Tag Archives: basketball

Derrick Gordon1

Derrick Gordon Becomes First Out Gay Male NCAA Basketball Player

By Arturo R. García

University of Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon announced to the public on Wednesday — after telling his parents and teammates — that he is a gay man, becoming the first gay male NCAA basketball player.

“I know what it’s like to cry yourself to sleep or ‘have a girlfriend’ when that’s not your girlfriend, just to try and impress your friends,” Gordon said in video published by Outsports on the day of his announcement. “Nobody should have to try to live like that.”

Though his opening up to his teammates was by all accounts positive, the road there appears to have been rough for Gordon.
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Quoted: ESPN On Jason Collins, A Season Later

Free-agent NBA center Jason Collins. Image via freddyo.com

Welts’ combination of optimism and apprehension is shared by many others around the league who are rooting for Collins, but recognize the forces working against him. They list any number of factors, some unique to his identity as the only openly gay free agent, others products of circumstance.As the league gets stretchier — with some teams employing as few as four conventional big men — fewer NBA jobs remain for a center whose primary on-court asset is interior defense. Many teams prefer to take fliers on younger prospects whose contracts can be discarded on Jan. 10, when the vets’ phones start to ring. For their part, the Warriors have stockpiled centers. They have Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Ognjen Kuzmic, Jermaine O’Neal and Dewayne Dedmon all under contract.

“The reality for our team is that we are really deep at the center position — there’s not a roster spot available,” Welts says.

League trends aside, nearly a dozen execs say privately that the media glare that would come with a Collins signing just isn’t worth the distraction to most teams. Locker rooms are fragile places already and not always receptive to change, and though NBA players as a whole are extremely professional with the media, it’s not their favorite half hour of the day. The easier it is, the better. If he were a rotation player or better, the thinking goes, the cost/benefit analysis might produce a different outcome.

In other words, the market for Collins would be bigger if he weren’t openly gay.

- From “What we’re learning from Jason Collins,” by Kevin Arnovitz

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Sherman Alexie’s Essay On Jason Collins

By Andrea Plaid

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

Those who follow this weekly post know that we just don’t crush out about people here; we’ve been known to show massive love to things like photographs around here. This week’s Crush is along that line.

This week’s Loved Up is Sherman Alexie’s essay about basketball player Jason Collins coming out this week. “Why,” you ask? As the R’s Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson said, “Sherman Alexie is a fool, and we should celebrate it.”

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The Racialicious Links Roundup 4.25.13

It’s clear that we as Black and Brown Americans, are still recovering from the racist indoctrinations of the past 500 years. Though laughable it sounds, white Americans, too, have suffered from this crime. As our country began and brown races were systematically denied the right to be human and so internalized the role of the savage, white consciousness bullied its way into objectivity. The white mind became the unbiased mind that objectively observed all the rest. This is called The Default: The belief that the white experience is a neutral and objective experience and white consciousness is the standard consciousness unless otherwise specified. White culture, and American culture as a whole, suffers from the tragedy of whiteness as the default setting.

Being The Default keeps white Americans from being liberated because it denies them a specific identity by absorbing them into neutral blankness. This creates a lonely detachment from the rest of the world. Being The Default is the largest privilege granted to white Americans, yet it is so deeply entrenched it is the most invisible (we cannot see the edges of the atmosphere, but it exists). Whites benefit from being The Default by having inherent legitimacy in a way that’s denied to people of color. Their experience of life is “normal.” Whites are free from the constant awareness (and subsequent constant paranoia) of existing in another person’s world. Because The Default has so successfully dominated our subconscious, because our egos have been shaped by it from the moment of birth, we perpetuate it in micro ways while fighting inequality with more obvious actions. The silent poison continues to poison. Whiteness as The Default keeps brown people in subjugation by convincing them that every part of their being, physical, spiritual and emotional, exists within a white narrative. When you are made to exist within something you are forced to be smaller than that which contains you. This is precisely the basis of racist thought. Brown existence, brown consciousness is smaller.

