What Is Your Cause?

Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos

I was speaking to someone in regards to the political situation in China and how it may effect the Olympic Games this summer. From what I understand about the situation, Hillary Clinton has proposed that American athletes boycott the Games entirely. We also discussed the 1968 Mexico City Games, where Tommie Smith and John Carlos brought the atrocities of the Civil Rights Movement in America to a world stage giving us a lasting image in history.

From there I was asked, “What has happened to the social and politically conscious athlete? Why do today’s American athletes leave these things up to politicians, why is everyone afraid to take a stand?” Later that night I thought in terms of the Black Athlete and asked the same question.

As the events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina unfolded in our living rooms, there was one constant throughout these ordeals: the image of Black Athletes doing what they could to help. Their contributions to these causes deserves to be commended and never forgotten.

But what about the real Cause

What happened to the passion displayed that day in Mexico City? Smith and Carlos sacrificed their careers and put the lives of themselves and their families in harms way. Because of the socio-political climate in that year alone, I’m sure there were threats on their lives and anything else that would’ve made lesser men wilt under such heat.

There is a lack of passion is because there are no socio-political issues that interfere with everyday living. Today’s Black Athlete doesn’t know the sting of Jim Crow that affected the simplest of daily tasks even before 1968. Not many of us know what it is like to be told, “You can’t sit here, this section is for Whites Only.” How many of us would be willing to march for something we know is right while police dogs and fire hoses are used against us. There is an alarming disconnect between understanding the sacrifices made and the benefits being reaped because of them.

Somewhere in the last 40 years the fire has gone out and there is no sense of urgency to get back on track. If Earl Woods had really preached The Struggle to a young Tiger Woods he would be less of the paper lion he is when it comes to race issues.

When did this all become foreign to the Black Athlete? I see interviews and hear them say all of the right things. I want to hear a player mention the name of Malcolm X during one of those Black History month sound bytes for the NBA.

I believe there should be a wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame dedicated to the Negro League. I’m sure some of the Black ballplayers of today feel likewise, so why not raise some hell and get some answers?

What is this fear that paralyzes the Black Athlete when it comes to speaking out on racial, social and economical issues? Is it the fear of lost endorsements or being blackballed out of their sport? It seems that over the years the NFL, NBA and MLB have systematically neutered the Black Athlete — once aggressive and aware of his surroundings, he is now docile, being led about by his nose. Only a few have dared to buck the trend and stand up only to be exiled.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) refused to stand for the national anthem and was slowly shipped out of the NBA. Ditto Craig Hodges whose dashiki and letter to then President Bush expressing his frustration with his administration’s treatment of the poor and minorities didn’t go over too well. The final blow came when he said Michael Jordan was bailing out for not using his status to address social issues affecting minorities. Hodges was cut by the Chicago Bulls at the age of 32 and was never offered a tryout by another team. He was blackballed by the NBA and later filed a suit with that claim.

Blackballed in the prime of his career!

Stephon Marbury gets it in my opinion. Sure, he’s had the season from hell on the court–off the court has been much worse. He lost his father in mid-season, not to mention his feud with his coach and former friend Isaiah Thomas. I mention Marbury because he realizes there is a Cause and he is doing his part toward a solution. During Hurricane Katrina he wept openly when speaking of “Babies floating in the water” in relation to his own children. He has the Starbury clothing and shoe line economically priced for those unable to shell out $100 or even $50 for a pair of good ball sneaks. Marbury hasn’t promised a chicken in every pot, but a pair of $15 Starbury’s goes a long way toward that end in many inner city homes. In the wake of the Michael Vick saga, Marbury spoke out in defense of Vick citing why should Vick be prosecuted when animals are killed everyday for sport. Marbury was one of few who spoke out on Vick’s behalf.

I’m not saying that Marbury is the greatest guy in the world, but when it comes to issues that need to be addressed, at least he’s in the mix.

He gets it.

13 Responses to “What Is Your Cause?”

  1. michelle says:


    You know I’m with you on this one. It seems money and fame are more important then pride and caring about those left behind.

