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“It’s Time!”

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

As a child, I remember the courage one Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins exhibited. Chucky Mullins, former University of Mississippi defensive back, #38 was a hero in my household. Never before had I seen an injury of that magnitude, nor did I ever care to see another paralyzed from a hit on the gridiron. Chucky fought back, to smile, to inspire his teammates at the Liberty Bowl two months later, “It’s time!” As Coach Billy Brewer later said, “Air Force didn’t have a chance.” Mullins passed away in May 1991 almost 2 years after the injury.

It’s time. The NFL has taken on that mantra in a way. It’s time to preserve the lives of those who risk their lives for my enjoyment. The NFL has instituted a new rule–if a ball carrier’s helmet comes off during the play, the play is immediately blown dead. Since 1989, since Chucky’s vicious hit on Vanderbilt’s fullback Brad Gaines, football at all levels have become more violent and life that much more fragile. On Saturday we were again reminded of the dangers of this sport. Rutgers reserve Defensive Tackle and special teams player Eric LeGrand suffered a debilitating injury. An injury, that for now, has left him paralyzed from the neck down. I couldn’t help but feel those empty, hollow feelings I did as a child when I saw Chucky’s injury.

We love the impact, the collisions; we glory in one Maurice Jones-Drew scoring a touchdown helmetless. Or what about, some years ago, Jason Witten picking up extra yards after the catch with no helmet? We love it; it’s thrilling, and yet let’s not forget, they too are human; they’re bodies are bruised and what will happen to them after their playing careers?

Let’s hope that LeGrand can recover, walk again. May he exhibit the courage and have the support that Chucky had.


“…Old Wine in New Bottles…”

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2010 at 8:45 am

I was fortunate to travel to Madison, Wisconsin to attend a Racial Justice Conference hosted by the local chapter of YWCA. Traveling to Madison for such a conference??? The conference challenge was to question whether we do live in a post-racial society, especially after the election of President Barack Obama. Exactly what is a post-racial society? According to Lydia Lum, it essentially means that race doesn’t matter as much in decisions of hiring, educating, or firing. It means that we live together, with our differences–physical, personality, religious and yes, even our racial and cultural differences.

According to Troy Duster of New York University sociology professor, “The idea of post-race is old wine in new bottles.” But for Dr. John McWhorter of the Manhattan Institute “Racism is not Black people’s main problem anymore. To say that is like saying the earth is flat.” He continues, “Post-racialism is a good direction to move in because if there’s some separation between Blacks and Whites, it’s as if some unpleasantness is going on, like one has his foot on the other’s neck. Are there racists? Yes. But not enough to keep a Black family out of the White House.”

And President Obama is the model for a post-racial society. Lum calls him the “most daunting pinup.” So the notion of a post-racial society, the notion that we are “colorblind,” and that’s what Professor Duster referred to: that we’ve been here before. So while at the conference, I hear speakers Tim Wise and Patricia Williams challenge the notion that we live in a colorblind society–especially when there are more African American men in prison than on college campuses, when there is an educational gap between white and black students, and, as speaker Jacquelyn Boggess of Madison, WI stated, the idea that we live in a post-racial society is not completely accurate when African American men are 12 times more likely to be arrested in Dane County, Wisconsin.

So, yes, we have a biracial President, who so happened to check the African American box on his census application. And yes, there are many more steps to climb on this journey toward reconciling our differences and our past. But it’s much more than racism, again Tim Wise says the longer we are quiet about our structures and where we choose to put schools or how we choose to fund specific programs, we see that institutionalized or structural racism is much more deeper and a challenge to overcome.