So let me start with the standard roll call: As an American Muslim, I condemn all violence in the name of religion. Terrorism has no religion and Islam is no exception. If the Tsarnaev brothers are guilty of the Boston bombings, then I hope they are brought to justice.

Is that condemnation clear enough? Because I’m pretty sure a whole lot of people instead read “blah blah blah blah blah.”

Here’s the deal. It is a shame that we had to employ 9,000 officers, put our lives on hold for five days, and sacrifice $1 billion in Boston revenue to catch these culprits. It is a shame that Muslim women were assaulted in retaliation, and that’s even before we knew who the suspects were. And it is a shame I received threats of anti-Muslim violence and that even my non-Muslim but non-white friends called me, fearing for their safety.

And now the public lynching and double standards against Islam begin. Mental illness was the culprit during Newtown, Conn., Oak Creek, Wis., and Aurora, Colo. More than 70 percent of America’s 64 previous mass shooters were white American men. But not one pundit, nor any politician, nor any Muslim has ever asked why White Americans or Christian Americans are not aggressively condemning these acts of terror. After all, why ask such a ludicrous question? Anyone with a functioning cerebrum could comprehend that these terrorists represent only themselves.

Last week, a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” introduced a new immigration reform measure. Their bill would continue to strengthen our borders, fix the legal immigration system and provide a path for the 11 million undocumented to register, pay taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else before they could get on a path to citizenship.

Unlike the 1986 law, this approach is tougher and also expands employer verification so that those doing the hiring are compelled to own up to their responsibilities. It’s the right approach.

For many immigrants, there was never a path to come legally. But they’re here now; they’ve put down roots. They’re not looking for a handout, just a chance to work hard and do the right thing.

President Reagan once said that ”Latinos are Republicans. They just don’t know it yet.” In that spirit, I would argue immigration reform is the conservative thing to do. Conservatives just don’t realize it yet.

One of the audio kiosks is placed just about at the site of the crude barrack that housed my family and me — block 6, barrack 2, unit F. We were little more than numbers to our jailers, each of us given a tag to wear to camp like a piece of luggage. My tag was 12832-C.

I have memories of the nearby drainage ditch where I used to catch pollywogs that sprouted legs and eventually and magically turned into frogs. I remember the barbed wire fence nearby, beyond which lay pools of water with trees reaching out from them. We were in the swamps, you see: fetid, hot, mosquito-laden. We were isolated, far enough away from anywhere anyone would want to live.

Today, I recognize nothing. The swamp has been drained, the trees have all been chopped down. It is now just mile after mile of cotton fields. Everything I remember is gone.

The most moving of the sites is the cemetery. As a child, I never went there, yet that is the only thing that still stands from Rohwer Camp, except for a lone smokestack where the infirmary once operated. The memorial marker is a tall, crumbling concrete obelisk, in tribute to the young men who went from their barbed wire confinement to fight for America, perishing on bloody European battlefields. That day, I stood solemnly with surviving veterans who had served in the segregated all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in all the war.

Men’s sports are always treated with higher regard than women’s sports, period. No announcement from a female athlete is going to generate the attention that an announcement from a male athlete does, regardless of what the announcement is. Such a division is clearly seen in men’s NCAA sports versus women’s, let alone in professional sports. (Even in Olympic sports, male sports get more primetime coverage [outside of volleyball, track and gymnastics] and while most can easily cite Usain Bolt as the fastest man in the world, do they know that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the fastest woman in the world? They’re both Jamaicans. This gender issue isn’t even accounting for the racist [and sexist] media issues regarding Olympic sports.)

Female athletes are always assumed to be lesbians unless the media and public deem that they meet an almost hypersexualized version of femininity to derail such homophobic assumptions for misogynist ones. Further, the sheer act of being physical and competitive (as in sports) are associated with patriarchal notions of gender, so women engaging in sports is often viewed as being “male-like.” (We see the same type of rhetoric regarding women in combat, for example.)

At least 15 members of the Congressional Black Caucus are questioning why the 50,000 diversity visa program was ended in the “gang of eight” immigration reform bill formally introduced yesterday. Many members view the diversity visas as one of the few ways African and Caribbean immigrants can become American citizens.

At their Wednesday, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) briefed other members of the CBC on diversity visas and the “merit based” point system language in the immigration bill that is said to be a replacement to the diversity visa program. The diversity visa lottery was ended and replaced with a “point system” that evaluates immigrants on a merit based system. Education and ability to speak english, among other things, is used to evaluate an immigrant’s value to the U.S.

One member, Rep. Don Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) said early in the week that he will not vote for an immigration bill without the diversity visa lottery.  ”I’m not voting for it if diversity visas are not in there,” Payne said flatly. “I’ve told my constituents that unless the diversity visa lottery is in the bill that’s where I draw the line.” On March 15, Payne held a conference focusing on the concerns of Liberian immigrants on Capitol Hill.

Payne may not be alone. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) also says she is very unhappy that the diversity visa program was ended in the “gang of eight” bill. Members wondered why a program with 50,000 slots was eliminated when the larger issue is the 11 million people currently living in the U.S. undocumented.

“My question is why would you take it out? Tell me one good reason?” said Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL).

The Racialicious Links Roundup 4.11.13

The same week that a dozen defiant senators threatened to filibuster any new gun control legislation, Paul ventured across Washington to historically black Howard University and gave a speech aimed at outreach and bridge building.

The man is mulling a presidential run after all.

The speech was a dud. It was a clipped-tail history lesson praising the civil rights record of the pre-Southern Strategy Republican Party, while slamming the concurrent record of the Democrats.

It completely ignored the past generation of egregious and willful acts of insensitivity by the G.O.P. toward the African-American community.

“We are not expecting LGBT families to be included in the Gang of 8 [sic] bill,” Immigration Equality director Rachel Tiven told the Washington Blade yesterday. “That in our minds means that of course the bill is incomplete.”

In January, the White House urged Congress to include same-sex couples in legislation. Its proposal on immigration reform recommended “[treating] same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.”

But Republicans who champion immigration reform have been clear from the start of this round of deliberations that they wouldn’t support rights for same-sex couples. Gang of Eight member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called the provision “a red flag” in a January interview on CBS.

I can understand why an artist like Paisley would be attracted to an artist like LL Cool J. I can’t for the life of me understand why he’d choose LL Cool J to begin “a conversation” to reconcile. Rap is overrun with artists who’ve spent some portion of their career attempting to have “a conversation.” There’s Chuck D. There’s Big Daddy Kane. There’s KRS-ONE. There’s Talib. There’s Mos Def. There’s Kendrick Lamar. There’s Black Thought. There’s Dead Prez. And so on.

In an artform distinguished by a critical mass concerned with racism, LL’s work is distinguished by its lack of concern. Which is fine. “Pink Cookies” is dope. “Booming System” is dope. “I Shot Ya” is dope. I even rock that “Who Do You Love” joint. But I wouldn’t call up Talib Kweli to record a song about gang violence in L.A., and I wouldn’t call up KRS-ONE to drop a verse on a love ballad. The only real reason to call up LL is that he is black and thus must have something insightful to say about the Confederate Flag.

The assumption that there is no real difference among black people is exactly what racism is. Our differences, our right to our individuality, is what makes us human. The point of racism is to rob black people of that right. It would be no different than me assuming that Rachel Weisz must necessarily have something to say about black-Jewish relations, or me assuming that Paisley must know something about barbecue because he’s Southern.

The magazine is throwing a “New Guantanamo” party in conjunction with Le Baron, the New York City nightlife brand run by Andre Saraiva. The party has been roundly criticized on Twitter and on fashion blog Refinery 29, which wrote on Monday, “Flaunt Magazine tends to be pretty great when it comes to thinking creatively, but its recent invite to a Guantanamo-themed party (yes, seriously) quickly shifted from fun to completely absurd.”

The party invite promises “pleasurable torture” by makeup brand Smashbox Studios, and the poster features models carrying large machine guns.

I received a note this morning from a friend of a friend. She lives in the UK, although her family didn’t arrive there by choice. They had to flee Chile, like thousands of others, when it was under the thumb of General Augusto Pinochet. If you don’t know the details about Pinochet’s blood-soaked two-decade reign, you should read about them but take care not to eat beforehand. He was a merciless overseer of torture, rapes and thousands of political executions. He had the hands and wrists of the country’s greatest folk singer Victor Jara broken in front of a crowd of prisoners before killing him. He had democratically elected Socialist President Salvador Allende shot dead at his desk. His specialty was torturing people in front of their families.

As Naomi Klein has written so expertly, he then used this period of shock and slaughter to install a nationwide laboratory for neoliberal economics. If Pincohet’s friend Milton Friedman had a theory about cutting food subsidies, privatizing social security, slashing wages or outlawing unions, Pinochet would apply it. The results of these experiments became political ammunition for neoliberal economists throughout the world. Seeing Chile-applied economic theory in textbooks always boggles my mind. It would be like if the American Medical Association published a textbook on the results of Dr. Josef Mengele’s work in the concentration camps, without any moral judgment about how he accrued his patients.

Pinochet was the General in charge of this human rights catastrophe. He also was someone who Margaret Thatcher called a friend. She stood by the General even when he was in exile, attempting to escape justice for his crimes. As she said to Pinochet, ”[Thank you] for bringing democracy to Chile.”

These misogynistic jokes discredit Griner’s ability to play ball with men by tapping into old sexist ideas that women are always less than men and that their specific space in this world is wherever men are not. The very act of getting on Twitter and saying misogynistic things about such a popular female sports star is an act of desperation. It means to set right the balance that was upset when Cuban floated the idea of allowing Griner to try out for the NBA.

With an irony not apparent to these commentators, the belief that Griner is “not manly enough” to play in the NBA is flatly opposed by the other offensive method people used to insult her: that she is a man. This is a classic transphobic trope, or a fear that her gender presentation does not “match” the sex she was assigned at birth. For example: “she possesses man parts, so why not?”“Griner has a penis and would fit right in”“She looks and sounds like a man.” For much more, if you need it, in this vein, just check out the hashtag.

These transphobic jokes, like the misogynistic ones, devalue Griner because we live in a society that denigrates trans people in general and chafes whenever confronted by someone who does not fit into a neat box of “feminine woman” or “masculine man”. Because athletes are seen as “masculine”, female athletes, by being athletic, are no longer feminine.

11.15.12 Links Roundup

As I have watched “The Walking Dead,” however, I have been disappointed to discover that, while the writers occasionally take a moment to comment on the state of gender — and of race — in this new world, in the end they leave these issues to die and reconstitute a world in which white men rule. Men of color are reduced to occupying a nebulous space, and women (with rare exception) are to be protected. Even more pernicious, any power that women have usually comes to them in the old-fashioned, stereotypical way of manipulating the men in their lives into doing what they want them to do.

I’m not sure if it is a failure of the writers of the TV show (and yes, I know, the show is based upon previously written graphic novels), but surely, if the writers could take time out for the characters to constantly question and talk incessantly about how they are supposed to live a civilized life in a world that has risen from the ashes, couldn’t the characters have spent more time trying to figure out how to behave, now that gender and race should no longer be factors? Why has the world of “The Walking Dead” turned into a white patriarchy?

After Rick is rescued by Morgan and Duane, it’s as if racial reality disappears. Rick leaves to search for his wife, Lori, and son, Carl. Despite the fact that Atlanta is 54 percent African-American, when Rick arrives in a deserted Atlanta, he is swarmed by an all-white mob of walkers — in downtown Atlanta. That was my first moment of cognitive dissonance — in Atlanta, where were the black walkers? — but I let it go as I let myself get more into the story.

