When The Dominoes Fall? Who Will be the Coach?

Well… Here we go… College Basketball Coaches are being fired and hired across the country.

The dominoes are starting to fall in rapid succession. When one falls it hits the next one which hits the next one which hits the next one…

Who are some of the likely candidates for the open and soon to be open positions?

VCU coach, Wil Wade has been mentioned as the front runner for the LSU job in the SEC. Should he take it, VCU would be wise to take a HARD look at Villanova Assistant Ashley Howard (pictured below right).

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Howard has been a Division 1 Assistant Coach for 13 years. In 2004, he was hired as an assistant to John Giannini at La Salle University. He spent four years with the Explorers before returning to Drexel in 2008 as an assistant coach to James “Bruiser” Flint. He was part of a staff that led the Dragons to consecutive 20-win seasons, including a school record 29 victories in 2011-12. Howard spent a year working under Chris Mack at Xavier before returning to Philadelphia and joining Jay Wright’s staff in June 2013.

Since his arrival on the Main Line, Howard has helped the Wildcats finish 1st in the Big East 4 consecutive years. They have compiled a record of 129-17 (88.3% winning percentage) over that span. Of course, Villanova won the National Championship in 2016.

Howard is a widely respected talent evaluator and recruiter with extremely strong relationships with high school and grassroots programs along the eastern seaboard. He would be a strong and capable candidate to help VCU continue upon their winning trajectory.

LIU Brooklyn fired Head Coach Jack Perri today. An intriguing name surrounding this vacancy is James “Bruiser” Flint (pictured below).

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With 20 years experience as a Division 1 Head Coach, Flint has demonstrated that he is a capable leader. He took over the UMass program following the departure of his mentor and friend John Calipari. He led the Minutemen to two NCAA appearances and three post-season appearances in 5 seasons. He never had a losing season at UMass. He assumed the helm at Drexel in 2001. Over the next 15 seasons, he won 245 games to become Drexel’s all-time winningest coach. He led the Dragons to 5 post-season appearances and  was named CAA Coach of the Year four times (2002, 2004, 2009, 2012). He also won an NABC District Coach of the Year award three times (2007, 2009, 2012).In 2012, the school won its first CAA Regular Season Championship in 2012, but lost to VCU in the finals of the Conference Tournament.

Coppin State University has dismissed Michael Grant. Several names have been floated as possible successors. One of the more prominent candidates is St. Joseph’s Assistant Coach Mark Bass (pictured below).

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Bass joined the Hawks’ staff in 1999-2000 and during his tenure, has been involved with teams that have made six consecutive post-season appearances, won five Atlantic 10 regular-season titles and captured the 2016 and 2014 A-10 titles. Nine years after he led the Hawks to the NIT Final as a player in 1996, Bass again helped SJU reach New York City and the NIT Final as a coach in 2005.

He is a highly respected recruiter with an extensive network of high school and grassroots connections in the mid-Atlantic region, Cleveland and Chicago. Bass has established himself as one of the top assistant coaches on the east coast. Runner-up for the Delaware State Head Coaching position a couple of years ago, Bass is very familiar with MEAC basketball.

Another name repeatedly mentioned for the Coppin State opening is Larry Stewart Jr. (pictured below).

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Stewart just completed his second season as assistant men’s basketball coach at Morgan State. Very familiar with the Maryland HS and grassroots basketball scenes, Stewart was the Associate Head Coach for the Bowie State men’s basketball team where he spent six seasons. The Philadelphia played at Coppin State where he established himself as an all-time MEAC great. A standout forward at Coppin State from 1988-1991, Stewart led the Eagles to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1990 and first ever National Invitational Tournament in 1991. He was a two-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Player of the Year and named Black College Player of the Year in 1991, also winning the John B. Wooden Award. Stewart ranks NO. 3 All –Time at Coppin State in scoring (1,824) and first in rebounds (1,052). Stewart’s Coppin State jersey (42) was retired at a ceremony in 1993. The MEAC inducted Stewart into their Hall of Fame in 2005. Stewart is the obvious choice if Coppin wants to rekindle the glory they experienced during Fang Mitchell’s heyday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The DEVIL is a LIAR! Our kids WANT to learn!

Black student-athletes don’t care about academics… Inner city High School coaches don’t emphasize the importance of books…

Last week a U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia openly stated “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

I’m here to tell you…

Devil is Liar

Out kids are thirsty for knowledge. They want to learn! They want to go to college. They want to create better situations for themselves and their families.

What they lack is a road map. How do they accomplish their goals? They have no idea. What are the obstacles the face? They have no clue.

What I know for sure is that High School Coaches want to see their kids excel and further their education. Coach after coach has demanded that I come in an explain the NCAA eligibility process to their players. Indeed, Lou Williams at Dobbins Vo-Tech insisted that I hang up the phone and come talk to his players immediately. Of course, I jumped in my car and headed to 22nd and Lehigh. Upon arriving, Coach Williams stopped practice because he said, “education is MORE important” than what they were reviewing in practice.

Time after time, the same scenario plays itself out… The DEVIL is liar…

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The coaches know that in June of 2013 Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. laid off 3,783 employees, because of the district’s financial crisis. The list included 676 teachers, 283 counselors, 127 assistant principals, and 1,202 noontime aides. Before he said it, the coaches knew that “These … employees are more than numbers: these are people — professionals — who play important roles in the lives of thousands of students throughout our city.”

The coaches see the results… Hite called the layoffs “nothing less than catastrophic for our schools and students… Every aspect of the district will feel the impact — schools, regional offices, and central office — along with employees ranging from senior administrators to support staff.”

I have been amazed by the extent to which the coaches and the student-athletes persist in the desire to pursue higher education… Everyone knows Philly’s students and student-athletes have long received the short end of the stick. Yet, they strive…

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When I show up to talk about NCAA regulations and the kwalifī smartphone app, I am frequently told “I already downloaded it and put my grades in…”

I cannot put into words how that makes me feel… To know that my idea, my concept, my plan has come to fruition and the young people are using it without being prompted nearly made me cry! Youngbucks have called me from Baltimore asking how to interpret their results and I have yet to visit a single school in Maryland.

It’s not just under-performing urban schools… Predominantly white and middle to upper class Upper Moreland, Wissahickon and Pymouth-Whitemarsh have embraced kwalifī. But, the intent was and will always remain to help those who are most needy… For years, I have spent hours and hours with some of the sharpest, most intelligent young men in the country. I have seen many of these guys go on to do great things in college and beyond. Here is a partial list…

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With the kwalifi app, instead of 10-15 per year, we will be able to help tens of thousands!!

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The young brothers pay attention to the message… They ask very good questions…

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I love, love, love this particular project… For us, by us… But everyone should feel free to download and utilize the kwalifī app…

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I will be visiting schools every day for the rest of the school year… If you want us to talk to your guys/girls contact us blackcager@gmail.com…

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We must remain vigilant… We cannot allow a return to the days of yore…

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…and remember… The DEVIL is a LIAR!!

kwalifī Smartphone App: Take Control of NCAA Eligibility Process

‘kwalifī EligibilityTracker’ available on the Apple App Store and the Android Market

An app that allows high school student-athletes to track progress toward meeting NCAA and NAIA eligibility requirements, now available for IOS and Android devices

PHILADELPHIA – November 16, 2015 – Available today, the app kwalifī allows college-bound high school student-athletes to instantly understand where they stand regarding NCAA and NAIA scholarship eligibility requirements. Increasingly stringent NCAA academic requirements have resulted in hundreds of elite student-athletes being deemed ‘ineligible’ across the country. Low-income minority student-athletes and African student-athletes have been disproportionately impacted by changes in eligibility standards. Our goal is to help parents and student-athletes take control of the scholarship eligibility process.

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Utilizing a simple and intuitive interface, parents, coaches and/or student-athletes enter identifyng information, core course grades and SAT/ACT scores. kwalifī instantly computes the student-athletes progress toward meeting NCAA and NAIA eligibility requirements. Interpretation of the NCAA sliding scale and accurate core course GPA calculations are crucial for ensuring eligibility. No more depending on overwhelmed guidance counselors. Simple, easy to understand and very useful! Specific steps are outlined to help student-athletes meet NCAA and NAIA requirements.

kwalifī Eligibility Tracker is now available for $9.99 in the US and is priced accordingly in other regions. The app is available world-wide, in several languages on the Apple AppStore and the Android Market. Perfect timing for the app, as the NCAA applies a new set of eligibility requirements for 2016 high school graduating class.

Please visit http://www.kwalifi.com for more information including a demo and screenshots of the app.

The kwalifī EligibilityTracker was developed by Black Cager Web Development, LLC a Black-owned web and mobile development company based in Camden, New Jersey.

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If you would like further information on kwalifī EligibilityTracker, or you would like to schedule an interview, please contact:

Delgreco Wilson, Managing Partner, Black Cager Web Development, LLC
Phone: (267) 251-1355
EMail: delgrecowilson@kwalifi.com
Twitter: @DelgrecoWilson

The IRRATIONAL Choice to Attend Neighborhood Public Schools: Don’t Do It!!

I often wonder: How do parents send their children to neighborhood public schools in cities like Detroit, Camden, Chicago and Philadelphia? Seriously… How do they do it?… Why do parents continue to entrust these schools with the task of educating their precious kids? It just doesn’t make sense… Parents have choices. There are public magnet schools, some good charter schools and very affordable Independence Mission Schools. With very few exceptions, parents should NOT send their children to neighborhood public schools. It’s time to jump off the sinking ship…

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Independence Mission School students

Let’s start from a point where we make an important assumption about parental actions in urban areas like Philadelphia, PA, Camden, NJ, Newark, NJ, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL and Detroit, MI. The assumption is so widely held among Black Americans that it is seldom discussed explicitly.

The assumption is that Black parents want their children to learn. I assume that Black parents want their children to receive a first rate education. This, I believe to be fundamentally true. It’s deeply ingrained as direct result of the Black American experience. Black Americans innately understand that access to a quality education is of paramount importance. Throughout the overwhelming majority of American history, whites in power have worked diligently to deny Blacks access to high quality educational opportunities. Indeed, a stated aim of the government was to violently impose ignorance on Black Americans.

The following is the verbatim “Act Passed by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina at the Session of 1830—1831” (Raleigh: 1831).

Whereas the teaching of slaves to read and write, has a tendency to excite dis-satisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion, to the manifest injury of the citizens of this State:

Therefore, Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within the State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction, shall, at the discretion of the court, if a white man or woman, be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned; and if a free person of color, shall be fined, imprisoned, or whipped, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty nine lashes, nor less than twenty lashes.

II. Be it further enacted, That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back.

III. Be it further enacted, That the judges of the Superior Courts and the justices of the County Courts shall give this act in charge to the grand juries of their respective counties.

Similar laws were in place across the United States. From the early 1700‘s through the Civil War, white Americans feared that black literacy would prove a threat to the prevailing social order which featured a barbaric chattel slave system. The peculiar institution relied on ensuring that enslaved Blacks remained dependent upon white masters. Whites in colonies and subsequent slave states instituted laws forbidding slaves to learn to read or write and making it a crime for others to teach them. In most states, whites were substantially fined and Blacks were subjected to 30-40 lashes on his or her bare back for teaching Black Americans how to read or write.

