I am; homelessness should not be as widespread as it is. There should be adequate (and affordable) housing and food for all. No one should go hungry in the United States.

Do people even care about others anymore? I’m not talking in a specific sense (as in family, friends, etc.); I’m talking in a general, but authentic way? A week ago this woman was crying on the train and everyone just stared at her. Her face was so expressive and her eyes were filled with tears to the point where her tissues were soaked. I watched her for about 10 minutes and I began to hurt; like I could, through telepathy, feel whatever was troubling her.

Now anyone that knows me can say that I’m no angel – nor do I pretend to be – but her emotional distress bothered me so much that I had to try to do something. I handed her some of the unused napkins I had in my pocket and asked her if I could help in any way. She politely declined my help but did smile when I gave her the extra napkins to wipe her pain-filled eyes. It was only when I approached her did anyone along the ride decide to take their heads away from their phones to really notice, it seemed.

What is it with people and their phones? People just text nowadays and blindly walk the streets without taking their eyes off those little screens. Who’s in control? A woman had the nerve to roll her eyes at me when I asked her if I could get by her on my way out of the train station – while a man almost got hit by a car for paying more attention to his device than to oncoming traffic. Really?

Are those who happen to be single in their mid-30’s (and later) really content? Or are they saying they’re “happy” just to save face? I consider this often and I hear a lot of women say this until they are lathered in alcoholic drinks and the truth finds its way to the surface. I date, in abundance, and I get answers that are all across the map: He needs to be taller than I am. He better work out. I want to be more important than his mom – and I need to be. He cannot hang out with his friends if I don’t like them. I’m not in a rush. I’m just too busy. He just hasn’t come along. I need someone who doesn’t want to play games. I have a short attention span and I do tend to zone out from time-to-time so I’m sure I’m missing something important in there.

Why do parents have their children involved in an overwhelming list of activities? Is it really to broaden the child’s scope or to get around parenting them? Some kids like it but I’m sure there are others that don’t and I wonder if those are the ones who grow up to hate their parents.

Will our younger generations even appreciate how easy it is for them to access information? I remember having to walk into a library and sit in the periodicals section when I had to do research in public and junior high school. What an age we live in.

How many years will it take for all the Barnes and Noble branches to shut down? This crosses my mind so often because I love the bookstore so much. With technology moving at its current pace, I feel the future for all bookstores may be to reorganize into an online mall like Amazon. That would be a bleak day because I’d have to find new places to pick up new women. Ugh! Maybe I should settle down already…yeah ok.

I often think of how close friendships morph into just mere acquaintances after some time has passed. It’s one of the most confusing and sometimes hurtful parts of adulthood but things do change and some are better equipped to handle the shift than others. It’s far more important to value the friendships that you do have than to dwell on those that have been a casualty of time or personal growth along diverse paths.

It makes me laugh when people dismiss the idea of life on other planets in our solar system. How can anyone be so arrogant to deny the possibility? I think it’s perfectly logical to think there are other life forms in other distant galaxies because I do. From what we know, we inhabit a very small section of a universe that seems to be growing and studies continuously prove that space may be without boundaries. I don’t think other beings are waiting for the perfect time to take our water, absorb our air or enslave us but I could be wrong. I truly believe that we’re not alone.

As I said in the disclaimer, these are just some of my thoughts.