There are much more important things to talk about than professional athletes and the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals. We could talk about the U.S. led gangbanging of Libya. We could talk about the U.S. militarization of Africa, the prison industrial complex in this country, the forced sterilization of women of color, and poor women period, but this post is going to be about the NBA. This is so because racism is so much an institutional aspect of U.S. society (we are defining racism correctly here e.g. the institutional and systematic discrimination against people of color), that it can easily be found even in the NBA. You say "how so? This can't be true!" The NBA is 80% African! If anything, there should be discussion about how to bring in more White players! If you think anything along those lines, you have much, much work to do in understanding truly what racism is and how it adversely impacts people of color in this society and around the world. As for the NBA Finals, if you are a basketball fan, and probably even if you aren't, you have heard some of the criticism being directly at Miami Heat small forward Lebron James. Ever since James signed as a free agent with Miami the previous off season and guaranteed several championships, he has been demonized in the media. Now that Miami made it to the finals, and lost, James continues to be demonized, criticized, and castigated due to his poor play and post game comments after Miami's game six meltdown. "Where is the racism?" you cry out. I'll tell you, but first let's put Jame's comments in their proper perspective. Here is a 26 year old guy who has been unilaterally criticized for the last year non-stop. You can argue that his tactics bring a lot of it on himself and that may be true, but that doesn't mean he gives up the right to defend himself. Especially when the governor of Ohio sponsors a resolution proclaiming the Dallas Mavericks as honorary Ohio citizens as a direct slap at Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliars owner issues a tweet just moments after Dallas won further criticizing Lebron's decision to leave Cleveland and sign with Miami. So a governor and a major business owner can act childish and criticize a 26 year old man, but he doesn't have the right to defend himself? This is where the racism comes in. Can you honestly imagine such high ranking officials criticizing a White athlete the same way? If you say yes, give examples because I can't recall this happening. Lebron hasn't broken any laws. He wasn't stopped with weed in his car or weapons. He hasn't been accused of rape or domestic violence. So why such venom directed at a young man for his own personal decisions impacting his career? I mean, who would choose to work in Cleveland over Miami for the same money? So, why the venom? We have never seen such hatred from official sources. Team owners. High level polititians. What the hell is going on? There hasn't been that same level of hatred leveled at Brett Favre and he is a married man that sent pictures of his private parts to a woman and also lied about his intentions and staged a long drawn out media drama about his intentions on playing that certainly rivaled, if not surpassed Lebron's press conference last summer. Payton Manning has openly criticized teammates and performed poorly in big games, but he hasn't gotten anything close to the bashing Lebron has received. It's the same double standard that exists in this society in all spheres. It's the "how dare you be so uppity you n - - - - r!" Of course, there are many of you will be knee jerk and immediately deny this, but you can't dispute or refute my logic for reaching this conclusion. Barry Bonds is generally considered a surly individual based on news reports about him for the last two decades, but Randy Johnson's reputation for being rude makes Barry Bonds look like Sister Theresa, but Johnson hasn't received anything close to the negative publicity that Bonds has. I remember when Bonds was close to reaching the home run record and he made a comment about wanting to pass Babe Ruth because Ruth was a racist. The media and White America in general came down hard on him for that comment and why? Ruth was a racist among other negative things. No one can dispute that, but it's like we don't have the right to say what we believe when it conflicts with how White America wants to see us. How dare Mahmoud Abdul Rauof not pledge allegance to the U.S. flag before NBA games? How dare Craig Hodges attend the Nation of Islam's Savior's Day Event? How dare Josh Howard disrespect the National Anthem! Slaves!! Stay in your place! Entertain us and we'll give you your opinions when we want you to have them! I know....The only response you can give is Charles Barkley, but he makes my point farther. Barkley is a bad boy, but he's White America's bad boy, not ours. He's usually the first one to criticize African athletes (as he was quick to do with Lebron this week - as if he's in the moral position to judge anyone. This is a guy who brags about drinking a 5th of vodka everyday). No...The concept of the field slave who isn't restrained and does what he wants to do is still very intimidating in this society. You can break it down whatever way you want...e.g. blue collar people have a hard time relating to a millionaire athlete (this is the common one bantered about, but this is just code speak for what I'm saying), but at the end of the day it's the African who is the problem. There hasn't been a single African star who has an opinion who hasn't suffered through this. Whether it's the Williams sisters in tennis or Bonds in baseball or Rasheed Wallace saying it's modern day slavery in basketball....It's all the same result. Just play....Don't talk. We don't want to hear you. We don't want to see you as a human being. We don't want to deal with you...You have no value to us beyond your ability to dunk that ball. This is exactly what all of this is all about. You may fool yourself, but we know beter.
