I had actually thought about completely ignoring the story about Josh Howard's controversial comments during a recent rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. I have made a point in my life to disregard as much stupidity as possible.
However, since the backlash from Howard's comments and actions have been somewhat harsh and definitely plentiful, I have decided to share my comments with you. But before I give you my take on the much larger issue, check out what some of my colleagues recently wrote about this matter.
ESPN.com's JA Adande: ”If you're going to exercise your First Amendment right to free speech, have something worthwhile to say. In the end, our country respects those who take a principled stand. That's why Muhammad Ali, who had his heavyweight championship belts snatched away when he refused to fight in the Vietnam War, was given the honor of lighting the flame at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta more than a quarter-century later. And four decades after sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists during "The Star-Spangled Banner," there are statues of them on a college campus and they received a standing ovation when they were handed an ESPY award."
SLAM Magazine's Vincent Thomas: ”No matter your access or ascension, there are too many things blacks encounter that remind them of one sobering idea: 'No matter who/what/where you are — to some people, you’re still just a nigger.' Take as much time as you need to swallow that.”
Both opinions are very well-written and raised interesting, thought-provoking points. And if you think Thomas is a bit off-base with his statement, you should have read some of the comments on Mark Cuban's blog--before they took it down-- to fully understand why some black people feel the way Thomas describes.
However, my main issue with Howard's "protest" is that there seems to be a hollowness behind his words. Is he just running his mouth, or is he on the verge of doing something to correct the injustice he feels?
If we truly aren't where we are supposed to be as a people, what are we, as a people, prepared to do about it? Disrespecting the Star-Spangled Banner won't do it. Telling the world you smoke weed won't do it. Dressing and acting more like convicted criminals instead of successful professional college graduates won't do it. And not voting won't do it.
So, what are WE prepared to do? Are we honoring the legacy of our ancestors by sitting in front of the bus and the classroom? Are we using our college educations to help others go to college? Are we teaching our children personal and financial responsibility? Are we taking time out of our lives to volunteer at an adult literacy program? Are we finding at-risk students and setting them up with mentors?
What are WE doing, black people?
My feeling is this: If are you just about talking noise about the white man and what the black man can or can't do, and you aren't trying to do anything about the current situation, I might as well be deaf to you because I ain't hearin' ya!!
Don't talk about it. BE about it!!
We have way too many successful black people in this country who not only have the means, but the INFLUENCE to really make a change, but the one thing too many of us don't seem to have is the CARE to make a difference.