December 1, 2007

We need a Chuck

I wonder if you've ever seen the movie "Amazing Grace and Chuck." It was made near the end of the cold war years, in 1988. In the movie, a little boy, a star pitcher on his little league team, becomes aware of the dangers of nuclear war. He decides to make a personal protest by refusing to play baseball until all the nukes go away. There is a story about his stand on TV and an NBA basketball star, "Amazing Grace," is so taken by what the kid is doing, he decides to do the same and refuses to play in the NBA until all nukes go away. Before you know it, other athletes are doing the same in all sports.

That set up is interesting, but what happens next makes "Amazing Grace and Chuck" one of my favorite movies. Amazing Grace, the NBA star, is assassinated via a bomb on his private jet and the movement kind of dies out and even Chuck, the little league baseball pitcher, is headed out to the mound to start pitching again. But instead of pitching, he raises his hand in a sign that Amazing Grace used to make, refuses to pitch and tells the world he will not speak until all the nukes are gone. Now, not only have all sports around the world shut down, but all the children stop talking everywhere in the world. Finally, the President, played by Gregory Peck, pursues talks with the Russians and is pushed and pushed again by Chuck until a massive disarmament is made.

Why do I bring this up? Because I wish there was a Chuck -- not a Chuck against nuclear weapons, but a Chuck against the type violence that ended the life of Sean Taylor.

Marcellus Wiley, a former NFL player, made the radio circuit Wednesday, singing the tune that athletes are targets. That was his explanation for the murders of Taylor and Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams and the armed robberies of NBA players Antoine Walker and Eddy Curry.


Let's cut through the bull(manure) and deal with reality. Black men are targets of black men. Period. Go check the coroner's office and talk with a police detective. These bullets aren't checking W-2s.

Rather than whine about white folks' insensitivity or reserve a special place of sorrow for rich athletes, we'd be better served mustering the kind of outrage and courage it took in the 1950s and 1960s to stop the white KKK from hanging black men from trees.

But we don't want to deal with ourselves. We take great joy in prescribing medicine to cure the hate in other people's hearts. Meanwhile, our self-hatred, on full display for the world to see, remains untreated, undiagnosed and unrepentant.

Our self-hatred has been set to music and reinforced by a pervasive culture that promotes a crab-in-barrel mentality.

You're damn straight I blame hip hop for playing a role in the genocide of American black men. When your leading causes of death and dysfunction are murder, ignorance and incarceration, there's no reason to give a free pass to a culture that celebrates murder, ignorance and incarceration.

Read that whole article above, it is good and important. So what would happen, what would happen if one, or more, of the sports stars who played with Sean Taylor would hold a press conference and urge other professional athletes to stop playing sports, urge college athletes to stop playing sports, urge kids in high school to stop playing sports -- to stand up and announce, "I won't play until black on black crime becomes a national issue and we stop killing and raping and robbing each other."

How long would it take for communities to put more pressure on the gang-banging culture that exists today? How long until people stand up against and slap down kids headed toward violent lives? How long until cities take action to wipe out the cultures of violence that lay ruin to so many young lives today?

Will it happen... no... no Sean Taylor's teammates will probably wear black armbands and use his death as a motivation, rather than an inspiration.

No comments: