Heads In The Sand

By Michael-Louis Ingram, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: May 9, 2010

PHILADELPHIA (BASN) — On a televised “event” on MSNBC (Must Somehow Nullify Black Culture) a few months ago, I became a witness – to a homicide.

In another attempt to supposedly tap into the minds of what Black people are thinking, the “best and brightest” did a roundtable discussion – shown live from the campus of historically Black Texas Southern University.

Seeing as how the Convoluted Notions Network has told everyone what they think as to how it is to be Black in America (without mentioning Congress’ apologizing for slavery and any discourse on reparations!) one would hope some intelligent discourse would transpire.

Well, in what seemed to be a prelude to the opening of some minds, a nervous young Black man stepped up to the podium and asked a question – about reparations.

Radio personality Tom Joyner, who was co-hosting the affair with MSNBC talking head Chris Matthews, then shot the young man down. “Awww, man,” he chuckled, “we ain’t gettin’ no 40 Acres and a Mule!”

amidst undertones of equally nervous laughter throughout the auditorium.

None of the other intelligent, degreed-up-the-ass participants on stage offered anything remotely positive or thought-provoking as the moment hung in the air like a pair of tossed Bo-Bos on a power pole…

That’s when I wanted to reach for the phone and dial 911; because Joyner had just killed that young man’s focus – in front of millions of viewers.

When sick bastards like Rush Limbaugh bring up the issue of reparations (no matter how distorted his view) long before any well-meaning liberal voice does, it further illustrates the level of crime committed.

Considering that once upon a time it was illegal to teach a slave to read, you would think Joyner would have been better prepared to speak on such an issue.

A debt 400 years past due doesn’t make it any less a debt; or any less collectable; and I sincerely waited – and waited – and waited for weeks to see if someone was gonna scream on this!

To my knowledge, aside from colleagues here at BASN and discussion on the internet radio show “The Batchelor Pad,” the incident; and Joyner’s reaction – were never discussed.

At an institution of higher learning like Texas Southern, a school born out of the necessity to educate young Black minds, the best that Joyner could do in his jester monolith, was “we ain’t gettin’ no 40 Acres and a Mule!”

Never mind that an idea like offering up 40 years of free education; a two generation infusion of intelligence to eradicate at least 20 generations of ignorance would have at least sparked some new approach which would not cheapen the long-term significance of Black folks helping to make a nation rich, then told to “get over it” because you picked that cotton – for free – sooooo long ago.

Never mind that whatever madness could come out of some redneck’s mouth; Joyner’s response was as close to a “Nigger, please!”

moment than you could ever get on live television.

But instead of providing vision for a young man who clearly wanted some, all Joyner would do was provide a telling statement on how little value Black people hold to themselves – and society at large; by playing to the lowest common denominator and going from zero to ostrich at the speed of thought.

Because “we ain’t gittin’ no 40 Acres and a Mule.”

Gotta keep those sponsors happy…

Now, why did I bring this up and what does it have to do with sports?

Well, a few weeks ago those busy little beavers at The Mouse (ESPIN) did one of their poignant propaganda pieces on how Santa Anita racetrack used to be one of the internment camps used to house Japanese-Americans (the Nisei) during WWII.

The story made the point to provide proper measures of drama and shame in what the Nisei suffered.

When the piece was finished, one of the talking Rats at the Mouse made a point of mentioning how each of the Nisei were given cash sums for their pain and suffering; as well as a formal apology; then went back to their business of dehumanizing Black athletes.

So Black folks aren’t deserving of reparations – because someone thinks it’s too big a check to write?

Another few heads in the sand…

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia

The new starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles has a career stat sheet which includes four touchdown passes – and seven interceptions.

Yet in spite of this, Kevin Kolb has been told by Iggles’ management that he is better than any other quarterbacks on their depth chart; which before a very insulting in-division trade occurred, seemed preposterous on its surface.

A first ballot Hall of Famer in Donovan McNabb, who, in spite of his multiple Pro Bowls, division titles, 92-49-1 career record and leadership intangibles, were dismissed as an inferior talent when sent to Washington (that Nigger can’t hurt us – he ain’t that good!)

Still in Philadelphia is Kolb’s “backup” – Michael Vick; another multiple Pro Bowl performer, 37-27-1 as a starter, and the only NFL quarterback to run for a 1000 yards in a season is considered inferior to Kolb, whose won-loss record – is 1-1 (if we can keep Vick on the bench another year, we can efficiently co-opt him as a starter and get the mainstream media to beat the drums that this Nigger was never that good to begin with!)

Yet Eagles fans have their heads in the sand if they believe this foundation laid by an organization that thinks checkbook before playbook will build a championship.

Under De Sea

Now you would think if there was any place where one’s head should be in the sand, it’s at the beach. At a recent pro surfing event, the Vans’ Pier Classic in Huntington Beach, California, Trinidadian surfer Chris Dennis denied media colleague and surf instructor Rhonda Harper an interview – while Dennis was himself followed by a camera crew.