  2. GAM says:

    Very interesting point. Here’s something to consider. Sure, we can blame the nfl, mlb and the nba, but is it possible that the black athlete’s courage is a victim of his own progress?

    Consider that the black athlete in the 60′s and 70′s had to speak out for SURVIVAL. Carlos and Smith were making a statement about their survival as second class citizens in the U.S. Now I am not here to argue whether blacks are still to be considered second class citizens today, but rather, that the pro atheltes have it better than most, black or white. 40 million slave talk notwithstanding, let’s face it. You can get pretty comfortable in that Maybach and $5 million home.

    Just a suggestion to add to the mix. Also, is there an arguement to be made that the black athlete of the 60′s and 70′s was in fact, significantly more educated than the current incarnation? Consider that back then, most athletes went to college for 4 years and this in almost certainly tended to make them the most educated men in their communities. Today’s athlete (most) is in college strictly to make it to the league (I am not cecesaarily criticising, but let’s look at the evidence). The brothers who are trying to educate themselves for 4 years, they tend not to be good enough that anyone cares what they have to say.

    No disrespect to Derrick Rose and Mike Beasley, but I don’t think anyone here would argue that their life perspectives don’t fall significantly short of those Bill Russel and Oscar and Wilt accumulated; or what John and Tommie gained at their respective schools).

    Add the fact that these young men have been trained since boyhood (and the corrupt AAU circuit) to be monolithic basketball drones that can only achieve self-worth via athletic prowess) HS Football is just as bad in its own way) and I think their minds are being stiffled.

    I know, I know, Ali had no college at all and the man is a lengend for his politics, but this is definitely worth considering.

    A well educated young black men can be a dangerous weapon. A well educated young black man with a platform to speak…..well, I guess that’s what we’re trying to figure out.

  3. Miranda says:

    I gotta co-sign with GAM, I was thinking the same thing. Today’s athlete is educated to be today’s athlete…and that’s it. I remember an interview with Marlin Briscoe and he said that while filming the Nike commercial for Briscoe County High, Vick was sitting in awe at old footage of Marlin “the Magician” and had no idea who he was or his story, and why he was a QB for one season before being switched to WR without even a day’s notice…but till this day, he still holds the rookie records for a QB in darn near every category in Denver.

    Athletes today have no idea what the history is of the games they play. They just know today, not yesterday, not even tomorrow…they just know today.

  4. mizzo says:

    At the National Association of Black Journalists Conference last July, I asked the panelists why writers aren’t documenting or penning stories from a historical perspective. They all agreed there is a need for more of such just to have a better sense of clarity–I’m speaking for fans and the athletes when saying this. It’s all about selling papers and unfortunately real pieces don’t sell papers.

    I just found out that David Aldridge has resigned from the Philly Inquirer….damn…I just spoke with him last night.

    It’s up to us: Ron Glover, Anthony Gilbert, Vincent Goodwill, Vincent Thomas, Alex Reed, Anthony Carter, Dwil, Sankofa, Diallo, Co Co, Jacinta Howard, Jemele Hill, Scoop Jax, Chris Murray, Donald Hunt, Nate Jones, Jordi, HG, Dave Zirin, Delinda Lombardo, Percy Allen, Bill Rhoden, Black Quarterback, Urban Sports Talk, AOBFS, MC Bias, Signal2Noise, Carolyn from And One, InkogNegro, Sportaphile, Liberado Wright, Tim Hopkins, Modi, Temple3 and anyone relevant I haven’t named to stand up judge yourselves accordingly.

    None of this bitchassness from our people is acceptable anymore.

    Anyway back to my point..If athletes get asked the same damn shit game in and game out every year of their career, what should we expect? Writers have to do their part as well. I was speaking with Antonio McDyess last night about just this and he gushed when he had a chance to reminisce of those he grew up watching. That shit hit me.

    We all are accountable.

    I make these cats think when my mic is in front of their face. I can’t do it alone.

  5. sankofa says:

    Awhile back Michelle, I think, suggested that we initiate our own hall of fame, I and some others threw our two cents in affirmation.

    I think one of the first place start is with our griots at SOMM, Temple3 and all the other individual blogs. I think Mizzo bringing a collective together is asuredly a fantastic thing. The more of us coming on board, expanding the TSF in to a starting fifteen would go along way to capturing the mind and hearts of the strayed ones.

    As an aside Miranda and GAM institutional education is but one route to awareness, there are countless brick and stone, cyber and organic road signs to overstanding. Before instituional education, we need the reconditioning of the spirit – not religion- that smashes the cult of personality and materialism and put them in their right full place.

  6. mizzo says:

    Here’s the post you referred to about the Hall of Fame Sankofa.

  7. Temple3 says:


    I know you know this – but it is imperative that we understand and begin to operate from the fact that non-blacks actively work to ensure that blacks DO NOT know the complete story. If we knew our story, it would be a wrap.

    These athletes are duped into believing that they go to good schools. There is no such thing as a good school for a free-thinking Black person if you can SUCCEED and GRADUATE without knowing a thing about your self. These institutions are designed to miseducate – designed to mislead – designed to falsify information and also to falsify information about information.

    Our children CANNOT be expected to defend themselves and thrive in these institutions when it comes to self-knowledge. If we passed out grades in that category, most of our so-called “brightest minds” would be abject failures.

  8. Miranda says:

    “There is no such thing as a good school for a free-thinking Black person if you can SUCCEED and GRADUATE without knowing a thing about your self.”

    Amen…and lets not think somehow that the HBCU’s are doing so much more than any other school. I’m a graduate of Florida A&M University and I can attest that just as many educated fools are graduating from that institution as there are at Florida State.

  9. MODI says:

    Miranda, I was dissapointed to read your post. I always assumed that an HBCU’s produced less “fools”… at least from a social consciousness perspective… would you modify the statement to SOME HBCU’s… what about Howard?

    “I’m not saying that Marbury is the greatest guy in the world, but when it comes to issues that need to be addressed, at least he’s in the mix.”

    Marbury is more than in the mix. He is the truth! I don’t give a shit what went down with Isiah this year, there is not even a close second when it comes to athletes who contribute and see the big picture… it’s a damn shame that MSM is too busy hating than praising…

  10. thebrotherreport says:

    Talk about irony; think on this. In 1980, the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games because Russia had invaded Afghanistan now 28 years later the U.S. is in Afghanistan and we’re beginning to hear rumblings of a boycott of the Beijing games by the U.S.

  11. Miranda says:

    Not necessarily, unfortunately. Decades ago, the HBCUs fed the community the best and brightest to create and strengthen the Atlanta Life’s and Citizens Trusts and Booker T. Washington Ins Co and the like. Physicians and educators and the business leaders of places like Auburn Avenue in Atlanta were pipelined from the HBCUs. Students were socially conscious because it was a sixth sense, it was innate..there didn’t need to be a call for action because life was a call for action.

    But now, the HBCUs have been producing some of the best and brightest and handing them over as gifts to the Bank of Americas and Wachovias and Citibanks…….meanwhile Citizens Trust in Atlanta and Douglass National in St Louis still trudging along, still dwarfed by the banks and firms that were created 25 years after they were.

    The School of Business at FAMU’s goal (or it was when I was there), was to product the perfect corporate middle manager. Golf was a required class. We had to dress in the strictest of requirements, perfect our speaking skills, we did everything that we believed was required to assimilate as perfect corporate middle-managers. From the top of our heads to the tips of our shoes we were the perfect little black drones. Building and/or strengthening business in our own communities was never discussed. Hell, it was never discussed what the corporations we were interning at, and eventually hired permanently, did FOR our communities…that might have been grounds to go see Dean Mobley….we were perfect black corporate robots for Wall Street…social consciousness was not well-received.

  12. MODI says:


    I just caught up to this post which I wanted to thank you for. Very insightful… and unfortunate…

  13. origin says:

    Great post sista Miranda. Great post.

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