Letter To The Editor

By Clarence Gafeney, Jr.
Updated: January 15, 2005

Reggie White
Reggie White

Good Afternoon –

Brother Tony: I have missed not dropping you an e-mail once in a while. I switched to the XP and must redo my address book.
I read your absolutely superb column on Joe Gilliam and emailed it to a friend, so she can share it with her son – a Steelers fan. Otherwise, I am sending you the text of an essay about Reggie White that was printed in “The Sojourner’s Truth” newspaper here in Toledo, Ohio.
Tony, I think I shall send my White essay to my former state senator, Barack Obama. He and I have several issues to resolve from 1997 and 1998.
Happy New Year and thanks for keeping it real. Clarence

Alas, I wrote the essay on Reggie White in 1997 and saved it. With the advent of the Iraqi War and the
unwilingness of Whte America to research before over-reacting about Randy Moss on Green Bay’s frozen tundra; I contribute my opinion as a Vietnam veteran and someone fairly cognizant of Black America.
Particularly, as the country is at war, again. When I wrote the essay below in 1997, Reggie White and I – if no one else – thought that war had been declared on black churches in Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

I believe it was during my [war], the Vietnam War that Forrest Gump’s mother (starring Tom Hanks) said: “Americans tend to worship their work, work at their play and play at their worship.” I don’t think such a statement has ever been truer; since 1991 almost 3 millions Americans a year have stopped going to church, In the generality, those Americans are too busy watching the Reggie White-less National Football League games or participating along with 25 million other fantasy league players.

Alas, since we have two Americas; I have a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson for black Americans:

“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character. For those who are white Americans: I have this Marcus Garvey quote Religion is one’s opinion and belief in some ethical truth …so we have as many religions in Christianity as we have believers.”

Personally, I regard it a remarkable act that lowering the flag to half-staff for Reggie White caused so many calls and e-mails of protest to be received by the Green Bay Packers organization. Thus, the Reggie White flag-lowering saga clearly illustrates that in one America football is – the definitive America religion.

In March 1996, I made the observation that the National Football League playoffs provided a forum to examine the two different Americas (one, black, the other white). The specter of a Christian pathology was demonstrated via economic apartheid – the pathological methodology that nurtures the integration process; utilizing capitialism, colonialism, and racism to preserve white supremacy. Both, culturally and economically in Black America – since in White America, sports (particularly football) has become a religion.

The USA TODAY’s series on the arsoning of black churchs in Southern states was how I learned of this despicable situation in our country. Green Bay Packers football star and Knoxville, Tennessee, Assistant Pastor Reggie White thought it his Christian duty to speak about.the situation. Mr. White’s Inner City Community Church happened to be the Knoxville church destroyed by arson on January 8, 1996.

Pastor White’s spirituality has made him an icon among the sports fans of Christian White America by being the defensive leader and soul of the World Champion Green Bay Packers. Mr. White spoke out against the arsoning of black churches in the Southern states of Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. By doing so, Mr. White motivated many white Christians to finance the rebuilding of the arsoned churches and White’s Inner City Community Church.

Yet, I don’t recall the late Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, nor Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, who I believe was the Senate majority leader in the United States Senate, speaking out about the arsoning of churchs in the Southern region of the country. Nor, do I recall President Bush, who was then the governor of Texas, speaking out in support of the USA TODAY’s articles or in support of Reggie White about the arsoning of black churches!

Mr. White has taken his spiritually-oriented Million Man March mentality to confront economic apartheid by capitalizing a community investment bank in Knoxville. A million dollars provides a six-week program that teaches recipients budgeting, marketing, and how to run a business along with micro loans. The loan program targets welfare recipients and those with low incomes in primarily disadvantaged communities, mainly minorities and women.

Sincerely and Spiritually

Clarence Gafeney, Jr.