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Enslaved Black revealing scars from whipping administered by white slave owner

Following the Civil War, whites established an Apartheid-like system of Jim Crow schools designed to ensure that Blacks were not adequately educated. This system remained entrenched through the 1960’s and 1970’s in many parts of the country. Schools for white children received more public money. Fewer Blacks were enrolled in school. There were not as many public schools available for Blacks. Many school buildings for African Americans had leaking roofs, sagging floors, and windows without glass.  They ranged from untidy to positively filthy, according to a study issued in 1917. If black children had any books at all, they were hand-me-downs from white schools.

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White Classroom in the United States in the 1930s

Even if they are unaware of the specific details of the struggle to access to education in America, Black parents know that it is extremely important. Black parents know that for centuries, real educational opportunities were routinely denied to Black children.

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Black Classroom in the United States in the 1930s

Black parents, like all parents, want better for their children. When you talk to them they express preference orderings. They want access to good schools. They want to avoid bad schools.

So… How do parents in urban areas send their kids to neighborhood public schools? It just doesn’t make sense… As noted earlier, Black parents in today’s urban settings have very real choices… They must be unaware of the options available to them. Their decisions to enroll their children in neighborhood public schools MUST be based on limited and uncertain information regarding alternative educational placements. The Black Cager is dedicated to providing information in an accessible and easily understood manner to Black parents, grandparents and other caregivers.

So, how bad is it? The writing has been on the wall for a while… Black parents cannot say the were not warned…

First, they cut the funding. Then they watched the district suffocate as a result.

In June of 2013 Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. laid off 3,783 employees, because of the district’s financial crisis. The list included 676 teachers, 283 counselors, 127 assistant principals, and 1,202 noontime aides. “These … employees are more than numbers: these are people — professionals — who play important roles in the lives of thousands of students throughout our city,” Hite said at a news briefing.

Hite called the layoffs “nothing less than catastrophic for our schools and students… Every aspect of the district will feel the impact — schools, regional offices, and central office — along with employees ranging from senior administrators to support staff.”

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Water damage and mold on wall at Furness HS, School District of Philadelphia

Two years later, the catastrophe has been realized. Approximately, 83 percent of Philadelphia public school students in grades 3-8 failed the state Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exam in math. In reading, 68 percent failed and 63 percent failed the science exam. Apologists will cite the “new” version of the test as the main factor explaining the horrific performance. It can explain some of the increase in the number of failing students. However, a majority of Philadelphia public school student failed the old test as well.

The fact remains, for years an overwhelming majority of Philadelphia’s public school students have been performing abysmally on standardized state assessments. One can only conclude that, for the most part, students attending neighborhood public schools are simply incapable of competing with students in surrounding suburban public schools and Philadelphia area private schools.

More than 8 out of 10 students cannot perform grade level math!

The bill for years of academic incompetence and startling underperformance is about to come due. Philadelphia students will be the ones that have to pay. The School District of Philadelphia also released results on the state’s Keystone Exams, which students must pass to graduate starting with the Class of 2017. The proficiency rate in Algebra I was 38 percent (compared to 39 percent in 2014), 29 percent in biology (26 percent in 2014) and 49 percent in literature (52 percent in 2014).

Plainly stated, if the 2017 rules were in place in 2014, 71% of Philadelphia’s public high school students would not have been unable to graduate from high school because the failed the biology exam, 62% would have been held back by their Algebra I score and 51% by the literature score.

Here’s where it gets really tricky for Districts serving poor Black and Brown students… Failing students are allowed to undertake alternative projects. But districts across the state say the projects will drain resources as schools try to provide students with the additional instruction needed for them to complete the task. Philadelphia has already experienced a succession of budget cuts that reached the bone marrow. Similarly, Chester Public Schools does not have adequate funds to meet the regular payroll for staff and faculty. Where will Harrisburg, Philly and Chester get the money for the additional instruction? They won’t…

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Projected Impact of Keystone Exam of Philadelphia Graduation Rates

Truth be told… Many, perhaps most, poor Black and Brown kids attending public schools in cities across the state of Pennsylvania will NOT graduate high school. They will start their adult lives an non-high school graduates with some sort of 2nd class “Certificate of Attendance.”

If at all possible, do NOT send your kids to poor performing neighborhood public schools. They are educational quicksand!!

If you must rely on public education, do your research. Find out about magnet programs, identify high performing schools, learn about the application and admission processes. Make the best decision for YOUR child.

We can all continue to support the idea of public education. We can vote for political candidates that allocate adequate resources to public schools. We can volunteer in our local schools.

But when it comes to making a decision about your child, you must make a decision that reflects your understanding of what’s best for your child. With that in mind, I just do not understand how parents send their kids to neighborhood public schools in Philadelphia. The ship is sinking fast…

White Supremacy, Mike Brown and the American Legal System: An Apology to Young Black Males

“Good gracious. Anybody hurt?”

“No’m.  Killed a nigger.”

“Well, it’s lucky because sometimes people do get hurt.”

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn (1884)

 

Dear Young fella:

It’s confusing… it’s scary… it makes you want to lash out out. You feel like hurting someone… You feel like burning this muthafucka down! Shit ain’t right… Time after time… Day after day… You see the same thing. The images are displayed over and over on a multitudinous array of cable news networks.

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Participant in Ferguson Rebellion

By now the script has been etched in your brain, “young Black male killed by police, no charges will be filed against officer.” Over and over again, we see unarmed Black males gunned down in an instant. There’s never any doubt about what happened. White police officer killed the unarmed Black male.

How the fuck are these assholes NOT charged, prosecuted and convicted?

The problem young fella… what you have a hard time understanding… what is causing you to feel the way you feel is the fact these acts are not “crimes” in America! Whites killing unarmed Black males, like YOU, while enforcing the “rule of law” has always been encouraged and rewarded. The “law” in the United States of America was NEVER intended to protect YOU young fella. The fact that you are frustrated and surprised by the manner in which the legal system dispenses “justice” in these matters is prima facie evidence of your mis-education.

I apologize… I’m truly sorry… I have complicit in this mis-education. As a teacher, mentor and adviser I have failed to arm you with an adequate understanding of where you live and how the legal system was designed to work. I have failed to clearly illustrate and explain how deeply ingrained the “legalization” of Black suppression is in American history. Like so many in my generation, I have allowed you to grow up believing that the phrase “Equal Justice under Law” applies to you.

For that, I apologize… I sincerely apologize for allowing you to actually believe that the high-minded ideas put forth by America’s Found Father’s actually guide the American legal system as it relates to you.  That was a very big mistake on my part.

I promise from this moment forward to be brutally honest with you… Young fella, from it’s inception, the American legal system has adjudicated and upheld racial deprivation. For well over two centuries, the language of the “law” has shielded the consciousness of white Americans from the plight of Black human beings subjected to inhumane, brutal yet perfectly “legal” and acceptable behaviors of white “law enforcement” officials.

Same shit… Different day…

Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Oscar Grant are merely some of the latest victims of America’s inhumane and immoral law enforcement and legal processes. They are among the latest links in a chain of legalized oppression and brutality that stretches back to colonial America.

Young fella… when it come to protecting the rights of Blacks against oppressive, brutal and even murderous police behaviors, American laws ain’t SHIT! They have NEVER been fair… The American legal system was NEVER been designed or intended to protect your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

StinneyGeorge Junius Stinney, Jr. age 14, the youngest person executed in the USA in the 20th century

Truth be told young fella, you need to completely disregard the phrase Equal justice under law engraved on the front of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. Trying to bring that ideal in line with the actual experiences of your fellow Black males across this nation only causes confusion and deeply seated angst.

The racist oppressive patterns on display in contemporary America and the possibilities for your children and grandchildren are buried in the American past. It is here that you must begin your attempt to understand what just took place in Ferguson, Missouri.  Unfortunately, none of the mainstream – white controlled – media outlets and very few teachers have the fortitude required to provide you with the tools necessary to uncover this past.

As a result, you don’t know… you are lost… you have been mis-educated.

Please allow me to introduce you to the American legal system. More than any other legal system in the modern world, with the possible exception of Apartheid South Africa, the United States has devised and implemented a legal system which is simultaneously racist, brutally oppressive and committed to the protection of white individual and property rights: a white supremacist/democratic legal system.

Black BoyLet’s take cursory look at some of the ways the American legal process was developed to establish, protect and enforce the rights of individual whites, whites as a group and white institutions while simultaneously imposing restraints on Blacks. As you struggle to digest and comprehend the failure of the system to hold Mike Brown’s killer accountable, it is a perfect time to assess the historical trajectory of the interrelationship between race and the American legal process.

It pains me to watch you trying to make sense of the racial dynamics playing out in police stations and courtrooms across America. The time has come… Youngfella… you must face the truth of the white supremacist foundations and origins of America’s legal system  with YOUR eyes wide open.  Only then will the lack of significant legal consequences for the killings of unarmed Black men at the hands of “law enforcement” officials begin to make sense.  Only then will you understand how such horrific actions are fully compliant with the “rule of law.”

For centuries… “law enforcement” officials have had license to kill YOU.  Despite what YOU have been taught, the rights afforded to American citizens have never been fully extended to Blacks, especially males.

This fact is indisputable. 

All you have to do is place YOURSELF in American society at any point in America’s history and you will begin to understand that George Junius Stinney, Jr., Emmett Till, Mike Brown and Eric Garner are inextricably interrelated.

emmett tillEmmett Till, Murdered at 14 in Mississippi. White Supremacist killers confessed after being acquitted during a trial

Young fella… I must warn you… Since YOU have been taught to think of the law as a neutral instrument serving the entire community, it will be disconcerting to see that American laws were written and enforced in the most blatantly racist manner, favoring whites over Blacks.  The American educational system is incapable of speaking truth to power.  Only Blacks with awareness and knowledge can impart it to you.

Let’s go back to the very beginning… This problems you see in Ferguson and New York existed before the States were united.

In 1755, Colonial Georgia passed laws entitled “An Act for the Better Ordering and Governing Negroes and Other Slaves in This Province.” Ponder, for a moment, the following question: How were the rights of people like YOU protected under these “laws”? Place yourself, a young Black man, in Colonial America. Take a minute… Imagine YOU simply could no longer continue living as the equivalent to a mule, cow or pig… Imagine YOU wanted to find your Momma, you long for your Dad, you want to find your sister, you need to be reunited with your wife and your children that had been sold and shipped away… Suppose you decided to leave your “home” and set out in search of your family and/or your freedom… What did the “law” say about your right to do so?

According to the prevailing “law” in Colonial America, there was no prohibition for killing YOU. In fact, your killer would be rewarded. According to the “law,” a “law enforcement” official was given one pound sterling for presenting YOUR “scalp with two ears.” That’s right… As they say the “law” is clear… YOUR “scalp with two ears” attached to it could be submitted for remuneration.

Your “scalp with two ears” could be exchanged for cash.

I know… I know… That’s not the way the story is told in American movies and literature.  In the old cowboy westerns they constantly talked about Native Americans “scalping” innocent white people. Scalping is always associated with the “savage” Native Americans.  In reality, however, white Americans were rewarded for scalping Black men with the temerity to actually desire freedom.

Young fella… This is a clear example of how Colonial American legal systems dealt with YOU. In some ways, barbaric Colonial laws such as this foretell contemporary events.  Over the past couple of years, George Zimmerman “presented” local officials in Sanford and state officials in Florida with Trayvon Martin’s corpse. He was rewarded with donations totaling at least $314,099.17 to his legal defense fund. Officer Darren Wilson “presented” official in Ferguson with Mike Brown’s corpse and in excess of $432,000.00 was donated to his legal defense fund.

Think about that young fella… think about that… Understand the beast YOU are dealing with…

You have been taught that the Founding Fathers devised the preeminent example of modern liberal democracy. You have been repeatedly told that they developed a government based on popular consent with respect for the equal rights of all.

Young fella you were mis-educated!

You were intentionally deceived. The standard story of America’s formation is deceptive because it is too narrow. They were teaching you the history of relationships among a small minority of Americans. They were focusing exclusively on relationships among wealthy white men of predominantly northern European ancestry.

A truer telling of America’s history would place white male supremacist ideologies at center of the plot. It would go something like this: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of White Supremacy…

The narrative would spell out the racist and sexist practices that defined the relationships between this relatively small white male minority with the overwhelming majority of the population constituting the subjugated groups (Blacks, Native Americans and women).

Young fella… When these white supremacist, racist, sexist elements are kept in plain view the history of America’s legal system looks quite different. My aim here is to help you understand that the historical frame of reference and the analytical tools provided to you in school are inadequate. The experiences of your ancestors have been, more or less, written out of the script. As such, the tools provided by the American educational system are simply inadequate form performing the task at hand.  Greater understanding of contemporary legal proceedings and racial strife can be achieved by replacing the narrowly circumscribed lessons they teach in school with a more realistic view of America.

A_Southern_chain_gangSouthern Chain Gang, circa 1903

So young fella… at it’s founding in 1787, how did the United States, legally speaking, deal with YOU? How were Black men taken into account? For purposes of taxation and representation, the “Founding Fathers” determined that YOU would count as 3/5 of a human being. You were considered about 60% of a human being.  The importation of captured and enslaved Blacks from Africa was given constitutional protection for another twenty years.  Also, enslaved Blacks who escaped from one state to another had to be delivered to the original owner upon claim, a provision that was UNANIMOUSLY adopted by the “Founding Fathers.”

The Three-Fifths Compromise, is located in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution. It reads as follows:

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Moreover, from the moment of inception, US constitutional and legal processes continued and further perpetuated the racial injustice and oppression that prevailed in Colonial America.

When white males of northern European descent set out to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” they did not include YOU the the equation. YOU were most likely enslaved and they intended for you to remain enslaved for the duration of your natural life. More specifically, the federal “law” they developed expressly forbade YOU from changing your status by escaping to another part of the country.

The Founding Fathers inserted the following in Article IV, Section 2:

No Person held to Service or Labour in one sate, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Youngfella… YOU had no rights in America upon it’s founding. If you were taught otherwise in school you have been hoodwinked… you have been bamboozled.

Seventy years later, the US Supreme Court would make YOUR legal standing painfully clear. Unfortunately, it seems that many Americans, in general, and teachers, in particular, would rather distort the history of this nation than face the extent to which the American legal system was designed and intended to uphold and strengthen the concept of white supremacy. Nonetheless, in a rather remarkable moment of clarity and honesty the nature of the American legal system was laid bare for all to see… if they are willing to look.

dred_scottDred Scott

In 1857, the Supreme Court handed down a monumental decision in the case Scott v. Sanford. Dred Scott was an enslaved Black man whose owner had taken him to live in free areas of the country. Having witnessed freedom, having smelled freedom, having tasted freedom, having touched freedom, Scott longed for it to such an extent that he took dramatic steps to attain it. Scott sued for his freedom on the grounds that living on free soil rendered his “enslaved” status null and void. He tried to utilize the American “legal system” to gain control of his destiny and his labor.  Scott sought recognition of his basic humanity in the courts.

Like so many Black Americans today, Scott didn’t fair very well in the courts. Youngfella… This is what Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote in response to Scott’s claim:

“It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in regard to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted; but the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken. They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far unfit that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Hold up… Hold up… Let’s take our time and review the core of the Supreme Court ruling again…. Blacks have “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

That, young fella, was the law of the land as interpreted by the US Supreme Court.

America’s educational system, with its’ extensive focus on white male political actors and their conflicts with one another, has failed abysmally to teach YOU (and white for that matter) how the rights of Blacks have been systematically suppressed through the legal system.  Every day in classrooms across America, “certified” teachers fail to help Blacks understand how the “rule of law” has been very effectively used as a weapon in the hands of those committed to maintaining white supremacy in the United States of America.

In this subtle and nuanced way, white males have been “rioting” in American legislative houses and courtrooms for more than three centuries.

Following a brief period of enlightenment (1865-1877) at the end of the Civil War, white supremacists, once again, utilized the American legal system to systematically deprive Blacks of the most basic rights and protection from abuse. Beginning in the 1870’s Jim Crow “laws” started to emerge across the American South. Through these laws, YOU were separated from whites is areas of public life. YOU were relegated to inferior accommodations on trains, in depots and on wharves.

JimCrowDrinkingFountainJim Crow Drinking Fountain county courthouse lawn, Halifax, North Carolina, 1938

The Supreme Court, once again, affirmed YOUR lack of legal standing by outlawing the Civil Rights Acts of 1875. In an instant, you were effectively banned from white hotels, barber shops, restaurants and theaters. Across much of the country, there “laws” were enacted requiring separate schools.

In 1896, the Supreme Court upheld, sanctioned and formally legalized Apartheid-like segregation is the form of the “separate but equal” principal in the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling. With that ruling, the American legal system entrenched a white supremacist caste system that perpetuated the racial exploitation and financial super-exploitation of individual Blacks and Black families families for the better part of the next century.

Legally sanctioned American Apartheid would reign supreme for the next seven decades.

Like YOU today, Blacks at the turn of the 20th century searched for answers… They tried to figure out the best way to deal with white supremacy and the racist dynamics of the American social/economic/political/legal systems.

By 1920, many Blacks were searching for an escape from the explicitly white supremacist, rigidly racist and profoundly oppressive American social order. Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) attracted millions of followers. The UNIA was an ambitious organization of people of African descent which encouraged people of color to look to Africa both as an ancestral homeland and a hope for a future. Garvey claimed over 2,000,000 UNIA members by 1919. A year later, he claimed over 4,000,000 had joined the movement.

By 1921, Garvey was the leader of the largest Black organization of its’ type in American history. Frustrated Blacks flocked to the UNIA. As of August 1921, there were 418 charted division and another 422 awaiting charters. If one factors in another 19 chapters, there were a total of 859 UNIA branches.

By 1923, Garvey was convicted of mail fraud. Young fella… The American “legal” system was the means by by which the Garvey movement was destroyed.

MarcusGarveyFaceSideMarcus Garvey, 1924

This how American “justice” worked for Garvey. In a memorandum dated 11 October 1919, J. Edgar Hoover, the future Head of the FBI wrote: “Unfortunately, however, he [Garvey] has not as yet violated any federal law whereby he could be proceeded against on the grounds of being an undesirable alien, from the point of view of deportation.” They were not investigating any criminal activity. Clearly, Hoover explicitly acknowledges that Garvey wasn’t engaged in any criminal activity. The aim… young fella… was to deport Garvey and eliminate him as a threat given his proven ability to mobilize Black Americans. The “law” would be used to suppress his “Back-to-Africa” movement.

Toward this end, in November 1919 an investigation was begun into the activities of Garvey and the UNIA. Toward this end, Federal “law enforcement” agencies hired James Edward Amos, Arthur Lowell Brent, Thomas Leon Jefferson, James W. Jones, and Earl E. Titus as its first five African-American agents.

On January 12, 1922 Garvey was arrested for alleged mail fraud. In 1923 he was convicted. In February 1925, his appeals ran out and he entered the federal penitentiary at Atlanta. In 1927 his sentence was commuted and he was deported to Jamaica where his ship landed on December 10, 1927.

From the perspective of a white supremacist government and legal system, the mission – deportation of Garvey – was accomplished.
White supremacy was firmly entrenched.

Slowly, beginning in the 1940’s organizations led by men such as A. Phillip Randolph began to slowly chip away at the edges of white supremacist hegemony. A significant factor allowing this progress was attempt by the century’s greatest white supremacist, Adolph Hitler, to subjugate the European continent.  Fully engaged engaged in World War II, the US government desperately needed Black soldiers in the arena and Black labor in the factories.  Recognizing the increased leverage they possessed Black leaders pressed for increased opportunities in the workplace.

The fierce opposition faced by Blacks seeking gainful employment provides a stark illustration of the depth and breadth of white supremacist ideologies and patently racist practices in cities like Philadelphia, Pa.

trolley1First black motormen for Philadelphia’s transit system

On August 1, 1944, eight Black men began training for trolley car driver jobs within the Philadelphia Transit Company (PTC). These were solid relatively well-paying jobs.  White PTC workers refused to work alongside Black trolley drivers. Thousands of racist whites chose to shutdown the entire public transportation system rather accept eight Black men into their ranks.  On the first day of the strike, 3,000 PTC workers gathered in a trolley car barn and made clear their determination to remain off the job until the Blacks were removed from trolley car driver positions.

Once the strike was underway, fueled by white supremacist notions, PTC workers began to “wild out.” Immediately, it became unsafe for African Americans to travel in predominantly white sections of the city. A group of whites driving through black neighborhood shot a 13-year-old African American girl without warning. There were other instances of racially motivated – white on Black – violence in the city the night after the strike began and the following morning.

The racist PTC workers impacted the war effort. After one day of striking, U.S. Army production of war materials in Philadelphia was cut in half due to the transit stoppage, and Navy production diminished by 70%. War workers could not get to their jobs. On a daily basis, the PTC carried 300,000 war workers.

On Friday, August 4, the committee representing 6,000 PTC employees on strike met for the third day and unanimously approved continuing the strike until PTC revoked its decision to promote the eight African American workers.

Young fella… 6,000 white Philadelphians were striking, engaging in terroristic violence and, as a result,  holding up war production in Philadelphia because they did not want eight (8) Black men to work as trolley car drivers.

White supremacy is a muthafucka…

However, they miscalculated President Roosevelt’s resolve.  On Saturday, August 5, President Roosevelt sent 5,000 heavily armed soldiers into Philadelphia to crush the strike by whatever means necessary. The Army set up encampments in Fairmount Park and brought in ammunition, including machine guns.

pta-phila-transit-1944-21

The strike, which was the largest racially motivated strike of the World War II era and led to the loss of over 4,000,000 man-hours in war production factories, ended on the morning of Monday, August 7, 1944. By September 1944, all eight African Americans were driving PTC trolleys.

Young fella… It literally took 5,000 armed federal troops, at the height of WWII, to integrate 8 Black trolley car drivers into the Philadelphia Transit Company.

That’s American history… That’s Philadelphia history… Your teachers do not cover this…

strikes-pta-phila-transit-1944I know you have learned about Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Right’s Movement of the 1950s and 1960s… Those lessons are taught ad infinitum for 28 days every February…

Your ability to understand the rampant killings of unarmed Black men would be greatly enhanced by greater awareness of manner in which the white supremacist ideas have persisted throughout US history.  YOU would recognize immediately that Black corpses have long appeared after visits from US “law enforcement” agents.

By the late 1960s, the Black Panther Party had more or less succeeded the Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) as the most influential Black organization in America.  By the end of 1968, the Panthers had chapters in several dozen states and a membership in excess of 5,ooo.

By the end of 1969, the Black Panthers had been targeted by 233 separate “law enforcement” actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover.  This was fifty years after Hoover initiated his effort to neutralize of Marcus Garvey.  That year 27 Black Panther Party members were killed by local, state and federal police. Another 749 were jailed or arrested.

Hoover was particularly concerned with an extremely bright, articulate and politically astute young Panther from Chicago.  Fred Hampton was 19 years old when the FBI opened on him in 1967.   Over the next twenty four months, Hampton’s FBI file expanded to twelve volumes and over 4000 pages. The Feds placed a tap on Hampton’s mother’s phone in February 1968. By May of that year, Hampton’s name was placed on the “Agitator Index”, and he would be designated a “key militant leader for Bureau reporting purposes.”

Fred_HamptonFred Hampton, Black Panther Party

In late 1968, the FBI’s Chicago field office brought in an individual named William O’Neal. In exchange for having felony charges dropped and a monthly stipend, O’Neal agreed to infiltrate the BPP as a counterintelligence operative.  He joined the Party and quickly rose in the organization, becoming Director of Chapter security and Hampton’s bodyguard.

On the evening of December 3, 1969, O’Neal slipped a powerful sleep drug into a drink that Hampton consumed during the dinner.  His aim was to incapacitate Hampton so he would not awaken during the subsequent police raid. O’Neal then left Hampton’s apartment.   Around 1:30 a.m., Hampton fell asleep in mid-sentence talking to his mother on a wire tapped telephone. 

At 4:00 a.m., the heavily armed police team arrived at the site, divided into two teams, eight for the front of the building and six for the rear. At 4:45 a.m., they stormed into the apartment.  O’Neal provided the FBI with a detailed map of Hampton’s apartment.

Fred_Hampton_floor-plans

Map of Hampton’s Apartment provided by FBI Informant William O’Neal

Once the raid ensued Mark Clark, sitting in the front room of the apartment with a shotgun in his lap,  was shot in the heart and died instantly.  His gun fired a single round which was later determined to be caused by a reflexive death convulsion after he was shot.  By all accounts, this was the only shot the Panthers fired.  The police fired between 82-99 shots.

Fred_Hampton_murder_scene_bedroom_bloody_mattressFred Hampton’s mattress and bullet holes in wall

The police showered the head of the south bedroom where Hampton slept with automatic gunfire.  Hampton was heavily sedated and unable to awaken as a result of the barbiturates O’Neal had slipped into his drink. He was lying on a mattress in the bedroom with his pregnant fiancée, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with their child.  Two police officers discovered him with a severe wound in his shoulder.  Another Black Panther Harold Bell reported that he heard the following exchange:

“That’s Fred Hampton.”
“Is he dead?… Bring him out.”
“He’s barely alive.
“He’ll make it.”

Fred_Hampton_dead_bodyFred Hampton’s dead body on floor of his apartment

Two shots were heard, which it was later discovered were fired point blank in Hampton’s head. According to Johnson, one officer then said:

“He’s good and dead now.”

Youngfella… despite all of this evidence… The federal grand jury did not return any indictment against anyone involved with the planning or execution of the raid.  Just like Officer Darren Wilson in the Mike Brown case, the killers of Mark Clark and Fred Hampton were NEVER held accountable for their actions.  They walked… Just like Darren Wilson, the officers involved in the raid were cleared by a grand jury of any crimes.

The FBI snitch, William O’Neal, killed himself in 1990 after admitting his role in setting up the assassination of Hampton.

Young fella… As I said at the outset… Whites killing unarmed Black males, like YOU, while enforcing the “rule of law” has always been encouraged and rewarded. The “law” in the United States of America was NEVER intended to protect you youngfella. The fact that you are frustrated and surprised by the manner in which the legal system dispenses “justice” in these matters is prima facie evidence of your mis-education.

I should’ve told you how they do us…

Sincerely,

Delgreco K. Wilson

“You Treated Fairly?”: Open Letter to Philly’s Grassroots Hoops Community

Milk crateThe 1st hoop for many, many Philly ballers!!

If you ain’t ever been to the ghetto
Don’t ever come to the ghetto
‘Cause you ain’t understand the ghetto
And stay the fuck out of the ghetto…
“Ghetto Bastard” Naughty By Nature

Basketball is THE inner city game. It is the game played in the ghetto, ‘round the way and in the ‘hood. Every year black communities and neighborhoods many consider off-limits to outsiders are invaded by representatives of multi-million dollar college athletic departments. Wave after wave of college coaches regularly venture into places most white people avoid after sundown. The trained eye can spot ’em a mile away.  You see ‘em roll up in rental cars fresh off the private jets looking lost in public housing developments.  The team logo and that of their shoe company sponsor featured prominently on a new golf shirt or sweater if it’s a lil’ chilly outside.  The over-sized Conference Championship ring is dripping with ice.

Rucker_parkAcross America in cities like Philly, Motown, NYC, Chi-town, LA, B-more, DC, ATL, and H-town representatives of America’s increasingly wealthy athletic departments come in search of beautifully sculpted Black bodies. They are looking for the young men that will lead them to the “promised land” or at least the “Sweet 16.”  This search brings to them to the projects, Section 8 homes and other low-income Black neighborhoods one after the other.  Representatives of the Math department, Chemistry department and History departments never seem to make their way down.  In much of the non-sports mainstream (mostly white) discourse, urban centers are derisively described and as isolated pockets of dysfunction, deviance and despair to be avoided and in some case obliterated, if the opportunity for gentrification presents itself.

The athletic department reps, the coaches, the recruiters are there for a very specific purpose.

These colleges and universities are vying explicitly to extract a valuable resource from these impoverished communities. They want young athletic Black bodies.  They want to co-opt the labor of our young men and use it to increase the economic status of the University President, Athletic Director and Basketball coach and other athletic department employees. They want our Black boys to serve as cheap labor in the multi-billion dollar enterprise known as collegiate athletics.  Now, it should be noted that along the way he may earn or be awarded (see recent UNC scandal) a degree in some obscure major with limited earning potential.

As bad as this situation sounds, it’s infinitely better than being one of the 72% of Black boys that fail to graduate from HS on time every year in places like Philly and NYC.  These young men are headed for a lifetime of low wage earning or they will participate in the extra-legal ‘hood economy and likely end up in prison. In the ‘hood, collegiate athletics is a possible way up and out of poverty.  But having dealt with college programs over the years, you know others benefit to a much larger extent.  The fates of the gifted low-income urban Black male athletes and wealthy white university athletic department employees are inextricably intertwined.

A situation has emerged whereby Black boys and the struggling grassroot basketball community from which they emerge are dependent upon billion dollar sneaker companies and college athletic programs with $100-$150 million dollar athletic budgets. The existing situation breeds economic success and financial security for Presidents, AD’s and coaches. In many ways, the existence and sustenance of grassroots programs is dependent on the their connection to college programs and the college program’s continued economic gain in dependent upon struggling grassroots basketball programs. Born out of this arrangement is a sort of mutual dependency.

Dr JJulius “Dr. J” Erving in a Harlem, NY Playground

High skilled urban Black male basketball players sell their athletic labor in return for athletic scholarships while the college athletic programs generate millions of dollars selling their performance to alums and the general public.  Coaches are paid million in salaries, bonuses and perks.

As the heads of the AAU/grassroots “farm system,” what are you getting? Are you treated fairly? Do the coaches, boosters and fans respect you?  Over and over, I hear that you guys are “killing” amateur basketball.  It’s bullshit.  AAU/grassroots basketball long ago superseded scholastic basketball as the premier development arm for collegiate hoops.

In Philadelphia, basketball is king among amateur sports. College basketball occupies a unique space in Philadelphia’s sports milieu. There are six (6) NCAA Division 1 Basketball programs in the Philadelphia area representing some highly competitive conferences. Villanova (Big East), Temple (AAC), St. Joseph’s (A10), LaSalle (A10), Drexel (CAA) and Penn (Ivy) all play in tough leagues with nationally recognized competitors.

Anyone that watches the games will notice some common themes regarding these teams and others in their respective conferences. A significant percentage of revenue is generated by basketball programs with a high percentage of urban Black male athletes.  The boys from ’round the way are getting it in.  North Philly’s DJ Newbill is the star at Penn State.  Jabril Trawick, hailing from the Westside, is the headliner for Georgetown.  Another North Philly native, Rysheed Jordan in manning the point guard spot in Madison Square Garden for St. John’s.  Chester’s Rondae Jefferson is back for a 2nd and perhaps final season at Arizona.  Black males from ’round the way are making a lot of money for these schools.

sidewalk hoops

The over-representation, employment and production of Black males in revenue-producing sports (basketball and football) is well documented. Black males represent a mere 5.8% of the total U.S population. Black males comprised 45.8% of major college football rosters and 61% of major college basketball rosters in the 2009-2010. The numbers for the pros are even higher. Over 67% of NFL players are Black and 78% of the NBA in 2011-2012. Collegiate and professional football and basketball organizations consistently scour the ‘hood when seeking talented players.  In many cases, you stand ready and willing to serve your players up to the hunters. I want ask you some important questions.

Are your AAU/grassroots programs sufficiently benefiting? Do you feel like college programs respect the role you play? Do college coaches and fans appreciate your tireless efforts getting these guys ready for the next level?

Is it enough for these programs to just come year after year and take the most talented and highly gifted without considering the plight of those left behind?

Do the City 6 programs work with you when your kids can’t afford the $200, $300 or even $400 price of their camps? Do they give you balls? Do they donate equipment?  Do they make sure you “eat” when you bring your players to visit their campuses? Do they provide tickets to your organization so the younger kids can see the older kids play “live”?  Or, do they just come through, pick the ripest fruit and get back in the German luxury sedan?

Baltimore BoyPuttin’ in work…

Let me know… I’m really curious.  Remember, you have leverage.

If they tell you the kids have to “pay” full price, let everybody know… Tell the other AAU/grassroots coaches how you were treated…  Share information about your experiences…. In my opinion, Black boys have already paid. Let me show you how.

Young men from the ‘hood currently participating in revenue-generating sports (football and basketball) far exceed their white counterparts and other races. Keep in mind football and basketball make virtually all the money supporting all the other white dominated collegiate sports. Think about this fact, less than 1 percent of the total collegiate student-athlete population generates more than 90% of NCAA revenue during “March Madness.” Of the 1 percent, well-over half were Black young men from ’round the way.

Over the past decade (2004-2013), the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has triggered more than $6.88 billion of national TV ad spending from 269 different marketers. Ad revenue in 2013 was $1.15 billion, up 3.8 percent from the prior year.  Less than 1% of college student-athletes generate this staggering amount of revenue, the overwhelming majority are young Black men from the ‘hood.

Guys from the ‘hood played, started and produced more than their non-Black teammates. Locally, Black players scored 73.9% of Temple points last year. Blacks accounted for 83.5% at St. Joseph’s, 87.3% at Villanova, 98.3% at Drexel, 87.1% at LaSalle and 65.7% at Penn.

Wilt Claude

The 1953 Christian St YMCA, National Champions, featuring Philadelphia school boy legends Wilt Chamberlain (standing center) and Claude Gross (seated 2nd from right)

The local colleges and universities want and need Black athletic talent. Their labor is undeniably needed to sustain massive inflows of revenues in athletic departments. Make no mistake colleges, universities, Presidents, Athletic Directors and coaches are making money off the labor of young men plucked from the ‘hood.  The players get an “opportunity” to earn a college degree as long it doesn’t conflict with their athletic obligations. Alums, boosters and fans root for and are entertained by the performances of these young men.

Ask yourself: How do the university’s alums and fans really feel about the young men in the ‘hood? I know they shake your hand after your boy gets get 20 points  and grabs 10 rebounds against a rival. I know they cheer loudly and passionately for your boy when you’re seated next to them at the Wells Fargo Center, Liacouras Center, Hagan Arena and Gola Arena. But, how do they really feel about you and yours?  How do they talk amongst themselves?

Do fans of the local schools respect the communities that spawn the athletes that help them win games? How do they refer to the neighborhoods that border their respective institutions?  You have been there your entire life.  They are guests passing through while pursing a college degree.

One way you can get a feel for this is by perusing the local team message boards. It’s an absolute must for those desiring a peek behind the curtain of cordiality extended to your face during actual games and “official” visits to campus.  There behind the veil of a screen name, keyboard tough guys unleash their true feelings about the ‘hood and those who hail from there. They are talking about your Grandmom that refuses to move from the house she paid off years ago. They are talking about your cousin that is struggling to work 2 jobs to pay that Catholic school tuition. They are talking about your homie that’s remodeling the house his parents left him in their will. They talking about your Aunt with those hot ass plastic furniture covers on her “good” living room set.  They are talking about your uncle in the halfway because the police lied and fabricated evidence against him.

What are they saying? Far too often, they say “Fuck the community!” Far too frequently, they argue that they should “bulldoze your family’s homes!”

MinstrelTurn of the Century “Minstrel” Poster

Then 10 minutes later they argue that your son, grandson, godson, nephew, or youngbuck averaging 32 ppg for the public school ‘round the way should come to their school. They call President Obama and Attorney General Holder “minstrels.”  Meanwhile, the same person puts forth an argument why “Junior” should come, bust his ass and sack quarterbacks for their alma mater next year.  It’s a truly weird dynamic to observe. They make no apologies.  Indeed, the proudly claim they are speaking “truths”.  Many of them despise and hate the ‘hood, while simultaneously yearning for the big beautiful Black bodies walking down it’s narrow avenues.

I say Fuck ‘em!

I say keep track of these public discourses and hold the programs accountable.  I say ask the coaches and athletic directors to disassociate themselves from the most egregious offenders. If they choose not to, I say educate our young men from the ‘hood about the way SOME of the alums feel about them, their families and their neighborhoods.

Let’s not ignore those that wish you and yours harm.  Of course, MOST alums and fans are respectful and always decent in public and behind a screen name.  I say call on them to check the racist tendencies of the vocal minority within their family.  These boards have moderators.  If offensive language it left up, one can safely assume is is acceptable within that cyber-community of the school’s alumni.

Read for yourself. View this stuff for yourself. Make sure you let young people understand the parameters of public discourse surrounding their families and their neighborhoods.

The time has come to make sure our young people and their families are fully informed before they make the very important decision to earn money for a particular university.  If one or more of the local schools is offering your players a scholarship he will likely have other options.  If he doesn’t hit me up and I’m sure we can find a school that will pay his bills.

If you feel disrespected, if you feel unappreciated by local programs and their followers and they are offing your players scholarships you have options.  Exercise them.  Buyer beware!

It should be noted that it’s a very specific segment of the largely white male middle class fan and alumni base making the most vile statements.

Message boards are largely populated by white male alums of the schools. Recent surveys have identified the characteristics of message board posters. The data indicated that the vast majority of message-board users were male (87.8% of total, 92.2% of subscribers), White (90.8% of total, 92.4% of subscribers), and married (62.1% of total, 63.0% of subscribers); had least an undergraduate degree (76.0% of total, 79.3% of subscribers); and were current residents of the United States (97.4% of total, 98.1% of subscribers). Most respondents indicated that they were alumni of their message board’s school of focus (59.0% of total, 60.6% of subscribers). A total of 77.4% of survey participants indicated they were at least 30 years old, with subscribers tending to skew slightly older than non-subscribers. Also of note was the finding that 25.5% of all users were age 50 or older.

Let’s not send our young men where they aren’t welcomed and embraced. These are the internet addresses of message boards for the City 6 basketball programs.

St. Joseph’s Basketball – http://saintjosephs.scout.com

Temple Basketball & Football – http://temple.scout.com/

LaSalle Basketball – http://explorertown.proboards.com/

Villanova Basketball & Football – https://villanova.rivals.com/forum.asp

Drexel Basketball – http://www.caazone.com/boards/forums/drexel-dragons.7/

Penn Basketball – http://boards.basketball-u.com/showforum.php?fid/43/

Judge for yourself.

 

Sex, Black Male Athletes & The Responsibilities of Ol’ Heads

Tom Payne-page-0

Young fella… Let me holla at you for a minute…

I see what’s going on… She’s cute… not what you are used to… not “thick” like the girls from ’round the way… but cute nonetheless… Moreover, she’s always around… after practice… after dinner… outside study hall… in the lobby of the dorm. She always speaks first. She’s thirsty.  She’s trying real hard to get your attentions.  Seems like her wardrobe consists solely of yoga pants. You’ve noticed and she knows you’ve noticed. It’s just a matter of time ’til  y’all hook up.  Growing up you were never really interested in dating white girls, but DAMN it’s so many of them hanging around the team… You’re curious.. You’re thinking about it… Be careful young fella.

It’s a tough balancing act. You came to college to play ball first and foremost. Everything else is secondary. Academics? Yeah… the coaches talk about studying hard, but you (and everyone else for that matter) know their main concern is your development as a ball player. You are there to win games.  Being a scholarship athlete is a job.. A full-time job… You are evaluated based on your performance on the court and on the field. Besides, if you take the classes they’ve lined up for you and work with your academic advisers you’ll be fine. You will graduate in four years.

But what about the blonde in the yoga pants? Let’s call her Becky.  There’s no adviser to guide you through that situation. Young fella you are on your own.  You have to rely on your own judgement.  After a while, you decide to “hang out” with her. She has a BMW 3 series… nice… She has a credit card with what seems like no limit… Pizza? She’s got it… Wings? She’s got it… Movies? She’s got it… $50?… Yeah, she’s got that to…

Never, throughout all of your years in the “hood,” have you encountered a girl like Becky.  You have no frame of reference for this type of “relationship.” It really doesn’t make sense to you… She’s not your lady… She’s not your girlfriend… but… you like it. You really like it.  You’ve been conditioned to like it.  When they recruited you, they put about 4-5 girls just like her in front of you for the entire weekend. These girls looked like Becky and they were ready, willing and able… You smashed. It was all good. You committed… “Coach, I’m coming to BIG State!”

So now you’ve been on campus for a few weeks, it’s Friday and there’s no practice tomorrow. A rare day off. You can’t believe coach actually has nothing planned in the morning.  So you, two teammates and your boy from home decide to head over to a keg party at a nearby apartment complex. Soon as you enter the door, there she is… Becky… Y’all lock eyes… It’s a wrap, she’s by your side for the rest of the evening.  You playfully flirt.  You test the limits… How far will she let me go?  You grab her ass, she’s ok with that… You kiss her, she’s ok with that.

After a 7-8 drinks things start to get a little “loose.” Y’all decide to slip off to the bathroom. You close the door behind her and she gets on her knees. The effort is there, but the constant knocking at the door is really distracting. After 10 minutes or so y’all decide to go back to your room. This poses problems for your boys.  You’re the “man,” everyone knows you, not them.  They are just dudes at a party.  Your friends don’t like their chances of “hooking up” if you aren’t there with them.  Everybody decides to leave.  You, your crew and Becky head back to your dorm.

black-and-white-mike-jordan-sonMichael Jordan’s Son, Marcus and friends

Upon arriving back at the dorm, it’s on. You and Becky immediately disrobe and engage in consensual sex. Very good consensual sex. So good, your boys have been listening at the door the whole time. As a result, they are drunk and horny.  These guys are in a frenzied state of mind.  When you leave to clean yourself in the bathroom,  your teammate decides to enter the room.  We have just entered the danger zone. Young fella… Make no mistake… Lives are about to change forever.

Becky sees him taking off his pants and gets worried. She didn’t sign up for this.  She let’s him know she doesn’t want to have sex with him. He totally disregards her protestations.  He’s gonna take it.  He grabs her, places his forearm across her chest and pins her down on the bed. In a matter of seconds, Becky knows she has no options.  It’s total mismatch. He’s 6’4” and 245 lbs. She’s 5’3” and about 120.  Your boy… your buddy… your homie… forcefully spreads her legs and penetrates her vagina.  He’s not wearing a condom.   After a few minutes he lifts her up, flips her over and forces himself into her anus. Becky is crying.  Her spirit has literally left her frail body.  She has given up on physically resisting. She’s just hoping that this ordeal will soon come to an end. It doesn’t.

After wiping yourself down, you re-enter the room.  The other two guys are on your heels.  You see what is happening.  Your boy is ravaging Becky.  You know it’s not right. You know it’s foul. But you don’t take a stand.  You are now complicit. Unfortunately, you are “down” – legally and in a fraternal sense – with your boys… You’re weak and you allow Becky to be raped.  It unfolds right in your face.  Your boy from home forces his penis in her mouth while your teammate continues to assault her from the rear.  Your other teammate whips out his cell phone and starts recording the incident. Becky has become an inanimate object, she exists solely as a means of pleasuring the young men.  No one give any thought to her feelings, her pain, her humiliation.  Eventually, her crying becomes overbearing and y’all decide to cease. You throw her a towel, a rag and a hoodie. You and your homies retreat to the living area leaving her lying is a pool of sweat, tears and semen.

After a about 10 minutes, you ask her if she’s “alright.”  Becky’s eyes are open, but she is unresponsive.  It’s as if she comatose. She has just been subjected to a brutal felony gang rape.   But in a haze of ego and displaced loyalty to your friends, you convince yourself somehow, someway that she wanted it.   You have absolutely no idea how much trouble you are in.  Back in the living area, your boy has already forwarded the video and pics to several other friends.  Your dumb ass then shares it with other players on the team.

Jack Johnson-page-0(1)Becky is devastated.  She is bleeding.  All sorts of thoughts are running through her head. “Do I have a disease? Herpes? Aid? Am I pregnant?”  Blaming herself, she wonders what she could have done differently.  Yes, she wanted consensual sex with YOU.  The key words here are “with YOU”.  She didn’t want to be tossed around and shared by a group of strange men.  Unbeknownst to you and your friends, Becky has just endured life altering physical and psychological trauma.  Even though you don’t yet realize it, your athletic careers are already in jeopardy and your reputations will never recover.

Different versions of this episode are playing out on college campuses all across the country. Young Black college and professional athletes are literally “wildin’ out” on campuses and in hotels across the country. Of course, white athletes are wildin out too.  But, I’m not concerned with Ben Rothlisberger, Christian Peter and other white athletes right now.  Young fella, I am worried about you.  With alarming frequency, the media provides us with detailed accounts such as the one above.

Even casual fans can recognize that Black college and professional athletes such as yourself are increasingly involved in “alleged” sexual assaults. When not substantiated, these allegations, nonetheless, linger. They permanently stain the reputation and decrease the earning potential of guys like you. You do not want to be forever linked to the words “sexual assault” and “RAPE.”  If substantiated, athletes face immediate repercussions meted out by the criminal justice system and living their remaining years as a registered “sex offender.” Either way, the social and financial costs of sexual assaults are extremely high and should be avoided at all costs.

But how do you learn to deal with these situations? Who will demonstrate and model more appropriate ways to engage in sexual relationships with females, especially female “groupies”? I know you don’t really have a relationship with your father.  Who can help save you from yourself?

My contention here is that your Ol’ Heads have to do a better job preparing you for the complex and often confusing social circumstances awaiting elite basketball and football players on college campuses.  It ain’t enough to just deliver you to a Nike, under Arnour of Adidas school.  Ol’ Heads have to do more.  They are the ones in a position to make a difference.  Ol’ Heads have earned your respect and that of young Black males. They are youth coaches, high school coaches, AAU coaches, mentors, teachers or any older gentleman that demonstrates a willingness to impart knowledge.  Ol’ Heads know exactly how these scenarios can play out.

Young fella, if you truly don’t understand how you ended up arrested and charged with rape, your Ol’ Heads failed you.

Lawrence Taylor-page-0

I’m gonna always try my best to give it you raw and uncut.  Young fella, I have to speak TRUTH. Take it however you want, but here it is.

Some things have been issues from the moment Black men set foot on Jamestown, Virginia in 1619.  Since then, their place in the fledgling society has been an issue of vital concern to dominant white males. Very early on it was decided that Black males would be subjugated and relegated to far less than second class status.  By 1640, at least one African had been declared a slave and formally ordered by the court “to serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural life here or elsewhere.” Your Ol’ Heads understand that Black male sexuality and the Black penis have been viewed as major threats to the established social order by successive generations of white Americans over the past 370 years. Your Ol’ heads know that Black male interactions with women, especially white women, throughout American history have been aggressively policed and excessively punished. Ol’ Heads tend to understand this instinctively even if they are not familiar with the ugly, horrific details of manner in which American society has interacted with Black male genitalia.

The problem, as I see it young fella, is that collegiate sports has become such an integral and important part of American culture that many Ol’ Heads think that these historically observable dynamics no longer apply to elite athletes such as yourself.  And, to certain extent, they are not wrong. They are just shortsighted.  As long as you are performing in sanctioned contests that generate approximately $900,000,000 annually for the NCAA, they will let a LOT of shit “slide.”  Up to and including sexual assaults…

However, when you are no longer eligible to play or become ineffective at toting the rock or dunking a ball… When you can no longer contribute to victories and earn $$$$ for BIG state, the reality of America’s long standing fear of Black sexuality will rear its’ ugly head.  You will quickly come to understand the extent to which America continues to be fearful of the Black penis.

Eddie Johnson-page-0Young fella… Let me give you a quick history lesson on this subject.  They have always reserved the “legal” right to cut your dick off for that same shit y’all did to Becky.  In 1769, Colonial Virginia established a law which “authorized the castration of any slave who attempted to have sex with a white woman,” but it had no similar provision when white men attempted or in fact ravished black women.  Young fella… pay attention…  In 1775, Colonial Georgia formally enacted the prohibition against teaching a slave to read or write. The penalty for violating this prohibition was set at fifteen pounds sterling. That fine was was 50% larger that that for willfully castrating a slave or cutting off a limb.  That means the penalty for cutting off your balls was only half as much as the fine for teaching you to read.  I know what you are thinking: “I would have escaped, I would have run off…” You had better make to freedom if you tried.  In Colonial South Carolina, a third attempt at escaping to freedom warranted castration.  This mysterious fascination with and simultaneous fear of Black penises was not limited to the South.  In Colonial Pennsylvania, all Black males, free and enslaved, found guilty of attempts to rape a white woman were castrated.  The macabre behavior continued, in extra-legal forms well after independence from England.

In his recent film, Quinten Tarantino captured the essence of the issue at hand when Django was hung naked upside down in a barn while he awaits castration. The white man longing to execute the job, Billy Crash, one of the overseers, delighted in the thought of cutting off Django balls.  But, young fella, I don’t have to rely on cinematic fiction to illustrate how this is part of America’s DNA.

Throughout American history, when Black males were lynched the murderers would routinely cut off their penises. Sometimes, Black dicks were kept as souvenirs in pickle jars. In other instances, they were shoved into the mouths of the victim as he dangled from a tree. Eighty years ago, on October 26, 1934 Claude Neal was lynched in Marianna, Florida for having an affair with Ms. Cannidy, a young white neighbor.

A member of the lynch mob described the gruesome episode in great detail:

“After taking the nigger to the woods about four miles from Greenwood, they cut off his penis. He was made to eat it. Then they cut off his testicles and made him eat them and say he liked it. Then they sliced his sides and stomach with knives and every now and then somebody would cut off a finger or toe. Red hot irons were used on the nigger to burn him from top to bottom.” From time to time during the torture a rope would be tied around Neal’s neck and he was pulled up over a limb and held there until he almost choked to death when he would be let down and the torture begin all over again. After several hours of this unspeakable torture, “they decided just to kill him.”

The mob of angry whites tied Neal to a rope at the rear of an automobile and dragged over the highway to the Cannidy home. Somewhere between 3000 and 7000 fervent whites from eleven southern states were excitedly waiting his arrival. When Neal’s corpse arrived, it was immediately mutilated by the onlookers. It was then taken back to Marianna, where it was hung to a tree in the courthouse square.  Young fella, pictures (see below) were taken of the mutilated body and hundreds of photographs were sold for fifty cents each. Neal’s fingers were sold as souvenirs.

Claude-Neal-1934-Marianna-FLClaude Neal, Marianna, Florida 1934

In some important ways, times have changed significantly.  Think about it young fella.  For the better part of four centuries, brutal lynchings and castrations accompanied even the slightest thought of engaging in sexual relations with white women.  Yet, today young Black men are engaging in sexual relations with white women on college campuses in Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky, others states throughout the former Confederacy and all across the country. Even when white women cry “rape” the cases are frequently made to go away.

By now Young fella… I know your asking: How does this make sense? What is going on? What changed?

Incredibly, at this historical juncture, it is apparent that many white police and University officials place more value on the alleged Black perpetrator’s athletic services than they do on the “honor” of the putative white female victims.  The investigative reports are there for all to see.

Most recently, mainstream media outlets like ESPN, the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that white males in positions of authority are  hindering investigations of Black males suspected of sexually assaulting white women.  University presidents, athletic directors and coaches are routinely siding with prominent young Black athletes and questioning the accounts of alleged victims.

Young fella, you wanna know what’s really going on?

In the immortal words of Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Method Man and the rest of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” C.R.E.A.M./Get the money; dollar, dollar bill, y’all.  The fear of Black male sexuality still exists, but it has been overridden by naked greed.  Elite collegiate athletes generate huge sums of money for their respective institutions.

Young fella , as soon as you are no longer a substantial source of revenue, the fear will become readily apparent.

Your Ol’ Heads understand this innate fear. Unfortunately, truth be told, just like the white males cashing in at the colleges, a lot of Ol’ Heads have been blinded by greed.  Hoping to cash in if you make it, many Ol’ Heads are not willing to impose behavioral expectations on guys like you.  They are afraid of being cast out of your inner circle.  They are worried that you will make it to the NFL or NBA and they won’t be around to share in your success and reap financial rewards.

In short, the game is fucked up!!

Fearful of losing access, Ol’ Heads fail to provide guidance for dealing with these situations.  You have never been subjected to logical consequences for your negative behaviors.  As a result, you have no idea how the larger society views these types of sexual escapades. Because you can ball, people have been letting you get away with all types of transgressions since you were 10 or 11 years old.  Young fella you have been socialized to believe you are above the rest of society.  You are part of a generation of gladiators incapable of consistently exhibiting socially appropriate behaviors in all settings.

Mike Tyson-page-0Far too many of today’s Ol’ Heads view their role as making problems go away. In the past, Ol’ Heads prepared youngbucks to deal with a complicated, confusing and discriminatory society. These days, Ol’ Heads just say, “Don’t worry ‘bout it, I’ll fix it.”

That is extremely unfortunate.  Your generation is paying a high price for this.  More than anyone else, Ol’ Heads are in a position to spell out the truth.  Ol’ Heads know their youngbucks. They know if y’all are capable of assaulting or raping women. They have spent countless hours in cars, gyms and classrooms with youngbucks. In many instances, they have diffused sensitive situations involving inappropriate behaviors with girls and young women.  The responsibilities of Ol’ Heads are much deeper than the responsibility of college coaches, given the unique relationships and access that Ol’ Heads enjoy.

Reuben Patterson-page-0Ol’ Heads also understand the dynamics of race as they have historically applied to Black athletes.  From 1905 through the early 1970’s, major NCAA college basketball and football programs fielded teams that were predominantly white.  In the south, “Affirmative Action” was firmly entrenched in the recruitment process.  Participation in major college athletics was exclusively (100%) the preserve of white males for these seven decades. Highly skilled and supremely gifted Black athletes were barred from participation and lesser white athletes were awarded scholarships.

After explicitly denying Black males an opportunity participate for seven decades, the pendulum has swung entirely in the other direction.  One watching two top SEC teams on television today could easily envision the same game taking place between Grambling and Southern in the mid 1960’s. Outside an occasional center or quarterback, dominant college teams are predominantly African-American.

The money has really changed things young fella… The rise of the Black athlete and the accompanying exponential growth in revenues has led us a point where many white fans, boosters, coaches, administrators and even law enforcement officials value winning college athletic contests (and the generating millions of dollars) more than they fear Black penises.

But… youngfella… please… please… Don’t be fooled, it’s all about the money.

Let’s look at the investigation of a rape allegation against the reigning Heisman winner and quarterback of the national champion Florida State football team.  This incident and the ensuing actions on the part of authority figures provides a clear picture of just how far the pendulum has swung.

Darren Sharper-page-0On Jan. 10, 2013, a female student alleged that Jameis Winston has raped her about a month earlier and reported him to the Tallahassee police.  According to a statement released by the university, senior athletic department officials met with Mr. Winston’s lawyer, Mr. Jansen, within days of his identification as a suspect and quickly concluded that “there were no grounds for further action.” The accuser’s former lawyer, Patricia A. Carroll, said the department did not contact her at the time to get her client’s side of the story.

What the fuck is up with that?  Fifty years ago a mob would have tried to drag Winston out of his home and hang him up on a tree a few feet from the courthouse steps.

Young fella… If we remember what Wu-Tang tells us, that “cash rules everything around me” then things start to make sense.  On the field, Winston is a dynamic force and a dominant leader. Florida State has yet to lose a football game in the in year and a half he has been the starting quarterback. Wins translate into dollars. County officials estimate that home games generate anywhere from $1.5 million to $10 million into the local economy, depending on the quality of the opponent.  Last year Florida State reported a football profit of $20 million, which covered much of the expenses for other sports teams while also helping the athletic department contribute $2.6 million back to academic programming on top of athletic scholarships.

The New york Times has reported that the police investigator who handled the case, Scott Angulo, “has done private security work for the Seminole Boosters, a nonprofit organization, with nearly $150 million in assets, that is the primary financier of Florida State athletics, according to records and a lawyer for the boosters.”

As long as he has eligibility left, FSU and the authorities in Tallahassee will continue to let a LOT of shit slide.  Winston as of October 14, 2014 is 19-0 as the starting QB.  He also has a Heisman trophy and a National Championship in hand.  You… young fella… you ain’t Jameis Winston.

Act like you got some sense!!

Ask AAU and HS Coaches the Hard Questions!!

Young fella:
It’s hard… I know… believe me, I know. You are just trying to find your way. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I flunked one year in school at 13. I was arrested at 16. I was a teenage father at 17. I lived in subsidized housing. I was raised by a single mother. In my early 20s, I smoked blunt after blunt after blunt… I played high school ball. I played college ball. My homies moved weight. I have been profiled by police several times. I have been strip searched for no reason. My car has been searched on the side of the road. My close friends have done bids in the penitentiary. By 23, the University of Michigan, the University of Delaware, The Ohio State University and the University of California were offering to pay me to attend their graduate programs.  As I approach 50, I have gained some perspective that may be of use to you as you begin your journey.  But, you gotta pay attention and listen closely…

Philly Pride Triple Threat LogoMore than anything else… More than exposure… More than playing time… More than trips to Vegas… More than fly gear… you need to surround your self with people that are knowledgeable about the ever changing NCAA eligibility process.  Make sure you participate in AAU and high school programs that genuinely care about college preparation.  Good programs have early-alert systems that flag student-athletes with spotty attendance, low test PSAT, SAT and ACT scores, too few core courses and low GPA’s.  Great programs will reward you for meeting academic goals and implement  consequences when you come up short.  Young fella, that’s the ONLY way to avoid being one of the thousands of young Black men who will inevitably fail to meet NCAA eligibility requirements in 2016.  Time is short, you have to grow up quickly.

As you embark on your journey, you will find yourself struggling with the conflicting ways the larger society views Black males. The relationship between America and Black males is really complex and can really be confusing for young men such as yourself. On one hand, for the better part of 400 years, Black males have been viewed as a menacing threat to all that is good about American society. Deeply ingrained white supremacist and racist traditions led to the exclusion of Black males from many major collegiate athletic programs up to the late 1960s and early 1970s.  To this day, young Black men can be literally shot in the face or choked to death in the middle of American streets while armed with only Black skin, loose cigarettes, iced tea and a bag of skittles. On the other hand, Black male athletes and hip hop performance artists are revered and rewarded with multimillion dollar contracts and enormous endorsement deals. Under Armour and Nike just emerged from an unprecedented battle over who gets to pay Kevin Durant $300 million over the next decade.  Of course, you want access to the latter, but everyday you have to navigate the reality of former. It ain’t gonna be an easy journey young fella…

Odds-of-Making-the-NBAIn the immortal words of Run-DMC, “It’s Tricky”…. But, for now, you just wanna play ball… You just wanna go to college, preferably D1. You know the odds are more than stacked against you. You have heard it all before. You fully understand that only 0.03% of high school players make it to the NBA. You realize that there are about 546,000 high school players and every year only about 48 college players are drafted into the league. But, shit… you could be one of the 48. I get that… I really do… As you see it, all you need is one coach in the right program, in the right conference to give you a chance. If they let you on that stage, you know you’re gonna shine. In your mind, you are better than many of the guys playing college ball right now! Given a fair chance, you will have the NBA contract and the massive endorsement deal. Maybe… Maybe you will young fella, but then, again, maybe you won’t. Be ready either way!

Mark MaconMark Macon, Temple/NBA

It’s possible… I’ve seen a lot of Philly high school and college players make to the NBA. Maurice Martin (St. Joseph’s), Lionel Simmons (LaSalle), Doug Overton (LaSalle), Randy Woods (LaSalle), Bo Kimble (Dobbins), Tim Perry (Temple), Mark Macon (Temple), Aaron McKie (Temple), Eddie Jones (Temple), Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph’s), Delonte West (St. Joseph’s), Kerry Kittles (Villanova), Rasheed Wallace (Gratz), Marcus & Markeiff Morris (Prep Charter) and Dion Waiters (Syracuse) were all 1st round picks.

I must also tell you, I’ve also seen guys who were good enough suffer injuries and illnesses that curtailed their NBA dreams. Rap Curry (St. Joseph’s), Bernard Blunt (St. Joseph’s), Bernard Jones (St. Joseph’s), Donnie Carr (LaSalle), Jason Frazier (Villanova) and Granger Hall (Temple) were fantastic collegiate players denied an opportunity in the NBA because of health issues. You have to simultaneously prepare to play at the highest level and get ready for the day the ball stops bouncing. It could stop bouncing at any time. First and foremost, we have to get you through high school and off to college.

donnie carrDonnie Carr, LaSalle University

Young fella… The first thing you have to do is become aware of and avoid the traps that have been set for you. Your future, your freedom and in some cases your life are at-risk every time venture outside your home. Every year, somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United States. The overwhelming majority of these victims are young males. You should know that 93% of these murders are in fact perpetrated by other blacks.  Black people account for about half of all homicide victims in the US almost exclusively at the hands of other African-Americans. Every year Black men kill more Black men than the total number of U.S. service men and women that been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over the course of decade-long wars fought in those nations.

I know… I know… You know your way around the “hood.” You know the gun-toters. You know the killers. They respect your game. You don’t have nothing to do with the neighborhood “beefs.” You ain’t really worried about dying in the streets at the hands of other Black men. But, you should be. Be careful. Be respectful. I can’t expect you to avoid all interaction with real “thugs.” Some of them are your uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends. In many cases, they love you and you love them. Nonetheless, you have to exercise extreme caution when interacting with them. Don’t take no rides. Don’t hold no packs. Don’t stash no burners in your crib. Be smart. You have other more important things to worry about.

6446-000031Young fella… there is a drug arrest every 19 seconds in the U.S. In 2009 alone, there were more than 1.6 million drug arrests and 82 percent of those were for possession alone. Despite the unquestioned fact that white boys use drugs just as much, if not more, than your homies, they are focusing their policing efforts on our community. As Blacks, we are only 13 percent of the U.S. population and we proportionately account for 13 percent of the nation’s drug users. Yet, Blacks represent 34 percent of those arrested for drug offenses and 45 percent of those held in state prisons for drug offenses. We are the enemy in the “War on Drugs.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, in 2008, there were over 846,000 black men in prison, making up 40.2 percent of all inmates in the system. The brilliant Michelle Alexander notes that “More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began.” We are drastically overrepresented in the courtrooms, jails and prisons. We are about six times more likely to spend time in prison or jail than whites. According to recent research, we receive up to 60% longer federal prison sentences than whites who commit similar offenses, and 20% longer prison sentences than whites who commit the same offenses.  It’s so easy to get tripped up.

Keep these statistics in mind while you listen to multimillionaire hip hop artists promoting violence, misogyny, drug abuse and crass materialism. Jay Z, Young Jeezy, 50 Cent, Lil’ Wayne and all the rest have bloody hands. They are purposely filling your head destructive messages, while accepting payments for lyrics that extol alcohol and drug use. A recent study by Dartmouth Medical School, analyzed 793 songs from Billboard charts starting in 2005 and found that 160 songs (about 21%) referred explicitly to alcohol.  The study found that the majority of songs that referenced alcohol were rap, followed by R&B/hip-hop and country.  Approximately 42 percent of the lyrics referred to alcohol in a positive way and mentioned specific alcohol brands.  The brands in most cases are associated with advertising that depicts a luxury lifestyle of drug use, partying, sex, and wealth.

Another study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that music listened to by teenagers aged 15 to 18 affects long-term attitudes and behaviors.  That study looked at 279 top Billboard songs and found that 33 percent included explicit substance abuse references.  Be strong young fella, they are after you.  The majority of these songs linked substance abuse with positive sexual, financial and emotional rewards.  There are very consistent messages within corporate-sponsored hip-hop that promote the murder of young black men, sexual irresponsibility, excessive consumerism, drug/alcohol abuse and other forms of illegal behavior.  The plan is to convert you into a blunt smoking, drug addled, liquor drinking corporate consumer for life.

Wiz KhalifaIn 2002, Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy released “Pass the Courvoisier.”  That song led to a 19 percent increase in sales for Allied Domecq, maker of Courvoisier. Young Jeezy has an endorsement deal with Belvedere Vodka. A number of hip hop artists are creating their own alcohol labels.  Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, is part owner of the Voli Vodka brand.  Other rap artists who are part owners of liquor brands include Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and Ludacris.

LudaThe myth is bullshit, Young fella… They tell you, “Jay Z sold drugs, he came up… 50 Cent sold drugs, he came up.” That’s the narrative being repeatedly fed to you and your homies through the media and the hip hop lyrics. Meanwhile, one of every three black American males born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime compared to one out of every seventeen white males. Most will go to prison for the same “hustlin” behaviors celebrated in hip hop. I need you be discerning. I need you to see what they are doing. For every Kanye, there are 100,000 Nates, Bruces and Jamals on probation, parole or in prison.

The aim, the goal must ALWAYS be to hone and leverage your athletic ability and gain access to higher education. Then use education to improve your life and the lives of your family members. Once this goal is achieved, you have won. A professional basketball contract is the gravy.  The college degree and the knowledge gained along the way constitute the nourishing meal.

Playaz logoToward that end, you have to exercise solid judgement in selecting AAU and High School programs. Don’t sell yourself for a mere pittance. When the AAU guys come around offering a couple dollars, a new cell phone bill and 5 new pairs of KD’s, ask then the tough questions: How many of the guys in your program did NOT meet NCAA eligibility requirements? How many of your guys in the past 5 years had to go JUCO? Exactly, what does your program do to make sure guys are eligible? Does your program have homework assistance and/or SAT/Prep? Do you provide practice SAT exams to see where I stand?

We R 1 logoReally good AAU programs won’t have a problem answering these questions. Really good program administrators understand what you are up against. They do everything they can to get you in college. Some of the best programs I have encountered are NJ Playaz, Philly Pride/Triple Threat, WE R 1, Baltimore’s Finest and Mississippi Basketball Association. These programs focus on academics as well basketball preparation.