We lost another giant. In one week we lost Gil Scott Heron and now Geronimo Ji Jaga. Damn.....Yes, Geronimo was Johnnie Cochran's most important client (I know, you thought it was O.J. Give me a break....please). Yes, Geronimo was Tupac Shakur's godfather, but more important than either of those things, Geronimo Ji Jaga was a living image of the spirit of resistance within the African community to government oppression. As a recent Vietnam vet and student at UCLA in early 1969, Geronimo found himself being named Deputy Minister of Defense for the Los Angeles Black Panther Chapter by the just killed Aprentice "Bunchy" Carter who requested this service from Geronimo in a tape Bunchy prepared in the event of his death. Geronimo used his military experience to prepare the Panthers for the ongoing police onslaught. You see, the police were in the midsts of carrying out the government's counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) against the Panthers and other African organizations. COINTELPRO was an illegally designed program to discredit the African liberation movement and the FBI used a carefully planned and nationally coordinated effort to carry it out. Between 1967 and 1971 there were almost 300 COINTELPRO actions carried out and about 270 of those were against the Black Panthers (the others were carried out against the Republic of New Afrika, Nation of Islam, and others). An example of this terrorism is just four days after Chicago police brutally murdered Panther leader Fred Hampton and Mark Clark on 12/4/69, L.A. police raided the L.A. panther office with the apparent attempt to cause the same demise for Geronimo, but his military skills led him to have the L.A. panthers reinforce the panther office so when the police got there and started the shootout, the panthers were able to hold them off for four hours. Since media arrived and were capturing the entire thing was captured on live television, the police were unable to murder Geronimo the way they did Fred and so many other panther leaders they had earmarked for death. A side note here is Geronimo's leadership in L.A. led to the creation of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team, or SWAT, which was unvealed for this raid described here (and subsequently, SWAT teams were created across the country, compliments of the government's efforts to destroy the Black Panther Party). Since murder didn't work against Geronimo, the slimy police agents turned to illegal tactics to railroad Geronimo in a murder conviction in 1972 when they knew he didn't commit this crime. They knew this because they withheld evidence from the jury, including the fact the murdered victim's husband, Mr. Olsen, identified another man as the assailant, not Geronimo. This was a frameup and Geronimo spent 27 years in prison as a result of it. Johnnie Cochran, Stuart Hanlon and others worked tirelessly to get Geronimo released, but the state had an interest in keeping Geronimo incarcerated and it wasn't because he was a bad person. Countless inmates, including Bloods, Crips, murderers, and even Aryan Brotherhood leader Moondog Mane testified at Geronimo's countless parole hearings that he was a model prisoner who helped reduce violence in the institution, but the authorities only wanted to know one thing, would he continue his political activities if released (not if he would confess to the murder he didn't commit). Geronimo never compromised and so he languished in prison until 1997 when he was finally released. I had the privilige of meeting and introducing him to the audience when he spoke in Sacramento in 1997 and his humbleness and that of his wife Ashaki astounded me. Since I was about 20 years old, he has been my hero and as I learned about his passing in Tanszania this week, I have been thinking of the impact he has had on my life. He used the million dollar settlement he received from his victorous lawsuit against the FBI for its illegal railroading to develop projects to help the people in Tanszania and he continued to support African liberation. Brother Geronimo, I love you and will eternally be grateful for your sacrifice. In this age when we are faced with false heros in high places who look like us, you stand as a shining example of someone who I have taught many youth of all nationalities about. Someone to emulate and respect and seek guidance and inspiration from your example. Thank you and may your soul rest peacefully while we do our best to continue your work. For more information about COINTELPRO, read Ward Churchill and JIm Vanderhill's book "Agents of Repression, the FBI's Secret War against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement." Also, find out about other COINTELPRO victims such as Mumia Abu Jamal, Mutulu Shakur, Sekou Odinga, and Assata Shakur (.liv