We take a lot of heat for our exuberant defense of individual rights. For our never ending struggle to try to persuade the rest of America to see past skin color. For making the clear, undeniable case that the struggle for civil rights has only just begun. That it isn't over. That it is everywhere. That if it isn't in plain site, we will find a way to expose it.
Blogfrica is a hot continent. Heat does not bother us.
We are told that we are biased. That we always stick up for the Negro, no matter the circumstances.
But, for the non-racists, it is clear that we stand up for wronged individuals. Misrepresented individuals.
Some of whom happen to be Negroes.
While the voice of NOIS resonates throughout Blogfrica, perhaps the most influential and admired voice that stands for the rights of wronged individuals in sports is that of Scoop Jackson.
Long renowned for his poetic outlook on the world of sports, Mr. Jackson is often at the forefront of any defense of young athletes that are mistakenly (whether purposely or not) portrayed by the media in a negative light. Jackson was the first to point out that the caustic outrage and fear relayed by the media in its reporting of this year past's NBA all star festivities was sensationalized and opportunistic. That it was conveyed in a manner meant to degrade the cultural relevance of 'hip hop' and purposely fabricated to ensure that white America retain a healthy fear of young Negro males.
Mr. Jackson has also eloquently pleaded his case of why it is important to root for the Williams sisters when they take the court. He makes the case that, in reality, it is an obligation. That it is a matter of self preservation.
Well, Mr. Jackson has now eloquently and inarguably educated us on the Bonds saga.
Bonds hit 754. I finally bought a jersey; had to -- an official Russell Authentic game jersey, size 44. The hate he was receiving had reached a point of insanity. The business of baseball had made this personal. "Behind every great fortune there is a crime." "Godfather" speak. Balzac. In a culture of wrongdoing in the game, Bonds was being singled out. So I dropped $250 in the name of defiance. The same defiance made us support O.J. even if we thought he was guilty and not abandon Al Sharpton when we knew he was wrong about Tawana.
Can you see? It isn't about right or wrong. Those that would pretend that Bonds has done something wrong miss the complete picture. He was a part of something wrong to begin with! Just as O.J. and Al Sharpton were.
Al Sharpton was fighting racism. He was fighting the imagined mistreatment of a young Negro woman. Reality isn't even something that should have been brought into the picture. To suggest or accept that Sharpton should be held accountable for championing a fallacious tale would be to suggest that it would be wrong to fight racism.
The only appropriate response is defiance. "The story is not true? So what. Racism exists in this country. That's the truth."
O.J. was tried by a system which was not perfect. Material evidence? DNA evidence? What does it matter? If the system had inconsistencies or corruptions within it, then the only appropriate response was to support him. And, in the end, the system proved that the defiance was a fair and reasonable reaction. Despite the evidence, he was acquitted! What more proof of a faulty and questionable system was necessary to validate the supportive defiance?
So, Mr. Jackson's purchase and wearing of a Bonds' jersey is an act of the type of social defiance that has made any gains for Negroes in America possible.
Racist? No. Protective? No doubt. Overprotective? Probably. Wrong? Please. Defiance is part of the existence of who we are. It becomes part of our DNA in times like this, when one of our own seems to be rightfully accused but wrongly treated. It's a convoluted, twisted sense of purpose fueled by a sanctimonious and overtly self-righteous coverage of someone who may have committed a sin in the hell baseball had become. We are defiant in times like these because others are being made saints and bigger heroes at the expense of Bonds. Aaron has entered some sort of mythical sainthood. A-Rod all of a sudden is as pure as Rahsaan Patterson's voice or Don Cheadle's acting. We are defiant in times like these because even when we have advantages, the playing field is not level, not for us.
Mr. Jackson makes the case that being defiant in the support of a fellow Negro, who may well be completely wrong, is not a racist act. It can't be. And understand why.
It can't be a racist act because, regardless of the right or wrong, odds are that the Negro is not being treated fairly. And that is the racist act! Supporting the wrongly treated Negro by defiantly standing up for him despite his guilt or own wrong actions is fighting racism.
Supporting Bonds. Supporting Michael Vick. Neither is a commentary on whether what they did is wrong or right. Because it doesn't matter. The defiance is about creating equality.
So, when you read about someone supporting Vick or praising Bonds, realize that dog fighting or steroids aren't a part of the equation. Understand, that the defiant support in the face of the accusations is about fairness. It is about achieving equal treatment. Accept that the suggestion that one is supporting either man simply because he is a Negro is the racist act.
The defiant support with complete disregard for accountability of action or wrong doing is an attempt to bring America together. It is an effort to demonstrate that skin color does not matter. That we all should be treated equally.
A young black man at a public library had on a Michael Vick jersey one day last week. I walked up to him, thinking about my Bonds jersey. Said, "You big for wearing that." He simply said, "Thanks." Then, almost as an afterthought, he said, "I think he's guilty as hell, but I still got his back."
We too had something in common. As we should.
As we all should.
Have his back.
Regardless of his skin color.
Regardless of right or wrong.
It's not what you do, it's how you are treated after you do it.
We defy you to suggest otherwise.