To be honest, the locations are not too bad. Buildings are similar to those in Iran, the houses are not that different, the bazaar is quite like the actual shopping centre in south Tehran. Banners, placards and signs are in Persian and many characters actually speak the language, although some with accents.

There are silly mistakes, however. In one scene, for example, the protagonist Tony Mendez (Affleck) says “salam” at the end of his conversation with an Iranian official. Salam means hello in Persian, not goodbye.

Minor mistakes aside, the film takes a black and white view towards Iranians, like many other western films about Iran. It portrays them as ugly, poor, strictly religious, fanatical and ignorant – almost in line with the young revolutionaries behind the hostage-taking at the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, which the film is about. The only nice Iranian in the film is the Canadian ambassador’s maid.

The whole experience is like asking an Iranian who has never been to the US to make a film (let’s say in Cuba) about the Columbine high school massacre. You’ll probably end up watching a film in which all Americans are crazy, have a gun at home and are ready to shoot their classmates.

During an interview on “Democracy Now” West criticized Al Sharpton, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, and frequent guest host Michael Eric Dyson for “selling their souls” in exchange for insider access to Obama.

“They want to turn their back to poor and working people. And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way, given the kind of critical background that all of them have had at some point.”

The activist also made a shot at the MSNBC personalities lack of dedication to black interests by inviting “them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves.”

West didn’t hold back when it came to Obama either. During the interview he called President Obama a “Rockefeller republican in blackface.”

If the move out of New York has softened the glow on Lin’s celebrity, it hasn’t softened the ferocity with which the sport comes for him. From the playground to the Ivy League to the NBA, the eyes on America’s breakout Asian-American basketball player felt the same.

“I’ve always been a target,” Lin says. “Everyone looks me and says, ‘I’m not going to let that Asian kid embarrass me. I’m going to go at him.’ That’s how it’s been my whole life. This has been different, though. Now, I was on the scouting report. People started to pay attention to what I could and couldn’t do.

“But a target? I was used to that. I’m not saying I get everyone’s best shot, but I would say people don’t want to be embarrassed by me because of my skin color.”

Family Ties: On Jeremy Lin, “Tiger Moms,” And Tiger Woods

Courtesy Albany Times-Union

By Guest Contributor Dr. David J. Leonard

In a world that imagines basketball as the purview of African Americans, the emergence of Jeremy Lin has sent many commentators to speculate and theorize about Lin’s success. Focusing on religion, Eastern philosophy, his educational background, his intelligence, his parents, and his heritage, the dominant narrative has defined Lin’s success through the accepted “model minority” myth.

In other words, while celebrating Lin’s success as a challenge to dominant stereotypes regarding Asian Americans, the media has consistently invoked stereotypical representations of Asianness to explain his athletic success, as if his hard work, athleticism, and talents are not sufficient enough explanations.

Intentional or not, the story of Lin is both an effort to chronicle his own success in comforting and accepted terms and, in doing so, offer a commentary on blackness.

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MEMEWATCH: Adventures In Linsanity

As part of her column today, Sonita Moss sent us a batch of Jeremy Lin-inspired pictures. So many, in fact, that they threatened to overwhelm the actual piece.

But we thought, why let the images go to waste? So to supplement the ones she sent us, we decided to look up “Jeremy Lin” meme and see what popped up. The newest appears to be Linning, based off the bit from the picture on the right, where Lin and New York Knicks teammate Landry Fields cap off their Troy-and-Abed-like salute with a ritual donning of faux-glasses.

And like any good meme, it didn’t take long for it to spread, as you can see below in a pic taken in Australia:

Also, the pic above came from JeremyWin, which tends to feature Lin in action, but made time yesterday for some Va-LIN-tine cheer. Some of the others under the cut … well, they’re rooting for Lin, at least. How problematic are they? We’ll let you decide.
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