Straight No Chaser: Kareem Abdul Jabbar – Never White America’s Good Negro

By Desi Cortez BASN staff writer
Updated: May 23, 2011

DENVER, CO.—”Change your name back to Lew Alcindor and they’ll give you a statue . . . .John Petrulis · St. Procopius College, Lisle, IL . . . off the global web-pages of AOL Sports It may just be as simple as a name. Forgive me, but I can’t sit by and watch this debate be waged and often rage . . . as a war of words go, and not state the obvious; Race and religion play a significant weighty role in some slices of the American Pie’s reluctance to embrace Kareem Abdul Jabbar – one of the first Black sportsmen to drop his slave name and adopt a name closer to the cultural, the religions the who, what and where Black Americans hale from, Africa and not France, Germany or Ireland. Religion, Kareem Abdu Jabbar, being a Muslim, and the fact that he joined the religion via The Nation of Islam, at the height of the Black Muslim’s controversial run across the American stage, has a role to play in exactly “why” Jabbar’s relationship with the NBA and the American Sports-fan has been lukewarm, perhaps cordial at best – yet never has Jabbar been embraced by a White sports-nation which saw him as first an extension of Malcolm X, Ali and Elijah Muhammad and then Louis Farrakhan and now he’s somehow tied to Al-Qaeda . . . ***image8*** Now sure I could drag-up Jabbar’s legit love affair with Mary Jane or his acting skills, for lack-of-a-better term, or even his literally work which has always been progressive, i.e., truthful and critical of the powers that be and progressive in their subject matter – which I submit also plays a role – nonetheless, at the base of the contention and conflict between Kareem and certain segments of the US is the perception that Lew Alcindor died almost 50 years ago . . . and his mind . . . snatched by Bobby Seal, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis and Malcolm X. To pin-point it; Jabbar will forever pay for his 1967 backing of Ali – who correctly stated ‘Ain’t no Viet Cong ever called me nigger” and refused to do the bidding of the ever-expanding American Empire. Jim Brown and Bill Russell along with Bobby Mitchell, Willie Davis and a midget’s handful of Black Alpha males had the gonads to stand-up, speak-out and support Ali, present an unified front of prominent Black gladaiators. The ring-leaders, the Nat Turners were painted n’ tainted – “stigmatized and vilified” for stepping out-of-line. It’s a little deeper, a tad-more complex then erecting statures. And you know I’m tellin’ the truth! Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Ruseell and Kareem Abdul Jabbar – and later Tommy Smith and John Carlos – these thank-god strong, defiant, intelligent ebony alpha-males set-the-standard for Black manhood and Black Power – and they’ve one n’ all paid a price for doing so.
In 1967, some of the nation's top black athletes came to Cleveland to support Muhammad Ali: Front row: Bill Russell, Ali, Jim Brown, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor). Back row: Mayor Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter and John Wooten.

In 1967, some of the nation's top black athletes came to Cleveland to support Muhammad Ali: Front row: Bill Russell, Ali, Jim Brown, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor). Back row: Mayor Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter and John Wooten.

So please, let’s not pretend that’s not the fact. If you’ll notice – this historically factual perspective, this slice of US History 101 is all but ignored by the mainstream “established” press and the erroneously titled “alternative Internet press” (White sportswriters) . . . because these chapters, these darker versions of yesteryear exemplifies the racist history of America. I don’t get it, honestly, by ignoring these chapters of recent history – it’s both telling and damning of today’s sportswriters. Their silence only amplifies the still oblivious role of white racism in America. This selective amnesia allows them to wonder why only Doug Williams stands as the only Superbowl winning field general – as if they don’t recall the position was off-limits to Blacks for half-an-century. . . . based on white men’s insecurities. ***image7*** The LA Daily News s Tom Hoffart demonized Jabbar with this characterization; “beyond the usual surly, bitter, jaded and detached.” White America said the same thing about Bill Russell and Jim Brown. Perhaps these White wordsmiths never walked a field, court nor path in the cleats or high-tops of a Black gladiator circa 1967 . . .? Kareem Addul Jabbar is still paying a price for his uppityness. There are still millions of Americans who’d like to call Ali “Clay” and Jabbar “Lew” . . . we shouldn’t pretend that’s not an sentiment still alive n’ well in these so-called United States of America. His marginalization by the NBA, like that of Bill Russell’s, has a great deal to do with the statements and stands they made in an America where apartheid ruled the land. Let us not forget it.