Dennis would not grant Ms. Harper, an African-American, an interview, in spite of the fact she was on a live broadcast and he knew she had driven hundreds of miles specifically to speak with him.

Now within this lies the problem: only a complete asshole like Dennis would think he’s better than someone because his ancestors were dropped off by the slave ships on a different piece of dirt than his brother or sister.

This is the poison which courses through the veins of some Caribbean Black folks, and this attitude has done far more damage than any redneck racist or hooded Klansman or Tea Bagger could ever do.

The self-loathing and crabs-in-a-barrel mentality which fomented this is the true essence of Black-on-Black crime!

I experienced much of that living in Canada; lots of “in-house” tension between interacting with my Ethiopian, Eritrean and Nigerian brothers; one of my extended family – a Trinidadian by birth – told me point blank “if I had listened to my parents, I would not be hanging around with you.”

Well my brother A.J. didn’t have to convince me; talking to the West Indian sisters was always an interesting event growing up. When I had dreadlocks, I was getting my share of looks, and they assumed I was Caribbean because I supposedly “spoke well.”

So when I was asked if I was an Island Bwoy, I said yes – Manhattan Island!

I guess they didn’t find that very amusing once they found out I was a Black American.

In a separate discourse on this subject, a colleague from London, Adebayo Adeniran, between cheers for his beloved side Arsenal, confirms this fiction as fact. “Sadly, my brother – there are some Africans that feel that same way.”

The point my friend ‘Bayo (who is Nigerian), brought home was clearly presented in the movie “Sugar Hill” when Wesley Snipes and his brother Michael Wright are called “agata – cotton pickers” by a Nigerian drug dealer; who thinks the two Black Americans…are beneath him!

While working for Gannett Newspapers, I had an opportunity to meet one of my heroes, Dr.

Chinua Achebe. I read his classic novel “things fall apart” in junior high and it has always been one of my favorite books.

Dr. Achebe was teaching at Bard College in upstate New York and he indulged me for almost two hours as we talked about everything from the AIDS menace to how Nigeria’s Super Eagles would do in the next World Cup (he really liked the gift of the jersey, and he graciously signed two copies of “things fall apart” for me)

One of the last questions I got to ask him was if it made sense that I would always be African even if my feet never touched African soil. Dr. Achebe emphatically said, “Yes!

“Long ago,” recalls Achebe, I met James Baldwin lecturing at a function in Florida. Baldwin spoke to the audience as he turned to me and said, “This is a brother I have not seen in 400 years.

“After those words, there was immense cheering throughout the room, but as the cheering was dying down, Baldwin then said (paraphrasing), “T’was destiny that he and I were never to meet.”

“And then a hush fell over the crowd – as if cool water were poured over the heads of everyone in the audience,” Achebe said. “The connection,” he concluded, “is clear – no countless miles of ocean will ever separate a Black man from his true home.”

When Marcus Garvey was told to “go back to Africa”, he said, “no problem, Mon” – and he wasn’t worried about what Black man from which ball of dirt was gonna claim dibs on cabin space on the Black Star Line…

When Kwame Nkrumah turned the Gold Coast into Ghana, he spoke of a United State of Awareness – one Africa, where the currency would be the same in Accra as in Pretoria; because the spirit of unity and commonality in post-colonial Africa was about Nation Time – in every real sense of the word…

The romance of this aside, I see it this way: my American brothers and sisters took the hit; for four hundred years plus – to endure that kind of steady continuous 24/7/365 programming of dehumanization, nothing about surviving or enduring that could ever imply weakness, inferiority (be it mental, genetic or otherwise) laziness or criminal tendencies; the system here has to work overtime to constantly churn out the disinformation because they can count – and they know one day their methodologies will prove to be their own undoing…

My aboriginal African brothers & sisters took the hit; and as Dr. Achebe revealed to me, “because we are coming out of over a century of colonialism, just saying we are free doesn’t work the magic; there are a lot of Black minds – still in bondage.”

My Caribbean brothers and sisters also took the hit – because they have their own special kind of hell to deal with where they are as well. no veneer of respectability and assumed status will ever be justified in the eyes of Babylon when he “roll up on dem ass” and tell us collectively no matter where we are what we have what we do and when we do it – that we are still Niggers in his eyes…

Cup This!

And with June fast approaching, the eyes of the world will be on Africa as the Motherland will host her first – ever World Cup; the real Super Bowl where one nation can truly brag that it is world champion.

But even as great a feat as this is, the Muthafiuckin’ Mouse has to ruin it – with more propaganda; this time in a commercial where they romance political prisoners playing soccer as the inspiration to reconcile decades of oppression by their white tormentors; so now all is forgiven – and let’s get on the pitch?

Get the fuck outta here!

While it seems better for some Black South Africans, to attempt to imply humanity was learned by being held captive by a racist regime is as bullshit as you can get.

So, as I offer the following as merely food for thought; you can either pick up on the vibe and desire to see the bigger picture…

Or keep your head in the sand.