Mississippi Basketball AssociationMany of these same questions must be directed to high school coaches. This is especially true for kids attending urban public schools. In urban districts across the country, budget cuts have eliminated guidance counselor and assistant principal positions. You must ask the coach: What is the “eligibility plan” for me? Exactly what courses will I take that will lead to you being eligible? Can I see the list of NCAA approved courses for your school? What is the average SAT score at your school? What scores did your players get over the past few years? Does your school offer summer school courses? What is the grading scale at your school? How many of your players have gone onto play Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA?

As young Black “baller” you may find yourself struggling to attain self-conscious manhood while avoiding traps permeating the landscapes you traverse everyday. As you inch closer to becoming an elite basketball player, the “love-hate” relationship America has with Black males will become more and more apparent. Your challenge is to both keep it “real” and represent your family and your “hood” while simultaneously accessing institutions of high education and playing at the highest collegiate level. Shit ain’t easy. But, it can done, but, you must start right now by asking the right questions.

Sincerely,

Delgreco K. Wilson

 

Black Athletes, Race and the Rise of NCAA Eligibility Requirements

Imagine this scenario, a scientist develops a gas that kills mosquitoes but can cause some people to go blind.  Let’s say, the gas only blinds white people with blonde hair and blue eyes.  A few people with white people brown or black hair might get sick but they don’t go blind.  Some with brown or green eyes may get a headache, but they don’t lose their vision.  Blacks, Asians and Latinos are unaffected by the gas.  At the request of the Mayors, the scientist decides to release the gas in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.  All of the mosquitoes are killed but over 200,000 white people with blonde hair and blue eyes lose their ability to see.

Did the scientist discriminate against people with white blonde hair and blue eyes?  Furthermore, suppose the scientist says, “I’m not targeting any specific group, I’m just killing mosquitoes.”  Investigators would ask, “Did you know the gas would cause people with blonde hair and blue eyes to go blind?”  The scientist answers, “yes, but I didn’t target them specifically… I just released the gas to kill mosquitoes.”  How would you view the scientist? Is he a racist? Would it matter that he says he didn’t “target” people with blonde hair and blue eyes?  Whatever his intentions, white people with blonde hair and blue eyes were disproportionately harmed by the intervention.

duke-team-1966-67Duke Men’s Basketball Team, 1966-67

From 1905 through the early 1970’s, major NCAA college basketball and football programs fielded teams that were predominantly white.  In the south, major college athletics was exclusively the preserve of white males for these seven decades.  During this entire 70 year period, there were no substantial “academic reforms” initiated by the NCAA.   In 1959, the NCAA determined that 12 credits per semester defined normal progress.  In 1965, a 1.6 minimum GPA was established for continuing eligibility.  In 1973, the 1.6 rule was replaced with a simpler requirement of a 2.0 high school GPA for initial eligibility, and restoring institutional authority over determining normal progress.

Please note, when the players were overwhelmingly white, academic standards were either non-existent or incredibly low.

1966AlabamaCrimsonTideAlabama Crimson Tide Football Team, 1966

Throughout the 1970’s major college revenue sports underwent a “tanning”  process as Blacks became a majority of the football and basketball athletes.  By the the early 1980’s, Blacks represented the lion’s share of scholarship athletes in revenue sports.  NCAA Eligibility requirements soon emerged as a means of excluding many Black student-athletes from competing at the NCAA Division 1 level.  Like the scientist in the earlier hypothetical, the NCAA says it did not “intend” to disproportionately impact Blacks.  It just happened.

Condride HallowayCondredge Holloway, Tennessee Volunteers, 1st Black QB (1972) in the SEC

With abandonment of rigid Apartheid-like segregation in the South, the 1970s witnessed a rapid influx of Black student-athletes in major college football and basketball. College coaches across the country were, finally, able to recruit the best student-athletes. This resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of Black student-athletes in major college programs. In about 10 years, Blacks went from being formally excluded to a majority of the players.  The rapid increase in Black student-athlete representation was accompanied by calls for academic reform.  Some felt the reforms were intended to halt and even reverse the gains made by Black athletes.

Charlie ScottCharlie Scott, the first Black scholarship athlete at UNC

Over the years,  a few outspoken critics forcefully asserted that academic reforms were racially motivated. In January of 1989, Temple Coach John Chaney declared, “The NCAA is a racist organization of the highest order… On this day, it instituted a new punishment on black kids who have already been punished because they are poor. Any time the NCAA, which is 90 percent white, considers the youngsters in Division I basketball and football, it discriminates, because 89 percent of the kids are black… I wonder what message they are sending. It’s another hardship for black kids made by white folk.”  Coach Chaney wasn’t alone in voicing displeasure.

Also in January of 1989, Georgetown Coach John Thompson walked off the in protest before the start of a game against Boston College. At the time Thompson said, “I’ve done this because, out of frustration, you’re limited in your options of what you can do in response to something I felt was very wrong…. This is my way of bringing attention to a rule a lot of people were not aware of – one which will affect a great many individuals. I did it to bring attention to the issue in hopes of getting [NCAA members] to take another look at what they’ve done, and if they feel it unjust, change the rule.”

John ThompsonJohn Thompson, Jr., Former Georgetown Head Coach

The NCAA position regarding academic reforms has been consistent throughout the years. The NCAA officials said the legislation gave no consideration to racial implications, although it has been estimated that approximately 90 percent of the 600 students a year who will be affected are black.  Paradoxically, the NCAA is saying we know the reforms disproportionately impact Blacks but we gave no consideration to race.

Beginning in the early 1980s, the NCAA implemented significant changes in the freshman eligibility rules. The NCAA developed and implemented Proposition 48 at its’ 1983 convention. The racially disparate impact of the reform is beyond dispute. The rule change had a harsh impact on Blacks, especially those from low-income households.  Formulated in 1983 and fully implemented in 1986, Prop 48 rule stipulated, entering freshmen would be eligible for scholarships only if they had achieved a grade point average of at least 2.0 in 11 core college preparatory courses and, when it came to the two standard college entrance examinations, attained a minimum score of 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or 15 on the American College Testing Program’s exam.

Given the historical context of Apartheid-like segregation and the systematic exclusion of Blacks, many viewed the NCAA academic reforms as attempt to assuage the fears of racist University administrators and their supporters. These critics were especially concerned about the lack of African-American participation on the committee that developed the original Proposition 48 document. A reform measure that disproportionately impacted Blacks was developed, designed and implemented by an all-white committee.  It’s easy to understand why some feel that academic reforms are intended limited and even reduce the presence of Black student-athletes while simultaneously preserving the spirit and perception of racial inclusion.

Critics allege that Prop 48 and the subsequent reforms represent an attempt to devise a regulatory structure that would allow for some minority participation but facilitate continuation of the long standing tradition of predominantly white participation.

The racially disparate impact of the reforms are obvious. In one study, Richard Lapchick of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society, found that if Prop 48 had been in place in 1981, 69% of all males entering college on athletic scholarships would have been ineligible. More than two-thirds of the freshman male Black student-athletes would have been denied an opportunity to go to college on an athletic scholarship. Moreover, 54% of those student-athletes eventually graduated. That graduation rate was comparable to the graduation rate for all students which stood at 57%.

C48F2298Richard Lapchick, Center or the Study of Sport in Society

The loophole in the 1983 rule allowed “partial qualifiers,” students with a 2.0 high school GPA who didn’t make the requisite standardized test score, to attend college on athletic scholarships for one year. Although partial qualifiers lost one year of athletic eligibility and were not permitted to compete in their first year, they had a chance to gain eligibility by posting a 2.0 GPA during that year.

In 1990, the NCAA adopted Proposition 42, under which student-athletes failing to score at least 700 on the SAT or an equivalent score on the ACT and a 2.0 GPA were ineligible for any type of financial aid. Partial qualifiers were eligible for need-based, non-athletic financial aid.  Prop 42 was written and sponsored by the Southeastern Conference (SEC).  The SEC was the last major conference to allow Black participation.  The SEC voted to phase it in unilaterally even if the NCAA did not adopt the measure.

In 1995, the NCAA’s eligibility requirements became more stringent. The NCAA increased the number of required course from 11 to 13 and voted to implement a sliding scale in addition to retaining the SAT and ACT as a key component of the eligibility standards. Beginning August 1996, students with a 2.0 in 13 core course had to score at least 900 on the SAT. For each ten-point drop in SAT scores, student-athletes had to have a corresponding .025 increase in grade point average. Thus a student with a 2.5 GPA could score 700 and still be eligible.

In 2003, the NCAA enacted tougher standards for initial eligibility beginning with students first enrolling in the fall of 2008. The number of required core course went from 13 to 14.

In 2012, the NCAA approved another series of increasingly tougher reforms. Beginning is 2016, student-athletes would have to complete 16 core courses. Of those 16 core courses, 10 would have to be completed before the beginning of the senior year and grades from those core courses are “locked in” for computing a GPA once the senior year begins. In other words, there are no more emergency summer sessions in the senior year to rectify failing grades.

Mark EmmertNCAA President Mark Emmert

Additionally, a student-athlete must have a minimum GPA of 2.3 in those 16 core courses (up from 2.0) with an accompanying sliding scale SAT/ACT score. As originally conceived, a student-athlete with a 2.3 GPA would have to score 1080 on the SAT or an equivalent score on the ACT. Currently, a student-athlete with a 2.3 GPA has to score 900 on the SAT. Beginning in 2016, a student-athlete with a minimum GPA of 2.0 is considered an “academic redshirt.” He or she may practice with but not compete for his/her team for the first semester. Under present rules, a student-athlete with a 2.0 GPA could score a 1010 and be eligible for a scholarship and participation. Additionally, beginning this year, junior college transfers will be required to have a 2.5 GPA (up from 2.0) in their transferable credits.

At a subsequent meeting, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors maintained its support for higher grades and a core course progression. However, the NCAA adopted legislation that would keep for the foreseeable future the test score/grade-point average sliding scale at the current level for student-athlete access to financial aid, practice and competition in the first year.

The Board acknowledged that requiring prospects to meet a more stringent sliding scale starting in 2016 would negatively impacted low-income minority youth.  They publicly noted that there would have been a significant decrease in the number of eligible student-athletes from America’s inner cities.  The 1080 SAT requirement with a 2.3 GPA could have effectively eliminated tens of thousands of Black student-athletes.  For example 39 of Philadelphia’s 58 (67.2%) public High Schools have average SAT scores below 800.  The likelihood of student-athletes from these types of schools scoring 1080 or higher is virtually nil.

In effect too much of the football and basketball athletic talent pool would be off limits.  Those consequences led the Board to its decision to retain the current sliding scale standard.

For nearly seventy years, from 1905 -1970, the NCAA consisted of conferences that explicitly practiced racial exclusion.  “Whites only” was the guiding feature of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference and the old Southwestern Conference. During this era there was almost no attention paid to academics by the NCAA.  By the early 1980’s Blacks became a majority of football and basketball student-athletes.  Since then, the NCAA has implemented five successive “academic reforms.”  Each reform package has been more restrictive than prior measures.  The scientists remain busy as ever in the lab.  Be on the lookout for blonde haired, blue eyed people walking into walls.