Dear Dr. King, the odds of people of color overcoming racism and bigotry in America–are non-existent. Every time we make a little progress, they change the rules. The Kerner Report warned us in 1968 we were headed for two different Americas, one Black and one White—that America is here! They got it right, but no one was listening.
Pro Sports and Corporate America are our best barometers (White Privilege). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTWMUhYG0Y8/ Dallas, Texas sportscaster Dale Hansen.
Dr. King, meet a trail blazer, track and Field star, Roseanna “Rose” Robinson. She sat in protest almost a decade before the 1968 Olympic Game’s track and field stars, John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Ms. Robinson was a high jumper and sprinter for the U. S. Summer Pan American Games. It was the summer of 1959 and I had just graduated from Fairmont Height High School in Prince Georges County.
Chicago was the host city for the games and it was overrun with 2,000 athletes from 24 countries participating. As the U. S. national anthem started to play, the crowd inside Soldier Field rose to its feet in excitement, but Ms. Robinson kept her seat in protest. This track and field athlete was not there for the bloated displays of American greatness. To her, the anthem and the flag represented war, injustice, and hypocrisy.
Ms. Robinson was harassed for her political stand after the games were over. The most devastating blow was at the hands of the IRS. Just six months after the games they hauled her into court for back taxes and sentenced her to one-year and one-day. She refused to pay $346.00. She told the judge, “If I pay income tax, I am participating in the U. S. government’s propensity for violence and war.”
In August 2019 sixty-years later at these same Pam American Games, Ms. Gwen Berry a Hammer Thrower, stood on the podium wearing bright blue lipstick and a gold medal around her neck. As the end of the national anthem played, she bowed her head and raised her fist, issuing a silent protest motivated by her personal journey and her belief that, “America can do better.” She was penalized by the United States Olympic Committee and placed on probation and issued a public letter aimed at intimidating and discouraging further protest!
Gold medal winner Roseanna Robinson (top left) at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru in 1959. Natasha Cloud/Champion WNBA Washington Mystics (Center photo) and Gwen Berry (bottom right). These are women who stood and are standing for something.
The U. S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee just bestowed its highest honor on Tommie Smith and John Carlos two of the sports world’s most iconic activist. They were inducted into its hall of fame in November 2019? Ms. Berry was put on probation for taking a similat stand in 2019! Something is wrong with this picture.
Despite this hypocrisy, women keep stepping up to the plate. Recently the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Indiana Fever wore black warm-up shirts, a WNBA league uniform violation, in solidarity with the victims of police brutality. The Minnesota Lynx wore “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability” shirts in a pregame press conference. Players from both the Lynx and Washington Mystics, have refused to take postgame interviews unless they could talk about social issues, especially, gun violence. The Mystics, have taken a stand against Justice and Just-Us, and kids killing kids. This effort is being led by Mystics star guard, Natasha Cloud.
Washington Mystics Natasha Cloud leading the fast break in WNBA finals 2019. She leads a faster break trying to stop violence in her community.
In the meantime, Washington Wizards’ high paid stars John Wall and Bradley Beal are missing the boat by just giving away toys at Christmas, book bags on the first day of school and turkeys at Thanksgiving in place of taking a stand against kids killing kids. It would be great to see them team up with the Mystics to help curb the everyday violence that occurs right outside the doors of their practice facility on Alabama Avenue SE, DC (Ward 8).
The biggest change the Wizards have made so far in the community since moving from Landover, Md. to the Nation’s Capitol, was when owner Abe Pollin renamed the team, the Washington Bullets became the Washington Wizards. The city was once called “Chocolate City and the Wild, Wild West” all in the same breath. The make-up and the name Chocolate City is slowly disappearing, but the Wild, Wild West is a stubborn kind of fellow. The murder rate in DC is 5.9 100,00 people higher than the national average of 5.0, after dark Ward 8 is considered the most dangerous place to be in the Nation’s Capitol.
On January 20th the country celebrated Dr. King’s birthday and many sung and hummed the tune “We Shall Overcome?”
The truth of the matter pro sports franchises today are the worst example of an equal opportunity employer in America. During the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday, Major League Baseball for example of the 30 teams there are only three men of color who are managers. Currently, there are three vacancies because of a cheating scandal that has rocked the league. The chances of a Black/Afro-American being hired for one of those vacancies, the odds are against him. The Mets are the best bet of hiring a Black Afro-American, but the chances of a person of color being hired is 50-50 (Hispanic, Latino, Mexican, Dominican, Asia, etc).
The number of Black/African American players on the rosters of Major League Baseball is less 10% , Remember, Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947, seventy-three years later, Black ownership is ZERO!
NBA is much more progressive, blacks make up close to 75% of the league, and it has one black owner (Michael Jordan). And according to Super-Star Lebron James, Commissioner Adam Silver is a good guy because he allows them to be black and proud and protest!
The NFL is a disaster when it comes to being an equal opportunity employer. February 2020 they head into Miami for the 54th Super Bowl and celebrating 100 years, my question, what are they celebrating? There are 32 teams and no black/afro-Americans owners. The league is 70% black, and the persons of color owning teams, one is a Pakistani (Jacksonville) and the other is an Asian woman (Buffalo)!!!! There are 32 teams and only two black/African American head coaches and Ron Rivera (Puerto Rican).
The owners and system have all made a mockery out of the Rooney Rule. The rule was designed according to the NFL “To give ethnic-minority candidates an opportunity for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. It is an example of affirmative action, even though there is no hiring quota or hiring preference given to minorities, only an interviewing quota”, from the results that sounds about right.
If you were watching the showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, one of the commentators put on the screen a chart of the Shanahan Coaching Tree. There was not one Black/Afro-American, offensive or defensive coordinator on their tree. It was proof of the “Good Old Boy System” was still on the job. The top coaching trees belong to Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells (Todd Bowles was on both trees?).
The owners shown their true colors when QB Colin Kapernick took a knee to protest police brutality in America. They changed the whole narrative to “Fake News” using the flag and soldiers in and out of uniform to fan the flames of hate. The clincher, the 90 million dollars offered to the players to resolve issues in their community-there was an immediate split among the players, mission accomplished, the owners Conquered by Dividing!
NHL is the worst of the 4 pro sports franchises: There are 31 teams, no black coaches, no black owners, no black PR guys. And according to google there are 30 Black/African American NHL players, either playing on the parent club or with an affiliate. The commissioner Gary Bettman is a former senior Vice-President and general counsel for the NBA. I remember meeting with him when I was a Nike rep in the late 70s in the league office in New York City. In that meeting were Beckman, former player Rod Thorn, Vice-President of player personnel and Chief of Security, Horace Bondam. The meeting and discussion centered around players and community involvement. Things got kind of heated when Beckman blurted out, “You cannot use the players, we own them!” Some things never change.
WHY A CHANGE AIN’T COMING
A. In 2020 a black man in America still makes half the salary of a white man
B. The benefactors of Affirmative Action are white
C. The education system is broken
D. A cop’s bullet has replaced a lynch mob. A black man in America is three times as likely to be shot and killed by a white cop than a white man, despite the fact we make up only 13% of the population and he makes up 75% of the population!
E. The judicial system is still broken–Justice and Just-Us is alive and well.
In closing, hopefully when I am dancing with the Angels, I can say “I tried”.
Harold K. Bell
NoteWorthy: Read the rest of the story of track and field stars, Rose Robinson and Gwen Berry at https://zora.medium.com/sixty-years-ago-she-refused-to-stand-for-the-anthem-cf443b4e75c7/black